UT-15 | Nebo Loop

  • Distance: 42.7 Miles (68.72 km)
  • Rating: 5-D, Highly technical, narrow undivided single lane of asphalt for much of the route, high elevations and lack of maintenance are not so kind to the road surface (nor are the mud slides which are common in the area). Ratings Explained »
  • Travel: Either direction for best results
  • Start: Payson, Utah
  • End: Nephi, Utah
  • Fuel: Lots of options at either end.
  • Along the Way: Amazing scenery as the road climbs over 5000 feet from the valley floor towards the highest peak in the Wasatch mountain range.
  • Highlights: Incredible views of Sugarloafer Peak, Mt. Nebo and North Peak.
  • Advisories: Assertive law enforcement throughout the small communities of Utah County. Utah County is infamous for distracted drivers in large SUV’s toting large families of six or more kids. Be careful in the towns at either end. The road is narrow, steep, blind and heavily traveled during summer weekends with the pinnacle of traffic surrounding the deer hunt and fall colors. The area is also open range, so expect cud chewing sirloin around any corner.

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Named after the biblical Mount Nebo overlooking Israel, which is said to be the place of Moses’ death, This route is focused is the centerpiece of the Mount Nebo Wilderness, Mt. Nebo itself.

The officially designated scenic byway offers some of the most epic views in the state. The byway (officially County Road, CR-015) climbs to over 9,000 feet of elevation for spectacular views of the tallest mountain peak in the Wasatch mountain range, not Mount Nebo, but North Peak reaching up to 11,928 ft (3,636 m). Mt. Nebo was thought to be the tallest until it was resurveyed sometime in the 1970’s.

Leaving Payson, Utah the route is a pleasant, gentle canyon until it starts to climb and is forced to narrow to a single lane because of the severity of the terrain. Scads of switchbacks worm their way through dense stands of aspen trees as you climb towards the highest points of the road. Several Forest Service campgrounds are popular with equestrians. The area is heavily grazed by cattle so expect slimy pies and bovine road-blocks.

Once you crest the roads highest point, the road becomes a bit less pretty with a plethora of dead-standing tree’s and over-grazing. A smattering of Forest Service campgrounds are dotted along the way as you return to the valley floor.

Like the Alpine Loop Byway, this road is not for the canyon-strafer, but more for the sight-seer and even then, its best enjoyed on an idle Tuesday and avoided during any peak time. Fortunately it is farther away from the huddled masses of the Wasatch-Front so its not uncommon for it to completely desolate, save from the occasional Forest Service LEO, during mid-week.

Road Rating System

The first part of our rating describes how technical we feel that road is. Numbers one through five with five being the most technical and one being a more mellow road with few challenging corners. The second half of the rating is a letter grade. A rating of “A” would be a road that is in great condition and a grade-F would be a crumbly, slippery or degraded surface.

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