Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Moab: Castle Valley

Castle Valley is magical! Perhaps it’s because it is much smaller in area than the national and state parks I visited but when I entered Castle Valley, I almost felt like I was stepping back in time. A paved two-lane road runs through the valley, with red cliffs on one side facing red-rock mesas and buttes on the opposite side. A town of the same name is nestled against the cliffs (see photo above). Driving through Castle Valley probably takes only around fifteen minutes but I spent an hour there, taking photographs, driving slowly through the town—more a village, really—and picking up multi-colored rocks from the desert floor when I was halfway through the valley as souvenirs.

ASJ apparently filmed here but I haven’t figured out which scenes in which episodes yet. However, during the opening credits of High Lonesome Country, there is a long shot of the most well-known landmark in Castle Valley. It’s called Castle Rock and is also known as Castleton Tower; it is the monolith on the left on top of the cliff that is in the center of the photo (see ASJ screenshot at top right and my photo underneath, which is from slightly farther away). My photo was taken from the Manti-La Sal National Forest, as the ASJ shot must also have been, and a future blog entry will describe that scenic area. In 1963, a very famous car commercial was filmed in Castle Valley; a link to it is included below.

Other scenes in High Lonesome Country also clearly show Castle Valley. When Kid and Heyes arrive at the Archer ranch, Castle Rock is visible in the background (see ASJ screenshot at top right; my photo, underneath, is from a farther distance but still shows the same landmarks). It was easy to take lots of photos because, in the time I spent there, only about five other vehicles drove by and none of them were tourists so they didn’t stop; I had unobstructed views of whatever I wanted to photograph. This was the first place on my trip to Moab that was basically devoid of people, so it was easy to imagine Heyes and Kid riding their horses through here. I’m sure they would have admired the view, too--if they weren't running from a posse!

To get to Castle Valley from Moab, you drive on Highway 128, along the Colorado River, until you reach a turn-off on the right at about Mile 15. A short while later, you enter Castle Valley. The paved road leads to the Manti-La Sal National Forest, whose mountains loom up in front of you as you drive out of Castle Valley. To get to Castle Valley town, turn right onto the dirt road where the mailboxes are, soon after entering the valley; houses are scattered throughout that area. If you stay on Highway 128 and go past the turn-off to Castle Valley, at about Mile 16 there is a beautiful view of Castle Rock from the highway. At sunset, the red cliffs glow (see top photo at right) and when the moon rises, Castle Valley looks enchanting (see photo above).

General information about Castle Valley and land use in it (scroll down to read the text):