We go to Moab twice a year and we always go the same way -- on the pavement. This time we were going to try something new and take a long road that leads directly from Grand Junction to the Dolores River trail. We had no idea what to expect, and we weren't even sure we'd get through. It was a risk, but it paid off.
The road was a nice, paved one as we made our way to the Colorado National Monument. We told the entrance booth operator that we were only passing through and not stopping in the park, so we were allowed to enter without paying the fee. They're always accomodating and very nice there.
The Colorado National Monument is a beautiful park, but it goes by too quickly. We'll have to stop and do a hike there someday (other than the fun ones in McInnis Canyons). We didn't stop, but we definitely enjoyed the views.
We turned on DS Road in the park and then the road went through farmland. It was usually straight but it curved around farms and their property. It was a very good road, and we made good time as we continued to enjoy the scenery.
We got through the little town of Glade Park and soon after that the pavement ended. The dirt road on the other side was nicer than some paved roads, however, so it was still pretty nice. It was dusty, but the views were very enjoyable.
At the border with Utah, the road looked like it ended at a "T" intersection. However, it actually keeps going to the right. We turned right, and the road turned into a true trail. It was rutted from people using the trail when it was muddy, but it wasn't too bad at all.
It was starting to look more and more like Moab as we kept going. There were spurs in a few places, and it looked like you could explore the area for a week and not see everything. We passed the Buckhorn Mesa trail, the Hotel Mesa trail and the Scharf Mesa East trail and it wasn't long before we were at the end of DS Road at the trailhead for Granite Creek.
It was a really fun and really different way to get to Moab, and we'd do it again! It might get kind of ugly in the spring, though, so we'd only be in this area in the fall. You could get trapped out there and have to go all the way back to Grand Junction.