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Grand Adventure in Utah Summer 2006
By: Cheryle Young

Utah is HOT in June, but the scenery is astounding, spectacular in fact.  Some say it rivals the Grand Canyon.  I haven't seen the Grand Canyon in person yet, but from the pictures I've viewed, I agree.  What is really unique about the Moab area are the things people do right amongst the canyons, mesas, and buttes. If you are thinking ATVing and 4-wheeling you guessed right! In fact, it was so much fun riding that we barely noticed the temperatures rising to over 100 degrees each day.

We hauled what has now been dubbed, “The Road Train”, from Minnesota through the Rocky Mountains to Moab, Utah. The road train consists of a Silverado 2500 HD Crew Cab truck, a 27’ Cherokee Lite 5th wheel camper and a 16’ double wide Floe flatbed trailer. The Floe trailer carried 4 ATVs.

We stayed at a campground called Arch View Resort, located 9 miles north of Moab, which we highly recommend. Very quiet, easy to maneuver the “Road Train” and it had a swimming pool, which the kids loved. At the campground while checking in we found a book called, ATV Trails Guide, Moab UT by Charles A. Wells. This proved to be a most valuable purchase during this trip. This book lists 30 trails, with 31 maps, 195 color photos, GPS waypoints and very vivid descriptions of the trails; whether it was easy, moderate or difficult, including directions to the trail head. Since we were there on our own, and had never ridden there before, we were able to have our adventures without worry.

Our 1st day of riding we rode ATV’s on the Potash Road, which is just outside Cayonlands National Park and below Dead Horse Point State Park. This maintained trail was a very easy ride. We chose easy trails to ride since we had our kids riding with us. Our sons, Jake and Zach, each had their own ATV. Our daughter Bailey rode behind Dad. As I look back, I cannot help but remember, with awe, how outstanding the scenery was; the red rock and vast canyons that seemed to go on forever. On this ride, we started out at the same level as Colorado River and after a few miles we saw it from high vantage points. The trail wound up on a 'shelf'. The shelf ranged from about 50' to several hundred feet wide. We rode past a large balanced rock, right next to salt mine lakes that we saw from above at an overlook the day before, and we rode out to Thelma and Louise Point.  This was where part of the movie was filmed; where they 'drove' off the cliff at the end.

Our 2nd ride was another easy trail that was in a much flatter area called Picture Frame Arch Trail.  It was a short ride, 11.7 miles roundtrip, but we got to see some tremendous changes in the landscape, from grassy fields, to small sand dunes, to natural stone arches right next to the trail, all the while, the La Sal Mountains were the wallpaper in the background. 

Our next riding adventure was in our Silverado 2500 HD Crew Cab. We took the truck up the Shafer Trail, which is the extension of the Potash Road Trail that we rode our ATV’s on, into a back entrance to Cayonlands National Park, past the point where ATV's are allowed.  This is a Jeep trail that switchbacks up the canyon wall and ends at a paved road, at the top of the canyon inside the national park. After traversing up the canyon, we reached the top and pavement, and all of us drew a huge breath of relief. Thankfully we didn't have to go back down. This trail is not for the faint-hearted or those who have trouble with heights.  The trail was very solid and wasn't very steep, but it was a very narrow shelf that wound its way up a 1,000 foot elevation change.  It was narrow enough that you had to watch several hundred feet ahead to plan on a wide spot to pull over if someone was coming the other way.  Fortunately, we did not meet any head on traffic while on the switchbacks. And twice we had to back up to make it around the turn. Our truck is much longer than a jeep! It was a tense and exciting journey to the top. All of our kids were very quiet and concerned during the switchback portion of the ride. But once we arrived at the top, they decided “that was not so bad now that it’s over”. We asked them if they wanted to take it back down and they replied with a resounding “NO!” The next time we go to the Shafer Trail it will be in a Jeep. As much as we like our truck and ATV’s, we have a new appreciation for Jeeps.

The final day before heading home we hired a guide from High Point Hummer to take us out in a Hummer. This trek took us to a trail in the Sand Flats Recreational Area, to a trail called “Hells Revenge”. This trail took us up and down slick rock fins. Although the fins looked scary enough that we wouldn't take our truck on them, it felt like a slow moving Disney ride in the Hummer driven by a professional. 

After a week of riding and touring Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, and Dead Horse Point State Park, it was time to head home. All major mechanicals worked well and we had no flat tires.  Round trip, including driving around Utah was about 3,000 miles.  The actual distance from here to there was a little over 1,300 miles. We’ll always have fond memories of our 1st trip to Moab. We are looking forward to another grand adventure someday!

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