Start: Salt Lake City
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Head south past the Cottonwood Canyon ski resorts (and maybe take a side trip to Park City, Utah‘s premier resort town and site for 2002 Winter Olympic events). Further south on I-15 is Provo, home of Brigham Young University and close to Timpanogos Cave National Monument and Robert Redford’s Sundance Ski Resort and Village. (Every January, the Sundance Film Festival selects 200 films for exhibition from more than 9,000 films entered from around the world.)
Just a few miles south is the 38-mile Nebo Loop Scenic Byway — a north-south mountain drive that runs between the regional centers of Payson and Nephi.
For those who thrill to bagpipes, Payson is the site of the annual Scottish Heritage Festival, held every July. On a culinary level, other annual festivities include a salmon supper, held every August, and the Onion Days festival, held every Labor Day weekend.
Just 25 miles south of Nephi (and five miles east of I-15), you’ll find the sandy beaches and warm waters of Yuba State Park, a favorite with in-boat campers.
Fishlake National Forest
Fishlake National Forest of central Utah will roll by for the next 100 miles or so. Fish Lake (south of Salina), from which the forest takes its name, is considered by many to be the gem of Utah. The largest natural mountain lake in the state, it offers trophy fishing and bird watching.
Southwestern corner of Utah
Welcome to Utah’s “Dixie,” known for a mild climate and history as a pre-Civil War-era cotton growing region. There’s a 7,500-foot drop from the cool forest of Cedar Breaks National Monument to St. George on the edge of the Mohave Desert. This is “Color Country,” known for the vibrant hues of cliff faces and especially Zion National Park.
Cedar Breaks is a natural amphitheater, sort of a miniature Bryce Canyon. The canyon rim is 10,000 feet, so snow effectively shuts down the monument from October to May.
Nearby Cedar City hosts the annual Utah Shakespearean Festival, from late June to mid-October. Plays featured this season in repertory are: Macbeth, The Merchant of Venice, Much Ado About Nothing, Pride and Prejudice, Alfred Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps and Great Expectations: A New Musical.
End: Zion National Park
Don’t miss: Here are our top three vistas in Zion National Park.