After the jaw dropping drive from Steamboat Springs to Moab I eagerly anticipated the beauty I’d find the following day, and was horribly disappointed when I woke to dark clouds and snowfall the following morning. I set out down the highway with a list of places I wanted to see and hoped for a break in the weather. It turned out to be one of the most amazing days I’ve ever experienced. I drove through pockets of heavy snowfall, and out into the sunshine, and back into pockets of snowfall again. First stop was Canyonlands National Park. Thankfully I was able to capture lots of images, because there are no words that could adequately describe it. The drive to the park from Hwy 191 was almost as beautiful as the park itself.
Further south in the town of Banning I stopped to see some of the Anasazi Ruins. The Anasazi Indian civilization thrived in the region for nearly 1,000 years leaving evidence of their extraordinary masonry talents everywhere. (More to come in future posts.)
A short distance south of Banning I headed west on Hwy 95. Interestingly, the places I had my sights set on couldn’t be seen through the dense snowfall, and I ended up driving all the way to Lake Powell before turning back east again.
On the way back east on Hwy 95 I turned south on yet another “road less traveled”, Hwy 261. Near the end of this highway I was surprised to find myself on edge of a cliff I would not have attempted to drive in the snowy conditions I encountered several times throughout the day. The drive down to the valley floor was a series of 5 mph switchbacks on a narrow gravel road. Not a place you’d want to find yourself if you had a fear of heights, but one of the most amazing vistas I’ve witnessed… ever! And made all the more fascinating by the pockets of snow clouds viewed from a distance.
At the end of this road I turned south on Hwy 163 and drove through Monument Valley.
Near the town of Kayenta (on Hwy 160) is the Navajo National Monument. I arrived here just before closing time at the visitors center, but thankfully the walking trails remained open. A short hike down the path led me to an overlook with a spectacular view of the Betatakin Ruins. These ruins are located in a huge alcove in a lush sandstone canyon. Because of a stream running through this valley there are trees and other vegetation not typically found in this arid part of the country. Access is permitted on ranger led tours and only during the summer months. One day I’ll have to come back for a closer look! The second image below is cropped into substantially so you can see the amazing structures. If you look closely at the right side of the first image you can see that part of the ceiling of this alcove fell and destroyed some of the dwellings. The third image is the surrounding valley.
Not too much further down the highway, and well before I reached Sedona, I was treated to yet another beautiful scene just before sunset.