Flax field

Flax field

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Driving the Mirror Lake Highway

Mirror Lake Highway opened Friday before Memorial Day.  This is unusual, most years it is not open until around July 4th.  We had a low snow year and the road was able to be cleared.  My DS and I wanted to see it in a different time of year, so we drove up.

Driving up the canyon past Park City was beautiful.  The hills were deep green, once the grasses ripen in early summer, the hills are more gray-green and brown, so the hills seemed so spring like and fresh.  

We stopped at the Kamas market for drinks and snacks and started up the road toward the Unita Mountains.  These mountains are the highest mountains in the US that are running east/west.  They are greener in the summer and have interesting plants.  I have been driving through them and camping there since is was a child.  My Dad always loved camping and fishing up here.

We got to Soapstone Basin and the Aspen trees were starting to leaf out already.  They were a beautiful yellow green against the evergreen trees.
Green Grass and Aspens
The Provo River was running fast and I am sure it was cold, I did not want to test it and so I just took pictures of it.
Provo River at Soapstone Basin
Soapstone Basin is where the road is usually blocked off for the winter.  Last year we were up here in June and were not able to drive up the road...we drove up a little way, but there was too much snow to continue.

On this trip, we stopped at several overlooks to see the views.  Here the river was down below us and we are starting to get into the snow patch areas.
Just to the right in the picture, there is a little patch of white, that was a large snow patch.  The rapids are rushing down the river.  I love the look of the white water.

We stopped at the Upper Provo River Falls, like we always do.  This was the highest and fastest I have ever seen the river and the falls.

Usually, my DS will climb down by the falls, and you can usually see the stair step stones that form the cascade that we call the falls.
Here's a view from 2010
The rock on the right side of the picture from 2010 is the same one that is on the upper third of the picture from 2013.  There is a lot more water coming down from the snow melt this time of year!

I also got to take some pictures of the flowers.  There were Dog Tooth Violets and the Mountain Spring Beauty that I love so much.
Mountain Spring Beauty
These flowers come up in early spring, and are only 1/2 to 3/4 inches across.  I did not see them for several years, because by time I got up in the mountains, they were gone for the season.  It was great to see them this year and enjoy their beauty.

Driving past Lily Lake and Teapot Lake, they were about half covered with ice.  The reservoir at Lost Creek Campground was full.  We always refer to this as Lost Lake...I don't know if that is the real name.  
Lost Lake in September
Here is a picture from the fall.  All the brown on the right side of the picture was under water this weekend.  It was fun to see the lake that full.  There were fishermen trying to catch their fish dinner.  It really looked like a fun day for them.

By time we got to the summit, the snow was about three feet deep at the sides of the road, and not many of the trail heads and camp grounds were open.
Snow along the highway
We drove all the way to Mirror Lake, but that road was under snow.  But through the trees, we could see that the lake was frozen over.  It would have been fun to get closer, but that was about a mile through three foot deep snow, and were were not dressed to do that.

We stopped back at the summit to get some pictures.   The cornice on Mt. Baldy looked like it was  twelve to eighteen feet.  It is hard to tell through a camera lens.

Cornice on the mountain

Here's a little closer view

I loved the way the snow had melted to form "snow Hoodoos".  We see redrock hoodoos all over southern Utah, but these were just melted snow.
Snow Hoodoo
Where the snow had been plowed up along the side of the road, I guess the rocks heated differently than the road, so we got these great shapes several places along the road.

DS taking pictures of the view
Every where you looked, there were beautiful views of trees, snow and sky.  It was a great Sunday drive and fun to see the area at a different time of year.  I felt like I drove from Summer in the valley through Spring in Park City & Kamas and into Winter in the mountains. 
I read in the Sunday newspaper, that another person driving up there decided to come back with his snow board to enjoy the snow that is left up there.  With the temperature in the 60's during the day, he had better hurry before the snow is gone.


  1. Looks like it was a wonderful drive...not many can say that they "lived" through so many seasons in such a short period of time =)


  2. Deanna, your pictures are killing me! We really miss that area and all it has to offer. Although I am a midwest girl at heart and love my Great Lakes with every fiber of my being....the Unitas will always be special to me. Miss them.

  3. Just Beautiful. I can't remember the last time I was in the Uintas.