On our last drive home from Arizona and Nevada, we decided to come home “up the middle”. This is what we call the drive north through Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, South Dakota, and North Dakota.
On previous trips south, we had returned home the same way we went south (through Salt Lake City, Idaho, and Montana). This time, we mapped our route to go east on I-70 (just south of Salt Lake City) to Denver and then north from there.
The scenery through the red rock area of Moab, Utah was like something you’d see on sci-fi movies of other planets! The pillars rose straight out of the ground and sometimes a single pillar was just standing by itself with nothing else around it. Other times, there were several pillars grouped together – all different shapes, and all a rusty red that was a perfect contrast to the clear blue winter sky. We didn’t take the time on this trip to explore the area further, so we missed seeing the famous arches that are also formed from the red sandstone. We’ll definitely return to the area to see more of these amazing natural structures.
We spent our first overnight at Grand Junction, Colorado with plans to travel through Denver via I-70 East the next morning. When we were checking out, the hotel desk clerk advised us that I-70 was closed down the road due to a rock slide and that it was anticipated to be closed for the next 2 or 3 days.
My newly-retired semi-driver hubs decided to forge ahead to see how far we could go before the road closure. Of course he did. We weren’t far out of Grand Junction, when we came to the detour (north through Wyoming) and instead of taking it, hubs decided to drive to Aspen, Co and then North to Denver from there. So, off to Aspen we went.
Sadly, my photos in Aspen were too blurry to edit and publish. Suffice it to say that it truly was a winter wonderland. From the highway, we enjoyed watching ski enthusiasts navigating the slopes. We had never been to Aspen before, and this is another area we’ll definitely check out more closely on another trip.
We quickly discovered that there was no open highway from Aspen to Denver due to heavy winter snow, so back we traveled to our detour sign and off we went North to Wyoming. We didn’t mind the extra hours driving, as there was so much beautiful scenery we wouldn’t have seen otherwise.
Wyoming is diverse in geography, and it seemed that every few miles, we saw a significant change – everything from farm lands nestled in the rolling hills, to bad lands rock formations. Wyoming scenery is true to the Western movies that have included it in their stories over the years.
We continued north Via US 85 through South Dakota and then North Dakota, where we finally stopped for the night in Medora. Medora is a booming tourist town in the summer months, but in the winter it’s a ghost town. The hotel we checked in to for the night was completely empty. The desk clerk was so happy to see actual guests, that she upgraded us at no charge to a beautiful room with an in-room spa. We welcomed this feature on a cold winter’s night.
After warming up in the hot tub, we asked the desk clerk if there was anywhere in town where we could grab something for dinner. She laughed and told us that the only place open was the local tavern, “Boots Bar and Grill”, so that’s where we headed for a great meal of burgers, fries, and draft beer. Everything tastes good when you’re hungry and this meal tasted like the best burgers and fries we’ve ever had!
In the morning, we headed out and enjoyed seeing the badlands of Theodore Roosevelt National Park in the daylight.
After Medora, it was only a four-hour drive home. Because we live so close, we’ll be soon checking out the Theodore Roosevelt National Park in the summer months. We had driven past the area many times, but had never actually turned in, and we were happy we did on this trip.
“Some beautiful paths can’t be discovered without getting lost.”