Nothing is better than putting on some cozy fall clothes, grabbing your favorite hot drink, and heading off on a road trip. And if you live in or are traveling to Utah this fall, here is your ultimate road trip guide to see the most impressive fall foliage.
Utah is home to many stunning trees with arrays of orange, red, and yellow hues as well as rock formations, waterfalls, and the majestic Rocky Mountains. With this Utah fall foliage guide, you’ll be surrounded by beautiful nature and stunning landscapes as far as the eye can see.
4 Top Places to Road Trip For Utah Fall Foliage
1. Ogden Valley
One hour north of Salt Lake City sits beautiful Ogden Valley, home to rustic pioneer towns and hundreds of miles of hiking trails. Ogden Valley is considered a “bowl” because you will have 365-degree mountain views.
Head here to walk along trout streams with connecting lakes and wave hello to the paddle borders, kayakers, and wake surfers. During mid-September, the trees turn to their autumn shades, but they usually hit their prime around the last week of September.
Ogden Valley is filled with stunning maples, towering aspens, and hearty oaks, making this a memorable trip. Better yet, all three main roadways to get here are scenic byways, so you won’t be stuck staring at city traffic on the journey there, just the beautiful Utah landscape.
2. Fishlake National Forest
Located in central Utah, Fishlake National Forest is home to the largest natural mountain lake in the state. If you fish, you must visit for its trophy fishing. Not only are the fish always biting, but there are tons of unique wildlife to see when exploring and taking in the breathtaking Utah fall foliage.
You’ll never get bored or see the same thing twice with the 628 miles of motorized trails. So grab that coffee and a snack and hit the road. Maybe pack a lunch and enjoy the gorgeous spruces, pines, junipers, firs, and aspens. These trees become the most stunning autumn shades that draw people from all over to sit back and take it all in.
Into camping? There are tons of walking trails and campgrounds all over Fishlake National Forest. You can rough it in a tent or bring the whole family in the camper. Regardless, you’ll be glad you visited the Utah fall foliage at Fishlake.
3. Capitol Reef National Park
If you’re near south-central Utah, you must visit Capitol Reef National Park in the heart of Red Rock County for some of the best fall foliage in Utah. Filled with different species of wildlife, including grey foxes, beavers, and ringtails, you may be able to spot some peaking around the beautiful Utah fall foliage.
Not only are the pines, junipers, oaks, and cottonwoods in their full autumn bloom but so are the wildflowers, making every bit of the park filled to the brim with Utah’s fall foliage. Camp throughout the park and enjoy stunning cliffs, canyons, and boulders. You may even stumble upon some fossils while walking the hiking trails.
While strolling through the park, you’ll come across an old apple orchard that is still functional today, where you can grab some apples for the trip back home or save to make some fall favorite apple pies or turnovers.
4. Zion National Park
In the southwestern part of Utah sits its first-ever national park. You may be coming to see the gorgeous Utah fall foliage, but you’ll leave having seen massive sandstone cliffs, narrow canyons, and sparkling waterfalls.
The best views are located at the top of the sandstone cliffs, where the pine and juniper trees fill the cascading slopes, turning them into shades of green and oranges that are breathtaking.
There are over 1,000 different species of plants thanks to the neighboring Mojave desert and rocky mountains. There is always something to discover while hiking or driving through Zion National Park.
While gazing at Utah’s fall foliage, keep your eyes peeled among the trees for the endangered Californian condors and Mexican spotted owls.
If you’re looking to make the trip into a small getaway, there are many campgrounds to stay at to immerse yourself in your surroundings for a relaxing experience. Of course, if you come for a quick road trip, there are many driveable trails, or take a shuttle to see even more of Utah’s fall foliage.
The Best Scenic Drives to Take to See Utahs Fall Foliage
Since fall comes with its ever-changing weather, you may want to take a drive in the warmth of your vehicle to view the beautiful autumn leaves. Here is a list of the top drives to take when it’s too chilly for a hike.
5. Logan Canyon Scenic Drive
Once the leaves begin to change colors, you know it’s time to take the scenic drive through Cache Valley and the canyons and mountains that are close by.
Because most of this area is agricultural, you’ll pass pumpkin farms, stunning golden and orange kissed trees, and catch glimpses of the dazzling white firs along the mountainscape.
To enjoy this scenic byway, follow US 89 – 91 north of Brigham City.
6. Ogden Canyon Scenic Drive
Snaking alongside the Ogden River, you’ll emerge from the canyon and open up to the stunning Ogden Valley Pineview Reservoir.
As you trek eastward, you’ll see more of Utah’s fall foliage within the Monte Cristo Mountain Range, showing off the changing leaves of golden and rust-colored hues.
To visit this scenic drive, follow UT 39 East from Ogden.
7. Little Cottonwood Canyon Scenic Drive
If you’re looking for a stunning canyon drive, look no further. This canyon is the home to two of Utah’s ski resorts, which turn into fabulous hiking and biking trails when winter is over and the snow has melted away.
You’ll be fully immersed in Utah’s fall foliage for this hour-long drive, just enough to get nice and cozy with your pumpkin latte, then head back home for a late afternoon nap.
To drive this scenic road, take the exit at I-215 South at Exit 6, then proceed south on UT 190.
Utah’s Most Stunning Fall Foliage
Aspens are a towering tree known for their beautiful white bark and slender appearance. These trees cover the mountains with golden yellow leaves, which come early to mid-September.
Aspens grow in what is called patchwork, meaning that aspens that are close together will never have the same colored leaves. They will all have different hues.
The groves are filled with multiple clones of aspens, which aid in this patchwork effect and give Utah fall foliage the unique and stunning look it has. You’ll find aspens growing among fir trees, making their golden leaves pop among the mossy greens of the firs.
You’ll surely see gorgeous maple trees when planning to see Utah’s fall foliage. Maple trees give quite the show when it comes to changing leaf colors, almost like nature’s fiber optics.
Maples can change from golden yellows to burnt oranges to sultry reds, but you have to act fast to see it, as before you know it, seasons change, and it will be a whole other year before you can catch the show again.
10. Scrub Oaks
Scrub oaks are the most commonly found oak tree along the rocky mountains and in Utah. It’s one of the smaller oak tree species with more of a shrubby appearance, but that doesn’t take away from its magnificent colors during fall.
When looking at Utah’s fall foliage, you’ll notice the smaller oaks in between other more giant trees since they thrive in the drier lower slopes of the Rockies.
Scrub oaks or bear oaks will turn a yellow-orange and a reddish-orange in late September, making for one of nature’s falltime showstoppers.
11. White Fir
White firs are the most common fir tree in Utah. You may be thinking that fir trees don’t change colors in the fall, so how do they add to the true Utah fall foliage feel? They do this by adding contrast and bringing the color-changing oaks, maples, and aspens to life.
The contrast of the blueish-green needles makes the golden tones glow among the mountain slopes, forming a true spectacle only nature can provide.
Not only do they provide such beauty, but they are in abundance. When walking through trails or hiking paths, it’s common to see baby white firs popping up on the pathways. These trees are hearty and will grow and flourish almost anywhere but do amazingly well in Utah’s climates.
Wrapping Up Your Ultimate Utah Fall Foliage Road Trip Guide
When planning your road trip this fall, be sure to include some of these locations or scenic drives into your plans. Whether it’s just a quick hour drive or a weekend getaway at a national park, you’ll be glad you got to enjoy Utah’s fall foliage. Who knows? This may be your new yearly tradition with family and friends.
Are you thinking of places to appreciate the autumn climate? You can check out our articles for Fall Foliage, so you’ll be sure to get some relaxation out in nature.