Originally appeared in the Winter 2007 issue of the Utah 4 Wheel Drive Associations Compass publication. For more information or to join the U4WDA, visit: http://www.u4wda.org





Long Way to Moab
Oct 10th - 14th, 2007
By Kurt Williams, U4WDA Historian

(Last updated 11/15/07)


Everyone always asks, “How do you plan a trip like this?” or “What would I have to do to get invited?” My general reply is “plan a trip and invite others!” This particular trip was the result of a handful of old friends casually chatting at a birthday party one evening. Someone suggested that we get out on a “big trip” together. Maybe a Hole in the Rock run? Maybe something in the Maze or San Rafael Swell? Ideas were bounced around via email, and suddenly we had a trip planned. We met as a group one evening to discuss the specifics and even hammered out a rough itinerary and route plan. Brett Matthews put together the route, and I took his route and made it into an itinerary. Amazingly both our route (kudos Brett!) and our itinerary worked out stellar, no trail issues to speak of, and we were for the most part on time the entire trip.

Day 1 - Wednesday 10/10

Procrastination is a killer, and I’m always trying to be ready ahead of time. This was a special challenge due to the fact that as of the first of the week, I still hadn’t decided which rig I would be taking. By Monday I needed to start packing something, so I decided on the FJ40. Although gas mileage would suffer, it would be better suited for the unknown trail conditions we might encounter. With that in mind I let the others know that I planned to leave an hour or two earlier so that I wasn’t rushed to arrive in camp at a decent time. With a five and a half hour drive ahead of me, I didn’t want to be in a hurry. Cody McKendrick, Dominic Simpson, and Richard Dyatt decided to leave at the same time, so we planned to meet at a gas station in Sandy around 3:30 that afternoon. As I arrived Cody and Dom were already waiting in the parking lot, making some last minute checks to their Jeeps. Dom’s Jeep was running a bit hot, so he made a last minute stop to the parts store as Cody and I picked up a couple of snacks for the road. Richard planned to join our convoy as we passed the point of the mountain heading south on I-15.

By the time we reached Green River, Robbie Flandro and Jason Goates had caught up with us in Robbie’s Land Cruiser. It was getting to be dinner time and Ray’s Tavern was calling our name. To our dismay, the place was packed, and the wait was nearly an hour. That was too much valuable time when we still had a lot of pavement left to cover. So we drove on, and an hour later we were seated at a table in the Moab Brewery, with Beer Cheese Soup on our minds. With our stomachs full we were back on the highway, motoring towards Blanding where we would top off the tanks and drive the final 20 miles to our pre-arranged campsite in Comb Wash. Brett, accompanied by Steve Shelton and his lovely bride Jesse were a couple of hours behind us, but we kept the chat around the campfire live enough to give them a warm welcome on the chilly evening. After Brett and company arrived, it didn’t take long for all of us to wander back to our tents and call it a night.

Day 2 - Thursday 10/11

The mornings chilly air made climbing out of the tent more of a burden than normal. Richard thought it prudent to violently shake my tent in a feeble attempt to wake me, a decision he might come to regret, we’ll see? Much to his dismay, I was already awake, dressed, just waiting for the sun to make an appearance and warm me. I could hear the others stirring around camp, and a new voice in the crowd caught my attention. Brett had invited a fellow from New Mexico to come along on the trip for the weekend. I was anxious to meet him, and introduce myself. Still half asleep I stumbled over to Alia, standing next to his 80 Series Land Cruiser and introduced myself. Amid the mornings conversations I handed out the trip itineraries I had prepared (yeah, I’m a bit of an over planning perfectionist), but we had a lot of ground to cover in the coming days and I wanted everyone to be in the know regarding all of our destinations and campsite whereabouts.

With our salutations complete we broke camp and moved towards GPS coordinate number 1, the Cottonwood Canyon Road. The Cottonwood Canyon Road climbs into the Abajo Mountains, and amazing mountain scenery one wouldn’t expect to encounter in Southern Utah. We stopped and regrouped at Little Notch, The next leg of our route would take us into Peavine Canyon and eventually to our goal, Dark Canyon. The road dropping into Peavine Canyon was comprised of broken rock and whoop sections. The road conditions improved exponentially as we hit the canyon floor, but knowing that we had to come back out the way we came in, Alia and I dropped our trailers. We made extremely quick time to the Dark Canyon turnoff, and our high speeds through the sand were slowed only by the countless water crossings in the canyons bottom. To our dismay our voyage into Dark Canyon was cut short by a quarter mile due to a massive washout in the road. Under normal circumstances we would have likely found a method across, but in this case we were under the gun due to time constraints. Also, ATV riders had built a makeshift bridge which our crossing would likely have destroyed. So, we tucked our tails and ran. We still had to retrace our steps back to the Peavine intersection, and move north towards Duck Lake some 20 miles away.

It didn’t take long to arrive back at the trailers. By the time Richard and Alia caught up I had mine hitched and out of the way, ready for Alia to back in and hook up his. We finished the segment back out to Little Notch without stopping, and took a quick break there before hitting the road again. The 12 miles to Duck Lake went by much faster than originally anticipated; the majority of the trail is high speed dirt roads, with a short switchback section as we crossed over the Big Notch. Our only stop along the way was to chat with a customer of mine who happened to be deer hunting in the area and recognized my rig. Our next planned stop for the day would be the last, our camp in the area of Beef Basin. As we neared Beef Basin we started scouring the area for a suitable campsite. With nothing at the near end we decided to work our way around the Beef Basin loop. Our plans for the morning would have us completing the loop, if we could get some of it done tonight in search of a campsite, all the better. We sent scouting teams down a couple of spur trails, and just as dark was nearing we found a great spot. With camp set up, we settled in for the evening.

Day 3 -Friday 10/12

We started day three knowing we had a lot of ground to cover. We didn’t have the needed permits to camp within Canyonlands National Park, thus we would have to enter the park from the south, and make it all the way out to Elephant Hill, hopefully before 6 o’clock, the closing time for our planned fuel stop The Needles Outpost. We spent the morning touring the remainder of the Beef Basin loop, poking around a handful of Indian ruins and taking in the scenery. We even spotted a coyote stalking us from a field ahead. From the loop intersection, we continued north towards Ruin Park, keeping our eyes peeled for things to explore as we motored along. There are so many countless places that I wanted to stop and peruse, but unless it was super-noteworthy it would have to wait for a return trip to the area. Our only stop for the segment was to check out the Anasazi Tower, a 13th century two story ruin that stands guard over Pappy’s Pasture at the northern segment of Ruin Park. The ruin is simply amazing! Its construction has lasted over 600 years, weathered by the years it still stands as a reminder of the early inhabitants of the area. After a short stop we were back on the road, again our schedule required haste movement.

Bobby’s Hole was easier than expected. The area has been repaired and traction mats added to the steep descent in order to prevent further erosion. One by one we dropped through the Hole and pulled off the side at the bottom to watch the others drop into the canyon below. Not 50 feet from the bottom of Bobby’s Hole is the turnoff to Impossible Hill, a short detour offering a 4+ rated drop into Cross Canyon. Four of us decided to make an attempt at the short obstacle, dropping one by one into the canyon. The climb out would be the challenge, Cody being the first, myself following him, Steve behind me and Dominic taking up the rear. Cody and I made short work of the climb out; Steve got caught up on a bad line and ended up taking a strap from Brett from the flat above. Dominic worked hard at it, but ended up taking out a front axle joint. The joint had to be removed immediately; otherwise his steering could be compromised. Again Brett strapped him up the hill and everyone pulled together to patch up the broken rig. In under an hour we were back on the trail, heading towards Canyonlands and Chesler Park.

With our delay at Impossible Hill, time was of the essence. We were hauling some serious butt, only slowing as we entered the park. We made a quick restroom stop in the park and moved on; stopping for only a minute at SOB Hill to guide Alia and his trailer through the tight turn and the hills top. We were running late, and we still had plenty of terrain to cover as we passed through the Grabens in route to Elephant Hill. Brett and I decided to move ahead of the rest of the group in an attempt to get to the Outpost before they closed, at a minimum we could fill our tanks and the jerry cans for the others. We moved… making it through the switchbacks on the backside of Elephant Hill with little trouble. We made it to the top with nearly an hour before the Outpost would be closing, so we decided to wait for the others. Within 20 minutes they had all made their way to the top of Elephant Hill and we were working our way down the face. As luck would have it, we were sitting in the parking lot at Elephant hill with 30 minutes to spare, and the Outpost was just 10 minutes away, thankfully!

Gassing up at The Needles Outpost is where things got crazy, try and stay with me here. We pulled into the gas station, apparently a bit too fast for the owners liking. She refused to sell us fuel, she “can’t reward bad behavior” she kept reciting. Now I have to set the story straight, we were NOT driving irresponsibly or recklessly, we likely were not driving the 10mph as posted, but we were consistent with the traffic coming and going. In the end her anger was aimed at just one member of our group, and she decided to sell us anything but gas, despite our best efforts. We decided not to resort to begging, thanked her for the stuff she did sell us and regrouped in the parking lot.

Options were slim. We could wait until morning and “maybe” get gas. We could make the hour plus drive into Monticello and top off the tanks, or test our tanks and make a diehard attempt to go all the way to Moab, rationing the spare gas we had onboard. There was no need to make the decision tonight, tempers were high and emotions were all over the place. There is nothing like a night around the camp fire to calm things down. We didn’t have a firm campsite in mind; the only requirement was that it be along the Lockhart Basin Road. Initially the trail was crowded, just about every campsite was occupied along the first 10 miles of the trail, but as we approached Indian Creek things started to thin out and we found a great spot, tucked up inside a canyon with no other groups in site. It was the perfect spot.

Day 4 -Saturday 10/13

From our campsite in Indian Creek, we broke camp and continued north along the Lockhart Basin Road, continuing straight through until the turnoff for Lockhart Canyon. We leisurely continued down the canyon, stopping for a few minutes at an old truck carcass that once likely hauled a prospector out to these parts. Lockhart Canyon eventually re-enters Canyonlands National Park, just a short distance from the roads end. There we stopped for lunch. Several of us voyaged through the thick tamarisk to gain access to the Colorado River, and in the end Cody, Richard and I ended up going for a swim. You really can’t ask for a more refreshing way to spend a lunch break and wash off some dust. With plenty of trail to cover in our afternoon segment, we concluded our lunch and worked our way back up the canyon where we again intersected the Lockhart Basin Trail. From there we continued north in search of a campsite. Our goal was to get through the Lockhart Basin Trail completely, and camp somewhere in the Hurrah Pass vicinity.

As it happens, the most difficult segment of the entire Lockhart Basin Trail is the last ¼ mile, just before it intersects the Chicken Corners Trail. This segment includes several off camber drops, a short boulder choked canyon and a couple of small ledges. The actual “crawling” was a welcome change to the broken Slickrock trail we had encountered all day since leaving camp that morning. Our campsite for the evening would put us right alongside the Colorado River, separated only by a thick belt of tamarisk. We quickly brought a fire to life and readied our sleeping accommodations for the evening. Our fuel dilemma forced by the previous day’s events left us with a decision to make. We likely didn’t have the spare fuel to get all of the rigs back to Moab, Steve, Richard, Robbie, Alia, and I would probably be fine, but Brett, Cody, and Dominic would likely need a bit of fuel to make it back into Moab. It would be close, and our rough calculations figured that a single five gallon jerry can would be enough to get all the rigs through the remainder of the trip.

The decision was made to run into Moab for gas, rather than wait until morning, Brett and Robbie offered to pilot the group back into town for some food, fuel, and fun. We figured we were an hour and a half out of Moab, add an hour to grab some grub and gas, and they would likely get back to camp around 11pm that evening. They finally return to camp at 3am! In their haste to get back to camp, they drove right past our turnoff and didn’t make it back until they had run all the way out to Chicken Corners. In hindsight a simple GPS waypoint would have gone a long way. I must say the group of us that stayed behind enjoyed a much calmer night around the fire, just as I’m sure their group enjoyed the wild renegade run.

Day 5 -Sunday 10/14

Our morning camp process was a bit slower than our usual hustle and bustle, our schedule was far more relaxed and with the late arrival of the group the night before, we just spent some time chilling. This would be our last night camping. Knowing so, I spent a couple of extra minutes packing all my gear into the trailer, emptying my last jerry can into the Cruiser, and packing the empty jerry cans back into the trailer. I swept out my roof top tent, and packed all the goods in the trailer for the upcoming drive home. With nothing left to square away at camp, we started the final segment of our trip towards Hurrah Pass and eventually Moab. We made excellent time towards Hurrah Pass, encountering only a couple of dirt bikes along the trail. The crowds started to increase as we got closer to Kane Creek, and soon it was back to the norm, car after countless car. It was lunchtime by the time we made it back into town, perfect timing. We gassed up the rigs and bailed in search of nourishment. Lunch at the Moab Brewery. The Beer Cheese Soup was just as filling as it was days earlier at the start of our trip, a fitting end to our journey. There was nothing left to do but head home. The final stretch, Moab to Sandy, was uneventful except for a quick soda stop in Wellington. What and adventure!


PICTURES COMING SOON, THE PICS BELOW ARE PLACEHOLDERS ONLY





Hole in the Rock Trail, Utah

Hole in the Rock Trail, Utah

Hole in the Rock Trail, Utah

Hole in the Rock Trail, Utah

Hole in the Rock Trail, Utah

Hole in the Rock Trail, Utah


Hole in the Rock Trail, Utah

Hole in the Rock Trail, Utah

Hole in the Rock Trail, Utah

Hole in the Rock Trail, Utah

Hole in the Rock Trail, Utah

Hole in the Rock Trail, Utah

Hole in the Rock Trail, Utah

Hole in the Rock Trail, Utah

Hole in the Rock Trail, Utah

Hole in the Rock Trail, Utah

Hole in the Rock Trail, Utah

Hole in the Rock Trail, Utah

Hole in the Rock Trail, Utah

Hole in the Rock Trail, Utah

Hole in the Rock Trail, Utah

Hole in the Rock Trail, Utah

Hole in the Rock Trail, Utah

Hole in the Rock Trail, Utah

Hole in the Rock Trail, Utah

Hole in the Rock Trail, Utah

Hole in the Rock Trail, Utah

Hole in the Rock Trail, Utah

Hole in the Rock Trail, Utah

Hole in the Rock Trail, Utah

Hole in the Rock Trail, Utah

Hole in the Rock Trail, Utah

Hole in the Rock Trail, Utah

Hole in the Rock Trail, Utah

Hole in the Rock Trail, Utah

Hole in the Rock Trail, Utah

Hole in the Rock Trail, Utah

Hole in the Rock Trail, Utah

Hole in the Rock Trail, Utah


Hole in the Rock Trail, Utah


Hole in the Rock Trail, Utah

Hole in the Rock Trail, Utah

Hole in the Rock Trail, Utah

Back to Gallery


Drive Train I Suspension I Performance I Exterior Parts I Interior Parts I Accessories I Advance Adapters I Toyota OEM Parts
Used Parts I Custom Fabrication I Line Card I Land Use I Specials
Home I Customer Comments I About Us I Contact Us / Order I Photo Gallery

© 2003 - 2008 Cruiser Outfitters I Website Built by College Internet Solutions & Maintained by Cruiser Outfitters