We love having a free weekend in January to go see the bald eagles. They can be seen across much of the northern part of the state, but the place we have seen them most concentrated is Sanpete Valley.
From our home in north Utah County, the trip to Sanpete is a little over an hour each way. We were greeted this year right at the county line coming out of Salt Creek Canyon by a beautiful golden eagle. He (or she) was hoping around in the snow about 50 yards off the road right across from 3 or 4 deer. It was a great reminder of how huge these birds really are. Even our three year-old could easily enjoy this bird from the car.
We continued up the hill, watching the telephone poles and fenceposts carefully and before we reached Fountain Green we’d seen two bald eagles and several hawks. One eagle was sitting in the snow, and the other was atop a high telephone pole 150 yards to the south of the road.
As we came into Fountain Green, we saw another eagle in a tree on first west. We drove around the block and parked right under him. Eagles almost never fly, no matter how close the car gets. They just aren’t that skittish. We were within 20 yards of the base of the tree with this one.
Throughout the day we a total of 14 eagles, at least that many hawks including Swainson’s hawks, Red-tailed hawks, and kestrels, and a whole bevy of Meadowlarks.
The route we take to see eagles is great for seeing deer and elk, though we didn’t see any elk this time. The drive itself takes around an hour if you go slow and watch for the eagles (from the county line). We always end at Roy’s Pizza in Ephraim. We’ve outlined the route to maximize your eagle viewing below:
To get to Sanpete County, take the middle Nephi exit (#225). Head East through the Canyon. On the south end of Fountain Green take a right on the last road following a sign toward Maple Canyon and Wales. This road takes you around the west side of the valley. We saw eagles both sitting and soaring along this road, and we do every January. The road leads through the almost unnoticeable town of Jerusalem, and then into Wales. From Wales, you can go back to Moroni (to the east), but we continue south until the road turns east and ends up in Chester. Rather than getting back on the highway at Chester, you can continue east all the way into Spring City. Then take a a right down Spring City Main Street and follow the road as it winds south and west back to the 5 mile junction. A right will send you to Ephraim, a left sends you back toward Mount Pleasant, and straight will take you back to Chester, Moroni, and Fountain Green where you started. We’ve seen eagles all along this road, and it’s paved and always plowed quickly after snowstorms.
Good look with the bird-watching!