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What You Need to Know: Steel Bender Trail, Moab EJS 2017

Posted in Moab Experience: 2017 on April 14, 2017
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The Steel Bender Trail changes with every season and every change in the weather, as erosion alters its character and obstacles. However, this trail rated a 6, which according to the Red Rock 4-Wheelers means your 4WD rig will need 33-inch or larger tires, a lifted suspension, and two traction-adding devices (lockers, limited slips). This is not a trail for beginners or stock 4x4s. Steel Bender crosses a creek a few times, climbs steeply into the mountains between Moab and the La Sal Mountains, and then on to the base of South Mesa.

Highlights of Steel Bender include an easy sandy road through creek crossings, but quickly turns into a trail that climbs steeply on to a bedrock trail with many shelves ranging from 12 inches to 2 or 3 feet. The major obstacle on this trail has been nicknamed “Tail of the Dragon,” and it’s not advised for short wheelbase vehicles. The 6- to 8-foot (depending upon current trail condition) sheer drop does have a go-around, but that’s not much less intimidating with its off-camber rocky descent. The Red Rock 4-Wheelers suggest “extreme caution” on this obstacle. From there, the trail returns to its general nature, with sandy sections interrupted by rock ledges and a final creek crossing before returning to gravel road.

We did the trail with the Anzo USA lighting crew, who sponsored that day’s run, and a group of about 30 rigs. The entire trip took about 7 hours, but with a smaller group that time will be shorter. Also, be a good neighbor. Don’t be “that guy” like we encountered the day we ran Steel Bender who had BS’d the sign-up list and got on with no lockers, held up the entire group while he struggled with obstacles, and nearly busted his gear. And as far as we’re concerned, on a trail such as Steel Bender, limited-slip-devices are not lockers. No amount of feathering the brakes to get that LSD to bind up will make it work as well as a true locker.

Check out the video, and the gallery of photos below to see more of what you can expect when you run the Steel Bender Trail in Moab, Utah. And to find more Moab area trail reports, go to

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