We had a leisurely morning and got ready to go on a scenic drive on Highway 128 today at 11:00. The road began on the north side of Moab. It offers contrasting views of the desert floor, the rugged canyons of the Colorado River, and the La Sal Mountain range. It is officially called the Scenic Byway and runs for about 45 miles along the Colorado River. A good portion of the road is in Arches National Park and some of it is not. Highway 128 connects Arches National Park and I-70, but you wouldn’t want to pull a trailer on this road. A paved bike trail runs between the river and the the highway for many miles.
The road and the river are part of the Colorado Riverway Recreation Area.
There are 7 BLM (Bureau of Land Management) campgrounds right on the river that have nice campsites for dry camping. They seem to be utilized a lot by the number of campers we saw there. There is also a group camp area along the river.
There was some road construction for a few miles where they were laying down some fresh asphalt, so we had a minor delay coming and going. The traffic got bunched up at these stops, but otherwise for the most part we had the road to ourselves. The road wound itself through the steep canyon walls with beautiful scenery and red glowing rock walls along the Colorado River.
Bob took this beautiful picture of the reflection of the red rock walls in the river.
The Colorado River was moving steadily through the canyon with rapids scattered throughout. At the “Big Bend” in the Colorado River, the rapids took on a whole different look. They became more intense.
A jet boat rental sped down the river and it was out of sight before we knew it. They give tours on those things.
We also saw some paddle boarders lazily cruising down the river on a tour. I wonder how they navigate the rapids on those boards? At times, the road came so close to the rock cliffs that I could have touched them. The rocky cliffs encroached on the road in places and it became a very narrow passageway.
When the rock walls ended, we would find ourselves in a lush, green valley where we discovered 3 large ranches that offered all kinds of lodging, riding, rafting and relaxation.There was even a winery in the valley.
There were 6 riders crossing the valley on a back country tour.
The fall colors in the valley were absolutely beautiful with the aspen trees and bushes glowing a brilliant yellow.
We drove most of Scenic Byway 128 almost all the way to Cisco, but when the red rock cliffs ended and we entered into the high desert, we decided to turn around and head back. We stopped at Rocky Rapids wayside to eat our picnic lunch with the Colorado River and red cliffs as our backdrop. It was so peaceful and quiet with the rushing Colorado River as our background music. This is one of the places where the river raft trips stop. We saw a beached raft waiting for the other rafts to arrive and have lunch.
While we were enjoying the moment, I noticed the shadow of a large bird flying high near the top of the bluff, just coasting effortlessly in the thermal air currents. I snapped a picture of it after zooming in as far as I could. I caught the bird and its shadow against the rocks. Upon closer inspection of my photograph, I realized it was a bald eagle. How awesome!
We could see the La Sal Mountains in the background with snow-covered tops.
The drive back gave us a different look at some of the same views.
We finished our drive at 1:30 and stopped in Moab to look around.
We walked on Main Street from 100 N. St. to 100 S. St. on both sides of the street and I found another ornament souvenir of Arches National Park to add to my collection. Bob stopped to look at this rare Nissan GTR. It’s race car quality and made to go fast. There are only so many made each year and it was unusual to see it here.
This was an interesting establishment, but we didn’t stop to have a beverage. We wanted to get back to the campground in time to relax a little before dinner.
We got back to the campground around 3:00 in time to give Bob a haircut and enjoy some time outside warmed by the sun. It was a beautiful day–sunny and 75 degrees with a few more clouds than usual. We enjoyed our day exploring something new together!