Two previous articles describe how to get to the Colorado River Gooseneck Overlook, which is the starting point for the remainder of the Potash Road trip through Canyonlands to Jug Handle Arch. For those who prefer to only drive on blacktop, Potash Road actually is paved from Highway 191 in Moab all the way to the ancient petroglyph wall and the natural rock arch. For the high ground clearance vehicle drivers, starting this trip in the Shafer Trail definitely is the way to go, because the Potash Road tour will be a long dirt road adventure like no other!
The dirt road conditions are fairly smooth from the Colorado River Gooseneck to Jug Handle Arch, so this portion of the trip will be easy going. The red rock Canyonlands landscape offers endless majestic views along the way and there are many captivating features that are worth taking the time to check out. The eroded red rock towers literally touch the clouds and there are many large toadstool hoodoos to be seen on the mesa walls. Gigantic boulders that have tumbled down from the cliffs can be seen everywhere and some qualify for an artistic landscape study.
Toward the end of the line, the potash evaporation ponds come into view, which is kind of a depressing sight to see in this pristine wilderness and the smell is not exactly appealing. Rolling up the windows and skirting right on by this eyesore is what most folks do, because the Colorado River and Jug Handle Arch are just a short distance ahead. The first view of the bright red Colorado River bluffs is enough to make any driver stop and stare, because this is one of the most beautiful riverside landscapes on earth.
Close to where the pavement begins is where Jug Handle Arch is located and the roadside signage marks the spot. Just like the name suggests, the handle is on the side and this riverside spot is where the gigantic vertical red rock arch can be seen. Unfortunately I did not have an ultra wide angle lens that day, so I could not fit the entire scenario into a photo, but the rock outcrop that this arch is attached to actually does resemble a big round jug.
It is only a short distance from Jug Handle Arch to the Potash Road Petroglyph Wall, which yet another marvel to experience on this touring route. There are several BLM riverside campgrounds in this area that appeal to both river rafters and 4x4 enthusiasts, so there are options for doing an overnighter after the long dusty ride. It is best to make campsite reservations well ahead of time, because these spots fill up quickly during the busy spring and summer seasons. Jug Handle Arch truly is a marvel to see, so be sure to make note of this landmark when planning a Potash Road tour through this end of Canyonlands!
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