Fire-colored leaves, crisp mountain air, pumpkin-flavored desserts, Cougar football: There’s nothing quite like fall in Utah County. It’s time to get into the spirit of what is arguably Utah’s most beautiful season. So grab some apple cobbler and a light jacket, and enjoy these eight must-experience local fall activities.
1. Tour the fall foliage
There’s stunning fall beauty to be seen in the canyons of Utah County, and driving the Alpine Loop Scenic Byway allows you to see both American Fork and Provo canyons. Follow Highway 92 into American Fork Canyon and enjoy a spectacularly colorful 20-mile drive through the Uinta National Forest to Provo Canyon (Hwy. 189). Visitors need a recreation pass to use the area’s facilities. A $6 pass is available and good for 3 days; a $12 pass is good for 7 days; there is also a $45 annual pass available. Click here for more information.
2. See a really big pumpkin
An autumn tradition meant to send off summer and welcome the fall, Thanksgiving Point’s Harvest Festival and Great Pumpkin Weigh Off Saturday, Sept. 27 features some really big produce. Last year’s winning pumpkin, grown by Tyler Quigley of Mountain Green, weighed 1,238 pounds. “Six other pumpkins weighed in at over 1,000 pounds, making the win that much sweeter,” said Julia Higginson, Thanksgiving Point’s communications manager. (Anyone with a pumpkin weighing more than 100 pounds can register to have his pumpkin judged at utahpumpkingrowers.com.)
Families can enjoy crafts and activities from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., or stroll through the festival’s vendor area. Pumpkin judging is at 11 a.m., followed by a weigh-off at noon. A series of concerts will then follow. Thanksgiving Point is located at 3003 N. Thanksgiving Way in Lehi. Click here for more information.
3. Browse wooden canoes and listen to bluegrass at Sundance’s Harvest Market
If you like famer’s markets and fresh mountain air, then this event is for you. Amid the bright fall foliage surrounding Mount Timpanogos, Sundance’s annual Harvest Market will feature food, musical entertainment and hand-crafted items for sale. More than 30 local artists will be selling everything from wooden canoes to jewelry and soaps. Several of the Sundance outlets will also have booths.
“Just being in the beautiful surroundings of Sundance with the beautiful fall foliage makes for a perfect Saturday outing for the family,” said Lucy Ridolphi, Sundance PR and marketing manager. The event will be Saturday, Sept. 27, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and is free to attend. Sundance Resort is located in the North Fork of Provo Canyon. Click here for more information.
4. Tailgate at Cougar Stadium
Get out your jalepeno hot dogs and coconut-flavored Diet Cokes because it’s time to tailgate at LaVell Edwards Stadium. Nothing says fall quite like football, and the Brigham Young University Cougars will take on the University of Nevada, Reno Wolf Pack for their homecoming game Oct. 18. The time is still pending, but you can view the entire Cougar football schedule here.
5. Get lost in a corn maze with Dorothy
Much more than a corn maze, Cornbelly’s at Thanksgiving Point has so many attractions that the venue sells season passes. There’s a pumpkin princess playland, inflatables area, and grain train. This year’s 12-acre corn maze celebrates the 75th anniversary of “The Wizard of Oz.” There’s also a small children’s maze, and a spookier Haunted Insanity Point Maze meant for attendees 12 and older. Younger children will enjoy the farm-themed activities, while teens and adults can partake of the scarier attractions. Pricing starts at $9.95 for anyone older than 2, with various discounts available. Click here for more information.
6. Take a haunted hayride at Hee Haw Farms
This Pleasant Grove farm and recreation venue opens Friday, Sept. 26 for its fall and Halloween-themed activities. Visitors can pet animals at the petting zoo, pick a pumpkin from a patch, go on a pony ride, or take a haunted hayride. Pricing is different this year than in year’s past: General farm admission is $6 (ages 3 and older), with add-ons for some of the activities (including the haunted hayride). Click here for more information. Hee Haw Farms is located at 150 N. 2000 West in Pleasant Grove. Click here for more information.
7. Pet the animals at a Payson farm festival
The five-day Country Farm Fest is held on a working farm in Payson and is an ideal way to enjoy the sounds and sights of the season. It’s a family-oriented festival mean to provide agricultural education — and fun, said Amelia Dumas, a producer for A Country Farm. Look for crafts, pony rides and a petting zoo. There will also be chainsaw wood-carving demonstrations and banjo music. The festival is Oct. 10, 11, 16, 17 and 18 from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Admission is free, and most of the fee activities cost between 50 cents and $1 per person. A Country Farm is located at 4058 W. 9600 South in Payson. For more information about the Farm Fest, click here.
8. Enjoy some seasonal sweetness
Nothing says fall quite like pumpkin, apple or spice goodies, and Utah County is bursting with them. Stop by for pumpkin bread at any of the Kneaders Bakery & Café locations in the county. Or visit the Provo’s Cocoa Bean Cupcake Café on a Wednesday for a caramel apple pie cupcake (see the daily cupcake schedule here) and a pumpkin-flavored hot chocolate. Your tastebuds will thank you.