Fall is coming, and with it the gorgeous turning leaves. Even in desert Moab, fall color can be seen! Deciduous trees display their brightly-colored leaves before shedding them completely, much to the delight of photographers or the leisurely driver through this redrock destination. Here’s how and where to see fall color in and around Moab.
The La Sals are the mountains rising just 20 miles southeast of Moab. The 60-mile driving loop starts six miles south of Moab on US 191 and winds around and through the La Sals. Aspen trees provide much of the rioting color as it shoots up the mountain. The drive should take about three hours total, figuring in shutter-snapping and ooh-ahh time. Overlooks abound and are recommended viewing stops.
Best time of year for viewing: end of October. For current seasonal and road conditions, contact the Manti-La Sal National Forest District, (435) 259-7155.
Note: if your vehicle is a large RV, this road is not recommended due to some sharp, narrow turns.
This lovely backway gently curves through the Canyonlands area, taking you through sage-dotted plains, down a series of canyon switchbacks, and past the impressive, ancient Newspaper Rock site. When you begin to drive through Indian Creek Canyon (mecca to rock climbers everywhere), graceful cottonwood trees lining the creek splash additional color throughout this red rock canyon. You’ll end up at the Needles District of Canyonlands, which in itself is a sight to behold. Thirty-five miles round-trip, this out-and-back drive will likely take a few hours. To reach it, head south from Moab to Monticello along US 191. Your starting point is 14 miles north of Monticello, where US 191 meets SR 211.
Best time of year for viewing: end of October.
When you’re returning from the Indian Creek Byway tour, keep an eye out for the Harts Draw Road joining along SR 211. Take it to travel up into the Abajo Mountains (the “Blues”) for another eye-popping feast of fall colors. Aspens, spruce trees, stately ponderosas, gambel oaks, and more will greet you at varying points along the route. Panoramic views of Canyonlands and a huge swatch of southern Utah entice with their endless geometric designs of canyons, mountains, and water-scored desert land. You’ll end at the junction of U.S. 191 and 200 South Street in Monticello. Allow two-three hours for this drive.
Best time of year for viewing: end of September-mid October. For more information on road conditions and tree color, call the US Forest Service – Monticello District, (435) 587-2041.