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Guardsman Pass

One of the Park City's most beautiful drives


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Guardsman Pass is one of the best backcountry destinations in Salt Lake County, Utah. With an elevation of 2,962 m (9,717 ft) above the sea level, it's an excellent spot for rock climbing, hiking, and camping. The pass can be reached by two roads: an asphalted Big Cottonwood Canyon Road or a gravel Guardsman Pass Road. It is usually closed all winter due to heavy snowfalls. The road is open from May to October, but sometimes it gets accessible as late as June. In the summer, it's quite safe and good enough even for a 2WD car. The best time to take a ride on this road is during the fall when trees are embellished in various hues of red and orange.

The road starts from Park City: drive through downtown on Prospect Street and then continue south on Hwy 224—the Guardsman Pass Road. You'll soon see the mountaintops and ski lifts. The road climbs up for 11 km (6.8 mi). A 7% average gradient with 808 meters of elevation gain makes this road rather moderate. At the summit, drivers can enjoy panoramic views in any direction. The road ends with a fork, where you have to choose whether to go to Brighton, the Salt Lake Valley, or Midway in Heber Valley. If you go to Brighton, you'll pass Brighton Ski Resort and Big Cottonwood Canyon. Midway road leads to Wasatch Mountain State Park before descending to town. The drive is about one hour long.

Another route to Guardsman Pass is highway 190 or Big Cottonwood Canyon Drive that operates year-round. It's an important road to all of the area's best ski resorts during winter. However, the section around Guardsman Pass is often closed due to snow during winter. In summer, Cottonwood Canyon is famous for its hiking trails, lakes, and campgrounds. Take a walk to Lake Blanche, Donut Falls, or Butler Fork. The trail heads are located along highway 190.