Logan Canyon Scenic Byway
The entrance to Logan Canyon
The Logan Canyon Scenic Drive run for 41 miles between Logan and Garden City along US Highway 89. Most of this route is in the valley carved into the mountains by the Logan River. Heading east from Logan, it's a long, slow cruise up the hill, past some of Utah's most beautiful lake, forest and mountain scenery. The mountains here were obviously carved by the glaciers during the last Ice Age: steep, bare vertical faces, high gendarmes and buttresses. Nearly the entire route is through the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest, around the east side of the Mount Naomi Wilderness. That means there are plenty of picnic areas, campgrounds and trail heads along the way. Near the highest point on the road is a turnoff that leads to Beaver Mountain Ski Resort. Beyond that point, the road turns east and descends to Garden City with some excellent views over Bear Lake. The Logan Canyon Scenic Drive ends in Garden City when it meets up with the Bear Lake Scenic Byway.
The lower canyon has several reservoirs in it
70,000 years ago, most of this part of Utah was covered by ancient Lake Bonneville, a lake fed by glacial melt waters during the Ice Ages. The mountains are composed of 500-million-year-old limestone and quartzite that was carved by the glaciers and polished by the lake waters into a fantastical array of pillars, spires, buttresses, overhanging caves and sheer cliffs. That has made Logan Canyon into one of the world's premier rock climbing areas with "slopes" rated everything from an easy 5.4 to a slightly tougher 5.14b (at Super Tweak: one of the hardest climbing routes in North America). Many of the most challenging routes are only a few minutes hike from the highway, but if you want to get away from the weekend warriors, just hike a few more minutes into the back country and then start up.
Rising in the mountains
Logan Canyon is also a favorite among the snowmobiling set with more than 180 miles of trails in Utah's famous "champagne powder." Many trails run high in the mountains offering excitement and great views of the canyons, lakes and higher mountains. The best days for snowmobiling are Sunday through Friday: quite often you can have the whole place to yourself.
I drove the route in late April, heading from Logan over to Garden City. The lower reaches of the canyon were beautiful but the trees were just barely beginning to turn green. The upper areas were snow-covered and near the summit, I came across a group of people unloading snowmobiles to enjoy the high country. Then I crossed over the summit and, it being late in April, discovered Beaver Mountain was already closed for the season. So I descended to the Bear Lake Overlook for a stop and a good long look... That's where the photos in the slideshow come from. You can also see from some of the lower photos on this page that Logan Canyon is a very colorful place for a Sunday drive in the fall when the maple, oak and aspen leaves are changing.
The canyon narrows again
Almost to the top of the pass
Looking down on Bear Lake from the Bear Lake Overlook