Don’t be fooled by East Coast elitism; Utah’s autumn display is second to none

Exploring Utah • It’s not that Eastern autumn is overrated. It’s that ours is overlooked.

(Erin Alberty|The Salt Lake Tribune) Scarlet, orange and gold leaves line the Albion Basin Road at Alta. Photo taken Oct. 3, 2008.

As long as our country is viciously divided by regional identity, Utah may want to step up its pride in the fall colors department.

Yes, everyone thinks their fall leaves are the best. Pretty much every place that has both tourism and deciduous trees touts its autumn foliage display as a huge, can’t-miss deal. Or they just shrug along with the national myth that NOTHING holds a candle to Vermont.

That’s crap.

I have seen Vermont in peak color. It was awesome, with massive swaths of rich, red sugar maples. No offense, Vermont.

(Erin Alberty | The Salt Lake Tribune) Leaves of gold carpet the ground along Millcreek Canyon Road in Salt Lake County. Photo taken Oct. 3, 2008.

But I truly have never been any less impressed by fall in our Utah mountains. The vertical rainbow of yellow aspens and rosy Gambel oaks and fiery maples is a wonder. One of my most magical memories forever will be watching from the top of Big Cottonwood Canyon as a golden cloud of aspen leaves billowed up the horizon, shimmering against the blue sky and dispersing to a glittery swarm overhead.

Oh, yeah. We also have mountains. Lots of them. Real ones. With dramatic cliff faces and everything. Not a bad backdrop for the show.

It’s not that Eastern autumn is overrated. It’s that ours is overlooked. Is this because most of the national media is in the East, where fall is pretty much the only natural wonder that isn’t completely whomped by the West? Or are people truly convinced that our mountains turn into barren heaps of gravel whenever celebrities aren’t skiing on them?

Even locals seem to let themselves get rolled over by the East Coast’s foliage superiority complex. When I’ve shown my friends hiking pictures from fall in the Wasatch, one reaction stands out:

“That’s like New England!”

Dadgum coastal elitism.

Stand proud, Utahns. Go peep your leaves.

Erin Alberty|The Salt Lake Tribune A cyclist rides under a tapestry of fall color in Millcreek Canyon, Salt Lake County.

Click here to check out our 2017 fall colors preview for some fun trip ideas to get the most out of the season.