Every trip to Moab should include a drive along at least one byway, although driving all three is a great way to spend a relaxing day.
The Moab area is blessed with three State Scenic Byways. State Scenic Byways help recognize, preserve and enhance selected roads throughout the United States based on their archeological, cultural, historic, natural, recreational and scenic qualities. Every trip to Moab should include a drive along at least one byway, although driving all three is great way to spend a relaxing day.
Upper Colorado River Scenic Byway (U-128)
Length: 44.0 mi / 70.8 km
Time to Allow: 2 hours
This spectacular route along the Colorado River gorge begins at the Colorado River Bridge on the north end of Moab. For the first 13 miles (20.9 km) it parallels the Colorado River within a narrow section of the gorge, providing breathtaking views of the surrounding red sandstone cliffs. Popular attractions along this portion of the route include viewpoints of the river, public camping areas, and Negro Bill Canyon, which contains a delightful hiking trail to Morning Glory Natural Bridge.
At 13 miles (20.9 km) the gorge widens as the highway proceeds past Castle and Professor Valleys, which have been the shooting locations for many western films including Wagon Master and Rio Grande, along with numerous television commercials. The Moab to Monument Valley Film Commission has a museum at the lodge located at Mile Marker 14. Admission is free. After 24.7 miles (39.8 km) the highway passes a viewpoint for one of the grandest views in the west, the red rock spires of the Fisher Towers set against the often snow covered peaks of the La Sal Mountains (see photo at the top of this page).
After leaving the valley, the road winds farther up the river gorge until arriving at the site of historic Dewey Bridge at 29.8 miles (48 km). Unfortunately Dewey Bridge was destroyed in April 2008 by a brush fire. The road then follows the northern bank of the river for a few more miles before exiting the Colorado River gorge. At this point the highway proceeds across open desert toward the ghost town of Cisco at 44 miles (70.8 km). Cisco was founded as a water refilling station for steam locomotives along the main line of the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad. After another 5 miles (8 km) the route intersects Interstate 70.
Potash-Lower Colorado River Scenic Byway (U-279)
Length: 17.0 mi / 27.4 km
Time to Allow: 1 hour
This Scenic Byway provides great views of the Colorado River, ancient rock art and dinosaur tracks. A late afternoon start is rewarding as the sunset on the reddish-orange sandstone cliffs along the route is especially beautiful on the return drive to Moab.
This byway begins 4.1 miles (6.6 km) north of Moab, where Potash Road (U279) turns off of Highway 191. After 2.7 miles (4.3 km) Potash Road enters the deep gorge of the Colorado River. At the 4 mile (6.4 km) point, look for rock climbers on the cliffs along the section of Potash Road, locally referred to as Wall Street.
Canoeists on the Colorado River
adjacent to Highway 279.
At 5.1 miles (8.2 km) several petroglyph panels are visible on cliffs on the right side of the highway. Marked pull-offs on the left side of the road provide parking to view these panels. An interpretive sign provides additional information. Further down the road visitors stopping at the "Dinosaur Tracks" turnout will find two view tubes adjacent to the highway, about 150 feet beyond the turn off to the Poison Spider Mesa Trail. The first tube points to the location of a series of three-toed dinosaur tracks. The second tube shows another petroglyph panel. Binoculars are required for a close view.
Trailhead parking for the trail to Corona and Bowtie Arches is available at 9.9 miles (15.9 km). Corona Arch, with an opening of 140 by 105 feet, is also known as Little Rainbow because of its resemblance to Rainbow Bridge at Lake Powell.
Dead Horse Point Mesa Scenic Byway (U-313)
Length: 35.0 mi / 56.3 km
Time to Allow: 2 hours minimum, but several additional hours are recommended to enjoy the state and national parks.
Dead Horse Mesa Scenic Byway, on Utah Highway 313, takes you through miles of incredible red rock canyon country. To reach the byway, head north from Moab on US- 191. After about 9 miles (14.5 km), look for the "Dead Horse Point State Park" sign and turn left (west) onto SR-313. This is the start of the byway. After a series of hairpin curves as you begin to ascend the plateau, the road mellows out allowing you to appreciate the scenery. At about 14.6 miles (23.5 km) from the beginning of SR-313 a fork to the left leads to Dead Horse Point State Park. Note that a fee is required to proceed to the viewpoints. The view from Dead Horse Point is one of the most photographed scenic vistas in the world. Towering 2,000 feet above the Colorado River, the overlook provides a breathtaking panorama of Canyonlands' sculpted pinnacles and buttes.
The view from Dead Horse Point State
Park is one of the most photographed
vistas in the world.
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