Just put a road we don’t know in front of us, and we’re likely to drive it — side roads, byways, you name it. But one thing we learned while driving in Utah is this: If it says Utah Scenic Byway, don’t miss it.
To get there from Moab, drive about four miles along Hwy. 191 to Utah 279 — Potash Road. It’s one long stretch — about 30 or so miles round trip — but any part of it will have you falling in love. On your left going in will be breathtaking views of the Colorado River. On your right — steep red rocks, petroglyphs, and mesmerizing scenery.
First, look for rock climbers about four miles in. The climbers we saw must have been taking a class, since instructors were at the ready, coaching them as they scaled red, jagged rocks along Potash Road. Locals call it Wall Street . . . with good reason.
Second, drive about thirteen miles down for a view of Jug Handle Arch. And if you get out to take pictures, look for cliffs below Dead Horse Point State Park in the distance.
Third, drive all the way down to the Moab Salt Plant where a mineral used as fertilizer — potash — is extracted and processed. On the day we were there — a Sunday — trains stood still. But we could imagine the huge operation of loading boxcars for distribution throughout the U.S.
On your drive back from the potash plant, look left or right, and you’ll be amazed at the scenery. Still waters of the Colorado River reflect rock formations bordered by shrubs that turn golden yellow in the fall — a postcard picture suitable for framing.
Hikers know the area. As do campers, RV travelers, and just plain ol’ sightseers like us.
Finally, don’t miss the petroglyphs . . . as we almost did. Even with a sign that says “Indian Writing,” we couldn’t locate the drawings.
But when someone familiar with the area pointed out the artwork to Bert, we immediately picked up on what to look for and where.
Some drawings resemble people with triangular-shaped bodies. And several seem to be carrying orbs or round structures of some kind.
Others were harder to see because they were positioned higher or tucked into a tiny, dark crevice. But keep looking. You won’t be alone. Many visitors stand for a while looking, pointing, and sharing what they see with others.
So, when’s the best time to drive Potash Road? We recommend an afternoon excursion timed for late-day shadows on red sandstone cliffs. But we imagine early morning has its benefits, too. This is a photographer’s paradise, so pack your gear and get ready. Be prepared to pull over often.
No matter what time of year or what time of day you go, make Potash Scenic Byway a destination rather than a mere happen-upon place. It really is that good.
For more information:
Moab’s Scenic Byways: http://www.discovermoab.com/byways.htm
And access all our photos of Potash Road on Flickr.