17 Jun, 2020

Cabin fever’s no joke. Thankfully the great Utah outdoors are ready and waiting to provide the refreshment and natural beauty you need to recharge. Meet the beautiful Provo Canyon.

If you’re looking for an accessible and walkable canyon with several parks sprinkled along the way, then Provo Canyon is the one for you. Located just down the hill from Orem, and only three miles from BYU, its Provo River Parkway trail is the perfect route for everything from running and longboarding to hiking, picnics, and long scenic drives. 

Into fly fishing? The Provo River’s a gold mine. How about rafting? Provo River can help you there. Or are you just in the mood for a scenic drive? You name it and chances are good that Provo Canyon’s got it. The Provo Canyon Scenic Byway is great for drives and the Provo River Parkway trail is ideal for cyclists, runners, and pedestrians.

So without further ado, here’s everything you need to know about Provo Canyon.

How do I get to Provo Canyon?

Photo by T M on Unsplash

The mouth of Provo Canyon is located where 800 North in Orem meets US-189. If you’re traveling on I-15, take exit 272 and head east. Coming from BYU? Simply head north on University Avenue until it turns into US-189. You’ll then find yourself driving through the beautiful Provo Canyon Scenic Byway which goes all the way to Heber.

What about the Provo River Parkway trail?

The Provo River Parkway is a 15-mile paved bike and running trail that begins at Utah Lake State Park (4400 West Center Street in Provo) and ends at Vivian Park. The trail can easily be accessed from a parking lot that sits where 800 North in Orem meets US-189 or from several parks that are scattered throughout the canyon. Get directions here.

What can I do on the Provo River Parkway trail?

Running, rollerblading, cycling, you name it. The trail has a lane dedicated to walkers and two other lanes for cyclists, rollerbladers, longboarders, and even horseback riders.

What parks are there in Provo Canyon?

There are several beautiful parks and nature areas along Provo Canyon. Browse the list below for specific details.

Mt. Timpanogos Park

This 44-acre park was originally built in 2005 to be the home of the Timpanogos Storytelling Festival. It no longer primarily hosts the event, but it is one of the newer parks in Provo Canyon and a great location for picnics and receptions. 

The park features several grassy areas and modern pavilions with picnic tables. It also allows easy access to the Provo River Parkway trail. Mt. Timpanogos Park is equipped with six restrooms, nine pavilions with BBQ grills, a hosting center, ten picnic sites, and access to running water. There are no playgrounds. It also features a bike skills track for beginners.

Restrooms and picnic tables are available for public use, but pavilions and the Cascade Hosting Center require a reservation through Orem City.

Click here for directions to Mt. Timpanogos Park.

Canyon View Park

Canyon View Park is located east of Mt. Timpanogos Park, just one mile from the mouth of Provo Canyon. There’s plenty of parking, picnic tables with coverings, a playground for children, a sand volleyball court, and several large flat grass areas. There’s also one large pavilion that seats 100 people. You must call Utah County for reservations. You’ll find some great fishing spots close to this park, especially if you’re into fly fishing.

Click here for directions to Canyon View Park.

Canyon Glen Park

This park sits between the Provo River Parkway and the Provo River. Complete with two sand volleyball courts, a bouldering playground, horseshoe pits, and even an amphitheater, this park is a versatile venue for many different events. The 14 uncovered picnic tables with grills do not require fees or reservations. The two pavilions do require reservations and fees. Visit Provo Park Reservations for more information.

Click here for directions to Canyon Glen Park.

Nunns Park

Nunns Park is a camping area split down the middle by the Provo River Parkway trail. It was named after L.L. Nunn who operated the first 44,000 volt hydropower plant in America. It was built on that site in 1897, but later the land was sold to Utah Power and Light and then to Utah County at which time it was turned into a park/campground. The campsites are rather small, and they are first come, first served. There are a few spots for RVs. Bridal Veil Falls is located just a half mile away and is easily accessible via the paved Provo River Parkway trail.

Click here for directions to Nunns Park.

Vivian Park

The Provo River Parkway trail ends at Vivian Park. It features a great fishing spot for children 12 and under that is regularly stocked. Vivian Park is also the end of the line for the Heber Valley Railroad. The park also has a few pavilions and playsets and a grassy area.

Click here for directions to Vivian Park.

South Fork Park

If you turn off of Provo Canyon Scenic Byway at Vivian Park and then keep following the small road up that canyon, you’ll hit South Fork Park. It’s a nice park that’s farther away from the hustle and bustle of the parks that are closer to the mouth of the Provo Canyon. That said, it can get crowded in the summer with many church and community groups gathering for BBQs and activities. A beautiful stream runs through the park, and there are pavilions and picnic tables and a very large grassy area.  

Click here for directions to South Fork Park.

Big Springs Park

If you continue even farther beyond South Fork Park, you’ll come to Big Springs Park. It has a plenty of shade, parking, and some pavilions. The grassy areas are more sloped, so they’re not ideal for soccer, but they work great for basic recreation. As the name suggests, a large natural spring runs through this park.

Click here for directions to Big Springs Park.

What hikes are available in Provo Canyon?

There are several hikes located off of the Provo River Parkway trail. Many of the trailheads can be found in the numerous parks along the way. You can often find hiking trails posted at these parks or online.

What are some of the most popular destinations in Provo Canyon?

Sundance, Squaw Peak, the Alpine Scenic Loop, and Deer Creek Reservoir are some of the bigger attractions that are accessible in the greater Provo Canyon area.

Sundance Mountain Resort

Photo by John Bewlay on Unsplash

Sundance is a mountain resort that has skiing in the winter and mountain biking in the summer. It’s also home to outdoor plays and concerts in the warmer months and features some world class restaurants and meeting halls. 

Click here for directions to Sundance Mountain Resort.

Squaw Peak Overlook

Squaw Peak is a great place for a breathtaking view of the valley below. You’ll get a spectacular look at Provo and Orem, and you can get to the lookout point all without ever hiking. That said, from the top of Squaw Peak, there are several hiking trails you can take after parking.

Click here for directions to Squaw Peak Overlook.

Alpine Scenic Loop

The Alpine Loop Scenic Byway is located past Sundance and Aspen Grove, and it features a number of hiking trails for all skill levels. The full drive is 20 miles long and it runs through Uinta National Forest to Provo Canyon. While hiking is an option, the drive alone will give you spectacular views of Mount Timpanogos and the surrounding peaks. Keep in mind that you’ll likely pay $6 to $12 to access the scenic loop.  

Click here for directions to the Alpine Loop Scenic Byway

Deer Creek Reservoir

Deer Creek reservoir

Deer Creek Reservoir is found near the end of Provo Canyon. Since it’s part of Deer Creek State Park, you’ll need to purchase a day pass. The reservoir is large and offers a wide variety of activities including windsurfing, boating, zip lining, fishing, and camping. 

Click here for directions to Deer Creek State Park and reservoir.

Enjoy Provo Canyon

Escape the clutter of daily life and spend some time in beautiful Provo Canyon. There’s so much to do that it’s tough to cover it all in one article. That said, hopefully now you have a good idea of the fun, recreation, and relaxation that awaits. Get out there and enjoy!

Jake Hansen