In case you missed previous posts:
Moab, Utah is the Mecca for Jeep owners. There are trails that vary from only needing 4WD to trails that require a lift/large tires, lockers, winch, and experience driving off road. Most trails are rated between 1 and 8. 1 being easiest where 4WD is not needed all the time and 8 being the most difficult where they advise that vehicle damage is likely regardless of having all required equipment. Jeep rental companies there won’t even let you take their vehicles on anything more than a 4.
I woke up feeling rested after finally spending a night in a real bed. First item on the list today was to do a little off-roading. My Jeep was pretty stock so I knew I wasn’t going to take on anything too difficult, but I wanted to at least attempt a 3 or 4 rated trail. I found a trail called “Gemini Bridges Trail” just north of town that led to a local landmark and then it went on Dead Horse State Park, which was one of the places I wanted to go anyway. The trail was rated as moderate, so about a 4 on the scale of 8. It was a little over 35 miles long. The road started out extremely rough and was up a steep grade.
After the initial rough steep winding up a cliff side the trail got a little easier. The road was still rough, but as long as you knew the best approach angle it wasn’t too bad and an added bonus there wasn’t a drop off over over 100′ on the side of the road like there was before. I did make a few bad approaches early on and it made for a rough ride, but I got better as the trail went on. It was a beautiful drive, you climbed into and out of canyons and it made for some amazing photo opportunities with the Jeep.
After about an hour and a half of slow driving (I probably averaged about 10-15 mph for most of the trail) I reached the Gemini Bridges. I parked the Jeep and made the short walk to the landmark. A couple was just leaving as I arrived so I would have the place to myself. The trail was pretty lightly traveled as I only came across 3 other vehicles my entire time on the trail. The landmark was much like the one in the last post from Arches National Park, however, I was on top of the landmark instead of underneath it.
It’s difficult to tell but there’s a second arch on the other side, hence the name Gemini Twin Bridges. After a little time there I moved oonto my next stop, Dead Horse State Park. The park is so named because of its use as a natural corral by cowboys in the 19th century, where horses often died of exposure. Unfortunately because Dead Horse State Park is a state park and not a national park so I had to pay the entry fee, but it’s worth the price of admission. It’s got a single road in and out with a large parking area near the visitor center where you can grab a bite to eat. If you keep going you’ll come to the end of the road where the observation area is and the view from there is magnificent.
You can see the Colorado River below and further off in the distance is the area known as Canyonlands, which I would visit later that day. After taking some photos from the observation area I started hiking. Dead Horse has has two trails, West Rim and East Rim. The two trails combined make a 4 mile loop from the observation area, around the rim to the visitor center, then back up the other rim back to the observation area. The two main trails have smaller trails that lead off to outlook areas. After hiking the entirety of the trails and getting back to the Jeep I grabbed a late lunch and took off for Canyonlands.
The scale of Canyonlands was amazing. It was a clear October day and I could see for what seemed like forever. That being said I didn’t spend a lot of time or take a ton of photos there. I had something else in mind that I wanted to do, and that was take the Jeep off-roading into Canyonlands. In the picture above you can see a dirt road (Potash), that road is a part of the trail I wanted to do, which was Shafer Trail and Potash Road Trail. The trail is 18.5 miles long, and has an elevation change of nearly 3,500′. I recorded most of the beginning of the drive where you drive down into the canyon.
Click Here for my dash cam video from the Shafer/Potash Trail. The video is sped up to 4x’s the original speed. The most exciting part starts around the 2:30 mark. Shafer Trail was originally a cattle road and more recently a uranium mining road, although it’s no longer used for either purpose.
So I didn’t plan the day out all that well. When I left for the trail I was already down to a quarter tank and a few miles into the trail it seemed my gas was dropping quickly. If I said I wasn’t at least a little nervous about my gas situation I would be lying. I knew it would take about 2 hours to do the trail and I wasn’t sure how much gas I would burn through averaging about 9 miles an hour on the trail. After the 18 mile trail I still had a 13 mile drive to get back into town to get to a gas station. I did get AAA before leaving for the trip in case I did have any unforeseen issues, but when you’re down in the bottom of a canyon there’s not exactly a lot of cell service. Obviously I survived though, I didn’t come across any issues and got back into town safely. If you ever go to Moab, you have got to do this trail. It gives you the greatest views from inside the canyon. I think being in the canyon gives you a better perspective of how tall these geological features are. For instance:
The trail goes down toward Dead Horse State Park where the Colorado River is and then winds back to the Potash Ponds. I had no idea what these ponds were for, but you could see them from Dead Horse and they were electric blue in color and there was large equipment driving on top of them. I later found out they were owned by this company by the name of Intrepid and they’re the largest producer of potassium chloride in the U.S. You can read more about the ponds here. There are signs as you drive through the area that it’s private property but you do drive right along side the ponds.
The end of the trail came out right near the Colorado river and you follow State Route 279 right along the river back to Moab.
I filled up the tank, grabbed a quick bite to eat and then I was off! My next stop was Bryce National Park. 4 hours and nearly 300 miles later that night I decided to pull off and sleep at a truck stop in Cedar City, Utah.