Not long after leaving Monticello, US 191 crests a small hill, and the scenery instantly becomes a little more breathtaking. Up ahead, the La Sal Mountains appear. The La Sal Range has a dozen peaks that hit the 12,000-foot mark. You’ll be staring at them all the way into Moab.
Every once in a while when I’m on the road, I get an impulse to turn onto a road I know nothing about. The urge hit me as I drove past Steens Road, in between Monticello and Moab.
It appears that Steens Road is mostly used as a launching point for ATV’s. It passes by a few small sandstone features…
… which all have their own charm, but aren’t necessarily worth making an out-of-the-way effort.
In the distance to the north, there were larger sandstone cliffs surrounding some plateaus, but the road never came close to them.
Steens Road provides access to the Lisbon Valley Gas Plant. Beyond this intersection, gas pipes, wells, and other equipment run alongside Steens Road (the gas plant is to the right, but Steens Road continues straight).
From the intersection, I could see an enticing canyon ahead.
Indeed, Steens Road does run right through the canyon, but thanks to all the natural gas equipment, it wasn’t as scenic as I had hoped.
The road grew rougher as I made my way further into the canyon. Snow also started to appear at the edge of the road, which gave me (false) hope that there might be some snow in Arches National Park, as well. I knew more beautiful places awaited, on up the road, so I eventually turned around and headed back to US 191.
A few miles south of Moab, you get a preview of the formations that helped make the town famous. Wilson Arch is a beautiful window in the sandstone cliff at the edge of the highway. It requires no effort to see it from the road, but you could climb up to the opening if you were so inclined.
Wilson Arch also signals that you are getting close to another sandstone wonder — except this one is manmade.