La Sal Mountains above the canyon

Scenic Byway 128 - Utah State Highway 128

Scenic Byway 128 (U128) is 67 or 71 miles (explanation below) of canyons, geology, and scenery going east up a gorge of the Colorado River, from US191 two miles north of Moab, Utah, to I-70 in the middle of nowhere between Green River, Utah, and Grand Junction, Colorado.  The road has additional names:  Colorado River Byway and the Upper Colorado Scenic Byway by the BLM, [part of] the Dinosaur Diamond Prehistoric Highway, and simply as "the river road" by locals.  Going west off US191 on the north side of the Colorado is BLM's Lower Colorado Scenic Byway, Utah State Highway 279, also known by locals and on some maps as Potash Road.

BLM, describing the Colorado Riverway:  The only stretch of the Colorado River in Utah accessible by paved highways, the riverway allows visitors to drive along the river, enjoying the scenic wonderland of colorful cliffs, river-carved canyons, and massive sandstone spires.

U128 goes up the gorge on the south side of the river, through Professor Valley, through another unnamed canyon to ghost town Dewey at mile 48, where it crosses the Colorado, then turns north at mile 54, leaving the Colorado.  From this point the scenic views are the La Sal Mountains to the south, the Book Cliffs to the north, and the Uncompahgre Uplift to the east.  The junction with old US6/US50 at mile 67, Cisco Junction, is the historic end of U128 - the 67-mile route indicated at the top.  The current designation of U128 turns west for 4 miles to I-70 exit 202 - 42 miles east of Green River, Utah, and 59 miles west of Grand Junction, Colorado - the 71-mile route.  Turning east on US6/US50 at Cisco Junction, the original purpose of the highway, reaches ghost town Cisco at mile 81, and I-70 exit 212 at mile 80.  Exit 212 is also a route to the Cisco take-out at the western end of Westwater Canyon.

Historically isolated from Utah population centers, the Moab area depended on the Heavenly Stairway, a trail reaching 10,000 feet (3,045 m), to get food and supplies from Grand Junction.  In 1902, Samuel King built a toll road along the river, and operated a ferry at the current location of Dewey bridge, to replace the difficult trail.  In 1913, floating ice sunk the ferry, putting it out of business.  Grand County, Utah, funded the building of Dewey bridge in 1913.  Completed in 1916, it was the longest suspension bridge in Utah until it was destroyed by fire in 2008.  The skeleton remains without a floor.

The Campground Map locates BLM campgrounds along the Colorado River Byway section of U128 (the western 54 miles).