Be-UTAH-ful!

Saturday, December 15, 2012 Road Junkies 1 Comments

Westward Ho, Day 42:  Beaver, UT, to Moab, UT

This morning we left Beaver with mixed feelings about spending the day mostly on freeways—20 miles north on I-15 from Beaver to Cove Fort, then 182 miles east on I-70 to Crescent Junction, where we'd turn south for the final 30 miles to Moab on US-191.  On the one hand, we've been enjoying the simplicity and unusual roadside sights on some of the two-lane backroads we've been traveling.  Yet snow was in the forecast again today, and knowing we had some mountain ranges to cross, we conjectured that since they were likely to have heavier traffic, the interstates might be clearer than the less-used roads.  Under those circumstances, we thought it was worth sacrificing a more interesting route for one that might be safer.

Pahvant Range summit near Cove Fort
Yes, the snow did come down.  In fact, it was snowing when we left the hotel and continued all the way to I-70 and through the summit pass.  And as always occurs when you put Southerners in contact with frozen precipitation, we worried more about what might happen than what was actually occurring.  For the most part, the roads were just wet with only a few isolated icy patches. 

Coming down into the basin near the town of Sevier, we were lured by the brief burst of blue sky, the striking terrain and a sign announcing Fremont Indian State Park.  We took Exit 17 straight into the park, which was adjacent to the freeway.  In fact, the construction of I-70 was responsible for the development of this park. 

Fremont Indian State Park
The Fremont Indians were an agricultural people who lived in Utah and Colorado from about 400 to 1300.  During the construction of I-70 in the 1970s, archaeological remains of a Fremont settlement were discovered.  Thousands of artifacts were unearthed from the ancient village and many are on display at the park's museum.  Well-preserved petroglyphs are also identified and interpreted on the site.

Fremont petroglyphs
We were so impressed with Fremont Indian State Park that we left our Utah letterbox there, hidden near some of the amazing rock art.  Then we returned to I-70, glad to have stumbled upon this park so we had at least something interesting to see on our day of interstate driving.

Continuing east, Ken drove while I worked on writing the clue for the letterbox we had just hidden.  At a rest area about 70 miles east, we stopped to search for a letterbox (which we couldn't find due to a good snow cover) and eat our picnic lunch.  From there, we returned to I-70, ready to plod east for another 100 miles.  But then... things changed.

Snowy scenes along I-70
The 110 miles from Salina at Exit 56 to Green River are notorious for having no services.  Our stop was 30 miles into this stretch and things had been fairly dull, so I expected to not only finish writing the clue but get some other things done as well while Ken drove.  But Utah intervened.

Instead of burying my nose in the laptop and work, the incredible landscapes between mile marker 86 and 182 had our eyes glued to the windshield and the side windows.  "Look to the left!"  "Check out the right!"  We could not stop marveling and gawking at the ever-changing array of Utah's scenic vistas.  See for yourself.






Near mile marker 103, we stopped at the Salt Wash View Area, one of several scenic overlooks along the highway.  The views from this little rest area were simply breathtaking.

Salt Wash Overlook
In fact, this view area was so spectacularly beautiful that we decided to plant one of our "Love This Spot" letterboxes here in hopes of drawing others to enjoy this amazing view.  When we first began seeing this scenery, we commented that we'd like to return to Utah to explore the state further.  By the time we exited I-70 to drive the final 30 miles to Moab, our destination for the next couple of days, we were considering postponing our planned trip to Australia and New Zealand next spring so we can come back to this be-UTAH-ful state.

Tomorrow we plan to visit Arches National Park and other nearby scenic spots as time allows.  We're recharging our camera batteries for another day of photo overload.  Where, oh where, is our photographer brother Woodie when we need him?

More Photos from Today

Mailbox of the Day:  Fremont Indian State Park
More petrobglyphs
I-70 from the Salt Wash View Area
One of many gnarly old junipers we saw today
Salt Wash View Area
Another old juniper
Spotted Wolf Canyon
Beautiful vistas at every turn