Skyline Drive |

Sanpete

Roadside Attraction Skyline Drive - Sanpete Roadside Attraction Skyline Drive
Sanpete

Overview | Getting There | Route | Photos | Maps | Comments

Overview

RATING: Roadside Attraction / Short Hikes
MAPS: WOODS LAKE, UT; SPRING CITY, UT; WATER HOLLOW RIDGE, UT; SOUTH TENT MOUNTAIN, UT; DANISH KNOLL, UT; HUNTINGTON RESERVOIR, UT; HELIOTROPE MOUNTAIN, UT; FERRON RESERVOIR, UT; FAIRVIEW LAKES, UT; MILL FORK, UT; TUCKER, UT; C CANYON, UT

Fri

83 | 55

Sat

81 | 54

Sun

80 | 52

Mon

77 | 53

Tue

79 | 51

View Full Weather Details
SEASON: Mid-to-late July through September
GEAR: Standard Camping Gear
WATER: Filterable from a few lakes but bring all you need.
NOTES: Be sure to have plenty of fuel and extra supplies in case the journey takes longer than you expect. Many groups are slowed down by afternoon storms, muddy roads, etc.

Fri

83 | 55

Sat

81 | 54

Sun

80 | 52

Mon

77 | 53

Tue

79 | 51

View Full Weather Details
Sheep camp on North Skyline

Sheep camp on North Skyline

One of the highest road in Utah, the Skyline Drive is an incredibly scenic dirt road traversing the spine of the Wasatch Plateau. The route has many options, with many opportunities for shorter outings. The route described here clocks in at just over 100 miles with all but a few of those miles on dirt.

There are 2 sections to the Skyline Drive, North Skyline and South Skyline.

The north section, from Tucker in Spanish Fork Canyon to UT-264, is a little lower in elevation at about 9,000 ft and a more maintained gravel road. This north section sees more traffic and is busier than the south section. People drive low clearance vehicles on the north section, but I would still recommend high clearance. The few low clearance vehicles I saw were moving slowly. There are many camping options, but also many people camping on this section.

From UT-31 south is the southern section of the Skyline. This section, after a few miles of good dirt road, becomes a “native soil” road that is prone to mud and ruts. It is longer, higher in elevation, and more dramatic than the northern section. Because of the elevation and mud/ruts, this section requires high clearance 4-wheel drive and is only passable from mid-to-late July through about September when snow free. If you are camping, I think the southern Skyline has the most scenic spots, particularly the area south of Ephraim Junction. It also has far fewer people visiting it.

Camping Note: You can drive the Skyline Drive in a day, but it would be a fairly long one by my standards. Without stops, we probably had about 6-7 hours of driving time. Given the amazing views and primitive camping, I recommend at least an overnight trip. This allows more time for checking out lakes, and soaking in the views. I thought the best camping was south of Ephraim junction.
History Note: The mountains traversed by the road were used heavily by settlers. Starting in the late 1800s, the mountains were a source of lumber for the railroad industry moving west as well as buildings in the Sanpete Valley. By the early 1900s, flooding was becoming an issue from deforestation, and the government took over the management of the area. You can still see terracing on many of the hillsides. This terracing mitigated flooding. There are many old ditches and tunnels still visible near the top as well that were used to move water from the east side of the range to the more settled west side.

The Civilian Conservation Corps completed The Skyline Drive in the 1930s by linking several existing roads and trails. It was the site of the highest elevation CCC camp.
Wildflowers and storm clouds near North Tent Mountain

Wildflowers and storm clouds near North Tent Mountain

Getting There

The North End
The northern end of Skyline Drive starts in Spanish Fork Canyon at mile post 203.6 on the south side of highway 6. This is about 30 miles from the city of Spanish Fork when heading on highway 6 toward Price. The road is signed Skyline Drive and is also Forest Service Road (FR) 150.

The South End
The south end, for this description, ends at I-70 at exit 73. This is about 19 miles east of Salina.

Snow Lake reflecting the morning light.

Snow Lake reflecting the morning light.

Route

North Skyline (28 miles)
From Tucker, turn south on the Skyline Drive (Forest Road 150). The road here is generally a good, graded gravel road that quickly begins climbing. The first 13 or so miles are all about the climb up to the ridgeline. Pretty, but not with big views. Once on top, the views open up.

At about 14.5 miles is the Fish Creek Warming Hut on the east side of the road. This old cabin was transported from near Huntington Reservoir, in one piece, to be used as a warming hut for snowmobilers and other winter recreationists. There is a pit toilet here.

Continue on, staying on the main road to the junction with UT-264 about 28 miles from Highway 6/Tucker. There are many spur roads that can be used for primitive camp spots.

To South Skyline
From the junction with UT-264, there are two options for getting to the southern section. The first is to go right on UT-264, then immediately left on UT-31. Follow UT-31 south for 5 miles to where the Skyline South section leaves the highway on the right (south) side of the road at a large parking area and pit toilet.

The second option is to turn left on UT-264. Follow it for about 2 miles to where the Skyline Drive leaves on the right (south side). Follow the dirt Skyline Drive 3.5 miles to where it intersects UT-31. Go right on UT-31 for 0.5 miles to where the Skyline Drive on the south side at a large parking area and pit toilet.

South Skyline (UT-31 to I-70) (75 miles total)
From UT-31, the road is good for a bit before a sign shows it is now “Native Soil Surface”. Most junctions are obvious or signed. I describe mileages between major junctions and marked a couple of junction on the map you might find confusing. If weather or motivation is flagging, the major junctions allow dropping off the Skyline Drive to either the east or west fairly quickly down to pavement.

UT-31 to Mt. Pleasant Junction (8.25 miles)
Mt. Pleasant is on the west side of the range.

Mt. Pleasant Junction to Potters Junction (3.7 miles)
Side Trip: The road to the east at Potters Junction drops down to the Potters Ponds area. It isn’t a quick exit from the Skyline, but Potters Pond area and Upper Joe’s Valley just beyond have great camping. It is about 5.5 miles from Skyline down to Potters Pond.

Potters Junction to Spring City Jct (5 miles)
Spring City is on the west side of the range.

Spring City Junction to Orangeville Junction (11.75 miles)
This is a lovely section, but also can be more muddy and rutted than other sections. The road passes near North and South Tent Mountains. The Sanpete County highpoint is South Tent Mountain and an easy hike if peak bagging is your thing. There are some great camping options from this section on continuing south. Orangeville is on the east side of the range near Joe’s Valley.

Orangeville Junction to Ephraim Junction (1 mile)
Ephraim is on the west side of the range, and the largest city in the area.

Ephraim Junction to Manti Junction (8.5 miles)
This lovely section is high elevation with very wide open views. It passes by the very shallow but scenic Snow Lake. There were many fish jumping in the lake the morning we stopped by. Manti is on the west side of the range.

Manti Junction to Ferron Junction (6.5 miles)
This is the highest section of the Skyline Drive, topping out at 10,897 feet. There is a large sign at the high point. From the high point, on a clear day, you can see Window Blind Peak in the Swell and many of the northern Swells features and the La Sal Mountains near Moab. Ferron is on the east side of the range.

Ferron Junction to Mayfield Junction (1.4 miles)
Mayfield is on the west side of the range. There is a campground at the Mayfield Junction, Twelve Mile Flat campground. It has pit toilets. There are many other primitive campsites in the area not in the campground.

Mayfield Junction to Emerald Lake Junction (3.1 miles)
Emerald Lake is about a mile drive off the Skyline Drive with several small, but picturesque campsites. Though a small lake, there were lots of fish jumping on our visit. I think it is a very worthwhile side trip.

Emerald Lake Junction to Redmond Junction (13 miles)
About 1.65 miles south of the Emerald Lake Junction is a side road on the right (west) that goes to a small parking area about a 1/4 of a mile from Island Lake. There is no trail to Island Lake, but the 1/4 of mile is a pretty simple walk across a meadow, then a short steep downhill section to the lake. We didn’t see any signs of fish, but deer, dragonflies, wildflowers, and solitude made the hike a worthwhile destination.

It is about 1 mile from the Island Lake side road to a side road on the left (east) that goes to Blue Lake. Though pretty, Blue Lake is small and seemed crowded and overused on our visit. To visit, drive down from Skyline Drive about a mile and take the first left. It is about 1.6 miles total from Skyline Drive to the lake.

After Blue Lake Junction, the road descends, curving down past the east side of Marys Nipple and on to Redmond Junction. Going right on Forest Road 001 at Redmond Junction to Redmond makes for a alternative end to the trip and a little shorter if you are heading back north after finishing the Skyline Drive.

Redmond Junction To I-70 (13 miles)
The road continues a steady and steep descent, passing from high mountain terrain down to the more desert ecosystem as it reaches Salina Creek and continues to pavement at the Frontage Road along I-70. There are a few major junctions along the way, stay on FR009/Salina Creek at them.

Once at the frontage road, go right to reach the nearest I-70 ramp. What a trip!


Maps

Printable Maps:
Skyline Drive Start

12S 482951mE 4420651mN

N39° 56' 09" W111° 11' 58"

Fish Creek Warming Hut

12S 469477mE 4408035mN

N39° 49' 18" W111° 21' 24"

UT-264 North

12S 473149mE 4392050mN

N39° 40' 40" W111° 18' 47"

UT-264 South

12S 474586mE 4389553mN

N39° 39' 19" W111° 17' 46"

UT-31 North Side

12S 474000mE 4385145mN

N39° 36' 56" W111° 18' 10"

UT-31 South Side

12S 473305mE 4385335mN

N39° 37' 02" W111° 18' 40"

Mount Pleasant Jct

12S 473945mE 4374198mN

N39° 31' 01" W111° 18' 11"

Potters Canyon Jct

12S 472143mE 4369619mN

N39° 28' 33" W111° 19' 26"

Jct right

12S 472443mE 4367870mN

N39° 27' 36" W111° 19' 13"

Spring City Jct

12S 469261mE 4364585mN

N39° 25' 49" W111° 21' 26"

Orangeville Jct

12S 461838mE 4352652mN

N39° 19' 21" W111° 26' 34"

Ephraim Jct

12S 461518mE 4351323mN

N39° 18' 38" W111° 26' 47"

Snow Lake Jct

12S 460656mE 4344167mN

N39° 14' 45" W111° 27' 21"

Manti Junction

12S 458180mE 4340295mN

N39° 12' 39" W111° 29' 04"

Highest Point - Swell View

12S 457933mE 4333798mN

N39° 09' 09" W111° 29' 13"

Jct - Stay Right (before Ferron Jct)

12S 458297mE 4333166mN

N39° 08' 48" W111° 28' 57"

Ferron Jct

12S 458122mE 4332432mN

N39° 08' 24" W111° 29' 04"

Mayfield Jct - 12 Mile Flat Campground

12S 457996mE 4330621mN

N39° 07' 26" W111° 29' 09"

Jct- Right

12S 457772mE 4328947mN

N39° 06' 31" W111° 29' 18"

Emerald Lake Jct

12S 456739mE 4326581mN

N39° 05' 14" W111° 30' 01"

Emerald Lake

12S 457051mE 4325236mN

N39° 04' 31" W111° 29' 47"

Island Lake Jct

12S 456495mE 4324067mN

N39° 03' 53" W111° 30' 10"

Island Lake Parking

12S 456188mE 4324010mN

N39° 03' 51" W111° 30' 23"

Blue Lake Jct

12S 455686mE 4323041mN

N39° 03' 19" W111° 30' 44"

Blue Lake 2nd Jct

12S 456631mE 4322587mN

N39° 03' 05" W111° 30' 04"

Redmond Jct - Stay Left

12S 449242mE 4318018mN

N39° 00' 35" W111° 35' 11"

End Skyline Drive - Right on Frontage Road

12S 451040mE 4303520mN

N38° 52' 45" W111° 33' 52"

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