Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Day 3 Of Our Road Trip to Vegas: Scenic 1-70 West Drive

It is often said that when you fly instead of drive that you miss out on a lot experiences.  I couldn't agree more, especially on this road trip.   We drove through six states to get from Wisconsin to Las Vegas and once we got passed Denver, it was just one jaw dropping scene after another.  But it wasn't until the morning of day three, the last trek of our journey, that we encountered the most spectacular scenery of them all.  

1-70 through Utah is desolate, scary, and absolutely breath-taking.  If taking this drive, be sure your car is in tip-top shape for it could be hours before you find a town with services.  Also have plenty of food and water in your car, because there are no quaint little towns to pull over and grab a bite to eat.

It is a hilly, dangerous road filled with lots of curves and steep inclines.  But it is also well-maintained with plenty of warning signs and runaway truck ramps.  They also let you drive eighty miles an hour on this road...which is really nice for long car drives.

There are several nice rest stops on this highway, which is a rarity in the west.  You've heard me say on this blog before that Wisconsin has the best rest stops in the country hands down, but Utah does a pretty good job too!  What I really liked about the Utah rest stops is that they are vacation destinations in themselves.  They put their rest stops at all the scenic/historical interests points, so in addition to just using the potty, you learn something too!

Below is a picture of one our favorite rest stops that we stopped at in Utah.  The snow capped mountains of Colorado are in the far distance, and the desert mountains of Utah are in the foreground.  Where the trucks are is the highway.  The buildings in the foreground is a tourist information building and bathrooms.  The picture is taken from the top of a mound.  They had two short hiking trails at this rest stop that took you to the top of hills to see breath-taking scenery.

In this picture, you can see the snow-capped mountains better.  The picture is taken from the top of one hill/trail looking at the top of the other hill/trail.  See the covered deck on the left side of the picture?  That is the top of the other trail.

Being a mid-westerner, I have such an appreciation for mountains.  I especially love the rocky, desert mountains of Utah, New Mexico, and Arizona.  Probably because trees don't block my view and I don't need a winter coat to appreciate them.

To give you an idea of the scale of the trail, that is a picture of me walking down the trail back to the rest stop.  My husband is on top of the hill taking the picture.

Every vacation my husband and I ever take something unexpected happens that ends up being the highlight of our vacation.  For this vacation, it was meeting the prairie dogs.  Now, I apologize in advance to anyone who does not believe in feeding wild animals, but these critters were so cute how could I resist?

I have never seen a prairie dog in my life before this trip.  We don't have them in Wisconsin.  When we first started walking the trail I saw a hole and said to my husband..."Oh, look!  A hole.  It must be a prairie dog hole".  And then, shortly there after we found another hole, only this time, a prairie dog popped out.  We were so excited, we saw our first prairie dog.  I tend to have a way with animals, so I just started talking sweetly to it, and it came up to me.  My husband decided to run back to the car to grab some granola bars.  I then started to feed the prairie dog, and he gobbled up the granola happily.

Well, before I knew it, one prairie dog grew to two prairie dogs, and then they started popping up all over the place.  Everywhere I looked was little prairie dog popping his head up out of the ground...and then they started making a bee line for me!

Oh no, what have I done?  By now I'm surrounded by prairie dogs all begging for a bite of my granola bar.  I was getting a little nervous only because I had bare toes and I was worried one of them might mistake my big toe for a piece of granola.  I finally just handed the rest of my granola to my husband and let him feed them...he had hiking boots on!

But seriously, did you ever see anything so cute in your life?  I wanted so badly to take one home with me.  And then I felt sorrow, because all I could think of was how much my son, who loves animals, would have enjoyed this.  It made me wish I could beam him there.

Well this rest stop was also the Utah Welcome Center, so of course we too the time to stop and have our picture taken in front of the Utah welcome sign.  It was our first time in Utah after all!

After that rest stop, we thought surely we would not find anything more interesting on this desert highway.  Boy, were we wrong!  For the next rest stop had this view.  And before I say anything more about it I'd like you to notice the semi-truck on the highway behind me.  That will give you an idea of the scale of these mountains!

Even though we were driving all day (for the drive from Fruita, Colorado to Vegas is almost eight hours), it was such an enjoyable day.  The entire highway just cuts through mountains and goes up hills where you see the most unimaginable amazing views.  It's a vacation just taking this me.  You will not see these views if you fly to Vegas!

 As I stated earlier in this post, each rest stop provided information on the scene you were looking at. The rock/mountain formation I am standing in front of in one of the pictures above is called the San Rafael Reef.  They had to cut through that reef to build this highway...amazing to think about isn't it?

After our experience driving to New Mexico (see THIS POST), we were pleasantly surprised by all the rest stops on this highway.  New Mexico hardly has any rest stops at all!  We ended up stopping at every single one (except one, which I regret to this day because it had the best view ever as we flew by it at 80 miles per hour) even if we didn't have to use the potty, just to see the views.

We loved the rugged rock formations seen from this rest stop.

 Now, even though I thoroughly enjoyed the scenery of this road, I have to admit, for two days I was a nervous wreck.  I'm a horrible back seat driver, and the hills and curves of this highway were scaring me to death.  I was constantly telling my husband to "slow down", or "watch it".  I think we bickered all the way to Vegas about his driving and it upset me greatly because the entire reason we take vacations is to renew and refresh our relationship and bring us closer together.

The following is a video of us driving through one of the mountain tunnels on 1-70 through Colorado.   I debated whether or not to share this video with you because my voice sounds terrible on it.  I do have a very funny voice, but on this video it's really bad because I'm so excited and nervous at the same time.  But I thought it was fun and interesting, and you can get idea of the tension of me and my hubby as we try to navigate these roads.  The thing to keep in mind when watching this seven minute video was that this experience wasn't just a few minutes or even a few was two days!  Imagine being on a roller coaster for two days.  That's what it felt like to me.  By the time we got to Vegas at the end of the second day of driving roads like this, my big, strong husband almost fainted from exhaustion.  Unlike me, he couldn't eat in the car because he had to keep both hands on the wheel at the same time.  He had to also grip the wheel so tight, his hands started cramping up.  So he went the entire day without food and driving under very difficult circumstances.

Be sure to watch as we drive out of the tunnel...that's when it gets really interesting!  And I apologize in advance for not turning the camera sideways.  Like I said earlier, I was nervous!

So by now you get that idea that even though flying is a lot quicker, easier, and less-stressful than driving long distances, you sure miss out on a lot of interesting stories to tell.

Every Wednesday I share travel adventures.  If you missed days one and two of our road trip to Vegas, you catch up HERE and HERE.

 Have a Great Day!  Amy

Linking Up with these Fabulous Blogs HERE and Travel Tuesday!


  1. I'm a MN girl, so I get your fascination with the mountains. I've taken a few road trips out west and I'm always in awe of its beauty. I have not been on I-70, but I did experience the prairie dog cuteness when we went to Devils Tower. I liked your observation on WI rest stops. I agree, the Midwest does pretty good with that. Enjoyed your travel summary - makes me want to head west again!

  2. How cute were those little dogs ? That is one long road trip though ! Beautiful scenery.

  3. It's amazing how much untouched land there is in the middle of America. Great photo of the mountains and the little critters, too.

  4. Oh my goodness that is so cute about the prairie dogs!!!


  5. I have never seen a Prarie Dog before. They are so cute. Beautiful scenery. My husband is from Wisconsin. We live in Texas.

  6. Fantastic shots, Amy. They brought back happy memories of our road trip in the same area quite a few years ago...
    Thanks for taking part in the Travel Tuesday meme. I look forward to your next contribution!

  7. Such beautiful scenery to drive through! Those long tunnels always make me nervous, but the mountain views are just amazing!
    We saw a lot of prairie dogs on our South Dakota vacation too. They were everywhere. Such cute animals and not scared of people at all.


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