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Top 10 Best Trails in Moab

Moab Masterpieces

David KennedyPhotographerChristian HazelWriterJP StaffPhotographer

There are three questions we get asked about Moab, Utah, more than any others.

The first is, do you have to bring your own Jeep or are there places that rent them and let you take them off-road. The answer is there are plenty of rental places that allow you to go off-road. Punch in "Moab Jeep Rental" in Google and you'll get a bunch, but you can also check out Farabee's Jeep Rentals (moabjeeprentals.com), Cliffhanger Jeep Rental (cliffhangerjeeprental.com), and Canyonlands Jeep Rentals (canyonlandsjeep.com).

The second is, do you have to have an insane Jeep to go to Moab or can you have fun in a stock Jeep? The answer is you can have a ton of fun in a stock Jeep in Moab. Go for it.

Finally, the third question and the one we're asked more than any other is, what's your favorite Moab trail? The answer to that one isn't as cut and dry as the others because we don't have just one favorite. Heck, even narrowing our list down to our top 10 favorites was a little tough, but here it goes.

Moab Rim
If you like the pucker factor, have we got a trail for you. With off-camber climbs and obstacles that tilt you down toward an 800-foot fall to the Colorado River below, this is the ultimate Moab cliff trail. It's not for the faint of heart. If you're afraid of heights or don't know what you're doing behind the wheel, find another trail, but otherwise most participants enjoy killer slickrock climbs and off-camber ledge work with a sand dune and Indian rock art ruin reward at the top. Killer scenery and a breathtaking drop (or do we have that backward) accompany you through most of the trail.

Quick Guide
GPS: Lat: 38, 33', 34"/Lon: 109, 34', 56"
Vehicle Requirements: Rear locker, larger tires, rocker protection
Wheelbase: Any
Sheetmetal Damage: Your rockers, rear quarters, and hood and roof may get some rock love. Higher-than-average chance of a flop or roll

Upper Helldorado
One of our only trails held on private land, Upper Helldorado is fully hard-core. Located in Area BFE, the pay-to-play area hosts a plethora of cool stuff, but the old-school Upper Helldorado is still our favorite. You drop into the double-tough, off-camber entrance and it goes downhill from there. Huge boulders, angled squeezes that will eat your windshield frame, and the infamous waterfall climb at the end make this a trail that is very enjoyable, but not for the timid or inexperienced.

Quick Guide
GPS: Lat: 38, 24', 21"/Lon: 109, 24', 24"
Vehicle Requirements: Front and rear lockers, big tires, body protection, winch
Wheelbase: 84-115 inches is ideal
Sheetmetal Damage: Likely

Coyote Canyon
As you're heading down the dirt road leading to Area BFE, look to your left right after you go over the little bridge and you'll see a deceptively unimposing-looking trail cut into the hillside. Coyote Canyon is short and to the point. Jeep-sized boulders on a steep incline greet you from the get-go. It's a full-bonzo, insane-gonzo rollercoaster ride and is probably one of the best rockcrawl trails in the Southwest. So why no GPS coordinates? Because it's technically closed to vehicle traffic. Due to a few technicalities, the BLM considers the trail closed because it wasn't created at the time its maps were drawn up in '03. The Moab Friends for Wheelin' and other groups are working hard to get this gem opened on the books for public consumption.

Quick Guide
GPS: moabfriendsforwheeling.com
Vehicle Requirements: Front and rear lockers; 37-inch tires or larger; rocker and body protection; upgraded axles; low gearing
Wheelbase: 80-120 inches
Sheetmetal Damage: Very likely

Hell's Revenge
Hell's Revenge is probably the trail we've driven more than any other in Moab. Located at the end of Sand Flats Road just after Potato Salad Hill and the now-closed Dump Bump, you pay a small fee at the Ranger outpost for a 3-day pass and then hit the trail. You will not be bored on Hell's Revenge no matter how built or not your Jeep is. Killer scenery in all directions, with breathtaking views of the La Salle Mountains, Arches National Park, the Colorado River, and even the town of Moab below await you. There are bypasses around most of the hard stuff like Tip Over Challenge and some unnamed obstacles, or there are optional obstacles you can challenge yourself with like The Escalator or any number of slick, steep hot tubs. Brace yourself for lots of steep descents and climbs, a few ledges, and some off-camber stuff. And it all takes place on textbook Moab slickrock, which is just like driving on glue.

Quick Guide
GPS: Lat: 38, 34', 31"/Lon: 109, 31', 19"
Vehicle Requirements: Stock 4x4
Wheelbase: Any
Sheetmetal Damage: Not likely but may drag rear bumper

Metal Masher
Located north of Moab and west of Highway 191, Metal Masher runs close to Golden Spike and enjoys much of the same breathtaking scenery. While most of the trail isn't that difficult, there are obstacles like Widowmaker and Mother-in-Law Hill that require some skill and decent equipment. There are also optional obstacles to play on like Rock Chucker Hill and some other steep climbs that can make a monkey out of you. As for terrain, plan on sand, slickrock, and some steep ledges and climbs.

Quick Guide
GPS: Lat: 38, 29', 22"/Lon: 109, 40', 34"
Vehicle Requirements: Larger tires, one locker or limited slip, rocker protection
Wheelbase: Any, but shorter Jeeps will have more drama on the steep climbs
Sheetmetal Damage: Drag bumpers or rockers on ledges

Pritchett Canyon
The entrance to Pritchett is off of Kane Creek Road and crosses over private land, The owners ask for a small donation, which we happily fork over to gain access to one of the best trails in town. Pritchett winds though tall canyons along a dry riverbed with some pretty tough unnamed obstacles and climbs in elevation before hitting the Rocker Knocker obstacle. There's usually a long line as people unsuccessfully try to get up Rocker Knocker, so hit the trail early to avoid the wait, because that's just where the trail gets good. After Rocker Knocker there are some way-cool, off-camber climbs with silt and loose rock tumblers to increase the challenge. Longer wheelbase rigs will have a less-dramatic time of it, but most will have a hard time at the Rock Pile with its near-vertical face that wants to kick you on your lid.

Quick Guide
GPS: Lat: 38, 32', 8"/Lon: 109, 35', 55"
Vehicle Requirements: Front and rear lockers, upgraded tire size, rocker protection
Wheelbase: Any
Sheetmetal Damage: Rear bumper, rocker, quarter panel dingage likely

Poison Spider Mesa
Head west onto Highway 279 from Highway 191 and you'll see Potash Road, a steep dirt entrance on the right after about 6 miles. Park to air down, take a short hike to see the fossilized dinosaur footprints, then head out along the steep dirt and rock-strewn climb until the slickrock starts. The trail features bypasses for some of the tougher obstacles, making this a good option for a stocker if you can drive. Lots of small ledges, dips, and neat climbs lead you to an obstacle at the top you'll need to straddle to get through. Tire placement through most of the trail is critical, so it's a good exercise for the old noggin. Continuing on the trail after the straddle, the trail heads off in a loop and turns you around to head back down or you can go for several hours down a rocky path and eventually merge with the Golden Spike trail.

Quick Guide
GPS: Lat: 38, 32', 1"/Lon: 109, 36', 24"
Vehicle Requirements: Rocker protection for lower-slung vehicles; upgraded tires and air down
Wheelbase: Any
Sheetmetal Damage: Possibility of dragging rear bumper on some climbs

Cliff Hanger
Head west out of town on Kane Creek Road and turn right a couple miles after the pavement turns to dirt. The trail drops down sharply to meet the Kane Creek crossing, which can be deep if the water is running well. Climb up out of the creek and enjoy a muddy, rutted, boulder-strewn climb as the trail ascends up above Kane Creek with views galore. The trail isn't terribly hard, but aggressive tires and some decent clearance under your rockers will make your life easier. The climb eventually takes you 1,300 feet above the creek, but despite the name you really don't get the sensation you're about to plummet to your death like you do on Moab Rim. Steep ledges and sometimes mud await you at the top. Enjoy the scenery and then come back down `cause the trail doesn't go all the way through to anywhere after the cliffhanger obstacle at the end.

Quick Guide
GPS: Lat: 38, 31', 27"/Lon: 109, 36', 5"
Vehicle Requirements: Rocker protection, mud tires
Wheelbase: Any
Sheetmetal Damage: Rear bumper, rocker damage possible

Golden Spike
There are some areas along the Golden Spike trail where the views are so beautiful they just look manufactured. The snow-capped La Salle Mountains in the background, arches and the Colorado River in the middle, and beautiful red rock spires and ledges in the foreground make it hard for your brain to wrap itself around what your eyes are taking in. Head west off of Highway 191 about seven miles north of the Colorado River. You head down the dirt road and follow the Red Rock 4-Wheelers signs to the trailhead. There are lots of steep, slickrock ledges and climbs, off-camber obstacles, and loose rock and sand to contend with as well as obstacles and play things like the Golden Crack, Double Whammy, and the Golden Stairs. The scenery is killer and the trail is just hard enough to keep you interested if you're in a really built vehicle. Stock rigs will hit the rockers and may need a strap.

Quick Guide
GPS: Lat: 38, 32', 34"/Lon: 109, 35', 43"
Vehicle Requirements: Slightly larger tires; rocker protection; tow hooks
Wheelbase: Any
Sheetmetal Damage: Rear bumper and rocker damage likely

Kane Creek Canyon
Pack a lunch, because this 20-mile trail takes a while to negotiate. Head southwest next to the Colorado River on Kane Creek Road until the pavement ends and then just keep bearing left until you're on the trail. You'll descend into a valley flanked by red rock spires while driving along a dirt trail filled with ruts and dips until you come to the creek crossings. There are over 50 of `em in all and depending on how much water is running some may be up to mid-door level on lower Jeeps. Towards the end, the trail begins climbing up and out of the canyon with some spectacular views. As the elevation increases, so does the technical nature of the trail, with some steep, rocky sections that require a bit of skill to traverse, so a locker or limited slip may be a good idea.

Quick Guide
GPS: Lat: 38, 27', 58"/Lon: 109, 36', 2"
Vehicle Requirements: Slightly larger tires
Wheelbase: Any, but some tight, twisty parts will have you pulling multi-point turns
Sheetmetal Damage: Drag rear bumper on climbs, chance of rocker damage in boulders at the end and paint scratches from brush likely