Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Moab 4WD Backroads: Northwest - Part 1

When someone sends me a book full of offroad trails it's a bit difficult for me not to want to create a Google Earth map to go along with it as I analyze it for possible rides.   Such is the case with a book which I recieved as a donation some months back: "Moab, UT Backroads & 4-Wheel Drive Trails" by Charles A. Wells, published by FunTreks.   [A free Google Earth file of this route is available at: Offroading Home on the "Utah" tab.]

I've mentioned his books before in relation to the various types of "difficulty ratings" found between various sources.   There are 58 trails described in this book, all given difficulty ratings of: Easy, Moderate, Difficult or Extreme, and all found within close proximity to Moab in Utah's "Canyonlands."   Arches National Park is in the area in case you were wondering.

Some of the trails are part of the Easter Jeep Safari held every year down that way which draws hundreds of "jeepers" from all over the country.   Therefore the trails in his book are sort of based upon "street legal" vehicles; but, in most cases a little review will enable you to decide upon a slightly different trailhead which circumvents paved roads and will allow you to ride an ATV.

Wells has also written two other books called: "ATV Trails Guide" for both Moab and Colorado's central mountains (which I would greatfully receive as a donation or loan should someone like to see a map made of its trails – hint, hint… see the donation link "wish list.")

Not unexpectedly the format of this book is different than others I've used which has required that I do some modifications to the map coding; but, I've been able to maintain the similar styling to what we have been accustomed to so you should be able to follow it without trouble.   With the extra time it has taken, I felt like I should probably post each of the books four "areas" as they are completed.

Northwest Moab Area

The area, Northwest Moab and Arches National Park, is now complete and available on the Offroading Home web site.   This is the first of three posts which will describe the trails contained in the Book Cliffs and Tower Arch portion of the map.   [A free Google Earth file of this route is available at: Offroading Home on the "Utah" tab.]

Book Cliffs - Sego Canyon Trail

Description: Difficulty: Easy-dry, Impassable-wet – Dirt, washouts, ruts, portions steep. Main-suitable for stock 4WD, Side trips-narrow, rutted.
Length: Book Cliffs-22 mi.; finish-26 mi.;   Time: 1 day;   Open: Year-round
Location: Start: Exit 182 from I-70, 30 mi north of Moab.   Under freeway, 0.1 mi east to wide gravel road on left.
Return: Continue south to I-70
Features: Climb edge of book cliffs; antelope sighting; panoramas of Arches NP, Merrimac Butte, Priest and Nuns Rock; side trip above Thompson Springs; Sego ghost town; gate to Ute Indian Res; extensive pictographs; Thompson Springs and train depot; through wilderness area corridor.   Gas-Thompson Springs, Vault toilet and picnic tables at picnic area.

White Wash Sand Dunes Trail

Description: Difficulty: Moderate – Soft dunes especially on steep downhill sides.   Explore with caution, easy to roll if sideways.   Wash narrows in canyons.
Length: Exit route adds 19 mi.; Time: Exlore - 1 day or several; Open: Year-round
Location: Start: Exit 175 off I-70, 7 mi from UT-191 at Rudy Ranch Road.   South under power lines, stay right at 4.1 mi from exit then left at 7.4 miles. After oil tanks, hard left downhill at 11.5 mi and left again at 11.8.   Route starts at 12.1 mi at top of hill with camping areas.
Return: Return the way you came.
Features: Red rock bluffs; open sand riding; campers and camping at start of trail.   Popular spot. No services - if camping must bring portable toilet..

Tower Arch Trail

Description: Difficulty: Moderate – Steep and rocky in spots; last part is sandy.   High clearance and good articulation in vehicles is needed.   Possible airing down.   Salt Valley Rd is heavy washboard, impassable when wet.
Length: To Tower Arch is 10.5 mi, between wpt 3 - 5 about 10 mi.; Willow Springs Rd is 8 mi.; Time: 4 - 6 hrs.; Open: Year-round
Location: Start: Inside Arches NP.   North from visitors center, left on poorly marked Salt Valley Road 0.7 mi after mile marker 16.
Return: A: Follow main paved road out of park; B: Continue west on rough Willow Springs Road 7 mi to UT-191.
Features: Fee area; Tower Arch, portion south to Eye-of-the-Whale may close; no pets; dinosaur tracks on exit through Willow Springs. Vault toilets along paved roads.   Gas and snacks at campground.

Tusher Tunnel Trail

Description: Difficulty: Easy – Mill Cyn Rd is graded, crosses sand in Tucker Wash, easly washed out.   Final short rocky hill.   Last 200 ft is sand.   Avoid when wet.
Length: 5 mi. from UT-191 to tunnel; Time: 30 min (one-way); Open: Year-round.
Location: Start: 14 mi North of Moab on UT-191 turn left on Mill Cyn Road at mile marker 141.
Return: Same way you came or combine with Sevenmile Rim Trail.
Features: Short, fun, hike to tunnel, slot passages at end of tunnel fun for children.   Gas and snacks at campground just north of UT-191 and 313.

Hidden Canyon Overlook Trail

Description: Difficulty: Moderate – narrow in places, rock ledges requiring careful tire placement, high clearance SUVs.   Steep and sandy in spots.   One section crosses open slickrock where trail is difficult to see.   Blue Hills Rd impassable when wet.
Length: To overlook is 5.5 mi., optional connector to Barlett Overlook; Time: 2 hr. (One-way), allow time for "loosing" trail, add 4 -5 hr if taking optional exit; Open: Year-round.
Location: Start: 16 mi. north of Moab on UT-191 turn left on Blue Hills Road (just S of mile marker 143).   Go west 2.3 mi and turn left at start.
Return: The way you came OR optional exit through Lunar Canyon OR connect to Bartlett Overlook Trail.
Features: Short, exciting, lunar-like terrain, birds eye view of Hidden canyon, option to extend by connecting to Bartlett Overlook Trail eventually leading to Dubinky Well Road.   Gas and snacks available at campground on UT-191, just north of UT-313.

There you have it, the first five trails in the northwest Moab area.   Next time - the 5 trails around the Hidden Canyon and Bartlett Wash area.

Learn A Little More

Many only know George Burns as the national treasure comedian par excellance that he was; but, he also had an endearing style of singing a song, with his "down to earth" phrasing, which even the impressionists couldn't mimic.   Here is a short clip that I found about George's philosophy of life which rings a bell with offroaders everywhere.   After all… It's The Only Way To Go!


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