If you've traveled west on I-70 near Rifle you've seen the steep cliff with an old trail of switchbacks cut into it. This is the road up to the Anvil Points Oil Shale Mines, a place where the Bureau of Mines did some experimental work on the oil shale reserve up to the 1950s. A short distance from this is the JQS Trail, and it looked just as dicey as it climbed to the top. We looked at it from the bottom and couldn't wait to see what it was like.
Finding the trailhead would have been challenging without a GPS, but we found it. We aired down on the pavement, but we could have waited until we were at the start of the trail where there was plenty of room. Then we climbed to the top of the first mesa and headed to the switchbacks.
The closer we got, the crazier it looked. They loomed over us, and they looked more intimidating as we approached them. We stopped here and there for photos, snapping pictures as we climbed.
Most of the time, there would be room to pass someone on their way down. But there were stretches where passing would be deadly. The drop-off was impossibly steep, and the sides of the trail were loose. We saw a place where someone probably went off the side, and a memorial was there now.
The last two legs of the trail between the switchbacks and the top were insane. It was the longest section of trail between switchbacks that we could remember, and it was almost level as it went from one side of the cliff to the other. The last bit was a big steeper, and then we were over the cattle guard and at the top.
The Roan Cliffs trail was right next to us, and we hung out at the overlook for a while. It was cool to see I-70 from up there and how big the valley was. We could also see the trail we just took, and it was pretty nuts from up there, too. This is such a good way to start a day! But we had other places to see, so we headed off to see the views from other spots along the cliffs.