The La Sal Mountains are a gorgeous protuberance rising upward due east of Moab. Shockingly white during the winter months, which makes for a pretty picture against that blue, blue southern Utah sky, the colorful wildflowers and green leaves of spring and summer decorate a fantastic drive that makes for an easy day trip from Moab. The 60-mile La Sal Mountain Loop Road is a great bet for views, little hikes, picknicking, photo-snapping, and all those things we like to do on a casual day’s adventure.
Start out with breakfast in town, then head north on 191. Turn right (east) on Scenic Byway 128, and start enjoying the views. This road winds beside the Colorado River, which meanders in a gentle, almost lazy flow here. When you reach Castle Valley Road, turn right (south). Ogle the red sandstone formations with fun names like Priest and Nuns.
photo: Alaskan Dude/Flickr
Keep an eye out for La Sal Mountain Loop Road; make a right and climb into the grand mountains right before you. The vegetation change as you climb in elevation is dramatic. Desert scrub morphs into large forest trees. Spring wildflowers, fall aspen color, green summer hillsides, white winter wonderland for snowshoeing or cross-country skiing–each season offers something wonderful for the senses. And those views? Yeah…stop at all the turnouts. Very worth it to see for miles.
If you’d like to picnic, hang out by a lake, or even camp for the night, Warner Lake Campground is your spot. This is definitely a summertime activity. Check with them for campground closures and road access changes.
As you wind your way down the La Sals, the road eventually rejoins 191, which you can take back north to return to Moab.
Be sure to check the road conditions depending on the time of year. The drive is open in the winter, but the road might be impassable due to any number of reasons. Check with the Manti-La Sal National Forest District at (435) 259-7155.