Scenic I-15 Winter Landscapes ~ St George To Nephi, Utah!

Scenic I-15 Winter Landscapes ~ St George To Nephi, Utah!

A few years ago I accepted a seasonal job at a ski resort near Salt Lake City. At that time I was living in Arizona, so I headed west to Las Vegas and caught I-15 north to the destination. It was January and it had been many decades since I had to deal with driving in snowy winter weather conditions and to make matters worse, I was driving a 500 horsepower muscle car. Needless to say, I had my hands full just trying to keep my 392 Hemi Challenger under control in the icy conditions. It was snowing from St George all the way north to Nephi, Utah and that is where I decided to call it quits for the day.  

Originally I had planned to drive straight through to salt Lake City from central Arizona, but I decided to do an overnighter along the way after seeing the blizzard weather forecast. Since making good time was no longer a factor, the long journey was turned into a leisurely scenic drive. This was a good thing because north of St George, the highway was covered with ice and snow. I ended up taking plenty of breaks just to take the majestic Utah winter scenery in and snap a few photos along the way.

Of all the places that I have traveled out west in the past, few can compare to the scenic beauty of Utah, especially during the winter season.  It seems like any road that one chooses in this state, there are beautiful landscapes waiting to be experienced.  This even holds true when driving on Interstate Highway 15 in this state.  I-15 parallels many mountain ranges all the way from the southern border of Utah to the northern most parts of this state.  As can be seen in the photos above, the snow draped mountain landscape scenery along I-15 is nothing less than majestic!

Traveling in rough winter weather conditions all day does cause severe driver fatigue.  Calling it an early day shortly after sunset can be a wise choice, especially if the temperatures drop below freezing and ice becomes a hazard. Instead of pushing on into the cold night, I decided to call it quits just short of my destination.  I ended up doing an overnighter in a little historic town called Nephi, along I-15.  As it turned out, there was an interesting place to get a bite to eat in Nephi too.

Dining options in Nephi include a few chain restaurants and a gas station fast food joint, but I tend to favor locally owned restaurants when traveling.  There simply is nothing better than fresh food that is made from scratch the old fashioned way when racking up the mileage on the road.

As far as locally owned dining options go in Nephi, the JC Mickelson’s Restaurant was the top choice, because it was basically the only choice! This place had the Christmas decorations up well into January, so it really stood out in the night. Eating something that was somewhat healthy sounded like a good idea, so I ordered the Chicken Crunch Salad. The salad was huge, just like back in the good old days of classic roadside diner restaurants, so the appetite definitely was satisfied!

The next morning, I figured that I might as well stick with a good thing and decided to have breakfast at the same restaurant before hitting the road. It was then that I found out a few details about this place. The JC Mickelson’s Restaurant has been open in Nephi since the 1960’s.  The building has changed and it has been remodeled a few times over the years.  The same owner has always operated this restaurant in a trendsetting way that values nostalgia, while keeping up with modern times.

Nostalgia fans will be happy to know that the JC Mickelson’s Restaurant is famous for having an extensive scale model railroad that runs through the entire restaurant!  There are several separate hand crafted model railroad track systems in this restaurant and each train has a theme of its own.  Little trains run overhead on tracks throughout the dining room and the relaxing sound they make is kind of like listening to raindrops gently pattering on a tin roof. After a while, all that one feels like doing is leaning back in the chair and watching the little trains go by! 

Something that I did not notice the night before was that JC Mickelson’s Restaurant actually has a Tesla Supercharging Station on site!  Owners of Tesla electric powered cars can charge up the batteries, while grabbing a good bite to eat.  This old classic American diner sure has entered the modern age in a big way!

Customers spend plenty of time watching the nostalgic little model trains chug along at JC Mickelson’s Restaurant.  I actually found myself ordering a couple extra cups of coffee, just so I could do the same.  All I can say is that dining and relaxing while watching a bunch of really cool model trains is a great way to get relief from the road!      


Author: wildwestdestinations

I worked as a chef in remote resorts and National Parks, which provided the time to explore western travel destinations. I have a BA Degree in Culinary Management with high honors and currently I am working on a Masters Degree in Adult Education. My food and travel blog writing began as a means to generate income during college and now photo journalism has become my lifestyle.

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