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Scenic Byway 128 in Moab: Things To See and Do

Moab Route 128 hittle bottom

Scenic Byway 128, also known as the Upper Colorado River Scenic Byway, is a road near Moab that passes through a beautiful red-rock valley. This valley offers scenic views, famous formations, restaurants, lodging, and much, much more.

In this article, I’ll cover all you need to know if you’re driving through this valley.

Getting There

Map of Scenic Byway 128

There are two ways to drive this road: entering from Moab, or from the I-70 freeway. Either way would be great, but if you enter from I-70 the scenery gets better as you go.

How Long Does it Take to Drive Scenic Byway 128?

The road is about 55 miles long and it takes just over an hour to drive it, without stops.

Lodging

There are two resorts in this valley: Red Cliffs Lodge (book here) and Sorrel River Ranch. Both of these offer fancy lodging, dining, and a plethora of fun, guided activities such as river rafting, ATVing, and more.

Moab Route 128 red cliffs lodge
Red Cliffs Lodge
Moab Route 128 red cliffs lodge
The view from Red Cliffs Lodge

Camping

There are many campgrounds in this valley, some along the river. Most, if not all, are administered by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Most are first-come, first-served, but a few are reservable on recreation.gov.

River Rafting

River rafting on Colorado River
via Canva

Moab is synonymous with adventure, and there are many companies that offer guided river rafting trips through this valley.

Horseback Riding

There are at least three companies within this valley that offer horseback rides: Red Cliffs Lodge, Sorrel River Ranch, and Hauer Ranch.

Sites Along the Drive

Here are some things to see as you drive along the road.

Cisco Ghost Town

Moab Route 128 cisco

If you’re entering Scenic Byway 128 from I-70, the first stop you’ll see is the bizarre and eerie ghost town of Cisco. This was once the railroad stop for Moab, but when it was bypassed by I-70 in the 1950s, it declined rapidly. By the 1970s, it was abandoned.

Believe it or not, Johnny Cash performed a song about Cisco!

Cisco Clifton's Fillin' Station

Today, it’s mostly a few broken-down buildings.

But recently someone purchased the entire ghost town and now lives there. So the population of Cisco is 1.

She has established an art residency where artists can do what they want with the buildings. We enjoyed the bus with a snake coming out of it.

Art on Moab Route 128 cisco

She has been the subject of a small documentary.

If you visit, remember: this is now private property, so please be respectful of the signs.

Dewey Bridge

Moab Route 128 dewey bridge

Dewey Bridge was originally constructed to get livestock and wagons over the river. Although it was later bypassed by a modern bridge, it was still a popular little spot to walk across the river.

Unfortunately, in 2008, it burned down. The town tried to raise funds to rebuild it but was unable to raise enough.

All that remains today are a few eerie cables dangling from above.

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Hittle Bottom

Moab Route 128 hittle bottom view of Colorado river and hill

Hittle Bottom is a nice spot to walk down to the Colorado River. This is the launch point for some rafting trips.

There’s also a historical site here as well as a campground. The campground is first-come, first served, but there is a group site that is available to reserve on recreation.gov.

Moab Route 128 hittle bottom sign
Moab Route 128 hittle bottom homestead remnants

Fisher Towers

You can’t miss these pointy formations on the southern side of the road. These have been featured in a number of western films.

Moab Route 128 fisher towers
Moab Route 128 fisher towers sign showing movies filmed in the area

A 2-mile dirt road will get you to the towers, where you can take some short hikes to view the towers closer if you’d like.

Professor Valley

Moab Route 128 professor valley long road to snow covered red rock plateaus

An unmarked, dirt, side road will take you through Professor Valley. It ends at the trailhead for Professor Creek and the Mary Jane Canyon trail, an 8.4-mile out-and-back hike.

Otherwise, the only reason to take this road is to see Castleton Tower a little closer.

Castleton Tower

Moab Route 128 castleton tower

Along with the Fisher Towers, Castleton Tower is the most prominent formation along this stretch of road.

This bizarre formation is known as one of the top climbing routes for rock climbers in the world.

But what I enjoyed most about it was learning that Chevy once helicopter-landed a 1964 Chevy Impala on top of it. A terrified model sat in the vehicle while they filmed a commercial. Seriously, just watch this!

1964 Chevy Impala Commercial -HD BEST Quality Utah -Castleton Tower aka Castle Rock

Moab Museum of Film & Western Heritage

I learned about this at the nearby Moab Museum of Film & Western Heritage, a simple but surprisingly delightful stop inside the Red Cliffs Lodge.

You’ll be amazed at how many movies were filmed around Moab, including the infamous scene where Thelma and Louise drive their vehicle off the cliff. The scene was filmed at nearby Dead Horse Point, though in the movie they were driving off the edge of the Grand Canyon. Unfortunately, this inspired others to do the same. Read about how many people have died in the Grand Canyon.

Grandstaff Canyon Hike

This is a popular 5.7-mile out-and-back hike that leads to Morning Glory Bridge.

Matrimony Springs

Rainwater seeps through the sandstone and comes out of the wall here, ready to drink. An old legend was that if you drank from this spring you’d get married; today the legend has changed a bit – you’ll fall in love with Moab and return. So it’s Moab’s version of Rome’s Trevi Fountain.

Lions Park & Bridge

bridge over Colorado River at Lions Park
via NPS

This is the end of the road (or the beginning, if you’re starting from Moab). It is a chance to walk on the bridge over the Colorado River and is also a popular biking trail as well.

Lions Park is very close to the entrance of Arches National Park. Find out The Absolute Best Time to Visit as well as 15 Things You CAN’T MISS On Your First Trip to Arches National Park.

Things to do Nearby

Need a game plan so you don’t miss out on the best things to do in Moab and Arches? Check out our itinerary

Most travelers want to visit the most popular sites and still avoid crowds. We have a detailed itinerary that gives you a step-by-step game plan so you can get to the best places at the right times!

MORE INFORMATION FOR YOUR TRIP TO
MOAB, ARCHES, & CANYONLANDS

ARCHES & CANYONLANDS TRIP PLANNER: To read or watch all of our content about Arches National Park & Canyonlands National Park, check out our Arches Homepage and our Canyonlands Homepage

ARCHES: Don’t miss all that Arches has to offer including hiking to Delicate Arch, and visiting Devil’s Garden, Fiery Furnace, & the Windows

CANYONLANDS: Visit the different areas of Canyonlands with our easy guide including the Island in the Sky District, the Needles District, and Horseshoe Canyon. Check out some amazing viewpoints, as well as, Mesa Arch, ancient ruins, and Native American rock art

MOAB: Explore the adventurous Moab area including Corona Arch, Gemini Bridges, and Dead Horse Point State Park.  Consider taking a jeep ride, a horseback ride, rafting down the Colorado River, or taking a scenic drive and exploring Potash Road

WHERE TO EAT: Don’t miss the best places to eat in Moab, Arches, & Canyonlands

WHERE TO STAY: Learn all about where to stay when visiting Moab, Arches, & Canyonlands

WATCH: Enjoy videos of gorgeous Arches National Park & Canyonlands National Park while learning our best tips for visiting by watching our Moab, Arches, & Canyonlands YouTube Playlist

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