Mirror Lake Scenic Byway – Utah

September 2019

A spur of the moment trip to take in some fall colors, had Kimberly and I heading to Evanston, Wyoming. This trip was short, Friday afternoon through Sunday evening. I didn’t have time to do much planning, which was fine, considering my main objective was to have a relaxing time. Because we had an appointment Friday afternoon, about an hour north of home, we made a loop. We spent Friday night in Evanston, drove the scenic byway, and spent the night in Park City, Utah on Saturday.

Evanston, Wyoming

We drove I-80 East to Evanston, the drive was more scenic than I envisioned, making the hour and a half travel time fly by. Evanston isn’t a very big city, population around 12,000; there are six liquor stores and over forty eating establishments. A quick Google search didn’t reveal any must see attractions. The price of liquor is cheaper than in Utah, which brings many Utahns here, as well as the good selection of fireworks.

Best Western Dunmar Inn

I book all of our hotels through Expedia. They offer good service and being a gold member offers some nice perks. I found there isn’t a huge selection of accommodations in Evanston. I chose the Best Western because the reviews were very good, at 4.2 out of 5, and we were getting in late. First thing we noticed when arriving, was the little pool and hot tub across from the main entrance. It’s truly amazing how these hotels can take pictures that make things look five times bigger than it actually is. At the front desk, we were greeted by a man with a redneck persona, his words were drawn-out and he assumed we were going to party, saying if we break anything, we’re going to be charged dearly for it. We gave him no reason to think this way, and I wondered if he had already done some partying himself while at work. This guy was harmless, just very strange, but I wasn’t too surprised considering where we were.

This motel is listed as a hotel on Expedia. Commonly, a hotel has multiple floors and the rooms are accessed via indoor corridors. Motels are accessed directly from the parking lot. They conveniently forgo posting any actual pictures of the motel rooms exterior on Expedia or on their website. The decor and furniture looks like originals from the 1970s, but everything was clean and well kept. The bathroom was updated and the room air conditioner wasn’t overly loud. We had a peaceful night. We didn’t have any neighbors on either side of us. Would we stay here again? Maybe. It’s a lot cheaper than hotels we normally stay at, but for $89 a night, it’s a good deal and was interesting.

Legal Tender Restaurant

After researching reviews of local restaurants, we decided to eat at the on-site restaurant. It was rated as high as any others in the area. The service was much better than the food. The vegetables were way overcooked and mushy. The loaf of bread, which was half white and half pumpernickel, was okay. The overall quality and flavor of the food was on par with a typical cafe, although Legal Tender tries to portray they are upscale. They are not. The free breakfast buffet in the morning was also okay, the variety wasn’t bad, but like most buffets, it left a lot to be desired.

Bear River State Park

We visited the only attraction I felt compelled to see. This is a small state park with a handful of wildlife, including bison and elk. There is a nice walking/biking trail with views of the Bear River. We spent around a half hour here. The animals were far away in the field. It’s worth taking a look at.

Mirror Lake Scenic Byway

This scenic highway deserves its 5 out of 5 star rating on Tripadvisor and Yelp. Highway 150 is well maintained, the summit at Bald Mountain Pass is over 10,000’. There are numerous outdoor adventure opportunities, including fishing at the various lakes, hiking, nature trails, campgrounds, picnic areas, scenic pull-outs, and a waterfall. It’s nice having many rest stops along the way.

The fall colors are amazing and plentiful at this time of the year. Mirror Lake and the many smaller lakes are beautiful in their alpine setting. The highway was busy with many people taking advantage of what the area has to offer. Due to the high elevation and the vast amount of snow last winter, the highway didn’t open until June 24th. Depending on snow fall, the road typically closes early November.

Park City, Utah 

The Chateaux Deer Valley

This Forbes 4-Star luxury property lives up to it’s high rating. It is very well maintained and clean. The beautiful exterior and interior are well appointed. The first thing we noticed upon arrival was the refreshing fragrance in the air, a very nice touch. The woman working the check-in desk was very professional, complete opposite of what we experienced at Evanston’s Best Western, which is to be expected. There is a free shuttle service to downtown Park City and free indoor parking. The hotel room had a full gourmet kitchen, gas fireplace, and balcony. We were very pleased with our stay and would definitely stay here again.

Cena Ristorante

This on-site Italian restaurant boasts a 4.5 star rating on Tripadvisor. Service was excellent, prompt, and professional. The ambience provided by the Chateaux’s large windows, fireplace, and decor is very inviting. The menu has a good selection, everything from pizza to wagyu sirloin. We enjoyed the food, it was well prepared, and delectable. Our stay included a breakfast buffet on Sunday morning, likewise, it was very good. I highly recommend trying Cena, good food and reasonably priced.

This was a relaxing trip, which allowed us to experience the beauty of nature together, hand in hand. We make it a point to view the beautiful colors of fall, every year. There are many places to do so here in Utah, which is great, variety is the spice of life. By all means, if the opportunity arises, give the Mirror Lake Scenic Byway a try.

Happy adventurous and safe travels to you all!

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