Road Trip: Colorado National Monument and SR-128

We ended up having enough time near the end of our trip to spend one of our last mornings on Rim Rock Drive, a twenty-three mile road carved along the upper rim of a series of canyons that allows visitors to look down and across sheer cliff faces that spill into the gorge below.

You can see fresh snow both on the distant Book Cliffs (seen in the distant background in the above photos), and in the foreground, and while it helped make the scenery look even prettier, it also made our mountain road pretty slippery in some places. For someone who gets anxious around heights, riding on an icy, two-lane road that winds along the edge of a near-vertical cliff was, honestly, pretty nerve-wracking at times… and that was in spite of my mom’s careful driving. Not only that, but many of the observation points aren’t protected by guard rails or fencing, meaning that, often, the only thing standing between you and a very, very nasty fall is your own sense of self-preservation.

But that view? Totally worth the anxiety.

By the time we’d covered all twenty-three miles, I was very much looking forward to being on a road that was a bit closer to the ground. It was lucky, then, that the next leg of our journey took us on Utah State Route 128, also known as the Upper Colorado River Scenic Byway. Though most people would probably follow I-70 all the way to Arches National Park (which was our next destination), taking exit 214 and hopping onto Route 128 means treating yourself to some pretty spectacular scenery along the way, which – to me and my mom – was absolutely worth an extra twenty minutes of driving.

Before we turned onto Route 128 proper, though, I had my mom stop the car so I could take photos of some abandoned buildings and vehicles near Cisco, Utah. I especially liked the sentiment of the graffiti we saw on the old RV next to the road (you wouldn’t believe how many people think it’s okay to dump garbage, steal things, and deface natural landmarks, even in our national parks).

As always, I took my photos, and nothing else.

After I’d scratched the itch for photographing abandoned stuff, we moved on, and the desert view outside our windows was soon replaced by canyons, red rock formations, and the Colorado River as we headed south.

There were plenty of places to pull over and admire our surroundings, and although it was a little chilly out, it was a bright, clear day: excellent for taking photos. Fortunately, those blue skies followed us all the way to Arches, which made for some really fantastic photo opportunities… I’ll be sharing lots of those in my next post!

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