A dozen of Utah's most glorious, best-loved forest roads are being designated national scenic routes.
The routes range from the Nebo Loop Road, a blaze of color in the fall, to Mirror Lake Highway, jammed with campers and folks on fishing expeditions in the summer. They include roads in the high country near Bryce Canyon National Park and Little and Big Cottonwood canyons, great favorites of skiers."All Utah national forests will be making a special effort to draw attention to our national forest scenic byways," said Susan Gianettino, spokeswoman for the U.S. Forest Service in Utah.
The 12 roads were among 27 earlier named scenic byways by state officials. Where they cross national forests, the dozen are now being recognized as "national forest scenic byways."
The designation was made by Dale Robertson, chief of the U.S. Forest Service in Washington, D.C. The scenic forest byway program is part of the service's national recognition strategy.
Under that strategy, started in 1988 to draw attention to the values of America's forests, three routes were already designated in Utah, in addition to the new 12.
The three, listed by Robertson in 1988, are Flaming Gorge-Uintas, in Ashley National Forest; Boulder-Grover, U-12, Dixie National Forest; and Logan Canyon, Wasatch-Cache National Forest.
With the new group, Utah has more national forest scenic byways than any other state.
"Utah also has more miles of national forest scenic byways than any state except California," said Joe Rutherford of the Utah Travel Council. "Utah has 464 miles; California, 697.
"Nationwide, the Forest Service has designated 90 national forest scenic byways extending over 4,500 miles."
Gov. Norm Bangerter was reported to be thrilled over the new designation. According to Rutherford, Bangerter said the routes "are further proof of our spectacular scenic beauty and its tourism and recreation potential, particularly in rural parts of the state."
Bangerter called a press conference Wednesday to discuss the designations.
The difference between the earlier state designations is that this is national recognition, adding the federal government's imprint to the state's findings about the value of the routes. The federal designations apply only to the parts of the highways that are on forest land.
So far, 90 national forest scenic byways are recognized in 32 states and 99 forests.
1. Dixie National Forest
- Markaguant Road, U-14, the route from Cedar City to the junction of U.S. 89.
- Cedar Breaks Highway, U-148, which connects U-14 and U-143.
- Brian Head-Panguitch Lake Road, U-143, on forest land between Parowan and Panguitch.
2. Fishlake National Forest
- Beaver Canyon Road, U-153, between Beaver and Elk Meadows.
- Fishlake Road, U-25, where it loops between U-24 and the northern end of Fish Lake.
3. Manti-La Salle National Forest
- Eccles Canyon Road, U-264, a portion of the famous Skyline Drive between U-31 and Clear Creek.
- Huntington Canyon Highway, U-31, from Fairview to Huntington.
4. Uinta National Forest
- Nebo Loop, between Payson and U-132 near Nephi.
5. Wasatch-Cache National Forest
- Ogden River Highway, U-39, from Ogden, circling Pineview Reservoir and continuing to the vicinity of Causey Reservoir.
- Mirror Lake Highway, U-150, which extends from Kamas to the Wyoming Border through the Unita Mountains.
- Big Cottonwood Canyon Highway, U-152, near Salt Lake City, from the junction of U-210 to Brighton.
- Little Cottonwood Canyon Highway, U-210, near Salt Lake City, from the junction of U-152 to Alta.