It had been a long day on the road and we were tired, but some instinct made Ruth & me get off I-70 and head for Cisco. We were soon glad we did this because we discovered a fabulously scenic road that we had already driven once upon a time. It was a good lesson for 2 seasoned travelers. Highway 128 is far more beautiful driving from Cisco back to Moab.
Highway 128, we quickly learned, is part of the Dinosaur Diamond National Scenic Byway. It skirts a natural landscape bordering Arches National Park that has never been developed for tourism and produces almost 45 miles of continuous scenery. Even if you are tired, take Exit 204 off of I-70 and head for Cisco, but turn right on.Highway 128 instead. There’s no reason to go into Cisco because it has become a ghost town. Its population is said to be 4 but was higher when it became a set for filming the movie Thelma & Louise several years ago. The final scene that looks like the Grand Canyon is actually Dead Horse Point, a visitable Utah State Park near Moab.
The first major landmark on 128 was the old Dewey Bridge. We actually crossed it years ago when it was a one-lane wonder over the Colorado River. But it burned in a fire in 2008 and has been replaced by a sleek new 2-lane structure. Wise heads preserved Dewey because when it was built in 1916 it was Utah’s longest suspension bridge. It was a thrill to see and photograph Dewey again in the land of dinosaur footprints, fossils, archeological sites, river vistas, and always near the natural stone arches of a popular national park. There are actually far more views of the Colorado River along this road going in this direction, and the river is far more placid here going southwest than it is down in The Grand Canyon.
The 2nd landmark we saw was Fisher Towers. These red rock formations were unmistakable and beautiful, but we did not attempt the trail to them because it was so late in the day. It’s still a movie set kind of vista.
We did stop, however, at a spot where 3 travelers in an SUV almost got stuck. They had climbed up to a hole in a rock where at some point in time people attempted to settle. After they left, Ruth and I climbed up to the hole to see the settlement site.
We made it as far as Castle Valley, which is 16 miles from Moab. Far more than a ghost town, this small settlement of about 300 was full of the usual small town activities.
Take the time to explore Highway 128 when you are in this part of Utah. You won’t be disappointed, disoriented, or sorry.