Environment, History, Provo History, Utah History

Provo Peak Vista, From Orem

Click to see original imageThe mountains rimming Utah Valley are especially beautiful in this season of the year, capped or brocaded with snow that glistens in the sun.

Lone Peak, Timpanogos, Cascade … the string of peaks between Squaw Mountain and Springville … Sierra Bonita (also known as Mt. Flonette and Mapleton Mountain) … Loafer, Nebo at a distance, and many others. Even the less prominent Lake Mountains to the west have special appeal at this time of year.

For the most part, this column is about another favorite mountain, Provo Peak. At 11,068 feet, it is one of our tallest, but interestingly and ironically, the best views of it belong to parts of the valley other than Provo.

Majestic, sometimes cloud-capped, it is located roughly three miles easterly from the ‘Y’ Mountain and Maple Flat.

These latter peaks, which you see at the rim above Provo, are of moderate elevation, comparatively speaking. But because they are so close, they block out the view of Provo Peak for much of the city.

The Uinta Forest map, by the way, lists the ‘Y’ Mountain at 8,568 feet, Maple Flat at 7,764, and Maple Peak (just back of the “Flat”) at 9,089 feet.

Of course you can’t hide a mountain over 11,000 feet high and you can indeed see Provo Peak from many points in the city, especially when you back away from the front mountains.

To me, the best casual vistas of Provo Peak – available to countless motorists every day – are from streets and highways in northern Utah Valley. As you drive southward from such cities as Lehi and American Fork, you can look directly over Rock Canyon and see the peak looming above the landscape in all its glory.

My wife and I stopped the other day at the Mountain View High School parking lot (west on Orem’s Center Street) and really enjoyed the mountain panorama that includes Provo Peak and other of Nature’s landmarks.

You get a different view of the panorama driving from southern points in the valley – Santaquin, Payson, Spanish Fork, etc. From that direction you see the long, snowy ridge back of the front mountains that culminates at Provo Peak. However, the view of the peak itself is less spectacular than from the north.

Provo Peak apparently has a destiny in the world of skiing, sight-seeing and recreation as a key unit in the projected Heritage Mountain Resort.

Kent L. Compton, director of mountain operations for Heritage, says plans call for skiing from the top, made possible by a tramway or “pulsed” gondola.

“The upper thousand feet will be for advanced skiers,” Compton states. “Slopes below the level of about 10,000 feet will be delightful for intermediate skiers.”


In a recent column on snowslides in the main Provo Canyon, I mentioned the deaths of William W. (Billy) Ferguson in 1897 and Don Allred and Mark Hyslop in 1924.

And, seeking to learn if there had been any other snowslide fatalities in the canyon, I invited persons with information to contact me.

I did receive a few phone calls, but no one knew of any additional deaths.

However, Stanley H. Roberts, retired long-time farmer, contractor and civil engineer, took occasion to correct a statement in my article concerning the slides of March 20 and 29, 1924.

I said the first slide came down from the north and the second one from the cliffs above Bridal Veil Falls. But Roberts states that both slides came from the Bridal Veil side. He is in a position to know. As a young man, he was working for Utah Power & Light in the canyon in the period of the snowslide tragedy.

Stan relates that on March 27, the day before the first slide, it snowed all day, depositing about 18 inches of new snow in the area. The slides came with such speed and force, he says, that they poured out away from the mountain and “pancaked” onto the highway and railroad tracks as well as into the river.

In the interest of historical accuracy, I appreciate his setting the record straight. I did check the March 1924 files of two daily newspapers. One was confusing as to the source of the snowslides; the other confirmed Roberts’ recollection. I’ve also talked with Roy Ferguson, retired UP&L employee who remembers many details of the slides. Roy, incidentally, is a grandson of Billy Ferguson, victim of the 1897 disaster.