Mirror Lake Scenic Byway, Utah


State Highway 150 begins in Evanston, Utah, and keeps its number as it crosses over into Utah, then into the Wasatch National Forest.  During the Wyoming portion of the drive, I passed through the same kinds of rolling, somewhat barren hills that I had seen an hour earlier, further to the east, on my way up from the Flaming Gorge area.  The weather was not vacation-friendly, and I didn’t find an excuse to take the camera out until I was back in Utah.  If you want to see what the area looks like, you’ll have to check out the Drivelapse video at the bottom of the page.

U-150 steadily climbs towards the forest.  Before you get into the trees, there are some good views of the surrounding hills.  I enjoyed this momentary break in the fog, before continuing south, and uphill…

… into the National Forest land.  A dusting of snow had arrived here, only hours before I did.  Even though I didn’t have a blue sky or any beams of sunshine, or a view of the surrounding mountains, the snow made up for it — at least partially.

If you plan on stopping anywhere in the Wasatch National Forest, you’ll need to buy a recreation pass.  A pass is $6, and is good for up to three days.  If you have an annual National Parks (America the Beautiful) Interagency pass, you can use it instead — just leave it lying on your dashboard.

In addition to the evergreens, you’ll also pass through some nice stands of aspen.

There are plenty of turnouts along the main road.  Some of them overlook scenic clearings like this one.  I took a few minutes to trudge out into the snow, looking for a photo — but the fog was still spoiling the opportunity.

Back on the road, I got a brief peek at a mountain, which quickly disappeared.

At this turnout, a plaque told the story of Richard Kletting, for which Kletting Peak (elevation 12,000 feet) was named.  That’s Kletting Peak in the background.  See it?

There it is… sort of.

Richard Kletting was an architect who designed Utah’s State Capitol.  He also sponsored the designation of the High Uinta Mountains as a forest reserve — the first in Utah.

Just a few minutes further south, around a few more graceful curves…

… the road skirts the edge of Pass Lake.   During my early June visit, the lake was still frozen with a thin sheet of ice, and partially snow covered.

I climbed through the piles of shoveled snow at the edge of the parking area to be able to walk down to the edge of the lake.

A few trails begin here at Pass Lake, but I didn’t have snow shoes, so hiking was out of the question.

Just a short distance after the road skirts Pass Lake, there’s a turnoff to the highway’s namesake, Mirror Lake.  The side road wasn’t shoveled yet, so I kept driving.  Mirror Lake isn’t visible from the highway.

Before starting to drive again, I was treated to a brief glimpse of one of the surrounding peaks.  This was probably Bald Mountain, elevation 11,943 feet (3,640 meters).

There are dozens of nice hikes which begin along the Mirror Lake Byway, and if the weather had been better, I would have devoted the rest of the day to them.  If you visit during warmer weather, consider the hike to the top of Bald Mountain.  The trail begins near Bald Mountain Pass, and only requires an elevation gain of about 1,250 feet — enough to take your breath away at this altitude, but not impossible.

Despite the name “Pass” Lake, and the view of Bald Mountain, you’re not quite at the highest elevation on the highway, just yet.  Pass Lake is just slightly above 10,000 feet…

… while Bald Mountain Pass, about two miles away, tops out at 10,759 feet (3,282 meters).

As I dropped down from the pass, I eventually escaped some of the fog, but the drizzle never stopped.  I only made one more stop before leaving the forest, at Provo Falls.

Drivelapse Video

Here’s a time-lapse dash-cam video of the drive from Evanston, Wyoming to Kamas, Utah, via Highway 150:

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