Overlanding and Off Roading in 4x4 Conversion Vans
We Run Hole In The Rock Trail… In Vans!
Van life is all the rage these days, but most 4x4 conversion vans are used for simple overlanding and few 4x4 conversion vans can be found on technical rockcrawling trails. We don't fault most 4x4 conversion van owners for not wanting to drop of six-foot ledges or crawl through tight chutes. The difficulty factor was upped considerably during out visit, as rain showers made the slickrock live up to its name and filled washes behind us. While the 4x4 conversion vans struggled on some of the obstacles that the Jeep and Toyota on the trip tackled, everyone was happy to pile into the vans at night when it was raining outside (and spoiler: the author jumped into a van to complete the trail when his Toyota broke).
Moab not only has amazing rockcrawling, but hotels, breweries, and activities for the entire family that keep us coming back year after year. Sometimes though, you are looking for something a little more remote, away from the crowds and traffic lights. That is what motivated us to visit Hole In The Rock (HITR) Trail, three hours south of Moab near Hall's Crossing on the shores of Lake Powell. Hole In The Rock Trail should not be confused with Hole In The Rock Road, which is on the other side of the Colorado River. The road is graded and accessible by car, while the trail is 70 miles of technical rockcrawling. But rather than covered wagons, we visited Hole In The Rock with the modern equivalent: 4WD vans! Like the original Hole In The Rock travelers, wheeling a van requires patience, ingenuity, and a dash of daring.
The two have the same origins; a Mormon emigrant trail blazed from Escalante to Bluff in 1879, long before the Colorado River was dammed to create Lake Powell, separating the road to the west and the trail to the east, and requiring both to be run in and back out. The settlers were hoping to complete their journey in six weeks, but the unforgiving slick rock and sheer cliffs took six months to navigate. At one point, where the actual "hole in the rock" is located on the west side of the river, the settlers lowered their wagons 1,000 feet to the river through a crack in the rock.