Long Canyon is a fun way to the Island in the Sky mesa from Moab. A moderate offroad route just by virtue of the very top end, Long Canyon offers brilliant views of the La Sal Mountains framed by a canyon setting found nowhere else in the world than the Utah canyonlands.
Long Canyon is just another example of the gems you can find, simply by looking at a map and taking the road less traveled.
Access to Long Canyon Rd. from Moab is simple; north out of town on the main drag, just turn west (left) on Utah Route 279, signed as Potash. Route 279 follows the north bank of the Colorado River, as it winds through the canyon during the first segment. Long Canyon will be a right turn from UT-279, just after the Jug Handle Arch. There is parking to hike to the arch at the beginning of Long Canyon Rd., signed.
Needles Overlook is a little out of the way for mainstream Moab-goers, but it provides fantastic views of the Canyonlands area. There are three overlooks along the area just southwest of the town of Moab, known as the Canyon Overlooks. Needles overlook is the furthest south and the only one in which access is paved. The northern-most is the Anticline Overlook, which is a well-maintained gravel road its entire access route. The middle overlook access requires 4wd and is called the Canyonlands Overlook.
Deadman fire lookout tower is one of the few remaining fire towers in Colorado. It sits approximately 15 miles west of Red Feather Lakes along Deadman Road (County Road 86) at an elevation of 10,700ft. The original tower was a wooden structure constructed in 1939 by the Civilian Conservation Corps based in Red Feather Lakes. It was replaced with a modern steel tower in 1961. The site of the original wooden tower is still evident, with its concrete anchors located just north of the current tower. The current tower stands at 55ft tall, the original tower was 40ft tall.
Spontaneity and novelty are the spice of life. It’s what keeps life interesting. My adventure to this observatory happened as a spontaneous decision, partly out of boredom, but mostly out of the desire to explore. It was a normal, run-of-the-mill camping trip. We spent the night camping near Red Feather Lakes, and the next day we took a cruise along Deadman Road to the Laramie River Valley.
The descent into the Laramie River Valley is much like the descent from Kenosha Pass into South Park, but wilder, and somehow mightier. Part of the difference comes from the remoteness of the Larimer River Valley as opposed to South Park. There are only unpaved county roads streaking cross the valley, and limited inhabitants. Larimer County Road 103 is a 35 mile road which traverses the valley, beginning at State Highway 14 along the Poudre Canyon and continuing to the Wyoming border, where it turns into Wyoming route 10. Continuing north, you eventually arrive at the community of Woods Landing/Jelm, WY, a cozy little settlement nestled along the Laramie River a mere 10 miles north of the Colorado-Wyoming border.