Utah Fall Foliage: A MapQuest Guide

10/07/2011 05:41 pm ET | Updated Nov 28, 2011

Utah fall foliage features brilliant hues and spectacular scenery. The changing colors of leaves in autumn is one of nature’s most beloved rites of passage -- and makes for one of the most popular and inexpensive getaways for families. As part of LeafQuest -- a MapQuest series helping leaf peepers across North America find easy and rewarding destinations -- here are three recommended spots for viewing Utah fall foliage. — Nick Romano

Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest

In an era of corporate mergers, it makes sense that the Uinta and Wasatch-Cache forests merged in 2007 to form, naturally, the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest. The new entity created a more-than-2-million-acre locus of Utah foliage, including brilliant aspen and cottonwoods that explode in colors every autumn. Try the Big Cottonwood Canyon Scenic Byway -- just east of Salt Lake City, aka Route 190 -- to catch both of those and many other species in all their fall glory -- if you're lucky, you may also catch sight of mule deer, moose and mountain lion, among other big critters.

Big Cottonwood Canyon Scenic Byway, Route 190, Cottonwood Heights, UT | Get Directions

Logan Canyon Scenic Byway

Flaming mountain maples, canyon maples and quaking aspen make the Logan Canyon Scenic Byway one of the finest fall-foliage quests in the West. The byway -- aka Route 89, which connects the mountain town of Logan and the raspberry capital of Garden City -- passes through sheer limestone walls and stunning rock formations in a route that stretches across the Logan River. Along the way, look for glorious views of Bear Lake -- "the Caribbean of the Rockies" -- which waits for you at the terminus in Garden City.

Logan Canyon, 1797 Canyon Road, Logan, UT 84321 | Get Directions

Alpine Loop Scenic Byway

Film fans take note of the Alpine Loop Scenic Byway. Robert Redford's Sundance Institute is along the 20-mile route, which circles through the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest, just north of Provo. And the views are cinematic in scope. Though the route is paved, visitors should bring along walking shoes, as the Timpanogos Cave National Monument is accessible from here, and Timpanogos and the national forest both make excellent venues for nature walks and photographing the many surrounding aspen trees. Timpanogos Cave National Monument also offers a one-hour tour through its three stalagmite-laced caves.

Start of Route 189, Orem, UT | Get Directions

A drive along the Alpine Loop, displaying the fall foliage, mountains and wildlife the land has to offer.

Did we miss a Utah fall-foliage spot? Tell us about it in the comments section below.

Want other great fall-foliage destinations? Check out more LeafQuest.