Today we drove through red rock canyons and then up into the snow-covered La Sal Mountains. Our scenic drive ended with a good look at some Desert Bighorn Sheep.
Today we decided to take one of the scenic drives listed on the DiscoverMoab.com website (a wonderful resource by the way).
We took the Scenic Byway 128 and La Sal Mountain Loop combination. Scenic Byway 128 runs 44 miles through deep canyons along the Colorado River. We only did the first 17 miles before turning off toward the La Sal Mountains.
But even that section is spectacular.
At mile 14, we passed the Red Cliffs Lodge, and after missing our turn, we found the Sorrel River Ranch at mile 17. The Sorrel River Ranch has its own spa and provides luxury out in the middle of nowhere.
We turned around and made a stop at the Rocky Rapids recreation area.
I scrambled out onto some rocks in the middle of the Colorado River for a slightly different view.
Our timing happened to be just right. I got to take some photos of a couple of rafts coming down the river, ...
and I got to see what route they took through the rapids for future reference.
That looks like fun. Can't wait to get out there!
Nice! And this area's red rock cliffs are small compared to what lies ahead for them downriver.
Before we moved on, I spotted another bare, twisted tree begging for a photograph.
After backtracking about a mile, we turned onto the loop road toward Castle Valley and the mountains.
Here we have the "Priest and the Nuns" on the left and "Castle Rock" in the center.
The dry desert transitions to the alpine forest.
Another view of the transition from the mountains' perspective.
Adding a little zoom to the shot of the valley.
Moving on to higher elevations.
There are two mountain lake side-roads that were closed as we passed. We'll have to come back as there are few things more beautiful than alpine lakes with mountain reflections.
We also discovered a gorgeous bed and breakfast up in these mountains - Whispering Oaks Ranch.
From there we started making a descent back into Moab. There is still a good two feet of snow up in the mountains, but the roads were clear (except for a couple snow-packed icy spots).
As we headed back toward Arches, Linda spotted something on the rocks.
She has a good eye. There are four Bighorn Sheep in the above photo ... and that's zoomed in.
Here is a closer look at one getting ready to jump down to a lower resting spot.
And here are a couple of the others.
These all appeared to be females and young males as none of them had the large, curved horns of the older males. And these are Desert Bighorns which are much smaller than their Rocky Mountain Bighorn cousins.
We had been looking for the Bighorns since we arrived. They are known to hang out in that spot about a mile and a half before the park entrance. So Linda has been scanning the rocks every time we pass. And today she spotted them.
That was a great ending to today's drive.