June 16, 2017
After we visited Bryce Canyon, we headed to Arches National Park in Moab. For the first half of the drive, we decided to take the scenic route instead of the freeway. Scenic Byway 12.
The sign said, “All American Road.” Which was comforting; I didn’t want to end up in China. Although I am pretty sure we drove through Scotland at one point.
It took longer than we expected, and I am pretty sure we traveled back in time for a while, and then somehow came back. But it was a scenic drive indeed.
There are a few things you should know if ever decide to take this route. It is all two-lane road. There are very few towns along the way, and they are tiny. And you will lose cell phone and GPS service at various points along the way. So you may want to print out a map beforehand. I wish we had.
I also wish we had brought a cooler full of tasty sandwiches because we only saw one place to eat, about halfway through the drive. Of course, we didn’t stop, thinking there would be more places ahead. Nope. All we saw after that were vultures following our car. At regular intervals, they radioed ahead to other vultures, informing them that we were on the way. I think they had a pool going about when we would run out of gas or pass out from a lack of food and water. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Once we got on Scenic Byway 12, we drove through a small populated area. Then we came to a large cut in a hill. This is the point where we left civilization behind for most of our journey that day. We didn’t realize how remote this drive was.
It is pointless to try to describe the scenery. It was ever-changing. It seemed like every curve brought new wonderful scenery to marvel at. So I will share a few of the photos we took along the way.
I started to notice a theme: desert, rocks, and scrubby vegetation.
As we drove, I started to feel like a cowboy. Except I wasn’t riding a horse or herding cattle or wearing a hat.
The longer we drove down Byway 12, the more I felt like I was driving back in time. Except for the fact that the roads were paved and we were in a horseless carriage.
I forgot to mention that we rented a compact car, which is rental car terminology for a go-cart. It got good gas mileage, but it wasn’t much of a mountain climber. Still, we made it over every peak.
We eventually ran into some construction and some other humans in a pickup truck. We entered a canyon. I was pretty sure we were about to drive into Radiator Flats from the Pixar movie Cars.
We ended up driving on the top of the mountains for a while. Then the scenery abruptly changed and became green.
Forests of birch and pine trees greeted us. So did cows! Evidently, free-range cows have the right of way in the mountains of Utah, and they know it. Herds of them leisurely wandered in front of our car. It was entirely unexpected.
Then we rode back down the mountain and were greeted with more western scenery. I had an incredible urge to say, “Howdy Pardner.”
We passed through a few small inhabited areas. It would be a lie to call them towns, more like a few houses gathered together. By then, we were looking for somewhere to eat. It was a fruitless search. We kept driving through some farmland.
We started climbing, and the scenery shifted again. It became sparsely vegetated and hilly. It reminded me a little of Scotland.
After about three and a half hours of driving through an incredible variety of breathtaking scenery, we finally made it back to the highway. Weary of driving and hungry, we got on Highway 70 for the remaining 2 hours of our drive to Moab.
With some better planning than we did—like bring sandwiches and a map—I would highly recommend making the Scenic Byway 12 drive if you can. It was amazing. The photos I took don’t do it justice.
As we pulled onto the highway, I thought, Surely, there will be somewhere to eat on a Highway. Nope. Nothing but desert for hours. No food. No gas. No hotels. Just desert. By the time we got to Moab, it was dark, we were sick of driving, and very hungry.
We checked into our hotel, dragged ourselves across the street to a grocery store, and bought sandwiches from the deli. Then we went back to the room, ate, and crashed for the night.
Coming in Part 4: Arches National Park.