Moab! Where Can We Drive?
Once again, the annual Easter Jeep Safari in Moab is over and the off-roading season in southern Utah is upon us. The days of Moab being an open area to drive are long gone. The "Open" designation meant we could drive anywhere - on or off the roads and trails. Most of the areas that concern us now carry a "Limited Use" designation, which means we need to stay on existing roads and trails. In the case of some Moab areas, the BLM seems to be trying the "stay on designated roads" trick. We don't like this one, as usually it's the people who are trying to kee all motorized recreation off public lands who are doing the designating. No matter what the designation of the area, it's plain that the times have changed and the days of going anywhere off-highway around Moab (and many other places) are over.
The Easter Jeep Safari trails are, of course, a safe bet for those who are worried about venturing into somewhere the BLM doesn't want them to be. The Red Rock 4-Wheelers lead runs on the trails during the week of the Safari and, of course, on Big Saturday. There's one thing you need to be aware of, though. The only legal routes on those trails are the roads themselves, and no side routes are now allowed. For example, the Escalator and the Gates of Hell obstacles on Hell's Revenge Trail are not open at the time of this writing. Those who choose to 'wheel them will be at risk of getting a citation, as the BLM especially likes to keep an eye on those two places. On some of the trails with slickrock, such as Hell's Revenge, marks have been painted on the rock to show the official trail.
Lower Helldorado is also closed. Utah has what it calls "State Trust Lands," which are lands sold to raise money for education. Lower Helldorado was in one such section that was sold a while ago. The woman who purchased the land isn't friendly to motorized recreation, so she closed the road. Portions of the Strike Ravine Trail also pass through the same person's land, but San Juan County (the county where the roads are located) claims it will fight any attempts to close Strike Ravine. Strike Ravine is a graded, well-used road, while Lower Helldorado's origins are a bit more clouded. By the way, Upper Helldorado is still open, as people friendly to off-road recreation purchased the land this trail traverses. That said, it's safe to stay on the Safari trails. If you venture off them, be aware that there might be a citation in your future.