When: April 24, 2014
Where: Cedar City, Utah to Moab, Utah
After hiking Zion National Park, the next morning we got up early again so we could make the drive to our next destination – Moab, Utah. Because our whole trip was just less than two weeks, we had to be selective about where we could visit and where we had to skip. But believe me, it was painful to drive past the signs for Bryce Canyon National Park and Capitol Reef National Park – they look spectacular too.
I was amazed at how pretty the drive was on I-70, the formations are stunning and gradually transition as you drive from rock formations with fantastic colors and sedimentary layers to scrub pine forests with rocky soils to mesas and plateaus. We stopped at a scenic viewpoint and rustic rest area (just a pit toilet) and found some amazing views of Castle Valley within the San Rafael Swell. It gets its name from the rock formations that look distinctively like… well… castles! I took lots of photos here because I was just so awestruck by the beauty of the place.
Castle Valley is practically void of any population now, but apparently the area was the last place that Brigham Young called on his followers to settle, back in the 1870s. Due to the lack of water, it never really took off – only a few hardy cowboys took the risk of trying to live here; they used their knowledge of every hidden spring and water source to raise a small number of cattle. Today, other than the highway, there are no signs of human habitation as far as the eye can see.
Back on the road, we made the rest of the journey to Moab, passing through a few small towns but overall, we were surprised by the lack of towns and services along such a major highway. We made great time though, and reached Moab in time for lunch. I had expected to have lunch on the road, so I wasn’t really prepared for a lunch restaurant in Moab – we parked downtown and walked around for a little while before settling on the Peace Tree Café.
The Peace Tree had some great outdoor covered seating, and a wide selection of homemade smoothies and juices. But I was drawn to their Angus burger – I had it with chips, and Jon had a beet salad. My burger came complete with a peace sign brand! We ate quickly so we would have time to hike to our heart’s content, because our next stop was Canyonlands National Park!
Have you ever driven this stretch of I-70 and stopped at the Castle Valley Viewpoint? What did you think?