Scenic overlooks, limestone cliffs, cascading streams, wildflowers, caves, tranquil ponds, lush groves, red sandstone and blue lakes are just a few of the natural wonders that await you on the Logan Canyon National Scenic Byway. Then there are the activities: wildlife viewing, hiking, skiing, fishing, hunting, geocaching, snowmobiling, bird-watching, horseback riding, snowshoeing, exploring the back roads with ATVs or four-wheel drive vehicles and, of course, camping!
The 40 miles of U.S. Highway 89 between Logan and Garden City in Utah takes only an hour to drive but offers days worth of exploring.
Let’s sample a few of the stops along the byway, starting from the Logan end of the byway.
Logan Ranger District Visitor Center/Lady Bird Overlook
From the overlook you will be treated to a view of the snowcapped peaks of the Wellsville Mountain Range and the jagged ridges of the Bear River Range. At the base of the Bear River Mountains are several broad, flat-topped terraces formed by the descending shoreline of ancient Lake Bonneville. This immense body of water was 348 miles long and 145 miles wide and extended approximately 11 miles into Logan Canyon. If you had been standing at the viewpoint thousands of years ago, you would have been under 650 feet of water. There is ample room to park your RV at this stop. The ranger station here contains a wealth of information on the Wasatch-Cache National Forest and surrounding area.
Canyon Entrance/First Dam
This inviting park commemorates the first of three dams constructed to harness the power of the Logan River for hydroelectric power. On a sunny spring day, the banks of First Dam become a beacon for picnickers, volleyball players and sun worshippers. Friendly geese and ducks patrol the water, looking for a tasty handout.
Power Plant/Second Dam
Logan City began generating its own electrical power from this site soon after the turn of the twentieth century. Rates ranged from 20 cents to 50 cents per light per month. Up to 15 percent of the city’s electricity is still produced by the turbine housed at this location. Large trout lurking in the clear waters entice many anglers to try their luck here.
Years of wind and water erosion have created unique arches and a natural cave in the limestone outcropping known as Wind Cave. A relatively steep 1.9-mile trail leads to this interesting formation that also provides a stunning view of the China Wall across the canyon.
As you travel up the canyon, you can’t help but notice the dark opening of Logan Cave on the cliffs to the north side of the road. The cave is 4,290 feet long and somewhat narrow with no large rooms. The cave is gated to protect Townsend’s big eared bats that dwell here. The bats are being protected as a sensitive species because of their susceptibility to disturbance by humans.
Ricks Spring was named after Utah pioneer Thomas E. Ricks, who discovered the springs. The springs emerge from the rocks along the highway and have been a wayside stop for generations of travelers. Early visitors welcomed the opportunity to drink from the cold spring water that gushes forth from the rock. Some of the water coming from the spring has been traced to sources located more than five miles away.
The Limber Pine Nature Trail crowns the byway’s 7,800-foot summit and is named for what was once thought to be the oldest and largest living limber pine tree in existence. Arborists have since learned that this large specimen is actually five individual trees that have grown together in a relatively short period of 560 years. An easy leg-stretching hike along this loop trail will introduce you to many aspects of Logan Canyon’s varied terrain. Interpretive signs along the trail are great for teaching children about the plants and animals that call the area home. The trail also offers a glimpse or two of distant Bear Lake and its spectacular turquoise waters.
The Bear Lake Overlook and Rest Area
The Bear Lake Overlook and Rest Area is reportedly one of the most visited roadside attractions in the state of Utah and offers an extraordinary scenic panorama. The parking area has ample parking for RVs. The overlook provides a great opportunity to marvel at the incredible color of Bear Lake. This striking color is a result of suspended limestone particles in the water absorbing light and reflecting the range of colors from brilliant azure to sky blue.
Your Logan Canyon National Scenic Byway journey ends in Garden City, where with proper planning you can join in the fun of the annual Raspberry Days Festival July 31 to August 2. Even if you miss the festival, be sure to celebrate the completion of your byway trek by enjoying a delectable raspberry shake.
Before starting you trip, you can research all the points of interest along the way. You can get a pdf copy of the Logan Canyon Guide online at smallsat.org/travel/logan-canyon-guide.pdf or request a copy by calling (800) 882-4433. There is also an interactive website at logancanyon.com. Both sources provide detailed information on 31 featured stops along the byway. Although both the guide and the website navigate the byway from the west entrance of the canyon near Logan, you can start your adventure from either direction. The description of each stop includes mileage from the Logan Ranger District office at the mouth of Logan Canyon, as well as highway milepost references and GPS coordinates.
Hiking trails along the byway range from easy interpretive trails (some fully wheelchair accessible) to exhilarating adventures, providing something of interest for all ages and abilities.
Dave Helgeson and his wife, Cheri, promote RV and manufactured home shows in Western Washington. They spend their free time traveling and enjoying the adventures of the RV lifestyle.
IF YOU GO:
Camping: RV parks can be found in Logan and Garden City, and numerous forest service campgrounds can be found along the entire byway, with dispersed camping (aka boondocking) available along the upper tributaries of the Logan River.
More Information: The Logan Ranger District Visitor Center is open year-round, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and provides recreation and camping information, trail maps, souvenirs and useful guides to the area’s natural and cultural history. The Cache Valley Visitors Bureau provides tourist information covering Cache Valley, the City of Logan, Logan Canyon, the Bear Lake area, the entire state of Utah and regional attractions. The office is at 199 Main Street in the historic Cache County Courthouse in downtown Logan. Phone: (800) 882-4433.