Places like the Adirondack Mountains in New York get the most attention when it comes to fall road trips, but there are so many incredible hidden gems in the US where you can enjoy the changing seasons – without the crowds.
This autumn I was on a mission to find gorgeous places with fall colors, and all signs pointed me towards Utah. Utah is one of the best states for outdoor adventures year-round, but it’s an absolute stunner when it comes to fall foliage.
There are a number of scenic byways to choose from in Utah for fall leaf-peeping and all are within a short drive from each other.
I started my road trip by spending a day exploring Nebo Loop Scenic Byway and then ventured out to Logan Canyon just a couple of hours north of it. If you’re up for it, you can easily combine both of these scenic byways into a weekend trip.
In this guide, I cover all the best stops along Logan Canyon Scenic Byway and other tips to help you prepare for a great road trip!
Table Of Contents:
About Logan Canyon
Logan Canyon is a picturesque 41-mile-long scenic byway that stretches across the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest in Utah. This byway connects Logan City on the West and Bear Lake on the East.
Logan Canyon is a two-way highway so at any point you decide to turn around and head back, it’s very easy to do so!
Logan Canyon is located in Northern Utah near Idaho and Wyoming state borders so many people also take this scenic byway en route to Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks.
Without stopping, it takes about an hour to drive the entire byway from start to finish. But if you plan to make any stops, give yourself 1-2 days to explore everything this area has to offer.
While you can certainly enjoy the scenery out of your car’s window, some of the best stops in Logan Canyon require a bit of detour and hiking.
Go for a scenic stroll through a serene forest trail or search for hidden caves perched on top of a cliff – there are plenty of adventures to enjoy from sightseeing and recreational activities to observing wildlife.
Best Time To Visit Logan Canyon
The most popular times to visit Logan Canyon are in the summer and fall when options for outdoor activities like camping and hiking are plentiful.
If you’re planning to visit this region for fall foliage, timing your trip can be a bit of a challenge.
I drove Logan Canyon Scenic Byway at the end of September and while I did experience beautiful fall foliage throughout the canyon, I did come here about a week too early. But it’s better to venture out for fall colors early than to miss the season completely and see bare trees.
Typically, the best time for fall colors in Utah is from mid-September to mid-October. Other factors like elevation, fires, and rainfall can also affect the fall color peak times. To better time your trip, check out this fall foliage prediction map.
Logan Canyon Weather
Logan Canyon is located in the mountains, so the weather can change drastically throughout the day.
I hiked a few of the trails in Logan Canyon in late September and while the weather was sunny and hot during the day, the temperatures dropped to freezing as soon as the sun went down. This is something to keep in mind if you plan to head out on any sunset adventures.
Bring clothing that you can easily layer and store in a day pack along with plenty of water. For hiking, I always recommend bringing a few emergency essentials like:
How Long Does It Take To Drive Logan Canyon
Without stopping, it takes about an hour to drive the entire Logan Canyon Scenic Byway.
But with stopping, you can take anywhere from several hours to an entire weekend to explore Logan Canyon’s most popular attractions. The distance itself is not very long, but there is plenty to see and do along the way including viewpoints, trails, parks, and lakes.
I designated two full days to visit Logan Canyon. But as a travel blogger, I like to take my time and stop frequently for photos, read information signs, and take notes along the way.
On this road trip, I was traveling in my Promaster campervan which allows my trip planning to be more flexible and play it by the ear instead of being confined to a set schedule.
Other Logan Canyon Visitor Tips
Here are a few things to keep in mind before you head out to drive the Logan Canyon Scenic Byway in Utah:
- There are no gas stations along Logan Canyon. This road travels through a remote mountain canyon so fill up on gas in Logan City on the west or Garden City on the east before heading out into this highway.
- Reception is very spotty once you head into the wilderness. I recommend looking up the attractions that you want to visit ahead of time and marking them on an offline map like Maps.Me. This is our go-to hiking app that helps us track hiking trails offline, but you do need to download the area maps ahead of time.
- Visit Logan Canyon during the day and avoid driving here at night. Logan Canyon is a mountain road with sharp turns and blind corners that can be dangerous to navigate in the dark. Accidents do happen so try to find a place to set up camp or leave the canyon before nightfall.
- There are no stores to get food or water between Logan City and Bear Lake. Stock up on food, water, and other camping supplies before you head into the byway.
- There are several bathrooms at the major stops and campsites, but most of this area consists of a wild forest with few amenities for visitors.
- There are some areas, like the First Dam Park that don’t allow dogs. I had stopped at the First Dam Park to take my dog on a walk when I was approached by a friendly ranger who informed me that dogs were not allowed. If you’re looking for dog-friendly hikes in Logan Canyon, check out the Wind Caves Trail that’s further down into the canyon.
Wind Caves in Logan, Utah
Best Stops At Logan Canyon
Most people start their trip in Logan City which borders the canyon on the west and provides easy access to the highway.
Here are 10 of the most popular stops along the Logan Canyon Scenic Byway:
US Forest Service Office
To start off your road trip, stop by the US Forest Service office next to Highway 89 to learn more about the history of this area.
At the US Forest Service office, you can check out a large outdoor map that highlights all of the major attractions to help you better plan your trip. From the parking lot, you can also enjoy panoramic vistas that overlook the nearby cities.
While Logan Canyon remains relatively wild and untouched, for generations it has provided food, materials, and shelter to local communities. In 1897 the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest was established to protect timber, water, and wildlife resources from being depleted. Now this region is mostly used for outdoor recreational activities like camping, hiking, and wildlife observation.
Fun Fact: Some of the formations and rock walls that you will see along Logan Canyon have been in the making for 500 million years!
First Dam Park
While most of Logan Canyon consists of natural raw wilderness, the first few stops include maintained city parks and walking trails.
First Dam Park is a local favorite at the beginning of the canyon where you can go for a stroll on paved walkways, fish from one of the designated piers, go paddleboarding, and enjoy a picnic at the grassy lakefront.
Logan Canyon offers endless possibilities of outdoor recreational activities for everyone to enjoy!
But besides being a pretty place to go for a walk, First Dam plays an important role in the local communities. Logan River which flows through Logan Canyon has been supplying water from the mountains to Cache Valley for generations. A system of dams was constructed to create electricity and this is the first of the three dams that you can visit in Logan Canyon.
For those traveling with their furry friends, note that this park does not allow dogs. There are other dog-friendly areas further into the canyon.
Location: First Dam Park, US-89, Logan, UT 84321
Stokes Nature Center
Stokes Nature Center is an interactive outdoor educational center where families and kids can come and learn more about local wildlife, plants, and birds.
At Stokes Nature Center you can read about the imprint humans leave on the wilderness and what we can do to protect it. Numerous outdoor displays cover information about wildfires, the purpose of trees, and the importance of water quality.
To visit the center, you can park in a small designated lot along Highway 89. From there, keep walking past a gate and follow the wide path that runs next to Logan River. This trail is flat and partially shaded making it a popular spot for walking, trail running, and mountain biking.
Location: 2696 East US Highway 89, Logan, UT 84321
Second Dam is a wonderful day-use area that’s located further down into the canyon and more secluded than the First Dam Park. Here visitors can also enjoy recreational activities like fishing, hiking, and picnicking.
Second Dam is a serene park with charming wooden pathways and scenic bridges that are perfect for an afternoon walk.
From the parking lot head on the footbridge that crosses Logan River. This path connects with the 5.6-mile-long River Trail that follows Logan River in both directions.
As you keep driving further into the canyon, the landscape becomes more wild and rugged. If you’re looking for a great way to spend the afternoon, Wind Caves was one of my favorite attractions that I visited at Logan Canyon.
Wind Caves are natural limestone formations perched on top of a cliff that can only be accessed by heading on a 4-mile long trail.
The hike itself is very straightforward and follows a narrow path that gains around 1000 feet in elevation through steady switchbacks. This trail looks especially stunning in September and October when the entire region is experiencing beautiful fall colors.
The trail ends at the Wind Cave arches that are the result of water erosion over the years. The cave opens up to sweeping panoramic views of the canyon but be cautious of the steep drop-offs below it.
Most of the Wind Caves trail is exposed to the sun. The hike is not very long but can be difficult due to the heat so bring plenty of water.
Location: Wind Caves Trail Head, Logan, UT 84341
Read More: Guide To Visiting Wind Caves In Logan, Utah
The next attraction of Logan Canyon is Ricks Spring, a quick stop that you can see within a few minutes.
Ricks Springs is a cave where water flows through fractured rock creating a small stream.
It was originally discovered by Thomas E. Ricks in 1859 while he was searching for timber to use in construction. Thomas Ricks was a big part of the project that established the first road between Logan City and Bear Lake.
For a long time, it was believed that water at Ricks Springs had health benefits, but as it was discovered much later, the water can actually make people sick. Ricks Springs is connected with Logan River underground and the water needs to be treated properly first before it’s consumed.
Location: Ricks Springs, Richmond, UT 84333
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Tony Grove Lake
Tony Grove Lake is a stunning alpine lake that’s located within a 20-minute detour from Logan Canyon Scenic Byway.
Here you can go on a leisure stroll around the Tony Grove lake or explore more challenging day hikes. This area also offers incredible camping sites just steps away from the lakefront.
The 1.2-mile-long Tony Grove Nature Trail loops around the entire lake and offers incredible views along the way.
This is an especially scenic hike to do in the fall when the surrounding area turns to vibrant hues of yellows and oranges.
Tony Grove Lake is named after a group of pioneers from the 1800s who ventured out here for vacation and camping despite the harsh travel conditions. Now the roads are much more accessible for people to come and enjoy the pristine nature that Tony Grove Lake has to offer.
It costs $10 for the Tony Grove Lake day use pass which you can pay in cash or by check at the self-paying station here.
Location: Tony Grove Lake, Utah 84333
Read More: Tips For Hiking Tony Grove Lake In Utah
Limber Pine Nature Trail
Limber Pine Nature Trail is one of the last hiking trails as you head closer to Bear Lake.
Here you can head on a 1.3-mile long hike that leads through a serene forest full of ancient trees including a 2560-year-old limber pine. The trail is quite easy only gaining 170 feet in elevation, but there are some switchbacks.
The main attraction along this trail is a group of limber pine trees that have grown together into one giant tree.
These trees grew together after Clark’s nutcracker bird buried limber pine seeds in the ground here for later use – but then forgot about them.
Bear Lake Overlook
The last stop along Logan Canyon is Bear Lake which is most famous for its turquoise color and sandy vast beaches. Bear Lake Overlook is one of the best spots to take in panoramic views overlooking the lake that started forming over 455,000 years ago.
The bright blue color of Bear Lake is the result of calcium deposits that can be found in grey limestone rocks throughout Logan Canyon.
Like a mirror, calcium reflects sunlight in water which creates different blue hues. Depending on the weather conditions Bear Lake can change its color from blue to green to turquoise.
This overlook also serves as a rest stop so here you can use the public restroom and check out large outdoor maps of other nearby locations that you can visit after Logan Canyon.
Logan Canyon Scenic Byway ends at Garden City in Bear Lake. Garden City is a quaint little lakefront town where people come to vacation and enjoy water activities.
Despite the lake’s stunning color that mirrors those of Caribbean beaches, I spent very little time at Bear Lake itself. Most of the lake access in Garden City is blocked off by private houses & resorts and without staying at one of these hotels, I found it very difficult to access the lakefront.
The closest public access point I found was located on an unmarked strip of open land south of Garden City along Highway 30.
Rendezvous Beach is another excellent place to visit on the southern tip of Bear Lake with easy beach access and campsites just steps away from the lake.
Location: Rendezvous Beach, Utah 84038
I hope this post has helped you prepare and get ready for your road trip through Logan Canyon Scenic Byway!
Looking for more Utah inspiration? Check out some of our other popular Utah posts below:
- 10 Of The Best Arches In Arches National Park, Utah
- Guide To Visiting Arches National Park In Utah
- Review Of Staying At Hyatt Place Moab Hotel In Utah
- 12 Top Rated Places To Stay Near Arches National Park
- Guide To Visiting Goblin Valley State Park In Utah
- 12 Best Places To Stay In Moab For A Trip To Utah
Interested in stepping up your photography game? Here is the camera gear that I carry everywhere I go to create amazing travel photos:
- Main camera: Sony a7c Camera. The Sony a7c is tiny, light, full-frame, and durable – in other words, amazing!
- Polarizer Filter: Hoya 40.5 mm Filter. Polarizing filters reduce glare in water, protect the lens from getting scratched, and bring out the best colors when it’s bright outside. Having a polarizing filter is a must-have if you plan to photograph lakes, oceans, rivers, and waterfalls.
- Wide Lens: Sony 16-35 mm F4. Great for capturing wide panoramas, nature landscapes, and cramped city streets. Mounts to any Sony mirrorless camera and features autofocus, image stabilization, and incredibly sharp images.
- Lightweight Travel Tripod: Manfrotto Carbon Fiber Tripod. A good tripod is essential for capturing images in low light conditions, such as during sunset and sunrise, or creating smooth water effects when shooting waterfalls. The Manfrotto Carbon Fiber Travel Tripod is very sturdy, light, and folds small so you can take it on all of your adventures!
- Memory Cards: SanDisk Extreme 256 GB. It’s always good to bring a few extra memory cards on trips. SanDisk Extreme is ultra-fast for capturing high-quality images, bursts, long exposure night shots, and 4k videos. This memory card is also durable and reliable yet very affordable.
- Camera Batteries: Wasabi Power Battery Set. I’ve made the mistake of getting to a location to realize my camera is out of battery. Always keep your batteries charged with this camera charger set.
- Camera Bag: Lowepro adventure shoulder bag. A camera bag is something you should definitely invest in! Without having a proper place to store it I would get my camera scratched, sandy, or even occasionally drop it.
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