As part of my goal to visit all 3,143 counties in the United States, I like to periodically take what I call “county trips”. These are basically just long drives, sometimes lasting multiple days, where the sole purpose is just to drive around to as many counties as possible
Utah county trip
With a work conference Thursday and Friday in Salt Lake City, I did what any rational human being would do (right? :-D) – I decided to go a few days earlier so I could drive for ~25 hours randomly around to nowhere really for no real reason!!! I posted it on Twitter and Instagram as #10statesinaweek.
I got into the Salt Lake City airport about 2pm MDT on Tuesday, got my car from Avis, and started with a quick detour west on I-80 to the border of Tooele County, and then headed back down to the southwest corner of Utah, through Juab, Sanpete, Sevier, Piute, Millard, Beaver, Iron and Washington counties . This was mostly on I-15 (with a few detours), which was good, because it started to snow a little bit, so I was glad the roads I was on were better.
Originally I was going to take a visit through Zion National Park, but by the time I got down there, it was dark (boo!), so I decided to take a faster way east on UT-17 to UT-59 to AZ 389 in Arizona. Following US 89 north back into Utah to get Kanab County and then US 89A around the southern edge of Lake Powell into the thriving metropolis of Page, Arizona, where I stayed the night at the Rodeway Inn. I know I asked last week “should you ever stay at a Rodeway Inn?” and while I’ll have a full report of my stay coming up in a few days, I can report that I WOULD stay at this particular one again (especially for $36.99 / night)
Due to the time difference, I ended up getting up about 5:30 a.m. and decided to just hit the road. I thought about visiting Horseshoe Bend, which was quite nearby, but again, it was just too dark, so I headed east on AZ 98, but not before taking a brief detour on US89T (Why are there so many different US89 routes?!?!?“). US 160 took me all the way through the rest of northern Arizona on my way to Four Corners monument (road geek alert! Travel Bucket list alert!)
Winding my way through state highways in SE Utah, I picked up Garfield, Wayne and Emery counties, and then decided to visit Natural Bridges National Monument.
Natural Bridges National Monument
This national monument is apparently the redheaded step-child of Utah’s arch-like parks. Several people I talked to afterwards thought I was referring to Arches National Park, which apparently gets all the good pub.
There’s actually a whole thing about what makes a “bridge” vs. an “arch” (it involves whether there is/was water going underneath)
I took a few pics there, and had a nice conversation with a German family who were in front of me. There was a large black bird loitering around and apparently when they were walking down to visit one of the arches, the bird pecked off the rubber part of their windshield wiper!?!?
Back on the road!
After visiting the bridges, I kept going along my route and then a quick out and back on I-70 to get Grand County left me on US 191, which I took north through Carbon, Duchesne, Uintah and Daggett counties. It was here where things started to get a bit dicey, snow-wise. It wasn’t really actively snowing, but some of these roads still had snow on the ground, and I started seeing signs like “Snow Tires or Chains required”. Uhhh yeah, my rental Ford Focus has snow tires, right??!? 😛
Taking UT 43 and UT 44 down out of the Uintah mountains and into Wyoming, the snow on the ground started getting serious. I don’t know if Wyoming just doesn’t plow their roads because everyone has snow tires or what, but it started slowing me down! I went into Lincoln County, Wyoming, and then back into Utah and back over the Wasatch Mountains to finish up my 3 final counties: Rich, Cache and Box Elder (with a side trip into Idaho as well)!
I ended up getting over to my hotel near the Salt Lake airport about 11:30 pm, after about 25 hours and 1500 miles of driving. All in a day (and a half’s) work!