North of the 41st Parallel: The Top of Utah


Total Driving: 300 miles, about 7 hours   |   Driving per day: 1/2 to 3 hours   |   Most Driving: Day 4 


 

Drive north of the 41st parallel, and enter a lush landscape that celebrates the northern latitude's four seasons with startling diversity. In the spring, welcome the return of migratory birds from the south, typically adorned in their best and brightest breeding apparel, and see a land coming awake as the winter thaws away. Commemorate the long, warm days of summer as they drift into the crisp air of fall with a road trip based around the ancient and timeless seasonal milestones throughout this stunning region of America.

Fall highlights include the harvest and the southward flight of hundreds of thousands of graceful migratory birds across the Great Salt Lake. Fresh-picked berries on Utah’s Famous Fruit Way flavor your own pilgrimage north across the mountain byway of Logan Canyon where the leaves are changing; emerge on the other side at the turquoise waters of Bear Lake, where summer lingers and your perfect outdoor adventure awaits. If you’re wondering where to go on a road trip, it’s hard to find getaways as great as you’ll find here in Utah.

The Great Migration (North of the 41st Parallel) refreshes the senses, bringing sanity back into life thanks to a more profound connection with the earth's natural cycles and places.*

 Follow the itinerary below or use it to guide you as you plan your own road trips in Utah.


At a Glance

DAY 1

Fruit Way 

Start: Meal in Salt Lake City (Read about Utah's Local Dining.)
See: Historic Highway 89
Explore: Ogden or Brigham City-area trails
Options: Willard Bay State ParkExplore Salt Lake
Scenic Routes: Fruit Way
Roads: I-15 and Highway 89
Miles: 65
Night: Salt LakeOgdenBrigham City or Tremonton

 

DAY 2

Migration and Frontiers

Start: Birdwatching and interpretive hikes
See: The cycle of the season
Explore: Logan Canyon trails, Dining in Logan
Option: Golden Spike National Historic SiteAmerican West Heritage Center
Scenic Route: Logan Canyon Scenic Byway
Roads: Bird Refuge Road, Highway 89
Miles: 80–120
Night: Logan or Garden City /Laketown

 

DAY 3

Bear Lake Bliss

Start: Endless water sports and fruit shakes
See: Brilliant blue waters and the Bear Lake Monster
Explore: National forest by horseback or ATV
Option: Bear Lake State Park, Minnetonka Cave
Scenic Route: Bear Lake–Laketown
Roads: S.R. 30
Miles: 10
Night: Garden City/Laketown

 

DAY 4

Close the Loop

Start: Quick dip before the morning drive
See: Rural towns and changing leaves
Explore: Snowbasin by mountain bike
Options: Pineview ReservoirSalomon Center in Ogden
Scenic Route: Ogden River
Roads: S.R. 30, 16, 39 and I-15
Miles: 150
Night: Home

 


In Detail

This road trip blends harvest and the spectacular migrations marking the changing of the seasons with perfect temperatures for late-summer hiking, biking, boating or other outdoor adventures in the Wasatch Mountains and national forests of Northern Utah.

Salt Lake City International Airport brings you within 10 minutes of downtown Salt Lake. In Salt Lake you can stop for a meal where innovative, forward-thinking chefs coax beauty from the bounty. Check out Copper Onion, Pago, the Tin Angel, Caffe Niche and other local culinary attractions before heading north toward Utah's Fruit Way, a short stretch of historic Highway 89 showcasing the area's agriculture. Stock up on local fruit at Tagge's or Pettingill's fruit stands and locally made jerky from one of several travel stops to power your evening of hiking or self-guided history tour around Brigham City. The 75,000-acre Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge is just 45 minutes from Brigham City and offers an exciting reminder of this natural space we share with wildlife. Millions of migrating birds pass through the area each year, and the fall is a perfect time to stop and discover the wonder of this natural event. September sees the departure of shorebirds like plovers, gulls and ibises and October experiences a swell in waterfowl, including tundra swans and diving ducks.

A great option is the trip to Golden Spike National Historic Site, where a nation was united by rail and frontiers opened, and closed. Tremonton and the Wellsville Mountains provide an additional scenic backdrop and hiking opportunity in the area.

The road then climbs to Logan, an adventurous college town with a great performing arts scene and excellent local food and coffee: consider lunch at the historic Bluebird or the hip Jack’s Wood Fired Oven and pair it with the perfect cup at Caffe Ibis and a homemade pastry at Crumb Brothers.

Five minutes from Logan is Logan Canyon Scenic Byway, a beautiful drive with plenty of hiking, canoeing, fishing and wilderness access en route to the geographic jewel of Northern Utah, Bear Lake, dubbed the Caribbean of the Rockies. You'll find great accommodations and rentals for water sports, or just take a swim, relax on the family-friendly beach and enjoy the view before sipping a legendary raspberry shake at Garden City. The scenic backway gives access to another refreshing stop at Pineview Reservoir or a morning of lift-served mountain biking at Snowbasin Mountain Resort before returning to Salt Lake.    

*For winter travelers, Northern Utah comes alive with outdoor recreation on the Greatest Snow on Earth®, including multiple ski resorts for the best downhill and seemingly infinite backcountry access that snowmobilers and snowshoers will love.