Wow, what a day! First we drive to Arches once more to see the parts we have not visited yet. But – we are not the only ones, there are busloads of tourists, plus, the light is not really great to take pictures. This leads us to a quick decision: let’s move on!
Out of the park we go back to Moab to get a nice and refreshing iced coffee and then drive up north towards Salt Lake City first on Scenic Route 128 along the Colorado river. As we frequently do we turn away from the main road into small dirt roads and just drive a few hundred yards/meters or even a mile or so and then turn back to the main road to continue our trip.
Today we take one of these detours: after about 20 miles on SR128 we turn right into Onion Creek Road. It very soon becomes very scenic as it leads across a small river and then back into a canyon with purple sand stone walls to the left and to the right. We are so fascinated that we just continue mile by mile we cross the river at least 7 or 8 times on the winding path further and further into the canyon, this is way better than any park we have seen so far. After some miles the landscape changes completely: the canyon gets a bit wider, the colors turn into beige, green, gray and red and the texture of the stones changes as well. It’s similar to what we have seen at Smoky Mountain Road, but here we are much closer to the mountains and it is even more colorful – absolutely gorgeous!
At the end of the canyon we reach a hugh plateau with a farm – a dream! and all the way around this plateau a chain of high mountains. This road is a dead end. But to the left a handwritten sign says La Sal Mountains (Manti La Sal National Forest) – we take it. The nice dirt road from before soon turns into a rocky, narrow trail. In one of these narrow places a car comes down and we have to back up to the next spot wide enough to cross. We ask them where this road goes and in what condition it is. They tell us that it leads all the way over the mountains and if we then would turn right we would end up in Moab again. After a quick look at our car he confirms that we should be able to make it, but that it would be a long trip. OK then, our Navi also confirms that there is a road to Moab where we should arrive at around 5:00 pm after another 42 miles. We have enough time and enough gasoline, we have all our belongings as well as food and water, so there is nothing to worry about.
The next 6 miles continue to be rough and steep and we climb up to 8,500 feet (2″600 Meter). It’s green up there and the trees are getting bigger and bigger the higher the elevation. We reach the rim of the mountains and can look down at the farm far below us on the plateau – a magnificent view!
Once on top of the mountain, the road improves again and we can descend to Moab via Gateway Road, and Lasal Mountain Loop Road through Castle Valley back to SR 128 and within reasonable time we are indeed back at the motel to check in again. Hungry as we are we go directly to an Italian Restaurant to have some pasta.
Even though the sky is still overcast we once more want to check out Arches at sunset. There are less people now, but still too many and the sun doesn’t seem to care to come out from behind the clouds tonight. Well, we still find a quiet place to sit on a rock and enjoy the stillness for a while. It is very special to experience such stillness, not hearing anything but your own breath, sometimes a nasty fly or a bird but in between, absolute stillness.
Overnight Stay: JR’s Desert Inn, Moab, UT
Dinner: some mediocre Italian
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