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Destination: Corona Arch

eastern Utah

The area around Moab is basically one gigantic national park with scenic roads running in all directions. Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, Dead Horse Point State Park. And then the Colorado River Scenic Byway, Road to Castle Valley and Sego Canyon: there are Wide Open Rides on all of these routes. In fact, the Colorado River Scenic Byway is so special there are three different views: Road to Moab running west and Road on Fire, the reverse route heading east. This third story features the Potash-Lower Colorado River Scenic Byway. Potash, or potassium chloride, is used mainly as plant fertilizer. Not a very sexy subject for a scenic highway but Moab is home to a potash mine and evaporation ponds located at the end of this road. Now while that might excite some travelers, the drive to get there is truly breathtaking. Heading north on US 191 leads to the aforementioned sites: Canyonlands, Castle Valley, etc. But just north of Moab and across the Colorado River is a lefthand turn onto UT 279 and the 17-mile-long Potash-Lower Colorado River Scenic Byway. Curving back to the river, the road enters the mouth of a canyon. With water on one side and sheer, towering cliffs on the other, this impressive section is called Wall Street. Climbers are frequently busy scaling the sides and then, just a bit farther are several rock art panels. There’s a small parking area across from the cliffs and if you look up high, you can clearly see the Archaic and Fremont Indian petroglyphs that range from 700 to 8,000 years old. As the drive moves on, the art gallery continues but as nature’s handiwork in various rock formations. To reach the most spectacular one, look for the well-marked Corona Arch parking lot on the right. It’s an easy 1-mile hike (including a ladder) to reach this stunner. In fact, it’s a twofer as Bowtie Arch lies within sight. Then it’s a simple hike back to the car and another seven miles to the byway’s end. Along the way, look for the Jug Handle Arch on the right. After passing the potash facilities, pavement ends at a boat ramp. Flip a U-turn and it’s 21 miles back to Moab for a refreshing beer at the local brewery.

Route & Map       

The Potash-Lower Colorado River Scenic Byway is short, sweet and close to Moab. And all of the attractions are free. It’s kinda the perfect quick getaway.

Length & Time

Everything is easy with this byway. It’s just 17 miles long. Wall Street, the rock formations, petroglyphs, potash production and boat ramp all line the road. If you add in the short roundtrip hike to Corona Arch, everything can be easily seen in a few hours.

Best Time to Visit

Spring and fall are the most beautiful times in Moab. Summer is very hot and winter can get snowy. That said, this route and hike are doable and enjoyable year-round.

Major Town

Moab is base camp for the plethora of incredible natural attractions in the area. And it has all the accommodations, art galleries and river rafting companies to match.

Links

Moab’s official vacation guide has everything needed to plan including a section on scenic byways.

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