Be warned: If you can't handle change, don't run the Kane Creek Canyon trail. This extraordinary trail changes faster than a supermodel at a fashion show. You'll encounter sand (maybe even a little quicksand), rocks (loose, fixed, big, small, and squeeze varieties), shelf trails (similar to those found in Colorado), heavy brush (the paint-eating variety), and, of course, the aforementioned water (lots of it).
What's amazing is that all of these cool things reside in a trail that is only 13.2 miles in length. This trail can be run in a little less than four hours, so it's a great day trip that won't take all day if you don't want it to.
We've run this trail in everything from modified to bone-stock rigs. While this proves that stockers can make it, we caution you to the possibility of body damage from rocks and brush. There's also the possibility that stockers will need to be strapped over a couple of the obstacles. Based on our experience, vehicles with a few inches of lift, aggressive tires and a rear locker are the recommended minimum requirements. There is no cellphone service in the canyon, and although we've never seen it listed as a one-way, the traditional route is from west to east.
Once you experience the riveting scenery and the radical diversity of Kane Creek Canyon, we think you'll be hooked and you'll want to return time and time again.
The major obstacle is this attention-grabbing rock section in Muleshoe Canyon. It's about 10.4 miles into the trail and contains a stair-step shelf trail bordered by a rock wall on the right and nothing but a 1,000-foot drop-off on the left. There is no bypass. We attempted this obstacle with a stock Lexus GX470, but the rig just didn't have enough ground clearance to climb the rocks so we had to strap it. The views of the canyon are spectacular from this vantage point, and if you look down into the canyon you can see an ATV trail at the bottom-along with an old Jeep that fell off the shelf trail years ago.
Location: Approximately 11.25 miles from downtown Moab
Length: 13.2 miles (from the Kane Creek/Hurrah Pass junction to Hwy. 191)
Time to run: 3-4 hours, not including the drive to the trailhead
How to get there: From Main Street in Moab, turn at Kane Creek Boulevard (McDonald's is on the corner). Veer left onto Kane Creek Canyon Road at the "Y" (0.6 mile). Continue for approximately 10.6 miles. Turn left at the Kane Creek/Hurrah Pass junction (this is the Kane Creek trailhead).
Trailhead GPS waypoint: N 38 28.25' W 109 36.09'
Exit GPS waypoint: N 38 22.89' W 109 27.36'
Point of interest: Waterfall rockclimb, N 38 22.88' W 109 28.61'
Rating: 3 (creek crossings may be impassable after heavy rains)
1 = Stockers' paradise
2 = Mild: Rear limited-slip, 31-inch tires recommended
3 = Moderate: Winch, rear locker, 33-inch tires recommended
4 = Advanced: Winch and lockers mandatory; 35-inch tires recommended
5 = Buggies and madmen only