Skip to main content

2018 Mojave Desert Road Trip Part 5; Interstate 15 in Arizona

Given that I was leaving Zion National Park an hour or so before sundown south towards Las Vegas on Interstate 15 it gave me an opportunity to take pictures of the 30 miles of the route in Arizona.  This particular section of I-15 is notable for being on the Arizona Strip north of the Grand Canyon and of course due to the routing through the Virgin River Gorge.


The Arizona Strip is a section of Mohave and Yavapai Counties which are cut-off from the rest of Arizona by the Grand Canyon.  I-15 within Arizona is located entirely in Mohave County despite it not being even anywhere close any of it's major cities like Kingman, Bullhead City, or Lake Havasu City.  The isolation from the rest of Arizona has led the communities present to share much more in common with Utah (which was really bad in the case of Colorado City).

Unlike US Route 91 which dipped into Utah upstream on the Virgin River the routing of I-15 was constructed through the Virgin River Gorge to save approximately 12 miles.  Despite the canyon depths the Virgin River Gorge was found to have more shallow grades than the alignment of US 91.  I-15 was under construction in Arizona from the early 1960s until it was completed in 1973.  The northwest corner of the Arizona state highway maps in 1961 and 1971 show the progression from US 91 to an almost complete I-15.

1961 Arizona State Highway Map

1971 Arizona State Highway Map

The 2016 Arizona Department of Transportation web map book shows how different the route of I-15 is compared to US 91.

2016 ADOT Map Book

So with all that in mind I-15 is one of the best sections of Interstate in the country for scenery in Arizona.  The Virgin River gorge is narrow and steep much like Zion Canyon upstream but has completely colors.  This particular section of Interstate is so interesting that I often pass up a drive on a historical section of US 91 just to drive it.

Entering Arizona southbound from Utah traffic is greeted with the standard "Welcome to Arizona" sign.


Approaching the Virgin River Gorge traffic is warned about the down hill descent.


There was actually a snow advisory for Saturday which found odd considering that the weather was nearing 70F in Zion.  The Arizona Centennial signs from 2012 seem to be holding up well over time.


Black Rock Road can be reached via exit 27.


Signage is posted southbound indicating that you are traveling through the Virgin River Gorge.


I-15 in Arizona was recently reconstructed.  The speed limit in the Virgin River Gorge dips down to 55 MPH but I found that to be grossly inadequate.  I was having my doors blown off by traffic going close to 80 MPH when I was at leisurely speeds like 65-70 MPH.  I-15 crosses over the Virgin River numerous times and even has a dedicated recreation exit at mile marker 18 for Cedar Pocket.  The western end of the Gorge is far abrupt than from the east.














Exiting the Virgin River Gorge the terrain on I-15 flattens back out and 75 MPH speeds resume.


Exit 8 accesses County Route 91 which is the old alignment of US 91.  US 91 continued northward to Utah and ran south of I-15 into Nevada.


Exiting Arizona I-15 enters Nevada and Clark County.  Much of Old US 91 is now signed as the I-15 Business Loop.  I missed the "Welcome to Nevada" sign due to motion blur from going 80 MPH.


ADOT actually has a Youtube Channel which has videos on the rehab project in the Virgin River Gorge which started in 2014 and went through to 2016:



Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Onion Valley Road; former California State Route 180 to Kearsarge Pass

This summer I had an opportunity to drive one of the lesser known great roads of California; Onion Valley Road from Independence west to Onion Valley near Kearsarge Pass.  Aside from being massive climb into the Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains the path of Onion Valley Road was once signed as California State Route 180 and was intended to be part of a Trans-Sierra Highway.


Onion Valley Road is located west of Independence of Inyo County and is 12.9 miles in length.  According to pjammcycling.com Onion Valley Road begins at an elevation of 3,946 feet above sea level in Independence and terminates at 9,219 feet above sea level at Onion Valley.  Pjammcycling rates Onion Valley Road with an average gradient of 7.8% and lists it as the 6th most difficult cycling climb in the United States.  Onion Valley Road also includes ten switchbacks which largely follow the course of Independence Creek.  Anyway you look at it the route of Onion Valley Road is no joke and is definitely a test of driving…

Horseshoe Meadows Road; former California State Route 190 and the legacy of the Lone Pine-Porterville HIgh Sierra Road

This summer I had an opportunity to drive one of the lesser known great roads of California; Horseshoe Meadows Road from Whitney Portal Road westward into Horseshoe Meadows of the Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains.  Aside from being massive climb into the Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains the path of Horseshoe Meadows Road was once part of California State Route 190 and was intended to be part of a Trans-Sierra Highway known as the Lone Pine-Porterville High Sierra Road.


Horseshoe Meadows Road is located west of Lone Pine of Inyo County and is 19.7 miles in length.  Horseshoe Meadows Road begins at an approximate elevation of 4,500 feet above sea level at Whitney Portal Road in the Alabama Hills and ends at an elevation of 10,072 feet above sea level in Horseshoe Meadows.  Horseshoe Meadows Road is the second highest paved road in California only behind Rock Creek Road near Tom's Place.  Pjammcycling rates Horseshoe Meadows Road with an average gradient of 6.2% and lists it as th…

US Route 199

I was planning on driving US Route 199 for the third time this weekend.  However "external factors" have pushed my visit to US Route 199 back for the time being.  While I can't do a driving log for US Route 199 at the moment I can still write about it's history.


This blog will be slightly different from the usual flair for Gribblenation.  Generally I have a stockpile of my own road photos from which to draw from.  In the case of US Route 199 I was far more focused on hiking photos during my first two visits in 2014 and 2016 than the actual highway.  At some point I will add a series of modern driving log photos but for the time being I will draw from numerous other sources to illustrate US Route 199.


Part 1; the History of US Route 199

Present US Route 199 is a 80.05 mile highway which connects US Route 101 in Crescent City of Del Norte, California northeast to Interstate 5 in Grants Pass of Josephine County, Oregon.  US Route 199 is one of the original US Routes and …