High on a hill was a lonely goatherd. And a young orphan named Heidi. Also a St. Bernard with a cask of liquor hanging from its neck. Oy vey, you’re in the midst of an alpine fever dream! And the only prescription is more goat bell. Barring that option, you have one recourse: an idyllic drive through the Alpine Loop Scenic Byway in Provo Canyon.
The paved route may be a mere 20-mile drive, but there’s enough to see and do along the way that you’ll want to clear your whole day. No, you likely won’t see any herders or orphans. But you will see plenty of mountain magic. Jagged peaks, white aspens, and misty waterfalls are all part of the package as you meander along this twisty roadway. The loop is open May to October-ish, and if you’re driving a vehicle longer than 30 feet, prepare for a world of hurt due to the curvy swervies.
TIMPIN’ AIN’T EASY
Unless you live under a rock or are one o’ them out-a-staters, you’ve heard of Timpanogos Cave. But when was the last time you spelunked it? Now’s as good a time as any. From the new visitors center just off the loop, you’ll hike 1.5 miles up a steep, but paved, trail to the cave entrance. No babies allowed. Literally. Strollers are verboten (you can carry kiddoes if you hate yourself). If you can’t make the climb, there’s a mini-theater at the visitor center where you can see what you’re missing.
Once you’re at the cave entrance, a ranger will give you a tour. You’ll see stalactites. Stalagmites. Underground pools. Pink and white crystal-covered walls. All that cool cave stuff. And it is cool — 45 degrees underground, to be exact. So bring a jacket. The whole excursion, including the hike up and down, takes around three hours. Get your tix in advance ‘cuz this rock show sells out often.
SUNDANCE LIKE NOBODY’S WATCHING
More than 50 years ago, Robert Redford took a drive up the Alpine Loop. He loved it. So much, in fact, that he decided to buy the little resort he found tucked beneath Mount Timp. You may not have the means to buy up large tracts of land willy-nilly as you drive the loop. But you can definitely stop and enjoy Sundance Mountain Resort for an afternoon.
Soak up the summer sun on a scenic lift ride. Take a guided horseback ride through the alpine meadows. Or blaze down the double-line ZipTour and single-track bike trails like a bat out of hell. Whatever suits your speed. Grab a bite to eat at one of the resort’s award-winning restaurants and catch a show or concert at the outdoor amphitheater. Now you know why you needed to clear your day.
TURN ON THE WATER WORKS
Halfway through the loop, consider taking a detour down to Cascade Springs. This little, local wonder is bubbling with personality. Here, you can stroll along hardy boardwalks and paved pathways that meander over and around mossy ponds and wee waterfalls. If this place had cheeks, you’d want to reach out and squeeze them.
Finally, after you’ve made your way out of the loop and into Provo Canyon, join the reception for Bridal Veil Falls. Greet this blushing bride of a waterfall and bask in her mists (which are tears of matrimonial joy, not sorrow. Probably). Still got some alpine left in your system? Let the roar of the falls drown out your enthusiastic yodeling.