We had up to this point been staying slightly inland to avoid the nasty wet weather along the coast. However, this looked to be clearing up so we decided to head west to the Oregon coast and then south. We were not disappointed with both the twisty road we took from Grant's Pass to Gold Beach, nor with the spectacular late-day view along US 101 just south of Gold Beach (see picture).
Unfortunately the weather learned that we were on the coast and the next day dawned soggy and wet. So we decided to head back inland after sampling a bit of the Avenue of the Giants (Redwood trees) in northern California. To get us there, we took amazing California Route 36 from just south of Eureka east into the central valley. An amazingly twisty, well-paved, minimal traffic road! California really has some of the best sport roads, I am convinced, after having driven all over North America.
Driving amidst the Giants
We camped overnight at a small state park about an hour north of Sacramento, and then set out early in the morning for Yosemite. Highway 120 leading into the park is excellently twisty as it nears the park, although it does have a fairly high amount of traffic. The day was nice, hot and clear (again we managed to escape the rain for a while).
Yosemite itself is spectacular as always. Yosemite valley was busy, and explorations of the General Grant Grove of Giant Sequoia trees and of Glacier Point, with its superb view of Half Dome, were (and are) worthwhile. The roads are very twisty, but there is a lot of slow tourist traffic.
Heading out of Yosemite, we took Route 120 over to the east side of the park (the Tioga pass road). This road crosses the Sierra Nevada, and offers lots of high altitude high country scenery before abruptly dropping down the eastern front of the Sierras into the arid desert of the Basin and Range province to the east.
The next leg of our journery was a traverse across the deserts of Nevada. For this we took a route across the south central part of the state, on highways US6, NV 375 (the famous "Extraterrestrial Highway"), US93, and NV 319. A vast and grand landscape, full of the spirit of the old west. Lots of wide open straight "see-forever" roads for you to test out top speeds on!
flavour of the west
Next stop on the route were the fantastic landscapes of the Colorado Plateau. This area, covering most of Southern Utah and Northern Arizona (and a bit of western Colorado and New Mexico). I've always been in awe of this so-called "Color Country", with it's soaring brightly multi-colored cliffs, towers, columns, and canyons. And with some excellent roads to boot.
The first major stop on the Colorado Plateau is Zion National Park. The western route leading into Zion is majorly spectacular (Utah 9 into Springdale). Springdale itself is a hip trendy-but-small-and-real village nestled next to the park entrance. Utah 9 inside the park has some amazing scenery and amazing twisties, including a very neat 1.5+ km tunnel drilled into one of the fantastic sandstone walls of Zion National Park.
Heading to Zion National Park
The rain eventually found is in Zion, and pushed us on east to our next destination on the Colorado Plateau. We skipped Bryce Canyon because of continual pouring rain, and did not get to enjoy any of Utah 12, a premier scenic road in the area. By the time we got to Utah 24 and Capitol Reef National Park, in south-central Utah, the rain did clear and we got some nice weather. Capitol Reef is remote and beautiful. The roads are more scenic than twisty.
Expansive Spectacular views
Continuing east on Utah 24 through spectacular Canyon country leads to the interesting "Hollow Mountain" gas station and convenience store, built right into a sandstone cliff, and the weird but wonderful Goblin Valley State Park, which is a good place to stop and play hide-and-seek!
S2000 at Arches National Park
We arrived in Moab on late in the day on September 19th (Sunday), where we attempted to but failed to stay at the scenic Devile's Garden campground in Arches National Park (got there too late). Instead we stayed at a BLM (Bureau of Land Management) campground just outside of Moab. Moab is a another neat town, this time in southeastern Utah. It is a hub for 4-wheelers, mountain bikers, and 2 national parks and one state park, all excellent in their own way.
The park we focused on the most was Arches national park, a place I've been to many a-time before. Always beautiful.
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