Sunday, September 10, 2017

Scenic Drive: The Nebo Loop Scenic Byway

The Nebo Loop is a beautiful high alpine scenic drive going along the ‘back side’ or east side of Mount Nebo. The highest peak in the Wasatch range. The 38 mile scenic byway goes between Payson and Nephi. It a great drive to experience the fall colors.but we were a little early for that this year. There are also quite a few interesting and scenic viewpoints and trails to enjoy along the way. Last time we did this we went north to south, This time we decided to do south to north. It will take about 3 hours, or 2 if you don’t get out and do any walking/hiking.

Mount Nebo Overlook

Mount Nebo Overlook

Quick Details:

Length: 38 Miles
Time Needed: 2 Hours plus time to get to Nephi and/or Payson
Road Conditions: 2 lane, paved. No center line or guard rails. Some kind of intense spots on the south end, but nothing too terrible.
Summit: 9345 Feet
Restrooms: Multiple pit toilettes along the way.
Interesting Things: Lots of scenic overlooks. Devils Kitchen and The Grotto
Other Info: Fantastic during autumn.

To Get Here:

Head to Payson (i15 exit 252) and go north to south, or to Nephi (i15 exit 225) and go south to north.

The Drive:

Because this is a scenic drive, a lot of the pictures will be Drive By Photos (DBP). What this means is me, in the passenger seat snaps pictures by as we drive. If I made Landis stop every time I wanted a picture we wouldn’t get very far. Plus, It is not always possible to stop and take a proper picture.


Mona Reservoir (DBP).



Cool rock formations in Nephi Canyon (DBP).


Not long after the turn-out for the Nebo Loop we pulled over to check out this neat rock formation. It’s like Stone Henge!

Nebo Loop1

Quick panoramic.


A little bit of fall color.


Another look at the cool rock formation.


Another cool formation and a cave (DBP).

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Red Creek. This comes out of the Devil's Kitchen area so the creek is rust red, which contrasts the surrounding scenery. Last time we were here I got a drive by photo but I thought it was neat and wanted to stop today. There isn’t really a pull out to this, but if you know where it is, there is a good spot to pull off the road safely just below it.


A little closer.


From the other direction.


Not far up there is a great view of the canyon below (DBP).


The Salt Creek Overlook. The peaks in the distance are the San Pitch Range.


Neat double tree.


You get a glimpse of Devils Kitchen from here. Also, note we are almost to 8000 feet.

Next stop Devils Kitchen.

This is a short, normally paved 1/10th mile trail out to the Devils Kitchen overlook.


Very pretty forested little trail.


I am pretty sure that is Mount Nebo you can see across the way.


They must be repaving this trail.


This is a really neat little feature along the loop.




It certainly isn’t Bryce Canyon but it is still pretty cool.


The ridge is called Sky Line Drive.


Gnarly tree.


Another red rock formation across the way.


Back down to the parking lot we noticed these web covered trees. I suspected caterpillars over spiders.


And I was right. Man these guys sure spread out! We have seen similar on the Elbow Fork Trail in Mill Creek Canyon.


Bear Canyon Trailhead. Offers a nice overlook as well.


Another spot of red rocks.

Bear Canyon



The road between Red Creek and a little beyond the  Mount Nebo Overlook has some kind of scary parts, but overall it is not too bad. Just follow the speed limit and pay attention and you’ll be fine (DBP).


And be on the lookout for cows.

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The Mount Nebo Overlook. Mount Nebo is the tallest mountain on the Wasatch Range at 11,928 feet. The tallest mountain in Utah is King’s Peak in The Uintas.

Mount Nebo Overlook



Little patch of color.


The highest point on the loop 9345 feet (DBP).


A look out east (DBP).


Another look at the road, and the still very green aspens (DBP).

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Bald Mountain Overlook.

Bald Mountain Overlook

Another panoramic.



The next stop was the Santaquin View Overlook. Unfortunately, the choke cherries bushes were a bit overgrown. However they did provide a nice snack for the moment.

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Climbed into the truck bed and got somewhat of a view. But, such measures are not necessary as the next viewpoint offers a better view of Utah Lake.


Continuing along the byway (DBP). It sure is pretty up here.

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The Utah Valley Overlook offers a great view.

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You can see Mount Timpanogos from here,


Next stop: Beaver Dam Overlook.

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A closer look. Still not sure why this is the Beaver Dam Overlook. I don’t see a beaver dam.


Continuing along the road (DBP).

Somewhere around here is the Payson Lakes. We didn’t stop there today.

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A couple of baby grouse crossing the road (DBP).

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One of them in the bushes (DBP).


Patches of red rock speckle the entire area (DBP).


To get a quick hike in be sure to stop at The Grotto. It is only .6 miles round trip and it leads to this unique waterfall. I decided to make that it’s own post this time.


Down to the Maple Dell Parking and TH. Almost done with the loop.


The creek.


Almost out of the canyon (DBP).


A couple deer making their way across the road (DBP). Glad the car in front of us saw them and we didn’t witness anything nasty.


And the mountains on our way home. Timpanogos on the left (DBP).

I really do enjoy this scenic drive. It should be amazing in the next couple weeks when fall really swings into gear, but it is still amazing to do while everything is still green. Beautiful forests, great viewpoints, some interesting things to see and do. As well as camping opportunities. There are still quite a few trails that we haven't really explored yet, but figure we might want to camp here to explore them. 10 squirrels as far as scenic drives go.

10 Squirrels

Dogs are allowed, leashed.

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