Everyone loves taking the scenic route, especially in Utah, where just about every route is scenic. But when was the last time you made your entire trip the scenic route? Instead of driving to your destination, make your drive the destination in Carbon County. There you'll find the Roundabout Loop, a hidden gem of a drive with activities for families, adventurers and everyone in between. So whether you’re golfing or gazing, hiking or hanging, exploring or exhaling, there’s something for everyone along this winding and wonderful route.
Not sure where to start? Utah.com has you covered, with itineraries of all kinds for your trip to Carbon County, Utah’s geological, archaeological and cultural treasure trove. Choose from a golf getaway, a relaxing weekend or a history-rich vacation, and get ready to hit the road.
The Roundabout is a 180-mile loop through the San Rafael Swell and Carbon County that hits all the highlights in this spectacular region. From stunning views to ancient rock art and museums of natural history, it showcases the best that the Swell and the Carbon Corridor have to offer. You’ll look out across the vast expanses of Little Grand Canyon (not as vast as the big one, but still pretty dang vast). You’ll see petroglyphs and pictographs that have weathered the test of time, left behind by native peoples. You’ll see the fossils of the massive beasts that roamed the earth millions of years ago. You’ll eat a cheeseburger, probably.
Starting south from Salt Lake City and northern Utah, the Roundabout travels from Helper down State Route 191 to Green River. From Green River, drivers will travel west on Interstate 70 to Ferron, then from Ferron north on State Route 10 back to Helper and Price. Depending on which itinerary you’re following, there will be plenty of stops and detours along the way, but the general route is the same.
Even without an itinerary, the drive alone is probably good enough for a sweet Instagram and some bragging at work. But here at Utah.com we don’t do “good enough.” These itineraries will take your trip from pretty good to pretty frickin’ epic, no matter which trip you go for.
A great weekend spent with friends on the links? Now that’s a tradition unlike any other. Whether it’s your first golf trip or your fore-tieth, the Carbon Corridor provides a stunning — and stunningly affordable — backdrop for any golf getaway.
There are three golf courses along the Roundabout Loop. At each one you’ll find some of the amazing scenery that makes this part of Utah so special. Where else can you golf amidst towering mesas, along rushing rivers and within splashing distance of majestic waterfalls? Not many places, and certainly not for the prices you’ll find in Carbon County. You’ll have to apologize to your 45 handicap buddy in advance — they can’t use the price point as an excuse to get out of this trip.
And they won’t want to! No matter how many times you slice a ball off canyon walls or into the rushing Green River, it’s still hard to have a bad time at these courses.
You’ll probably have the best trip if you carve out two or three days for yourself, but if you’re just passing through, any one of these courses makes for a great day on the links. It’s probably too hard to golf all three in one day, but who knows — with enough Arnold Palmers anything’s possible.
Speaking of refreshments, when you’re finished golfing, be sure to head out for some well earned dinner and drinks at any one of the bustling towns in the region at the end of the day. Whether you’re dining in Green River or clinking glasses in Helper, it’ll be a great way to toast to an amazing getaway with friends.
Check out the full Golf Getaway itinerary here.
In between your oohs and aahs driving through canyons, mountains and mesas, you might wonder, “How the heck did all of this get made?” Well, if you’re following the Natural History itinerary, you’ll find out soon enough. Heck, you’ll probably be able to lead your own tour the next time you travel this way. You’ll have your audience captive while you describe the geological forces that created the terrain you’re golfing on. And you’ll have the guy who’s trying to putt pretty angry.
Did you know that Cleveland Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry in the Carbon Corridor is home to one of the largest collections of Jurassic period dinosaur bones ever discovered? Did you also know that the Carbon Corridor is so rich in dinosaur fossils that you can find them just lying around at Fossil Point? And did you also also know that when you’re standing atop the Cedar Mountain overlook, you’re standing on a formation that likely contains three major groups of undiscovered dinosaur fossils?
Oh, you didn’t? Well, there’s plenty more facts where those came from! Just visit these paleontological pit stops (say that three times fast) along the Natural History loop. Perfect for dino-loving kids from one to 93.
When you’re all dino-ed out, feel free to sit back and stare slack-jawed at the incredible views that the Roundabout has to offer. From overlooks to unique geological features to some of the funkiest looking rocks you’ve ever seen, these stops don’t disappoint.
Check out the full Regional History loop here.
The Natural History loop deals with the big picture. Ya know, shifting tectonic plates, ancient seas, long-dead creatures who once roamed the earth. But that kind of stuff happened all over the world. The Carbon Corridor’s got a unique history all its own, one filled with ancient civilizations, modern explorers and bustling industry.
One of the most incredible aspects of the Carbon Corridor and the surrounding region is its unrivaled collection of ancient rock art. These astonishingly intact paintings and carvings were left behind by two distinct cultures — the Fremont Culture who inhabited the area between 2,000 and 700 years ago and the Barrier Canyon People who may have passed through as far back as 7,000 years ago.
The meaning of these pictographs (paintings) and petroglyphs (carvings) has been lost to time, but one thing’s for sure — modern historians don’t need your help interpreting. If you’ve got any ideas for contributions to these living historical sites, please keep them to yourself and don’t add anything to the wall. In fact, even touching the rock is enough to damage the art, so stick to photos and leave any tracings to the experts.
A lot of folks have passed through the area in the years since those ancient artists left their work behind. From the explorers who set out to map the region to the industries that brought settlers soon after them, there’s a lot to learn about life in the Old West. You don’t need a trusty steed to visit these sites, but you should at least say “Giddy up!” when you start your car.
Check out the full Regional History itinerary here.
There’s a lot to do and see in the Carbon Corridor, but if you’re not in the mood to spend your weekend hopping from stop to stop (no matter how amazing those stops are), it’s also a great place to relax and take it easy. Yup, the same place that boasts ancient rock art and troves of dino bone also has cozy main streets, white sand beaches and viewpoints just begging to be picnicked at.
Check out the full Relaxing Weekend itinerary here.
Itineraries are nice, but at the end of the day, it’s your trip. So do it however you want! Want some art with a side of allosaurus? No problem. Want to hit nine holes and then hit Nine Mile Canyon? Sounds great! Want to go to the beach and just stay at the beach and do nothing else but be at the beach? Also very much allowed.
There’s tons of ways to stay and play in the Carbon Corridor, and there’s no wrong way to do it. So follow these itineraries to a T or mix and match how you please. And if your route ends up looking a little roundabout? Well, that’s just how we like it in these parts.