With Boulder in the rear view mirror, it’s time to venture West for Moab, Utah. Nearing the peak of Fall, there’s no better time to soak up the diverse landscapes and cascade of colors found along I-70. This trip runs for a minimum of 6 hours, so depart well before sunrise and stack the snacks. Looking to liven up the drive? Here are a few landmarks worth a stop.
After 90 minutes of driving it’s time to stretch your legs. About 70 miles past Denver you’ll reach Dillion Reservoir–a nice treat that’s merely a warm up for what’s to come. The vast forest of Vail will greet you no more than 30 minutes later. This leg of the road trip beams with fall color. Clusters of golden aspens stream through White Rivers National Forest. Take advantage of the many parking lots and turnouts. It’s hard to capture Vail in all its glory. When in doubt ditch the camera and soak it up lens-free.
About an hour past Vail lies changing terrain, where lush forests border colossal, ravines. The most awe-inspiring of the bunch is Glenwood Canyon. This rugged 12-mile gorge hugs the Colorado River. There aren’t many stops during this pass, but you’ll know you’re there when seemingly endless, red rocks tower over you. Take it in. It’s one of the most beautiful sights I’ve seen to date.
If you don’t mind getting into Moab well past sunset, strap on your hiking shoes and explore Hanging Lake. This rigorous 1.7 miles out and back hike starts at the bottom of Glenwood Canyon. The trail takes explorers 1000 feet up a steep grade to a crystal clear, glacially-formed lake. Allot a good two hours for this hike and bring plenty of water and snacks.
How to get there: About 22 miles west of Eagle, take the Grizzly exit in Glenwood Canyon. From there, get back onto I-70 East and take the Hanging Lake exit. The trailhead is ¼ mile east of the rest area just before the bridge.
Those looking for something a little more mellow can check out the Yampah Spa Vapor Caves for natural hot springs and underground steam baths ($15, 709 E. Sixth St. Glenwood Springs, CO).
With about three hours to go it’s time to make some traction. If you aren’t living off Cliff Bars and road munchies refuel at Rockslide Restaurant and Brewery (401 Main St., Grand Junction). From there it’s just two hours to Moab, where a new scene and a cozy bed await.