When I imagine going up the canyon, I think of narrow, winding roads with thick trees and brush all around. I think of cozy little picnic spots nestled in the trees and a river or stream flowing nearby. This is probably due to the fact that I grew up living within a short driving distance of American Fork Canyon in Utah.
Last summer, my little family and I went up American Fork Canyon to spend the evening with my brother-in-law, his wife and two kids, as well as other extended family. They were spending the night at the Granite Flats Campground, just a mile up the road from Tibble Fork Reservoir. We had been invited to come up in the evening and cook tin foil dinners and roast marshmallows.
Even though I have been to Tibble Fork many times, my family didn’t do a lot of camping growing up so I wasn’t familiar with the campground they were at, but as we drove to their reserved spot, I felt like it was exactly as a good campground should be. The individual campsites were separated from each other by trees and bushes, so you didn’t feel like you were camping on top of someone else. It gave a nice sense of privacy and made you feel like you were really camping outdoors. There was a set of bathrooms for every four or five campsites, easily within walking distance, which is great if you have kids (and even if you don’t).
Since getting married a little over 8 years ago, my husband and I have gone up a lot of different canyons with friends and cooked tin foil dinners. It is one of my favorite camping foods and so easy to prep and transport. Tip: We always cook our tougher veggies, like carrots and potatoes, halfway before putting them with the meat (usually chicken or ground beef/turkey), since the meat always cooks faster than the rest.
While waiting for dinner to cook, I took the kids exploring on the various paths around the campsite. There were a lot of little trails but most of them just wound back to our campsite or the others nearby. My kids loved looking at the flowers, ants and squirrels that were everywhere. After dinner, we roasted marshmallows and made s’mores. Then we were homeward bound since we didn’t want to get caught behind the campground gate when it closed for the night. On the way down, I took a couple pictures of Tibble Fork and was reminded of how beautiful the area is and how lucky I am to live so close by.
Some things you’ll want to keep in mind if you decide to go up American Fork Canyon:
- There may or may not be a fee to get up the canyon, depending on your destination. Since my brother-in-law had paid for a campsite, there was no fee for us to drive up there. If you are going up to a picnic spot or to hike, there will likely be a fee. The fee starts at $6 for 1-3 days and goes up to about $45 for an annual pass. Every once in a while you get lucky and the fee station is closed.
- When the sun goes down, it gets chilly because of all the trees and the higher elevation. When I left just before 9pm, the temperature was about 60 degrees. When I got out of the canyon, it was 80 degrees. So make sure to dress accordingly and bring a sweatshirt and pants if you tend to get cold (like me!)
- The roads are narrow and wind around quite a bit so if you or your kids tend to get motion sickness, make sure to take some Dramamine or something to distract while driving up. It’s definitely worth the drive, though!
Directions:From I-15, you take the Highland/Alpine exit. Go east on Highway 92 for 8 miles to mouth of American Fork Canyon. Go 5 miles up the canyon to the fork. Take a left to the North Fork/Forest Road 85 to Tibble Fork Reservoir. Stay on paved road as it turns left past the parking lot. Go about 1 mile to Granite Flats campground.
If you are interested in getting more information on the different activities and recreation, you can visit this website.
Do you have a favorite canyon or camping spot near where you live? I’d love to hear about it!