Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Virgin River Gorge, Arizona

Virgin River
You will seldom ever see me promoting any drive on our Interstate Highway System (unless you are in a hurry).  We enjoy seeing America on the back roads.  However,  when we left Las Vegas on June 17 headed to  Zion National Park,  the best way to get there was to drive part of the way northeast on Interstate 15,  from Nevada, through a tiny portion of Arizona (top northwest corner) and then into Utah.

Boulders All Around Us
That tiny portion of Arizona happened to be through the Virgin River Gorge area... Wow--what an incredible drive, and shocking to see an interstate highway going through this area!   I was so fascinated with this area that you just KNOW that I HAD to do some research to find out more about this stretch of highway.

Taken from inside our car
Interstate 15 was part of the 1958 Interstate Highway system plan.  The highway was completed on both ends of that 19 mile gorge... BUT--it seems that the state of Arizona wanted the road planned 2 miles north of the gorge for cost reasons (obviously), but the Federal Highway Administration insisted on the road going through the preiously road-less gorge, due to the scenic beauty of the gorge.

Can you imagine building a road here?
Then in 1966,  the Federal government cut highway funds back 17% due to the Vietnam War.  SO--that halted the building through the gorge even longer.  To make a long story short, this 'not having enough money to do it'  went on for several years, so  the project wasn't completed until December of 1973---and that was ONLY after Utah had given some of its highway money to Arizona to complete the project.  

Absolutely Breath-taking!
The 3.82 mile section of the Lower Gorge,  where the gorge narrowed to as little as 150 feet in width, cost $13.8 million dollars to build,  making this the most expensive section of Interstate Highway until the completion of the Big Dig in Boston.

Looking a little more like Zion -as we go out of the gorge
Some people who live in Arizona don't even know about I-15 in THEIR state.  It cuts through the northwest corner, separated from the rest of the state by the Grand Canyon.  But--OH--is it ever gorgeous????   I thank everyone who worked on that stretch of road for years.  IF it weren't for this road,  there's no other way to drive through this gorgeous canyon.

Map of the Gorge
The Virgin River winds through both Zion National Park and the Virgin River Gorge.  The gorge connects the southwestern rim of the Colorado Plateau and the northeastern edge of the Mojave Desert. Interstate 15 runs through the canyon and crosses the Virgin River several times.  Due to the winding of the interstate,  the gorge is also noted for its tricky driving conditions.

We enjoyed it ---and if you'd like to take a virtual trip through the Virgin River Gorge,  click HERE .  There are several YouTube Videos of this drive ---and I picked this one out because he gives you a little more history also.  Take the ride---you'll enjoy it...

Have a wonderful day.
Hugs,

60 comments:

Jo said...

Oh Betsy, the grandeur and awesomeness of the gorge took my breath away. Thanks for the tour along this route. Blessings, Jo

Ms. A said...

I'm so glad you have a camera! You share things I'll never see otherwise.

Twilight Man said...

I love the American boulders very much! I learned that their colors could differ according to the clouds and sunlight. Sometimes they looked very orange or burnt browns. You captured them at the perfect time.

SIMPLY BEAUTIFUL!

Arkansas Patti said...

That is truly rare and beautiful. Most interstates pick the flattest,most barren land to buzz thru. If I make it west, I will definitely keep this in mind.
Wonderful shots. Thanks

*Honest Abe said...

Incredible views.

Snap said...

WOWOWOWOWOWOWOWOWOWOWOWOW!!!!!!!!!

Out on the prairie said...

Lovely shots and I enjoyed the facts.I like the backroads but would hate missing something by not trying them all.

Lisa @ Two Bears Farm said...

Yes, we made this drive as well. Absolutely gorgeous. I want to go back!

Happyone : ) said...

I've driven through there and it is truly awesome. Great photos.

From the Kitchen said...

Your photos take my breath away--I can only imagine what it was like to actually drive through the gorge. I agree that Interstate travel, while a great boon to the U.S., is not the best. I-64/77 through West Virginia into Virginia is pretty awesome, especially in autumn though.

Best,
Bonnie

Sandra said...

the photos of your trip continue to amaze me. this is one of the prettiest Interstate roads i have ever seen. it compares to the one that goes through Wyoming, that i saw in 1984, we actually drove through one of the gorgeous buttes that were all around us. these are just gorgeous. i like the way you showed us the road going down through those wonderful boulders. florida Interstate are UGLY

TexWisGirl said...

really beautiful. cannot imagine the construction woes...

Daisy said...

Oh my, it's so lovely, Betsy. I can't imagine trying to build a road there!

Kim @ Stuff could... said...

Absolutely breathtaking is a great description of these photos. Your header is too!

Lucy said...

I was on that I-15 stretch just once about 3 years ago, but I was with my cousin who was driving as my mother used to say - hell bent for election - and she had her grandkids in the back seat and all I remember is them fighting. (Grrr) But I remember thinking I needed to come back someday when I could see this. It was beautiful but I didn't know where we were at at all. I didn't know all this information. Thanks.

Rose said...

Don't you wish all interstates were that scenic??? Looks like a gorgeous stretch of highway to me.

Beth said...

A rare example of federal and state money put to good use! Stunning and that video was delightful! I so enjoyed your background info---your research always enhances your photos, Bets.
:>)

Mamma has spoken said...

Love the photos. Makes me want to plan a trip out west when hubby and I retire.

Larry said...

Hi Betsy... I want to complement you on all your wonderful and informative posts. Your presentations should be required reading for anyone planning a trip! In fact, when Sarah and I travel to the south east next time, I hope to be able to review the great info and photos you've shared before embarking.

I also want to tell you how much I appreciate all your supportive comments on my posts. You are a very kind person and I want to thank you.

I'm a bit at conflict just now as surgery is in less than three weeks and I have so many changes in mind for the gardens for next year. I'm hoping my son will be able to help out as Sarah is very concerned that I will further damage my shoulder to a point where it may not be repairable. Such is the life of a gardener!

Take care, Larry

Cheryl @ The Farmer's Daughter said...

Hi Betsy, I'm so enjoying your photos. I've seen many of these same sights but YOUR photos are much better than mine were! That stretch of I-15 is beautiful. So is I-70 through San Rafael Swell, I was just in awe of the beauty. Another favorite stretch was through beautiful Glenwood Canyon in CO. Did you drive that route?

The whole trip was wonderful and the scenery fascinating and I get to see a lot of it again through your photos. Thanks for sharing!

Busy Bee Suz said...

I agree...this is breathtaking. What a feat getting this road made....gorgeous photos Betsy!
Have a good day.
xo

Becca's Dirt said...

What an incredible place. At least they finally finished the highway for people to take in this beautiful place. Thanks for sharing this.

Barbara said...

Oh my Betsy, they are so beautiful and breath taking, I love your travels, and I have seen some, not all, and it makes me want to go on that planned trip up the West Coast, perhaps soon, oh what sight that will be. Hugs and thank you again for sharing your fabulous photos with us.

Ruth's Photo Blog said...

WOW!!! Your pictures are breathtaking and so is that video.I want to leave right now and see this place for myself.If only it was that easy.Thanks for the ride through the canyon.

Chatty Crone said...

To me I can't but help thinking about God - and how he placed those there and he played red clay and stone mountain here and so forth. Know what I mean?

~Gardener on Sherlock Street said...

Awesome! Getting me excited to visit the area. We prefer off interstate driving too but sometimes it's best. This stretch is really good.

Adrienne in Ohio said...

Really interesting history of the road, Betsy!

Tricia ♥Charming Barn Hunter♥ said...

Excellent post, Betsy. I've never heard of this place, but it really IS beautiful. Looks like they dynamited the gorges out cuz they're so tall... WoW!

Pat - Arkansas said...

Absolutely gorge-ous! Loved your photos and the information.

I haven't said before, but I greatly admire your header photo!

The Incredible Woody said...

Our first drive thru there was at night. In the rain. But we could just glimpse the towers walls around us. So on our next trip thru (during the day!!), we were absolutely blown away!!

The Incredible Woody said...

And I love that last line - "Take the ride---you'll enjoy it". Yes! Yes, you will!!

Fred Alton said...

I took the ride! Fantastic. Something I'm sure I would not ever have experienced without your blog post. Blogging is such fun!

LV said...

The best and cheapest way I have ever taken a vacation. through your lens.

Birdman said...

Thanks for my dose of color today.

Ginny said...

How rare and strangely beautiful!!! On an interstate! I do not like interstates and we won't take them anymore unless we are in a hurry or the trip would just be too long. They are never pretty, either! Not like the back roads and small towns! This is just overwhelming, one must feel like they've been on a carnival ride after driving through. I did after I drove through. On your virtual tour, that is!!!! I feel like I have been there, although that car was going a bit fast, so glad we didn't get a ticket!! (I know they had to speed up the video because of time!) That was so much fun!!!!

wildlifewatcher said...

Hi Betsy, I just missed seeing this area by a year. You have done a wonderful job showing the area! Have a super nice day today!

Glenda said...

I prefer the backroads, too, Betsy, but these are incredible shots of such majestic beauty! And as always, your photos are so clear and crisp.

Ashley Ashbee said...

I always enjoy learning more about the places I see in pictures or in person. You are an excellent tour guide! Your photography is awesome.

camp and cottage living said...

Honestly Betsy, you should write a tour guide mag to sell. Your post are so full of wonderful information and beautiful photos.
Your banner nearly knocks my eyes out every time I visit.
I hope you are doing OK. You've been on my mind. Are you safely back from your friends funeral?
I'm sure it was hard for you.
Take care-Kimberly

imac said...

amazing scenes here Betsy, also loved the ride too.

Linda said...

Another informative and beautifully photographed post from your wonderful anniversary trip west. Great post!

Lady Di Tn said...

Glad the explorer in you and George came through and took us to a part of AZ hardly ever seen. Thanks and Peace

eileeninmd said...

Betsy, what a great post. And I love your photos. The scenery of the gorge and the river is beautiful. it is amazing how they wer able to build that road. Wonderful photos.

Lynn said...

Sometime an interstate can be a blessing. In this case, it certainly was! Stunning. We are so like you, dislike interstates unless we need to get somewhere. We too love the back roads. Loving these pictures. Thank you for sharing your trip. Keeping you in my prayers for the loss of your friend and other stuff.
Blessings,
Lynn

Debbie Smith said...

Oh wow!! We just came back Monday from camping in Cedar City and visiting Cedar Breaks, Bryce and Zion!! Sorry I missed you two in Vegas. Busy with a new grandson being born on the 16th of June.
I've been through the Virgin Gorge numerous times and I'm always fascinated!!.

It's fun to read about someone else's take on this desert out here. All kinds of natural beauty in a different aspect.

Enjoy your travels!! I am!
Debbie's Travels

Seven Gates Farm said...

Thank you for those amazing pictures. I hope the hubby and I can slow down one day to make that grand trip from NC to the canyon. Your pictures and description make me want to go even more and sooner than later! It sounds like you had a wonderful time. Debi

Janice K said...

I remember driving through that landscape last fall when we left Zion National Park and were heading for Las Vegas. I liked your overview picture, because it really put it all in perspective.

Diane said...

It IS gorgeous. I think I was there when my girls and I went to California. Nice to see it again. Diane

Lola said...

Awesome, gorgeous beyond words. Thank you for the ride.
Have you found out if this area was ever inhabited by human?

Chip "Rocket Man" Allen said...

Every time I see a road going through such rugged terrain, and there is some around here, I can't help but wonder what the first person to see it on foot thought...."We'll build the town right here and let the world come to us!"

Carletta said...

First of all your header is breathtaking!
I watched the video and except for the highway traffic it is miles of beautiful desolation. :)

Wendy said...

Your pics are amazing, Betsy!!! That was some trip! Thanks for sharing. I'd never get to see that rugged countryside otherwise.
Hugs

Ann said...

amazingly beautiful scenery along your route.

SquirrelQueen said...

Oh wow! Betsy, that looks like a gorgeous drive. We have been all over Nevada except that part. I love your first photo showing the river.

Janie said...

We've driven through that area, but I didn't know the history of the building of the interstate. Very interesting, Betsy, and some great photos to illustrate!

mudderbear said...

Hi Betsy, I was just at Diane's blog and I bet you're not not lazy..haha. I recognize some of this country and some of it I would like very much to see. It is quite incredible and I'm so happy you've seen it. Love the photography. It just couldn't get better.

mudderbear said...

OOOOOOPS.... You are NOT lazy. You are NOT not lazy. Now I'm not sure if it's been said sensibly or not...oh I get so mixed up, but the previous comment was a typing error. I'd better quit here.

Kirigalpoththa said...

Awesome place! One of the natural wonders on earth for sure!!!

Valerie said...

Wow that was really neat Betsy! Amazing at the beauty that comes in all different shapes, sizes and colors!

Loren said...

I honestly can't imagine being the one who designs those roads....what a mind! Not sure where one would even begin!! LOL

Just gorgeous for sure and I would imagine that it is far more just being there and taking those turns, looking up and all around...truly breathtaking!