Manti-La Sal National Forest has numerous byways and backways threading through dramatic landscapes. There are several road trips adventurous travelers may want to check out.
By way of explanation, byways are major roads suitable for passenger cars, while backways are lower-standard roads often requiring high-clearance vehicles and or four-wheel drive.
In all cases, regardless which type of way is to be considered, ask locally for road conditions before beginning any excursion.
The Energy Loop
Huntington and Eccles Canyons National Scenic Byway, also known as the Energy Loop, has a length of 85 miles or 136 Kilometers. Allow four hours for travel.
The views are breathtaking on the Huntington and Eccles Canyons National Scenic Byway. The route is rich with the history of mining in Utah’s coal country, with views of a coal-fired power plant and an operating mine along the way.
The Scofield Cemetery is witness to a mining disaster that killed hundreds of men and boys in 1900. The recovery site of the 9,500 year-old mammoth skeleton is interpreted just off the road and down a short trail near Huntington Reservoir.
In 2017, new interpretive signs were placed along the byway where motorists can pull off and read about the unique features of the area. The byway, which traverses Huntington, Fairview and Eccles canyons offers fishing, camping, hiking, and ATV trails.
The paved road traverses state routes (SR) 31, 264, and 96 and can be accessed at it junctions with SR-10 in Huntington; SR-6 at the Scofield turn; and SR-89 in Fairview. Check road conditions before traveling in winter.
Be sure to make time on the weekend to visit the Stuart Guard Station in Huntington Canyon. The boys of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) built the guard station during the 1920s Depression Era.
The station now houses artifacts from that time, and tells the story of how these young men built improvements throughout the Forest to earn money for their families at home.
The Guard Station also tells the story of the Manti-La Sal National Forest and its beginnings over 100 years ago. A host can show visitors through on weekends and holidays in the summer.
Ferron to Mayfield
Ferron to Mayfield State Scenic Backway has a length of 48 miles or 77 kilometers. Allow three to four hours for travel.
Winding up 12-Mile Canyon from Mayfield, this backway begins and ends in the pinyon-juniper country, but climbs to well over 10,000 feet while passing through stands of aspen and conifer.
Angler destinations such as Town Reservoir, Ferron Reservoir, and Willow Lake are located along this route. This gravel route is accessible to passenger cars during the summer and fall, then becomes a snowmobiler’s haven during the winter.
Ephraim to Orangeville
The Ephraim to Orangeville Road Backway has a length of 47 miles or 74.5 kilometers. Allow three to four hours for travel.
The Ephraim Canyon Heritage Tour segment of this backway is a 15-mile drive from Ephraim to the summit of the Wasatch Plateau, a climb of 5,000 feet. Along the way travelers can stop at six different interpretive displays that describe the natural and cultural heritage of the area, including the Civilian Conservation Corps work.
The Skyline Drive to Joes Valley and Orangeville segment accesses the favorite fishing holes and camping areas of Pete’s Hole, Grassy Lake, Soup Bowl and Joes Valley Reservoir.
This half of the drive is not suitable for low-clearance vehicles, is treacherous when wet, and is closed for winter. On a sunny day, it’s a fun drive with spectacular views.
Skyline Drive backway
Skyline Drive State Scenic Backway is two distinct backway experiences; combined, the two form a portion of the Great Western Trail.
1). North Skyline Drive has a length of 27 miles or 43.2 kilometers. Allow one to two hours for travel.
The North drive is a gravel road, climbs to the Wasatch Plateau from US-6, at Tucker, and undulates south for 27 miles to SR-31. This section provides scenic views into Lake Fork and Fish Creek Drainages and access to prime fall hunting areas.
This road is suitable for passenger cars, but is closed in the winter and groomed for snowmobiles.
2). South Skyline Drive has a length of 71 miles or 114 kilometers. Allow five to seven hours for travel.
The journey begins on SR-31 and continues 55 miles south to the Fishlake National Forest boundary. I-70 is an additional 16 miles.
Stunning views of Mt. Nebo and other mountains are on constant display complimented by vivid wildflowers in mid to late summer. This is the backbone of the Arapeen OHV Trail System with numerous routes dropping off the Skyline to valleys below.
Elevations approach 11,000 feet and the road is difficult to access until late July as large snowdrifts slowly melt, but this trip is worth the wait. The majority of South Skyline Drive requires high clearance four-wheel drive vehicles. It is treacherous when wet.