The Continental Divide to Arches National Park (USA – Day 22)

posted in: USA 2016 | 0

Refreshed we are ready to get back onto I-70 west and explore some more of Colorado.

We do stray from the freeway to leave out a shorter section with tunnel in favor of the Loveland Pass, 11,990 feet elevation, including the Continental Divide and get our feet wet (or cold) in the snow! After passing a couple of ski areas, we are back onto I-70 and zip past Vail, Aspen and other fancy ski resort towns. It’s a beautiful drive through the Rocky Mountains, definitely a much better choice than the “faster” I-80.

Soon we’re cruising through the stunning Glenwood Canyon, continue to crisscross over and along the Colorado River and through more canyons into Grand Junction. We’re approaching the stat border soon, and make our way into yet another state on the trip and along I-70: Utah.

It’s approaching 5pm when we turn onto Hwy 191 south towards Moab, UT. Just a half hour down the road, passing by the entrance to Canyonlands National Park on the west, we turn east into the Arches National Park! It is too late for the Visitor Center, but with the park open 24 hrs, we are perfectly timed for great pre-sunset lights on the spectacular rock formations here.

Park Avenue is just the beginning of the beautiful sights to see here. We continue along the route to see Courthouse Towers, the Petrified Dunes and the Balanced Rock. Then we stop for a little hike around the first group of main arches: the Windows. North Window, South Window, Double Arch, Turret Arch are all worth the visit. To make the best of the light, we continue on further, passing the Fiery Furnace and Salt Valley views to see more arches near the Devils Garden trailhead and campground, including Skyline Arch. Here is where we stop and enjoy our picnic dinner watching the sunset. It is dark as we head back out of the park, to continue back to our route … knowing that we have to come back some day to see more!

We’re heading back up towards I-70, and stop for gas at Crescent Junction (which is really only a gas station). Good thing we’re still good to go another 20 miles to the next town, as this place charges $5 a gallon – twice the going rate! Green River has multiple gas stations at normal pricing, and we fill up before heading out into the dark and empty wilderness along I-70 (next services: 106 miles!). About 20 miles later it is past 11pm as we pull over for the night, at the San Rafael Reef Vista Point.

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