I rediscovered the great American road trip in the 1980s after returning from graduate school in Alabama.
I had just started up Provo Canyon in my car when I saw the turnoff to the Squaw Peak Road (FS Road 27) on the right leading to the Rock Canyon area above downtown Provo.
The Rock Canyon “Gorge” is easily visible from I-15, immediately above the Provo LDS Temple, and is well known as a rock-climbing area.
I had no idea just how wonderful the drive was going to be, especially for those who are older, handicapped, still in their Sunday clothes, or just do not want to get out of the car!
The drive, suitable for most sedans, is about five miles from the turnoff to the Rock Canyon Campground. The road starts out paved as it snakes up what appears to be a sloped terrace before turning into a well-graded gravel road.
The paved road hits a tee with two Forest Service campgrounds to the left and a spectacular overlook of Utah Lake and most of the surrounding communities a short distance to the right.
Immediately past Rock Canyon Campground, the road becomes tougher, mostly passable only by ATVs and motorcycles, as it switches back over a high ridge, and ultimately leads to the Left Fork of Hobble Creek Canyon road.
The out-of-car outdoor recreational opportunities are too numerous to list, but include lots of native flora and fauna viewing, many different hiking and biking trails, and great geologic scenery and fall colors.
Common big game animals include deer, elk and moose, and if you’re really lucky, you may spot Rocky Mountain goats on the many cliffs in the glaciated valleys above the road.
The Forest Service maintains 17 miles of trails from two trailheads in the area, one topping out on Squaw Peak itself, which provides 360 degrees of incredible vistas. Photo opportunities abound.
Although there are two campgrounds, the lower Hope Campground, and Rock Canyon higher up, there are numerous dispersed camping and picnicking pull-outs along the road.
Hope has 24 single and double campsites for tents and RVs on two loops with three restrooms. These are available by reservation during the summer, and first come, first served in the fall.
Rock Canyon is older and provides reservable opportunities for larger groups.
One of the more outstanding features above the road are the numerous terraces on the vegetated slopes that are easily seen from I-15, especially as the snow melts.
After early settlers stripped most of the Wasatch Front Mountain slopes of timber, Mother Nature retaliated with mud slides that literally buried some communities below. The terraces were created using oxen-pulled plows to stabilize the slopes.
Later, Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) workers largely expanded that effort, creating one of the true wonders along the Wasatch Front, from Farmington to Provo.
All-in-all, it is a scenic, cool Sunday drive that the whole family will enjoy. Pack a picnic lunch, and don’t forget your camera!