The LaSal Mountian Loop Road is a 60-mile route, which follows Scenic Byway 128 to the Castle Valley Junction. At this point a right turn has you entering a series of sweeping curves before opening up into Castle Valley where the Priest and Nuns rock formations and Castle Rock are visible. Still another right turn onto the LaSal Mountain Loop and you immediately find yourself ascending in a series of hairpin turns that will grab your attention and demand full concentration. Therefore, make sure you stop at the many view points to take in the breath-taking vistas as the vegetation changes from pinyon and jupiter trees to large pines and towering aspen. Shortly after passing the turnoff to Warner Lake Campground, the road winds down into Mill Creek Canyon, over bubbling brooks and through towering trees, before climbing again for the final descent past Ken’s Lake Recreation Area and into Moab. A great summer ride when you want to beat the heat for a few hours.
Dead Horse Point Scenic Byway on Utah Highway 313, just 9 miles North of Moab on Highway 191, takes you through 14 miles of incredible red rock canyon country, before forking off to Dead Horse Point State Park. After a series of hairpin curves as you begin to ascend the plateau, the road mellows out allowing you to appreciate the scenery. The view from Dead Horse Point, a large mesa connected by a narrow neck of land, is one of the most photographed scenic vistas in the world and well worth a few miles of straight and scenic touring.
After leaving the State Park, backtrack to Highway 313, hang a left, and head toward to the Island in the Sky District of Canyonland’s National Park. Within the park there are several scenic loops, all of which offer numerous sweeping curves and tight twisty turns, making this a favorite ride for locals. One word of caution, the scenery is so spectacular, it can be distracting and often, a seemingly straight stretch of road suddenly becomes a hard corner. Stop at the numerous overlooks, or stretch your legs on one of many short walking trails, to get a closer look at the spectacular vistas. Since this is a loop, you can experience the sheer joy of the ride on the way back.
While in Moab, another “must do” is the Arches National Park. Although the 22 mile road is not challenging, it is enjoyable and the scenery is so spectacular it really doesn’t matter. An initial climb through some interesting hairpin curves gives way to a fairly straight road with an occasional gentle sweeping curve. You will pass nature-sculpted rock formations such as Balanced Rock, Sheep Rock, Parade of the Elephants, which leave no doubt how they received their names. The park is full of the arches it is famous for, as well as petrified dunes and amazing rock pinnacles. Many of the arches are visible from the road or by taking a short hike. The amazing thing about this ride is that although you return on the same road you entered the park on, the views are totally different. Make it a point to visit Arches in the late afternoon, as a sunset ride on the return trip is magnificent. This is one you won’t forget, a truly amazing ride.
Out for a short after dinner ride? The Potash-Lower Colorado River Scenic Byway 279 takes you through a narrow canyon as you twist and turn with along the banks of the Colorado River through the Colorado River Portal. This scenic 17 mile route offers many opportunities to stretch your legs and enjoy sights such as Indian petroglyphs, dinosaur tracks, and arches. After passing Jug Handle Arch, the canyon walls open as you near the Moab Salt-Potash plant, above which the sheer cliffs of Dead Horse State Park can be seen. Taking this ride in the late afternoon rewards you with the sun setting on the red sandstone cliffs as you make the return trip.
Written by Tina L. Snyder - Moab Area Travel Council
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Once you arrive in Moab, detailed trail maps and guides are available for sale at the Moab Information Center (MIC). Located in the center of Moab, on Main & Center Street, the MIC staff is always happy to assist you.
GPS - Moab Info Ctr
Detailed trail maps and guides may also be purchased online from the Canyonlands Natural History Association, the company that stocks the information center. They can be reached on the internet at cnha.org or at 800-840-8978.