Mirror Lake Scenic Byway: A Stunning Utah Scenic Drive

As you’re looking for places to visit in Utah, there’s a must-see drive we highly recommend!

The Mirror Lake Scenic Byway is a terrific day trip from Salt Lake City, Park City, and Provo. You’ll be treated to mountain views, overlooks, waterfalls, and lakes found along this road in the Uinta Mountains.

things to see, do, photograph Mirror Lake Scenic Drive

The Mirror Lake Highway scenic drive is a must-do to add to your Utah Bucket List. The drive is 56 miles from Kamas to the Wyoming state line. For a day trip, we recommend you drive as far as Mirror Lake then return back to Kamas.

In this guide we’ll detail the things you can see, do and photograph along the Mirror Lake Scenic Byway.

You’ll also get directions, best times to visit, what to pack, and even where to stay if you want to extend the adventure beyond a day trip.

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A Photo Tour of Mirror Lake Scenic Byway

Take a visual tour along the Mirror Lake Highway to see the stunning landscapes, waterfalls, and lakes in the area!

Mirror Lake Highway Facts

Mirror Lake Highway was built in 1933 and is 77 miles long. The highway begins in Kamas, Utah and climbs high into the Uinta Mountains cresting at 10,715 feet at Bald Mountain Pass. Much of the road parallels the Provo River.

After the pass, the road descends to Mirror Lake and Bear River Ranger Station. From there, the road runs parallel to the Bear River and on to Evanston, Wyoming.

This scenic byway has many overlooks, picnic areas, waterfalls, lakes, trails and campgrounds. 

It’s interesting to note that this mountain range is one of the few in North America that runs east to west rather than north to south.

Recreational activities along the byway include camping, fishing, ATV riding and hiking in the summer with cross-country skiing and snowmobiling in the winter.

A camera is a must on this drive! Don’t miss the overlook at Provo River Falls where walking paths, restrooms, and picnic tables make for a great stop. 

Several campgrounds along the highway are available for overnight stays. Numerous pullouts access the river and are perfect for picnicking. 

Parking and restrooms are provided at several overlooks along the route. Various trailheads offer a chance for a short hike in the woods. 

The road is paved the entire length, but closed during winter due to the elevation and heavy snow accumulation.

Is There a Fee to Drive the Mirror Lake Scenic Byway?

Visitors must purchase a recreation pass to use facilities in this area. A $6 pass is good for 3 days; a $12 pass is good for 7 days; and there is a $45 annual pass. The passes are good for recreation along both the Alpine Scenic Loop and the Mirror Lake Hwy.

National Park America the Beautiful Passes are honored in the Mirror Lake Scenic Corridor Recreation Area.

There is no charge to simply drive the highway between Kamas and Evanston.

Mirror Lake High Unitahs Utah
Mirror Lake reflection

Best Time to Visit Mirror Lake Highway Scenic Drive

Summer: late May through October the road is open to personal vehicles.

Recreational activities in the summer include ATV riding, hiking, fishing, horseback riding, and hunting.

In early summer you’ll enjoy the roaring river and waterfalls full of snowmelt water!

Remember to stay hydrated, use sun protection, and mosquito repellent!

Fall: About mid-August through late September the mosquitos aren’t too bad. By October, the cold temperatures at the high elevations mean your experience is almost bug-free!

In the fall, Mirror Lake scenic drive is a terrific place to see fall foliage!

Winter: early to late November the road closes to personal vehicles when the snow is too deep to plow. The road then transitions to winter grooming for snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, dog sled racers, and some ATV riding.

You’ll want to wear winter clothing to enjoy all those fun outdoor activities!

When is Mirror Lake Highway Open

The road is typically open from late May through October. The Mirror Lake Highway closure occurs when the snow is too deep to plow. The heavy snowfalls start around early November. You can check the current status at UDOT TRAFFIC.

Map of Mirror Lake Scenic Drive Stops

Map of Mirror Lake Scenic Drive Points of Interest

Use this Google map of Mirror Lake Highway to navigate along the road to all the points of interest. 

Begin your journey in Kamas, Utah (40.6430° N, 111.2807° W). Head east from Kamas into the Uinta Mountains, through the Wasatch-Cache National Forest.

We recommend you stop at the ranger station in Kamas (or Evanston if you are coming from the north) for maps and information about the byway. You can also purchase larger, more detailed maps there.

Places to Stop Along the Mirror Lake Highway

These are the must-see stops along the Mirror Lake Scenic Byway that we recommend:

Provo Falls waterfall along Mirror Lake Scenic Byway
Provo River Falls waterfall

Provo River Falls

About 23.5 miles from Kamas along Hwy 150 is the parking area to Provo River Falls on the left. There are restroom facilities here.

From the overlook, a trail descends to the river. It is steep but short and relatively easy to follow. You’ll also find other tiers of smaller waterfalls along the trails that run up and down the river.

small falls along the Provo River - Mirror Lake Highway Utah
Provo River and small waterfalls

In the summer this is a popular spot to wade in the water, but you’ll find the water so cold you won’t want to stay in it for very long. Also note the current is swift during early summer so be careful. 

During late summer and fall the water flow may be low, but the falls will still be impressive.

For the best waterfall photography, we recommend getting here around sunrise when the river and falls are still in shadow with a soft diffused light. And you’ll avoid the crowds that typically arrive mid-morning until late in the day.

Lilly Lake reflection along Mirror Lake Scenic Byway
Lilly Lake along Mirror Lake Scenic Byway

Lakes

As you keep driving along the scenic drive, you’ll pass a cluster of lakes. Two can be seen be driving a short distance along a Forest Service road. Three can be seen from the highway.

Washington Lake – turn left on Spring Canyon Road (Forest Service 041) – campground and restrooms

Trial Lake – turn left on Spring Canyon Road (Forest Service 041) – campground and restrooms

Teapot Lake – can be seen on the left side of the road

Lost Lake – can be seen on the right side of the road – turn left on Spring Canyon Road (Forest Service 041) – campground and restrooms

Lilly Lake – can be seen on the left side of the road – campground and restrooms

We find the early morning is a nice time to capture reflections in the still water.

Bald Mountain along Mirror Lake Scenic Byway
Bald Mountain view along Mirror Lake Highway

Bald Mountain Overlook

The next stop is the Bald Mountain Overlook. Turn left onto Forest Service 102 to a small parking lot with vault toilets. This is also the trailhead to hike to the top of Bald Mountain.

It’s a quick stop with breathtaking views of the Uinta Mountain group, as they show off their colors of green-gray shale and orange quartzite. You can also look down on the lakes you just passed.

Mirror Lake Utah reflection
Reflection in water at Mirror Lake, Utah

Mirror Lake

Most visitors drive to Mirror Lake then return to Kamas. The lake is a great place for fishing, kayaking, picnicking, camping, and landscape photography.

As you enter the Mirror Lake area, take the first left to the signed picnic area. There is a toilet there and a parking lot next to the lake.

The lake is located at just over 10,000 ft in elevation and has a glassy surface that reflects Bald Mountain and the other surrounding peaks in its clear waters. 

We find the best time of day to get that mirror reflection is early morning when the air is cold and there’s no wind. Fall seems to be the best time of year for us to get that “perfect” reflection photo!

The 1.5-mile Mirror Lake Loop Trail is a top recommendation. There are many spots along the shore to eat your snacks or picnic!  

During the summer Mirror Lake is a popular spot to cool off and get away from the city. The shore will be dotted with fishermen while the surface of the lake will be dotted with inflatable boats, canoes, and stand up paddle boards.

The gate here is typically open from Memorial Day until late October. If you plan to visit during the shoulder season, call the forest service to see if it is open.

Pass Lake in the Uintah Mountains
View at Lost Lake along Mirror Lake Scenic Drive

Beyond Mirror Lake

Driving past Mirror Lake toward Wyoming, you’ll find a few more lakes and hiking trails. The last point of interest before you reach the Utah/Wyoming border is the Bear River Guard Station.

Pass Lake – next you’ll find Pass Lake that’s a favorite with fishermen. There are two small pull offs at the lake and one parking lot. The parking lot has a restroom and a small boat launch ramp.

Bonnie Lake – about a mile from Mirror Lake you’ll find the Bonnie Lake Trail, and easy 1-2 hour hike.

Butterfly Lake – campground and restrooms

Ruth Lake – easy two mile round trip hike

Bear River Ranger Station – drinking water, bathrooms, maps and guide books for sale

Hiker in the Uintah Mountains
Hiker enjoying the view along a Mirror Lake hiking trail

Mirror Lake Highway Hiking Trails

The highway drives through the High Uinta Wilderness with a number of hiking trails packed with scenic views.

In addition to the trails listed above, here are a few more popular hikes in the Uintas:

Mirror Lake Scenic Byway Photography

We are lucky to live close to this stunning location to capture memorable landscape photos. Here are a few of our tips for photographing the Mirror Lake Highway area:

small waterfall near Provo Falls - Mirror Lake Highway Utah
Small waterfall near Provo Falls along the Mirror Lake Highway

Waterfall photography – The sun is not your friend when photographing waterfalls or rivers because it creates bright spots and dark shadows in the image.

To photograph Provo Falls we recommend getting there around sunrise, before the sun starts to light up the water.

PHOTO TIP: If light conditions are too bright for the long exposures to be captured with only camera settings, then we recommend you use neutral density filters to help balance the light in the scene.

You’ll get great photos from the overlook, but if you can hike up the trail along the river, you’ll find smaller tiers of waterfalls. 

Use a variety of basic photography techniques to compose your photos for interest and impact.

Man and Woman at Mirror Lake in late fall

Reflections photography – The best reflections are captured when the air is cool and there is no wind. We have found the golden hour times in the morning are the best to capture reflection images in the lakes along Mirror Lake Highway. The water is cooler, the light is soft, and there are fewer people out and about. 

We enjoy late fall when the high elevation mountains usually have some snow at this time and it’s very cold in the morning. The cold weather deters visitors who want to get out on the lake so we can take photos without people!

You’ll need winter clothing and gear – we LOVE rechargeable hand warmers and photography gloves!

Neowise comet and starry sky at Mirror Lake

Night sky photography – We have had great success capturing the milky way – and even a comet – in the high Unitas. 

The various lakes in the area are fun to capture the milky way reflection in the water too!

milky way reflected in Lost Lake along Mirror Lake Hwy

Mirror Lake Highway Camping

There are many places to camp in the High Uintas – the hard part will be deciding which one to choose!

Lilly Lake Campground

  • Reservations must be made at least 5 days in advance at recreation.gov – Reservation dates: June 17th- September 5th
  • Unpaved campground with no hook-ups
  • Each campsite has a picnic table and fire ring
  • 14 single sites
  • Motorized boats and ATVs are prohibited
  • Drinking Water
  • Vault Toilet Restroom

Lost Creek Campground

  • Reservations are not required for all sites, but to make reservations go to www.recreation.gov – Reservation dates: June 17th- September 5th
  • Paved campground with no hook-ups
  • All sites have picnic tables and campfire rings
  • 35 single sites
  • Motorized boats and ATVs are prohibited
  • Drinking Water
  • Vault Toilet Restroom

Mirror Lake Campground 

  • Reservations must be made at least 5 days in advance at recreation.gov – Reservation dates: July 1st- September 5th
  • Unpaved campground with no hook-ups
  • All sites have picnic and utility tables, tent pads, and campfire rings with grills
  • 70 single sites
  • 7 double sites
  • 1 triple site
  • Motorized boats and ATVs are prohibited
  • Drinking Water
  • Vault Toilet Restroom

Trial Lake Campground

  • Reservations are not required for all sites, but to make reservations go to www.recreation.gov – Reservation dates: July 1st- September 5th
  • Paved campground with no hook-ups
  • All sites have picnic tables and campfire rings, some sites have tent pads
  • 59 single sites
  • 1 double site
  • Motorized boats and ATVs are prohibited
  • Drinking Water
  • Vault Toilet Restroom

Washington Lake Campground

  • Reservations must be made at least 5 days in advance at recreation.gov – Reservation dates: June 17th- September 5th
  • Unpaved campground with no hook-ups
  • Each campsite has picnic and serving tables, campfire circles, grills, concrete site pads, limited tent pads, and limited parking
  • 41 single sites
  • 4 double sites
  • 4 small group sites
  • 1 group site
  • 1 large group site
  • Motorized boats and ATVs are prohibited
  • NO drinking Water
  • Vault Toilet Restroom

You’ll find more camping options in the Heber-Kamas area.

atv on a road in the mountains

Things To Do Along Mirror Lake Scenic Byway

Here’s a list of recreational activities you can do along the Mirror Lake Highway,

In the winter you can do these activities in the Mirror Lake Highway area:

  • Cross-Country Skiing
  • Snowmobiling

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