Moab, Utah, is a mecca for off-road enthusiasts from all around the world. With its unique landscapes and challenging terrains, Moab offers some of the best off-road trails in the United States. In this article, we will explore the top 7 challenging off-road trails in Moab, Utah, as recommended.
Fins & Things off-road Trail
Fins and Things is a popular and challenging off-road trail located just 1.8 miles from the Entrance Station on the right side of the road. This one-way trail offers an exciting driving experience for seasoned off-road enthusiasts. However, due to the hazardous terrain, it is not recommended for inexperienced drivers. Only experienced drivers should attempt this trail.
For those who want to park their trailers, there is a designated parking area on the south side of Sand Flats Road, which is located 1.4 miles from the Entrance Station. OHV’s are permitted on Sand Flats Road, so you can park your trailer here and start your adventure on Fins and Things.
The trail is marked with metal signs and white symbols painted on the slick rock surface, making it easier to navigate. However, it is still essential to follow the markers to avoid getting lost or stranded in the wilderness. Please note that the first section of the trail between ‘E’ and ‘F’ campgrounds is not recommended for ATV’s. If you are an ATV user, you should pick up the trail on the Sand Flats Road at the Diving Board Rock formation, which is 3.7 miles from the Entrance Station.
The journey begins at Mile 0.0 at the Trailhead, located 1.8 miles from Entrance Station on the right. From there, hikers should follow the white painted markers, trail signs, and rock lining behind ‘E-6’ up the slickrock dome to the base of a steep sand hill. At this point, there are two options: continue straight or follow the easier alternate route to the left, marked with white dots. It’s essential to stay on the marked trail.
As the hike progresses, at Mile 0.8, the trail drops off the fin to the right, then climbs up again before dropping to the right. At this point, hikers should go left. Then at Mile 1.4, there is a series of steep drops through a slickrock ravine, and there are no alternate routes. So, hikers should stay on the trail.
At Mile 1.8, there is an intersection at Fox Campground. Hikers should go right to the base of the steep rocky hill or take the easier alternate route to the left. As they drive through the campgrounds, they should be considerate and follow the signs to Hawk Campground. This marks the end of the journey.
Chicken Corners Trailhead
In the southeastern portion of Utah, there’s an unpaved road that stretches 23.81 km (14.8 miles) from Kane Creek Canyon Road to Fielder Natural Arch. I learned that this road follows the Colorado River downstream, climbs up to Hurrah Pass, and descends to benches above the river. As I drove along, I noticed that the road mostly consists of gravel, but it also has sections of red dirt and sand, with occasional appearances of sandstone bedrock.
This road is suitable for stock, high-clearance, 4×4 SUVs, but it’s possible that 4WD might not be needed. However, vehicles with low clearance should not attempt this road. Except for a few moderate rocky spots, most parts of the trail are not difficult. As a passenger, the drive will test your trust in the driver, as the river is just 5 ft. to the right, with a 450 ft. straight drop down. This section provides a straight-down view of the river below.
There are petroglyphs (ancient rock art) at the roadside, and the ford of Kane Creek can range from dry to window deep (impassible after a storm). There’s also a stop at a red rock mound where you can see some unusual caves caused by erosional undermining of hard sandstone layers. Chicken Corners is a point where a benchland pinches down to a narrow passage that tips toward the river, 400 ft. below.
Golden Spike Trail
Golden Spike trail features an obstacle that needs no introduction: the Golden Crack. This trail is rated difficult, and you can expect to spend all day on it as it takes a long time to get to the location. Although there is no camping allowed on the trail, you can camp off Gemini Bridges. The trail is mostly comprised of slick rocks, steep hills, waterfalls, and ledges, and there are six named obstacles along the way.
The first obstacle is the Launching Pad, which is a very steep hill, but four-wheel drive makes it a manageable climb. From there, you will head over to Skyline Drive, which offers an amazing view over a large petrified sand dune. It’s a must-do on this trail. After passing through some narrow canyons, you’ll come to Zooky Hill, which is not particularly difficult, but it can be challenging to maintain traction on the loose dirt.
As you continue driving the trail, you will eventually arrive at the famous Golden Crack, a two-foot-wide tapered crack that has brought people from far and wide just to attempt to conquer it. Be sure to take a photo, as this is a famous obstacle.
From there, you’ll head up the Golden Stairs, which can give four-door vehicles a bit of a challenge. The last major obstacle on the trail is Double Whammy, which requires good tire placement, low tire pressure, and constant throttle. This obstacle is not for the faint of heart, and you should avoid trying to be a hero here as it is a memorial to all the broken parts.
The named obstacles are not the only thing to look out for on this trail, as there are many other obstacles to overcome. In fact, Golden Spike has more obstacles than any other trail in Moab. It’s hard to go more than five minutes, especially on the north half, without having to go through some obstacles. Some of the obstacles are enormous, with large ledges three to four feet high and insane off-camber drops that can challenge even the most experienced drivers.
But don’t forget to take in the beautiful views while you’re on this trail. Golden Spike is one of the top three trails in Moab when it comes to stunning vistas. You can see in any direction for miles, and it’s one of those trails you need to get out and enjoy the views. If you don’t, you’re missing out on an essential part of this trail.
The only downside to this trail is that it’s remote and takes a long time to get to. However, if you’re looking for a challenging and rewarding off-road experience, Golden Spike is definitely worth the trip.
Moab Rim Trail
Then, Moab Rim trail, it is a legendary route in the off-road community. It is ranked as a severe trail and is notoriously difficult due to one particular obstacle that takes about half a day to tackle. While camping is allowed, there aren’t many noteworthy spots along the trail compared to the stunning slick rock ledges, cliffs, and scattered holes.
The trail is punctuated by four named obstacles, the first being Devil’s Crack. This major obstacle is located near the trail, and it’s a nerve-racking experience as you’re on the cliff’s edge with almost no room for error. Many have rolled while attempting to climb this V-shaped obstacle and ended up falling off the cliff, which is about a 200-300 foot drop.
The next major obstacle is the Z-turn, with five to six different lines that anyone can take. The easiest line is on the far left, while the harder lines are on the right, where people tend to roll, so caution is advised.
Further along the trail, there is the Car Wash, which doesn’t look too challenging, but you need to watch out for the deep holes that can cause you to tip over if you drive into them.
The last obstacle is the Tire Test Hill, where you stop at the bottom and see if you can accelerate up the hill or get stuck. Good tires make it easy to climb, but those obstacles aren’t the only unique features of the trail. There are plenty of sand pits, off-camber turns, and other unique obstacles that make this trail so iconic.
If you only have half a day left, I recommend this trail as it’s easy to get up and turn back around. However, as with all trails, you need to stay alert and avoid getting into trouble. The scenery on this trail is breathtaking, and you’ll see stunning views of the Colorado River, red rock cliffs, and the trail itself.
There’s also a downside to this trail, and that’s in the middle section, which can be quite dull. There are long gaps between obstacles, and it’s not uncommon for people to turn around at the end of the hill.
Hell’s Revenge 4X4 Trail
One of the most exciting and popular trails that comes to my mind is Hell’s Revenge. This trail is known for its beautiful scenic views and its challenging obstacles that attract both experienced and beginner off-road drivers. One of the great things about Hell’s Revenge is that it’s stock capable, meaning if you have a stock vehicle and want to give this trail a try, it’s a great option.
One of the best things about Hell’s Revenge is that it’s relatively short, taking around four hours to complete. Additionally, it’s located close to town, making it easily accessible for those who are camping nearby. However, there is no camping available on the trail itself. The trail is mostly composed of slick rock hills, notches, hot tubs, and various other obstacles, providing a little bit of everything for all kinds of drivers. That’s why it’s one of the most popular trails in Moab.
Hell’s Revenge features at least seven named obstacles, including the infamous Hell’s Gate. Hell’s Gate is a slick rock gorge that drivers must climb up, with plenty of off-camber spots along the way. Proper wheel placement is crucial to making it through this obstacle successfully. Other obstacles include Black Hole, the Hot Tubs (including Mickey’s Hot Tub and The Hot Tub), and Dragon’s Tail, which is a steep downhill that’s blind.
One of the most popular obstacles is Hell’s Escalator. This obstacle is full of deep holes that often collect oil, making it difficult for tires to gain traction. As a result, rollovers are quite common in this area.
The next obstacle, Tip-Over Challenge, is named for good reason. People often take a bad line or use too much throttle, causing them to tip over and slide down the hill. Bypasses are available for those who are not comfortable with this obstacle.
Although Hell’s Revenge is considered an easy trail, four-wheel drive can certainly make things easier. However, it’s not uncommon to see cars on this trail, and even Crown Victorias have been spotted driving through. One thing to keep in mind is that Hell’s Revenge is an incredibly busy trail. Crowds gather at various obstacles, and it’s not uncommon to get stuck in line, waiting for your turn. If you make a mistake, be prepared to end up on everyone’s Instagram.
Hell’s Revenge is an exciting and challenging trail that offers a little bit of everything for all kinds of drivers. From the beautiful scenic views to the various obstacles, it’s no wonder that it’s one of the most popular trails in Moab. However, it’s important to keep in mind that it can get crowded, so be patient and take your time to enjoy the experience fully.
This trail is the only vehicle route onto Amasa Back, a rather highly isolated area bounded by Kane Springs Canyon, Hurrah Pass, Jackson Hole, and a big loop of the Colorado River. It is a severe trail that is harder to get out of than to get into. This out-in trail is known for its slick rock shelf roads, large ledges, and its scary obstacles. The trail does not allow camping, so it’s essential to plan ahead.
The first named obstacle on this trail is Z-turn, and while it’s not the hardest obstacle on the trail, it’s one of the two named obstacles. The obstacle that ties with the most difficult obstacle on this trail is the cliffhanger. It’s easily one of the scariest obstacles I’ve ever driven. The obstacle requires you to drive on a narrow shelf ledge with a thousand-foot cliff only a few feet away from you. You must take the perfect line, or it could end horribly.
If you don’t have a lot of ground clearance in a four-door vehicle, you might want to reconsider going down this obstacle. Getting back out is way more difficult. This trail has many other obstacles, and it’s essential to note that in the beginning, there are many ledges that you have to drop down. Since it’s an out-in trail, you have to go back up these ledges, and the third ledge could be tied with the most difficult obstacle on the trail.
For those rock crawlers at heart, this is a great trail and probably tops the list. The trail has endless good, difficult obstacles, up to 10 rated obstacles, and it’s just never-ending fun. You can easily spend a full day on the trail. The other thing that makes this trail rank so high is the scenery. It’s probably the most scenic trail outside of number one, and it’s a breathtaking experience.
Pritchett Canyon Trail
This extreme trail is known to be the very first trail you hear about when it comes to out-of-state trails. The reason for this is because the trail is absolutely extreme, and it takes a little over half a day to do. If you want to camp, there is camping available at the beginning of the trail, which is a nice thing about it.
Pritchett Canyon is not for the faint-hearted, as everything is just super-sized. From slick rocks to ledges to waterfalls, you name it – they are all massive. There are eight named obstacles on this trail, and each one is challenging in its way. The first obstacle is Brickyard, which can get a little scary at times as it pulls the front tire. The second obstacle is Down and Dirty, which can be scary due to the possibility of rolling over to the right. Then there’s Chewie, an obstacle that everyone knows about, requiring momentum horsepower and a good line to make it up.
Rocker Knocker is another obstacle that requires high horsepower and momentum to either crab walk or go full throttle straight up.
Axel Hill follows, which is just big steep hills with ledges, which can be fun and exciting. Then you get to Rockpile and Sun Rockpile, which is a game-changer and the hardest obstacle on the trail.
Despite the challenging obstacles, Pritchett Canyon is an incredibly scenic trail. You’re just immersed in the scenery the entire time, and it is beautiful. However, the only real negative of this trail is that it’s an in-and-back trail, meaning that you get to the end, and you’re technically only halfway through. Now, you have to crawl back out, making the exit of this trail very dangerous.
There is a bunch to play on this trail, and they’re good obstacles with the potential for rolling and brake potential. Even the most built rigs will find them challenging. Despite the difficulty of the trail, Pritchett Canyon remains a favorite for many trail enthusiasts. It’s a trail you have to earn, and that’s what makes it awesome. If you haven’t tried this trail yet, I highly recommend it.
Moab, Utah, is a paradise for off-road enthusiasts. The trails in this area offer a unique combination of challenging terrains and breathtaking views, making them some of the best off-road trails in the United States. If you’re up for a challenge, be sure to check out the Golden Spike trail, which features the famous Golden Crack obstacle and some of the most challenging terrain in Moab.