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The Ultimate Moab Utah - Rock Crawling Experiences

The Ultimate Moab Utah - Rock Crawling Experiences

Building, servicing and repairing 4x4s is our bread and butter at Dixie 4 Wheel Drive. While we do love working on custom four-wheelers in our full service, specialized 4x4 shop, testing them out on the trails is what really gets our blood pumping.

With hundreds of miles of off-roading trails to explore in Moab, Utah, we can never really run out of adventure prospects. There are trails for every rock-crawling enthusiast from novices to beginners.

However, after building the ultimate rock monsters, we sometimes crave trails that really put our machines to the test. The kind of rock-crawling adventure that calls for excellent off-roading skills coupled with expert engineering. Where drivelines, axles, lockers and vehicle bodies are tested and damaged and those who finish the trails with sound rigs earn instant bragging rights. These are the kind of ultimate rock crawling experiences that draw off-road junkies to Moab!

We decided to go ahead and list some of our favorite rock crawling trails that are guaranteed to test both man and machine.

A Few Things to Keep in Mind First

Before joining us on one of our excursions, bear this in mind:

1.     Know the trail rating system and stick to trails that match your vehicle type and off-road driving skills and abilities.

2.     Ensure your rig is properly protected. Body armor- skid plates, rockers, bumpers, etc. - are ideal as they minimize damage to your ride’s body.

3.     Come properly prepared and equipped for the trail. A winch, recovery kit, puncture kit and a basic medical kit should be part of the gear you bring with you.

4.     Vehicle mechanical or body damage is highly likely on advanced trails so don’t bring your rig if you can’t handle this.

5.     Always go in pairs or as part of a group. Teamwork can always help you out of a tight spot.

Top 4x4 Rock Crawling Trails in Moab Utah

We’ve only listed trails with a rating of 6 and above with advanced obstacles for the most intense rock crawling activities. These trails call for technical driving and are not suitable for inexperienced or beginner rock crawlers.

  1. Hell’s Revenge Trail Rating:6

Located towards the northeastern side of Moab, at the end of Sand Flats Road, Hell’s Revenge is arguably the most popular trail around. With steep descents, drops, climbs, sharp turns and hair-raising obstacles, this trail is perfect for those who want to get a feel for advanced-level rock crawling. Stock-vehicles can make it to the end by bypassing some of the more difficult obstacles. The slickrock certainly helps by providing excellent traction for most 4x4s.

Part of Hell’s Revenge attraction, other than the challenge of driving over high mounds and steep descents, is the incredible panoramic view of the La Sal Mountains, Arches National Park, the Colorado River and Moab town below. Obstacles like the Tip-Over Challenge, The Escalator and Rubble Trouble are sure to challenge you along the trail.

  1. Poison Spider Mesa Trail Rating: 6

Don’t let the name scare you, the area isn’t crawling with poisonous spiders. What the trial does have is great scenery combined with fun off-roading that won’t damage your vehicle. The mesa is one of Moab’s striking cliff features, found to the northwest. You can access the trail by driving west onto Highway 279 until you see Potash Road. From there, the trail climbs to the rim through sloping rock layers and features bypasses for some of the tougher obstacles.

You’ll have to pay particular attention to your tire placement to navigate through the myriad small dips, ledges and neat climbs to the top where you can stop for a well-deserved lunch break at Little Arch. Here you can enjoy the amazing vistas of the surrounding area. You can then continue with the trail until it turns you around to head back down or alternatively if you have time, you can continue until you merge with the Golden Spike trail.

  1. Steel Bender Trail Rating:6

Lying in the Mill Creek Canyon, between the La Sal Mountains and Moab is the Steel Bender Trail. Thanks to constant erosion and trail repair, this trail’s obstacles keep being modified which in turn changes the overall difficulty rating. Nonetheless, you’ll still get to enjoy rock-crawling over stream-washed rocks and getting your hubs wet as the trail crosses Mill Creek a few times. As the trail climbs, it passes through a succession of rock steps and shelves. To clear this, your off-roader needs to have extended clearance and a tire size of 33+ inches.

The trail’s main obstacle, known as The Wall, is a sliprock fin that will challenge your navigation skills. Once you conquer that, you’ll have to exercise extreme caution to navigate the rocky descent, protruding rock shelves and eroded sandy stretches that make up the last part of the trail.

  1. Golden Spike Trail Rating:7

If you’re looking for killer scenery and a tough, interesting trail, then head for the Golden Spike. The view alone is almost too perfect to be real with not only the La Sal Mountains but also breathtaking views of red rock spires and ledges plus the Colorado River in the midst of it all.

The Golden Spike provides a connection between the Poison Spider Mesa and Gold Bar Rim trails so you’ll have plenty of chances to put your rock-crawling machine through its paces as your traverse this trail. You’ll start off with easy driving over layered dirt and loose rock before contending with steeper, more solid ledges and climbs. Some 4x4s will have to make use of winches to get over the latter.

This trail offers plenty of obstacles to keep any avid rock-crawler happy including Skyline Drive, Golden Steps, Launching Pad, Golden Crack, Zuki Hill and the Double Whammy.

  1. Behind The Rocks Trail Rating:7

This trail is found in an elevated area south of Moab enclosed by the rim of the Kane Springs Canyon on one side and the Moab Rim Cliffs on the other. Sandy dirt and the occasional rocky outcrop form most of the road surface and you’ll need to find your way through many small canyons throughout the trail.

What earned this trail its difficulty rating is the White Knuckle Hill. Descending this obstacle is not for the fainthearted and there are always daredevils who try climbing it to test their mettle. Some do make it although the risk of inducing a body roll is too great. Like all other trails this side of Moab, the scenery is something to behold with fantastic views of Balcony Arch, Picture Frame Arch and Pritchett Arch in the distance.

  1. Cliffhanger Trail Rating:8

The Cliffhanger Trail lives up to its name and grabs your attention immediately with a tough descent to Kane Creek Crossing followed by an equally demanding steep, muddy and boulder-strewn climb as you ascend on the other side. The crossing can range from dry sand to deep water and can become impassable if Kane Creek is full so beware of this.

If you do overcome the climb up from Kane Creek, you’ll be rewarded with views galore as the trail takes you 1,300 feet above the creek, with spectacular scenery of the Colorado River and canyon. Don’t miss taking a cautious peek off the cliff edge into Jackson Hole as well as the amazing glimpse of the Behind the Rocks area and the La Sal Mountains in the distance.

  1. Pritchett Canyon Trail Rating:9

We had to include Pritchett Canyon in this list due to the trail’s hardcore challenges delivered in the most magnificent setting. The difficulty rating of 9 is well earned as only rock crawlers with tons of experience and sturdily built 4x4s can traverse this 4.5-mile canyon. Driveline breakage, rollovers, broken parts and ruined axle shafts are all common occurrences in this trail as even the hardiest four-wheel vehicles might need a winch or strap to go over some of the obstacles.

Speaking of obstacles, this trail has some famous ones including Suicide Hill, Rock Pile, Rocker Knocker, Chewy Hill and Axle Hill. There are no easy bypasses here so prepare yourself accordingly. If you do manage to peel your eyes from the obstacles, you’ll be greeted with a beautiful landscape with incredible views of canyon walls, Pritchett Arch and Window Arch as well as the pool-speckled creek bottom.

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