An Interstate highway to love (or some of it).

San Rafael Reef

San Rafael Reef

We travel on Interstates if we want to get somewhere quickly.  But anyone who has read much of this blog knows we do our best to avoid them.  While efficient most of the time, they are boring all of the time.  Or at least that’s what we thought until our Spring 2016 trip.

Returning from California on Nevada back-roads, we found ourselves ready to get to Moab.  So we took I-70 east from its western terminus, its intersection with I-15 north of Beaver, Utah and soon found ourselves on a spectacular drive.

DSCN3416This was not the congested I-70 through Maryland.  This was not the I-70 of farms and ranches across the mid-West.

The portion just east of Salina, Utah has very narrow berms and no place to stop.  As a result, I have no photographs of our passage through narrow twisting canyons.  The rock strata and formations were as beautiful as we have seen anywhere.

Perhaps, we should have tried some photos through the windshield — what’s wrong with a bug splat here and there?  There was very little traffic.  My guess is goods in that area are moved by train, not trucks.  Also, there aren’t many people in that part of the world.

Most Interstate highways have a rest stop every thirty to fifty miles.  Once we got through the canyons, the road opened out and it seemed there was a view stop — that is what they are called — every five miles or so until we approached Green River.

"View Area" rest room

“View Area” rest room

There were a few First Americans on the view stop sidewalks selling jewelry.  We felt sorry for them.  There were few customers in early April.

Signs told us about the geology of the area, but it was more than we cared to remember.  We were there for the views.

View stops also have rest rooms, often sitting at the edge of a drop-off with a spectacular view.  These restrooms need picture-windows.   : )

Spotted Wolf Canyon

Spotted Wolf Canyon

One sign that did grab our attention described the effort to put the highway through Spotted Wolf Canyon.  It was just a slot canyon in the San Rafael Reef, a 30-mile long ridge that blocked east-west travel.  For centuries most travelers just detoured around it.

In October 1967 before construction began, workers could stand in the canyon and reach out and touch both walls.  Two road lanes were opened in 1970.  Two additional lanes were added in the 1980s.

Spotted Wolf Canyon

Spotted Wolf Canyon

Salina to Green River is just 107 miles.  From its western intersection with I-15 to Baltimore, Maryland at the eastern end, I-70 travels about 2,165 miles.  We still prefer back roads.

But I-70 had one more pleasant day for us.  After exploring Moab and other Utah areas, we again began the trek home and chose to follow I-70 along the Colorado River to Glenwood Springs, Colorado and then on to Denver.  I suppose it would be hard to build a road through the Rocky Mountains that did not have spectacular scenery.

Click on photos to enlarge.

P.S.  When I was just starting to blog, I wrote [ranted?] about Interstates but had a list of some that I wanted to see.  Since we avoid Interstates, perhaps there are other spectacular drives on Interstate highways we have yet to discover.  Do you have suggestions?


About ralietravels

Ray and Alie (Ralie) are a retired couple who love to travel. Even during our working years, we squeezed a trip in whenever we could, often when we had to stretch the budget to do so. We have been fortunate to vacation in all 50 states, all the provinces of Canada and one territory and a little more than 50 countries. We like to drive, but we particularly love to travel back roads to find unusual sights, people, and experiences.
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3 Responses to An Interstate highway to love (or some of it).

  1. JohnRH says:

    The I-15 Virgin River Gorge is a beauty: . ‘Back in the day’ before I-15 ran through it I’d depart the interstate north around Mesquite and drive a lonnng two-lane over the mountain to Utah to pickup 15 again. Then at Cove Fort I’d depart east onto another winding two-lane over to a state road and up to Salina to catch that beautiful 100-mile stretch west on I-70 to Green River. Colorado National Monument outside Fruita/Grand Junction is worth a drive thru too. A mini-Grand Canyon.


  2. Keith &Loraine Beckman says:

    Beautiful scenery, even if you prefer the back roads. Unless you have to be in a specific place at a designated time,. I think the back roads are best to see what there is to see. You sure have proved that with all of your “historic” reviews. Loved them all and look forward to reading when I see there is one posted. Love to you both. Loraine


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