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Moab Off Road Trail Spotlight: Steel Bender

Being the premier full-service 4WD auto shop in Moab means that we are involved in the off-roading community. We get lots of clients who come to our shop to upgrade or modify their rigs and they often ask about the best trails in the area. Some want scenic drives with mild challenges while others prefer hardcore off-roading, pitting their machines against the toughest, most-rugged trails there are.

The good thing about Moab is that there are trails to suit all kinds of people. The most popular trails in Moab happen to be the ones that provide intense off-roading challenges. One such trail is the aptly-named Steel Bender.

Steel Bender Trail Overview

Steel Bender lies between Moab and the La Sal Mountains, near Mill Creek. Following the trail will have you crossing the creek a few times as you go to the scenic Mill Canyon. The trail then climbs steeply to the base of South Mesa while overlooking the northern part of Mill Creek.

Thanks to erosion and trail repair, the trail keeps changing which in turn modifies the obstacles and overall character of the trail.  This trail is rated 6 and your 4WD rig will need enhanced suspension travel, good ground clearance, and tires that are at least 35”. Traction adding devices such as front and rear lockers are also recommended and a winch would be a plus. This trail isn’t recommended for beginners and you should have excellent off-roading skills to take it on.

Steel Bender Trail Scenery and Surface

The obstacles along the trail will demand your full attention. However, if you take your eyes off the road for a while, you’ll be amazed at the beautiful scenery all around. Part of the trail passes through scenic sections of Mill Creek Canyon while the other takes you towards the mountains while overlooking canyon vistas from a dizzying elevation of 6,000ft.

Most of the trail sticks to the creek bottom, taking you over plenty of rocks and ledges along the way. There’s also a little dirt, some slickrock in sections, and some sandy parts.

Obstacles and other Steel Bender Trail Details

Steel Bender starts off as an easy sandy road through creek crossings before steeply climbing onto bedrock that leads to a hill of steep shelves. These have several approaches so choose your route carefully.

Some of the notable obstacles along the trail include “The Wall” which is a fun slickrock fin as well as the “Tail of the Dragon”. The latter is not for short wheelbase vehicles as it’s an intimidating sheer drop with an off-camber rocky descent that might snag the vehicle.

For more information on Steel Bender and other trails in the area, check out our Southern Utah trail maps and resources page. You can also join our Southern Utah trail rides to experience these trails for yourself in the company of other off-roaders.


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