TRD Pro-Verlanding: Montrose To Moab On Dirt—In Toyota’s 2019 TRD Pro Lineup
There are many paved routes connecting Colorado and Utah, but fortunately, none of those were part of our expedition, as we trekked from Ouray, Colorado, to Moab, Utah. After the 2018 FJ Summit in Ouray, we set our sights on the Rimrocker Trail and hopped inside our convoy of ’19 Toyota TRD Pro rigs. Nothing but dirt roads, scenic backcountry, and off-grid camping were in the plans.
Before leaving Ouray, we took some time to get familiar with our route. The Rimrocker Trail is about 160 miles of dirt—officially beginning in Montrose, Colorado, crossing the Dolores River and Highway 141, climbing the La Sal Mountains, entering Utah, and dropping into Moab. The term “Rimrocker” refers to the workers of the many mines in the area, including the Last Chance and the Club Sandwich, to name only two. Our expedition was as much a mother lode of history factoids as it was sprawling panoramas and switchbacking dirt roads.
Our ’19 TRD Pro 4Runner, Tacoma, and Tundra were all well prepared for a multiday dirt adventure. The Tacoma’s new-for-2019 Desert Air Intake was quite an asset, drawing from the cleaner air above the windshield—as opposed to inside the wheelwell, where air intakes normally take air. Even loaded down with passengers and gear, the 4Runner was exceptionally well mannered and polite on the rocky trails—thanks, in part, to the Fox 2.5-inch front shocks. These suspension updates lifted the front of the vehicle by 1 inch and gave the 4Runner an extra inch of wheel travel. Our Tundra came with a variety of features, including 18-inch BBS aluminum wheels (to shave 13.4 pounds of unsprung mass) and Rigid Industries LED foglights (to punch through the dust and maintain nighttime visibility).
Joining our ’19 TRD Pro convoy was a group of more-modified Toyotas, steered by the Expedition Overland team. They provided the camping gear and backcountry know-how while we traversed the trails. Read on for some history, trail reports, and scenes from our multiday Colorado-to-Utah adventure!
Blast From the PastWe passed by the abandoned town of Uravan. The name is a combination of the two materials mined there: uranium and vanadium. The yellowcake uranium used to end World War II was mined from this area. The operation boomed until 1971, when prices declined. Uravan was closed in 1986 and razed, leaving a Superfund cleanup site and a few bits of history.
The coke oven we found on the banks of the Dolores River was from even farther back in time. In the late 1800s, it converted green coal to coke coal, which burned hotter and cleaner for the local blacksmiths who worked on the Hanging Flume. The flume was an engineering marvel and was built alongside the sandstone cliffs to transport water down to the local mining operations.
Rimrocker RecapDirt miles: 160
Max elevation (ft): 9,840
Terrain: Begins in the east with graded 2WD gravel roads, becoming progressively more difficult near the Utah border. The most difficult sections require 4WD and a high-clearance vehicle. For condition reports, visit rimrockertrail.org.
Travel notes: Beware of seasonal high-water crossings and poor cellular reception; carry extra supplies, fuel, and water.