This Way or That? Choose a Route North

This Way or That? Choose a Route North


By Randal B. Thatcher

Jan. 25, 2018


Since moving to this lovely mountain valley over four years ago, I have come to realize some unavoidable facts of life and living in our Sanpete Valley:

  • Herds of sheep will sometimes be blocking the road you’re traveling.
  • Whenever driving after dark, one must be constantly vigilant for that dreaded deer in the middle of the road.
  • Trips up north to bigger cities such as Provo and Salt Lake City become a necessity.

Whatever the reason, most of us find ourselves journeying northward at least a couple times a month.

The frequency of these trips will vary by household, but I have yet to meet the family that is entirely immune from these requisite trips.

Since we all travel north from time to time and since two perfectly acceptable and nearly equidistant ways to get there exist, I am always interested to know which route people tend to prefer and why.

If you live in Moroni or Fountain Green, you will almost certainly take S.R. 132 through Nephi Canyon which connects to I-15.

If, on the other hand, you live in Fairview, you will likely just hop on U.S. 89, which connects to U.S. 6 and eventually feeds into I-15.

But if you happen to live farther south, your choice is less obvious and requires a little more forethought.

So, which way to go?

Appealing to the digital map on my computer does not provide a conclusive answer.

Spring City and Mt. Pleasant residents save only three minutes by taking the U.S. 89 route instead of Nephi.

Ephraim and Manti residents save only the same three minutes by taking the opposite route.

(This assumes, of course, that we all travel at exactly the posted speed limit and that we don’t get stuck behind Ol’ Methuselah in his ’54 Nash Rambler going a steady 45 mph!)

I have taken the opportunity of asking a number of locals from different towns which route they prefer, and their answers are telling.

Some are simply creatures of habit who have gotten used to a particular route over the years and never deviate from it.

Some are classic Type A personalities who prefer the Nephi route because it includes a stretch of 80-mph freeway where they can “really go fast.”

Some are classic Type B personalities who care less about how fast they go and who care more about enjoying the ride and the scenery along the way. These tend to prefer the more scenic route through Thistle.

Nearly everyone I talked with said they prefer that lovely route along scenic U.S. 89, provided they’re traveling during daylight hours and especially during those spectacular seasons of spring and fall. (One particular fellow who makes his living as an artist told me, “Many paintings have come from that stretch of road through Birdseye, Benny Creek and Thistle.”)

During snowy months, however, and especially after nightfall, many opt for the Nephi route, preferring to travel more of their journey along the well-plowed and well-lit I-15 corridor.

Some take the Thistle route in daylight when deer on the road are easily spotted but opt for the Nephi route after dark when they aren’t.

One woman, though she prefers the scenery along U.S. 89, avoids that same route on major holidays because, “With too much oncoming traffic, it can be scary making that left-hand turn at the junction.”

One fellow takes the Nephi route to avoid getting stuck behind a slow-moving car for many exasperating miles on U.S 89 but is willing to run that same risk during the autumn season “for the beautiful views.”

Another woman takes the Nephi route exclusively because, “It just feels safer.”

Another guy takes the U.S. 89 route exclusively because he finds it “so inspiring.” (He especially likes it in springtime when green hills in the foreground and snowy peaks in the background combine to help him imagine he’s driving through Switzerland!)

One family which makes the trip every week prefers U.S. 89 because it seems shorter but also because they “know that road very well.”

A young enterprising fellow I know will always take the Nephi route because he “gets decent cell-phone reception nearly the whole way.”

One culinary-minded fellow takes the U.S. 89 route into Spanish Fork, specifically so he can stop at his favorite Little Acorn Restaurant “for a quick bite on the way home.”

I can remember just enough from my college statistics course to conclude there’s no statistical significance whatsoever in this anecdotal straw poll of mine, but I have finally asked enough people this same question for a consensus of opinion to emerge.

Here it is: The Nephi route is considered safer (especially after dark or in snowy conditions), but the Thistle route is thought to be far more scenic during daylight hours (and particularly in autumn and springtime).

So, choose your route.

And fond wishes for safe and scenic motoring!

Comments are welcome at ahalfbubbleoffplumb@gmail.com.