The two dozen media representatives touring Utah County last month were oohing and aahing over the afternoon and evening experiences in Provo Canyon.

In less than 12 hours, the group - with the Utah County Travel Council as host - traveled the Alpine Loop, wandered around Cascade Springs, ate lunch at the Homestead Resort, rode the Heber Creeper along Deer Creek Reservoir and into Provo Canyon, passed over Bridal Veil Falls via the tram, dined at Sundance's Tree Room restaurant and enjoyed a Sundance Summer Theatre performance. And that includes a quick return to the writers' accommodations in Provo to freshen up before dinner.Granted, the pace was fast and furious, with only a brief time spent at each location to savor the amenities and atmosphere offered. But despite the tight schedule, the canyon-based trip provided a reminder of how close all these locations are to each other - and how close they are to the Provo-Orem area.

So close, and yet relatively undiscovered by many Utah Valley residents, as evidenced a Bountiful-based reporter from Davis County. He admitted he had lived in Provo for six years but had never visited any of the stops on the group's itinerary.

There is no reason to go into full detail regarding each of the locations. Plenty of promotional material is available - and has been available for each locale for a long time.

Meanwhile, Provo Canyon is more than just a circuit of commercial, tourist-type stops. There's Timpanogos Cave (which can be reached in a roundabout sort of way via Provo Canyon) and its national monument setting, several parks and their picnic and recreational facilities, Uinta National Forest and its campgrounds and trails, Deer Creek reservoir and its spectrum of water sport options, and the Provo River and its blue-ribbon reputation among fishermen. And what about the beauty of the canyon itself - road construction notwithstanding.

Many people perhaps consider Provo Canyon as a physical funnel of sorts, with folks feeling as though they are being channeled or directed up through canyon toward other destinations - ski areas, Heber Valley, Park City, eastern Utah or western Colorado.

Ironically, however, the canyon serves as an opening, a gateway if you will. As one stands at the mouth of Provo Canyon and into the physically confining walls of the canyon, the area instead opens up to display a wide range of recreational alternatives.

In all, there's plenty to keep anyone - tourist or local - busy enjoying the canyon and its offerings. Just don't try to cram it all into 12 hours.

* If you're one who likes to plan ahead, pull out your 1989 calendar - you've got it already, right? - and set aside time for a late June trip to the tributary streams and creeks that feed Strawberry Reservoir to watch the spawning of the cutthroat trout.

A media tour conducted earlier this week by Uinta National Forest officials included stops at Indian Creek and Streeper Creek beyond the southern reaches of Strawberry. Thanks to limited livestock grazing and reinforced creek banks, the revitalized waterways are becoming fruitful spawning spots for the cutthroats.

No matter that a dozen reporters and Uinta officials were clamoring along the banks - the fish remained mostly oblivious beyond the water's edge. In some of the deeper, calmer water holes, anywhere from 10 to 20 good-size cutthroats could be seen gliding nearly effortlessly through the slower currents.

According to Dennis Jensen, recreational manager of Uinta's Heber District, the tributary creeks in the Strawberry Reservoir drainage area can account for the spawning of as many as 10 million fish annually.

While a fishing restriction on the creeks has allowed the spawning to go on unhindered this summer, the limitation has been lifted starting today. The banks are certain to be lined with eager anglers.

However, nothing can match the sight of the native trout in its native water, some still struggling to push onward against brisk currents and through shallow stretches - all without the impending interruption of a line and a hook.