So you are in Moab, you have your car, jeep, or truck with you. Maybe you would like a break from your physical outdoor activities, maybe you are not physically able to participate in these types of activities, or have young children in tow. Maybe you would just like to get out and spend a day or more exploring the countryside around Moab. Moab has a variety of scenic auto tours you can drive ranging from two hours to a full day. You may wish to combine these outings with short hikes, or just view the scenery from your car. You can enjoy driving along a river, through beautiful canyons, over bridges, through a National Forest, along the roads of State or National Parks, or drive past ancient Indian petroglyphs. For full descriptions of scenic drives, including their length of time visit the web site listed below.
Map of the area around Moab - to find Corona Arch, Bowtie Arch and Pinto Arch.
Description of Corona Arch - see other off-the-beaten path tips.
The map is taken from the book:
"Hiking the Southwest's Canyon Country"
by Sandra Hinchman, published by Mountaineers.(mine is ed. 1990 and was USD 12,95 in 1996).
Corona Arch, which resembles the famous Rainbow Bridge, is located out of Moab, in the west.
The arch (composed of Navajo sandstone) has around 150 feet in diameter.
To go there, you need to drive north out of Moab on US-191. Turn left at Potash Road into UT-279. The road follows the north-western bank of Colorado River, for about 10 miles. There is a sign to show where to turn right to park the car.
When hiking to Corona Arch, you will also see Pinto Arch (or Gold Bar Arch) and Bowtie Arch - and finally Corona Arch.
Round-trip hike is around 2-3 hours, moderate hiking (some steep paths).
Detailed Map is placed in a separate tip.
Close to Corona Arch, I came across this very funny looking rock formation - it just looks like a big skull - ok, nose is missing.
Not yet sure of the name, still research doing on this question.
But it's near Corona Arch, just past it.
While this is about 1 hour away from Moab, it is accessible for a long day trip. The easiest and most accessible slot canyon in the San Rafael swell is actually a loop hike of Little Wild Horse Canyon and Bell Canyon. Follow all directions to Goblin State Park. Just before you get to the entrance of Goblin you will be at a stop sign. Left is the entrance to Goblin, turn right here and take the well maintained road for several miles to the first well established trail head on the right. You will cross a large dry wash.
The trail head has toilets. Park here and walk the trail until you can drop into the dry wash. About 10-15 minute you will see the canyon split. Turn right and enter Little Wild Horse Canyon. On the left is Bell Canyon where you will exit later. Some negotiating is required and you may need to use you hands. In winter and early spring there will be water in the slots that can be passed by stemming the canyon wall.
When the canyon opens up about 3 miles later there will be a fork to the left. Take this as it crosses over to a well maintained dirt road. Walk the Road (turn left) until you come tot he next dry wash. This is Bell Canyon. Continue on to the end.
Technically, Hell's Revenge rates a 4 on a difficulty rating of 1 to 10. The trail gets it's name not just from the petrified sand dunes resembling a frozen sea of hell fire, but also because it is not for the faint of heart. The trail is NOT intended for stock vehicles or novice drivers. Low gearing, good articulation, high clearance, high approach and departure angles necessary, and lockers are highly recommended.
The trail is in the Sand Flats Recreation Area (fee applies...$6.00 for 3 days) and as you climb these sandstone hills, you can look out over miles of petrified dunes. The trail laid out over the horizon like a crayon line...
Allow 4 to 6 hours for this 6.9 mile trail. There are two optional loops that bring you to more difficult obstacles...such as Hell's Gate and Escalator Loop. The sandstone acts like fly paper, the grip that the tyres got on that surface was better than asphalt. Even though we climbed and descended at extreme angles, the truck never once flinched off course.
The first 100 yards, you climb up a sandstone fin, wide enough for one vehicle, and dropping on both sides. I had a panic attack right away. (I'm terribly afraid of heights). I convinced my husband to let me continue on the trail, only to face a much larger, higher, steeper obstacle. After that second panic attack, though, I was all right!
Steel Bender rates a 7 on a difficulty scale of 1 - 10. It provides numerous obstacles, only a couple not having bypasses. As put by a popular trail guide book, this trail is a real "bumper-thumper."
Most of the trail is uneven, rocky lines with large rock obstacles. The trail is NOT for stock vehicles. Popular obstacles on this trail include "The Wall", "The Fall" and "Witches Step", as well as water crossing and numerous tall ledges. High ground clearance, excellent articulation and lockers are recommended.
We had a great trail leader who was a fabolous spotter and got every truck (even stock trucks) through the most difficult spots. I believe only one vehicle broke on axle during the trip.
The trail begins and ends in Mill Creek Canyon and measures 14.9 miles. Allow 5 to 6 hours to complete, more if you have a large group.
Though this trail is in Kane Springs Canyon, this trail is known as Kane Creek Canyon. This 13.7 mile trail takes you to the floor of Kane Creek Canyon, crossing the creek many times. Allow 3 or 4 hours once on the trail.
Enjoy the break from the Moab heat as you cross the creek, surrounded by trees. Then, a steep, rather difficult, narrow photogenic shelf is your route out of the canyon.
This trail used to be rated a 5, but was upgraded to a difficulty level of 6 due to erosion. This year, it's pushing a 7. Certain areas around the creek have washed out parts of the road, or left the trail with extreme obstacles.
We really enjoyed the trip down into the canyon, looking at multi-colored cliffs all around us. It was dry when we started the trail, and unfortunately, the creek was nothing more than puddles in places. This area is dangerous as flash floods could come at any time...keep your eye on the sky.
Most of the trail is rocky and off-camber, but the shelf on the way out is the most difficult the trail has to offer. Steep tiers of rock along the cliff side require careful tyre placement. It began to rain as we ascended the shelf, but made it out unscratched (almost...our guide hit a boulder and scratched the side of his truck really good).
This trail certainly was great off road fun and very photogenic. Must try it again in the spring...when the creek is full.
During my travels in Southwest US, I often came across these funny vertical stripes on the walls. Looked as if someone had poured down varnish from the walltop.
Later on, I learned that this indeed is called "desert varnish".
I checked the web, and found the following infos:
(for more details please check NPS.gov website, the Canyonlands' one):
Desert varnish only appears where water flows over rocks, and bacteria are present. It is composed of fine-grained clay minerals, which contain black manganese oxide and red iron oxide, or hydroxides.
Now directly from NPS/Canyonlands Website:
Desert varnish consists of clays and other particles cemented to rock surfaces by manganese emplaced and oxidized by bacteria living there. It is produced by the physiological activities of microorganisms which are able to take manganese out of the environment, then oxidize and emplace it onto rock surfaces. These microorganisms live on most rock surfaces and may be able to use both organic and inorganic nutrition sources. These manganese-oxidizing microorganisms thrive in deserts and appear to fill an environmental niche unfit for faster growing organisms which feed only on organic materials.
The sources for desert varnish components come from outside the rock, most likely from atmospheric dust and surface runoff. Streaks of black varnish often occur where water cascades over cliffs. No major varnish characteristics are caused by wind.
Thousands of years are required to form a complete coat of manganese-rich desert varnish so it is rarely found on easily eroded surfaces. A change to more acidic conditions (such as acid rain) can erode rock varnish. In addition, lichens are involved in the chemical erosion of rock varnish.
Off Highway 191 north of Moab, turn onto Entrada Bluffs Road by the Old Dewey Bridge. This looped trail, rated a 4 on a scale of 10, will take 3 to 4 hours to complete. It is taken mostly for it's scenic value...offering one of the most dramatic overlooks of the Moab area.
But, wheelers will not be disappointed. Once on the loop, there are many rock ledges and shelves to climb on your way up to the top. Body damage is possible.
The view is incredible. Once at the overlook, the trail loops back to the beginning.
There are a lot of roads that branch off of the main road in town. They all led to the out country and it is rugged, rough, and bumpy in many areas. It is really called a desert in this part of Utah, and is dry to prove it, except for along the Green River running through town and beyond.
Fossil Point is about 13 miles south of town, and located in a barren hot, dry plateau with some gray hills peaking up. The road is not too bad to travel until the last couple of miles. I went past the designated area for a bit, and it does get worse form there. Four wheel drive is helpful. Green River is about 70 miles from Moab, and easy drive to get there in less than an hour.
After the initial tracks the best is yet to come. Continue on the slick rock following the white dashed lines. The trail will turn left. Continue straight on the slick rock staying close to the left where the dirt and slick rock meet. Keep you eyes peeled to the ground and as the hill begins to crest you will find several lines of tracks.
This place is a real wonder and worth spending a couple of hours and dollars. They have done a good job of bringing in tourists for looking around, making some gist selections and tour the 5,000 square foot home. They also have a lot of flora and many unique structures around the premises. One is the jeep below, another is a bull made out of metal parts from gears and strip metal, another a golfer made from golf heads and shafts. What a wonder to see.
The home tour is $5 and goes for about 30 minutes on the hour. Overall Albert Christensen carved out 50,000 square feet of rock and used as much as 5,000 square feet for his home. He started in 1940's and drilled and blasted for 12 years. They moved into the home in 1952, and operated the adjacent diner until 1955. Albert also carved the bust of Franklin Roosevelt
The whole concept started with the family settling here and trading items for settlers moving through Utah. It made sense to carve out rock to get out of the sun, and eventually they had a good thing, and continued to expand. Besides the gifts shops, the whole outside area is filled with special treats to take in and enjoy of statues and artifacts.
Location is 15 miles south of Moab on Hwy 191
I think these tracks and the ones mentioned in Part 2 are the best in Moab. Take route 191 north out of Moab for about 13 miles (mile post 142). Klondike Bluff road is on the right. If you pass the airport, you went too far. This road is easily accessed with two wheel drive cars. Th parking area is at the end where you will see a wired fence and gate. Beyond this is mountain biking and 4 wheeling. This is nice to hike as well if you only want to see the dinosaur tracks.
Follow the Klondike road trail on a double track road. This can be very sandy in the beginning. The road turns right and into a wash type trail. as soon as you emerge from this onto slick rock you will see a number of dinosaur tracks marked by stones placed around them for easy identification. Please do not disturb the rocks Other tracks ahead do not have these stones. See Part 2.
There is a geyser to the south of town and it is worth a nice trip. Green River is 70 miles northwest of Moab and easily reached via highway driving. The road to Crystal Geyser is another trip. It requires going through the old missile base of Government, and the roads are not maintained, but passable. Located about 9 miles from main street in town.
The geyser is of cold water-so you can touch it. The rust colored forms are from such mineral rich soils in the underground. It spews up every 12-16 hours, and I did not get to see that, but a little trickler is close by. The travertine means rust terraces, and the surface around the geyser is rippled in a wonderful setting.