Unexpected Surprises: Fall Colors Montage Deer Valley – Mercedes Tour

Aspen and Snow pinesDo you love aspens the way I do?  Maybe it’s because I didn’t grow up with them, but I simply adore aspen trees.  I love them! Its not just “love”; it feels more like “being in love.” You know that feeling? Your heart is just taken over and there is nothing you can do about it.  I love how their leaves rustle in the wind. I love the stillness and beauty of their white bark. I can’t get enough of them.

I was excited to experience the aspens as they changed their leaves from green to a blanket of yellow and the reds and pinks of the shrubs that share the mountain with them. Snow was the first unexpected surprise. Since we planned our Montage Deer Valley– Mercedes Fall Colors Tour for the last week in September, snow on the ground was the last thing I counted on. I understand the first snowfall on record in Park City was as early as September 17 so we weren’t far off when it snowed on September 25 this year.

Guardsman PassWhen we arrived at the Montage, our driver, Nick decided to take a Mercedes 350L with all wheel drive. Then he could take us wherever we wanted to go – back roads, tight turnouts on winding roads, and enjoying comfort on the open road. Nick started us off at Guardsman’s Pass just above the Montage Deer Valley. It seemed like we were on top of the world!  Seeing a few inches of snow on the ground with the groves of aspens starting to turn yellow was delightful.

We’d never been to Big Cottonwood Canyon so Nick made a detour so we could see all sides of the Wasatch Mountains.  On our way, we saw hillsides full of evergreens covered in snow with pockets of bright yellow and orange foliage – so unusual and beautiful.  Here is a “locals tip” Nick shared – take a drive from the top of Guardsman’s Pass through Big Cottonwood Canyon and stop for lunch at the Silver Fork Lodge and Restaurant near Solitude Resort.  We’ll remember that one.

Big Cottonwood2Another unexpected surprise was just how nice it was to have a driver. Whenever we go for a drive, my husband is always at the wheel. That’s great for me, of course, but the driver needs to pay attention to the road and navigate as well!  Jay really enjoyed being a passenger for this trip, taking in the full experience of the beauty of fall. We noticed whenever the words, “beautiful” or “amazing” came out of our mouths, Nick had already stopped and got out of the car while saying, “Do you want to stop and take a photo?”  “Of course we do!” I answered as he opened my door.

Guardsman Pass2Guardsman’s Pass Road to Midway was our next route.  It seemed like the whole stretch is one huge aspen grove and my head was spinning.

Guardsman Pass at HeberNext stop, the view of Heber Valley from the top of the Wasatch.  Another “locals tip” Nick shared was going to Cascade Springs near Soldier Hollow Cross Country Ski Resort then stop in Midway for pizza at the Café Galleria.  We’ll remember that one, too.

Nick's towards GuardsmanThe next unexpected surprise was a special road to a secret spot Nick had scoped out a week earlier. I have no idea how to get there so you’ll have to ask Nick. He showed us an amazing scenic overlook and I can imagine this is what Switzerland might look like.

Next we were off to Sundance resort, Nick took us on the 20 mile Alpine Loop above the resort and maneuvered the Mercedes onto every turnout he could find.  The end of a winding road or a narrow turnout was no match for Nick if we wanted to stop and get our fill of the beauty and snap photos.  The glacier carved peaks of Mt. Timpanogos that rise above the Sundance Resort made for an amazing view.

Jay at Alpine Loop at SundanceAnother delightful surprise, Nick found a wonderful picnic spot nestled in the forest with a sunny table and pulled out two wine glasses and a bottle of Pinot Gris from the picnic basket filled to the brim with chicken pesto sandwiches, red quinoa salad, Caesar salad, berries galore and a huge brownie to share. The wine tasted crisp and fruity to me but even sweeter for my husband who could simply relax and enjoy the day since Nick was doing the driving.Nancy and JayOn the trip back, Jay and I were a little quieter as we made fewer stops and simply took in the beauty on our comfortable drive.  I got to gaze at my beloved aspens, while holding my sweetheart’s hand.  I had to pinch myself a couple of times to make sure this wasn’t just a dream.