Cruise Moab, brought to you by Rising Sun 4WD Club

Trail descriptions

The trails are all great fun, but each trail is unique: easier, harder, scenery, even the surface you're wheelin' on can be different from trail to trail. Here's the big picture.

Please note: our rating system has been updated to the new one used by Red Rock 4-Wheelers, the local Moab club.
Click here to read about the rating scale and vehicle requirements for each rating.

The minimum requirements are for the safety & enjoyment of the group. It is assumed that all vehicles will have four wheel drive with a two-speed transfer case. Note that A-Trac (Traction Control) qualifies as a Front & Rear Locker.

 

Trail Name

Rating

Description

Arches National Park Family Run 2

Take the secret back way into Arches National Park via a little known 4WD route. Once in the park, our group will do the 4x4 loop within the park, stopping for lunch along the way. When we've finished this, you can explore this amazing national park on your own or head back to town. This will be an easy day of wheeling, completely appropriate for stock vehicles. The scenery will be absolutely stunning.

Behind the Rocks 7

The land "Behind the Rocks" is an elevated area south of Moab bounded roughly by the Moab Rim cliffs and the rim of Kane Springs Canyon, which is still farther south and west. The trail follows the most difficult of the several routes in this region.

There is an extremely steep warm-up hill soon after leaving the highway and numerous minor canyon crossings before reaching High-Dive Canyon. This very steep, rough descent is a short walk upstream from a "high-dive" pour off into a lovely pool. The climb out of the small canyon can be either via a tricky ledge or the difficult "Upchuck Hill." A few interesting miles farther is White Knuckle Hill, which descends some huge steps from a plateau area to a lower bench. White Knuckle Hill cannot be bypassed. Going down the hill is scary enough, but be prepared for a good show while some see if they can climb it.

The rock layers behind the Moab Rim slope downward, and a virtually impenetrable area of Navajo Sandstone domes and fins is in view most of the time. Canyons, including lovely Hunters Canyon, are cut into older layers. Balcony Arch, Picture Frame Arch, and Pritchett Arch (a distant view) may be seen; other arches and bridges are nearby.

For an easier day in the same area, check out "Tip Toe Behind The Rocks."

Chicken Corners 2

This will make for a great family day with the kids. It's a great break from bouncing around the trail all day, and includes great scenery and spectacular vistas. Kids and adults will have a great time exploring some shallow caves that we'll stop at about halfway in on this trail.  These unusual caves were caused by erosional undermining of hard sandstone layers. Bring a flashlight for everyone!

There are two "Chicken Corners." The first is an easily driveable exposed corner. The second is at the end of the trail where you can take a short (optional) hike to the other side of a ridge, and the hiking trail gets narrow. The view is well worth the risk! At the end of the trail, you can look across a deep canyon with the Colorado river at the bottom towards the Thelma and Louise point on the other side of the canyon.

The road begins as gravel but becomes mostly red dirt and sand with the occasional appearances of sandstone bedrock. There are petroglyphs (ancient rock art) at the roadside.

Cliff Hanger 6

This trail is the only vehicle route onto Amasa Back, a rather high isolated area bounded by Kane Springs Canyon, Hurrah Pass, Jackson Hole, and a big loop of the Colorado River. 

The trail gets your attention immediately as it descends a cascade of rock ledges from the Kane Creek Road to the creek bottom and climbs out again over nasty rock ledges. The creek crossing can range from dry sand to deep water, depending on recent weather. The steep, irregular ledges require good clearance and maneuverability. There are no bypasses for these obstacles.  Make no mistake: this trail is difficult with many big ledges and challenging obstacles.

As you climb along the base of the sheer cliff walls of Kane Springs Canyon, the Behind-the-Rocks fins and La Sal Mountains come into view. The cliff edge looks into Jackson Hole, an abandoned river course with a central butte. A spur leads to a spectacular Colorado River view toward Moab. The farthest viewpoint, atop a sheer cliff, has a long vista down the river and is a great cliff-edge picture point.

Dome Plateau 4

Dome Plateau is located 45 minutes on pavement up highway 128 from Moab. It starts out with a taste of the Kokopelli Trail near the remains of Dewey Bridge. The trail has some small steps, some sandy climbs, and a few rocky climbs in addition to unmaintained dirt roads. Bring your camera as an overlook affords spectacular views of the Colorado River, Castle Valley and The La Sal Mountains. We’ll take a look at Dome Arch and explore a couple of caves in the Entrada Sandstone so bring a flashlight for the deeper parts of the cave!

Elephant Hill 4

The trail enters the beautiful small canyons, called "grabens," in the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park and is renowned for its challenge to stock vehicles. The tall cliffs lining the rivers are similar to those seen near Moab. Most of the surface rock formations, however, are of the Cedar Mesa Sandstone, which produces the spectacular colors of the canyons, spires, and balanced rocks that give the Needles area its name.

This is a long day. Bring plenty of food (two meals recommended) and lots of water. The trail requires more highway driving than most day trips - about 75 miles each way. Vehicles should be capable of maintaining 55 MPH highway speed. Plan for enough fuel to complete 175 miles of travel.

Because this trail is in a National Park, NO DOGS ARE ALLOWED. This means you and your vehicle will not be admitted to Canyonlands Nat'l Park if you have a dog in it, even if you promise to keep the dog inside the vehicle the entire day. If you are bringing a dog to Moab, you probably don't want to sign up for this trail unless you have made arrangements for your dog to stay elsewhere (and remember, this is a very long day). This is a U.S. National Parks rule, and we cannot make exceptions for anyone.

Fins and Things 4

The trail is reached via the Sand Flats Road, and the territory it covers is the country east of the Hell's Revenge trail and between Negro Bill Canyon and North Fork of Mill Creek Canyon. The "fins" are the Navajo Sandstone slickrock northeast of Moab, and the "things" are what remains as the fins erode. The views near and far are exceptionally scenic. The Navajo mounds and fins are themselves interesting, and the deep canyon system of Negro Bill adds a special dimension. Farther to the east are the red mesa rims at the base of the snow-covered La Sal Mountains. There are a few sudden and steep climbs on and off the slickrock that can be difficult for vehicles with long overhangs.

Flat Iron Mesa 5

Flat Iron Mesa is south of Moab and is bounded by Kane Springs Canyon on the north, Hatch Wash Canyon on the west, West Coyote Canyon on the south, and Highway 191 on the east. A main road has a BLM sign, but our trail leaves the highway earlier (18 miles from town) and it quickly gets 4WD status on numerous old trails that reach fine canyon overlooks and provide some interesting four-wheeling.

Obstacles are challenging and unique. They include "The Chute" and "Tilt-A-Whirl". "Easter Egg Hill" is off camber obstacle into a large rock which could cause significant body damage with a miscalculation. "The Intimidator" is on the very last part of the trail and is a harrowingly narrow section on a cliff edge that barely allows a full-size vehicle to pass - being small is a comforting advantage. Careful tire placement and experience is critical.

Gold Bar Rim 5

Gold Bar Rim is a cliff rim that stands about 1200 feet above Highway 191's path in Moab Canyon. Because the rocks behind the cliff slope downward to the southwest, the rim has a 360° vista, including Moab and its valleys, the La Sal Mountains, the Book Cliffs, and parts of the Colorado River canyon.

The most difficult driving is up the final slopes to Gold Bar Rim and returning across Gold Bar Canyon. Some prefer to walk a short distance to the rim rather than risk their vehicles.  The trail use has dug out the base of a big rock ledge on the return across Gold Bar Canyon. Many vehicles require help to get up.

This trail is also part of the Golden Spike trail as it is the last third of that trail.   

Golden Spike 7

The Golden Spike trail is a combination of these three trails: Poison Spider, Golden Spike, and Gold Bar Rim.  This is one of the toughest and longest days on the trail.

Much of the route is near the rim above Moab Valley and offers gorgeous views in all directions. After passing the Poison Spider Mesa obstacles, there is some easy slickrock driving on fins with one very steep uphill (the Launching Pad) and one steep downhill. There are tight turns in a canyon bottom and one short slickrock ledge, followed by a long stretch of ups and downs over broken rock, with a few sharp steps. The Golden Crack marks the beginning of the final nasty mile to Gold Bar Rim.

This is a long day. Bring plenty of food (two meals recommended) and lots of water.

Hell's Revenge 6

The famous slickrock trail lies northeast of town between the Sand Flats Road and the river. Nicknamed the "Moab Rollercoaster." Large vistas sweep full circle from the La Sal Mountains through Arches National Park to the cliff rims that overlook Moab Valley. The nearby country is an amazing stretch of bare sandstone with clefts and canyons, including the Colorado River canyon. The first clump of slickrock has high mounds and steep descents that lead to a second mound that does the same thing. The major slickrock area includes steep climbs, sharp turns, and a hair-raising descent along a steep ridge with little room for error left or right. "Tip-Over Challenge" is a brief rock hill with a sandy base that requires tight maneuvering, an excellent line of attack, some help in the differentials, or the easy bypass on a slickrock fin.

Kane Creek Canyon 6

The trail follows Kane Creek along the bottom of its canyon (officially named Kane Springs Canyon on the maps) between its mouth at the Colorado River and Highway 191. It runs in and out of the creek - more than 50 crossings - but in one area, climbs high on the canyon wall. Wet or dry, plenty of brush grows in from the sides of the road allowing for potential paint damage. The lower portion of the canyon is narrow, tortuous, and beautiful. Farther upstream, it becomes wider, straighter, and deeper (1,000 feet), but it changes character again above the junction with Hatch Wash. There, the water is clear, the bottom is gravelly rather than sandy, and the canyon is more intimate. After a storm, the creek crossings may be impassable. Ends up south of Moab.

Please note: we do not run this trail if it is raining, due to the possibility of flash floods.

Kokopelli (double overnight run) 6

The Kokopelli 4x4 trail is a 150 mile long route that closely follows the popular mountain biking trail, with the exception of a few places that aren't passable in a 4x4. It covers a huge variety of terrain, ranging from easy 2 track to technical, traversing large washes, then rocky climbs and descents. The elevation also ranges from low desert to a high mountain alongside the La Sal mountains.

This will be 3 days and 2 nights on the trail, that will start at Rabbit Valley 10:00 AM Tuesday morning. Day 1 will include Castle Rocks, Bitter Creek, Westwater Ranger station, and onto Fish Ford where camp will be the first night. Day 2 will be a long day in the saddle. Highlights will include Cisco wash, Yellow Jacket canyon, Dewey State Bridge, Top of the World and the infamous Rose Garden Hill. Camp will be at our permitted area near the top of Onion Creek which is RESERVED this year. Day 3 will include Hideout Canyon, Thompson Canyon, a stretch along the La Sal mountain road, returning to Moab via the Sand Flats road (Gateway to the Porcupine Rim, Hell's Revenge, and Fins & Things trails).

In 2014, Jon Harris of Book Cliff Land Cruisers is once again leading the Kokopelli trail!

Metal Masher 6

A major trail goal is Arth's Rim, which overlooks Highway 191 about 1,300 feet below. The route first angles up the sloping part of the cliff to a gap in the rim rock. It follows Little Canyon partway into the mesa to resume the climb along the more gentle slope of the tilted rock strata. Much of the trail is routine four-wheeling, but the approach to the rim though Mirror Gulch is difficult and threatens sheet metal. The road portion on the slope beneath Arth's Rim climbs to increasingly fine views of Arches National Park, Moab Valley, and the La Sal Mountains. That is just a warm-up for the later perch on the cliff top. Little Canyon has beautiful vertical walls, and a few arches may be spotted by alert riders.

Moab Rim 7

The Moab Rim is the cliff rim seen just to the southwest of town. It's only four-wheel-drive access begins just downriver from town. Highlights among the many steps in the first mile are the Devils Crack and the Z-Turn. A long climb of tight, tippy, and extremely difficult ledges requires excellent driving skills and a very capable four-wheel drive rig.

The trail continues along the slope of the tilted rock layers with increasingly high overlooks of the Colorado River gorge. The rim view includes the La Sal Mountains, Moab and Spanish Valleys, some of Arches National Park and distant features such as the Book Cliffs. Behind the rim are displays of rock domes and fins and some of the rims of the Colorado River gorge farther downstream.

Please note: we do not run this trail if it is raining, due to the possibility slipping off a very high ledge and falling to your death.

Poison Spider Mesa 5

Poison Spider Mesa forms one of the cliff features that is part of the Moab landscape northwest of town. The mesa is bordered on the east by Moab Valley and on the south by the Colorado River.

After some switchbacks, a sandy canyon leads to "The Waterfall" about 2 miles into the trail, where ascent is over several rock ledges. There are steep Slickrock climbs and some sand hills.

It has deservedly become one of the more popular trails because it has great scenery and because the wheeling is just challenging enough to be fun without quite being a vehicle buster. The vista across the fins of Behind the Rocks toward the La Sal Mountains is as fine as they come. The rim view overlooks Moab 1,000 feet below and includes a panorama of about 300°.

Porcupine Rim 5

This trail leaves the graded Sand Flats Road above the Slickrock Bike Trail and drops down to a ledge above Negro Bill Canyon. It crosses the headwaters of that canyon and is the only vehicle access into the vicinity of Coffee Pot Rock, a prominent landmark seen from several other trails. The climb is gradual to the cliff rim, called Porcupine Rim, above Castle Valley. The trail has good variety with some challenges for stock or slightly modified vehicles and some of the best scenic vistas in the area.

Pritchett Canyon 8

This trail has become so difficult that it inspired a new rating. Two locking differentials are required, and a winch is highly recommended. Mortality of vehicle parts is very high. There are no easy bypasses. If you can take your eyes off the obstacles long enough, you'll find a splendidly beautiful, narrow canyon. The trail climbs the lower part of the canyon and exits via a side canyon over a divide into the Hunter Canyon system.

San Rafael Swell
(overnight run)
6

Our annual overnight run to the San Rafael Swell is again being led by the fine folks from Wasatch Cruisers. We'll be heading to the back country of the San Rafael Swell, where two thousand square miles of narrow, circuitous canyons, scenic cliffs and towering buttes make up one of Utah's best outdoor playgrounds. Trail Leader Kurt Williams of Cruiser Outfitters has spent a great deal of time exploring this area, so you'll get to see some of the most stunning and remote parts of the Swell. It should be an absolutely amazing trip!

In 2014, Kurt Williams of Cruiser Outfitters is once again leading the San Rafael Swell run, with plenty of support from the Wasatch Cruisers club.

Seven Mile Rim 4

The Sevenmile Rim trail passes the old Cotter uranium mine and switches back to reach the cliff rim above the mine. The intense mining activity left a maze of core-drilling roads on the mesa top, and the trail seeks the most interesting of these. The rim views include Sevenmile Canyon, the Arches National Park area, and the Book Cliffs to the north. The trail joins other roads in the vicinity of Merrimac Butte, Monitor Butte, Determination Towers, and Big Mesa. Most of the trail is easy but has an optional climb near Uranium Arch and a sandy hill near the end that is sometimes full of holes. A sidehill slickrock portion around the south side of Merrimac Butte may be intimidating, but all of us have completed it unscathed. The last part of the trail, if used, runs the reverse direction of the Wipe-Out Hill trail in the Tusher Canyon system, and finds easy hills of the Wipe-Out trail to be hard and vice-versa.

Wipe-Out Hill 5

This trail tours a region south of Canyonlands Airport and west of Highway 191. It uses portions of Bartlett Wash, Tusher Canyon, Courthouse Pasture, and the south cliff base of Big Mesa. Variety is its strong point, with a wide range of scenery and trail surface and a couple of challenging hills. The landscape varies from the drab hills near the airport to the tall cliffs seen from Moab. In between are beautiful canyons having colorfully banded Entrada Sandstone walls, Determination Towers, and Monitor and Merrimac Buttes. The trail traverses at least seven major rock formations (Morrison, Entrada, Navajo, Kayenta, Wingate, Chinle, and Moenkopi) that were deposited over a period of more than 100 million years, beginning about 200 million years ago.

The main obstacle is a very steep hill on slickrock towards the end of the trail, which you must go down to proceed. There are good lines for short wheelbase vehicles on an alternate route down the hill.