UT NPS sites


Staff member
UT NPs are some of my absolute favorites. Arches, Bryce, Zion, etc ...

If you do Canyonlands, consider trying the Schaeffer Trail. It runs from the upper bluffs in the Park down to Pot Ash Rd and back into Moab.
CAUTION: you'll need 4x4 and reasonably high ground-clearance vehicle. I did it in my 2006 Chevy 4x4 CCLB and barely had enough clearance for some of the shelf-rock drop-offs, and off-camber ledges. Believe it or not, I've even gone down on my 2000 Honda Valkyrie, but then no one has ever said that was a good idea.

If you want something also off the beaten path, near Zion, consider taking the road called Kolob Terrace, which runs from the west boundary of Zion (right out of Virgin), up past the Blue Spring and Kolob reserviors, and will eventually take you up to US-14 (assuming you don't get lost!). Again - 4x4 and decent ground clearance is a must.

You don't need a jacked-up-to-the-sky 4x4 monster truck or Slick-Rock-ready Jeep; they aren't that bad. But you'll not be happy getting stuck or bashing a transfer case in a pretender SUV or such. You need some skills and common sense for these "roads". (Imagine me clearing my throat in jest using the word "road" in context here ...). Spare water, fuel, good nav tools and patience are also a very good idea when exploring the outback areas of UT
I was on a Valkyrie and my buddy was on his 2001 Goldwing. He got stuck once; the crankcase got high-sided on a rock he was trying to traverse. We had to lay it over and put some rocks under the rear tire to "lift" the bike over the obstacle. Believe it or not, though, that wasn't the worst part of the trip down the trail on the bikes. It was the silt! The powdery dust is super loose and when you're trying to navigate between rocks on 900 lbs of motorcycle, it makes for a VERY technical challenge. The wheels are constantly squirming around and confidence in steering is near zilch. However, in the truck a few years later, I laughed at how easy it seemed in a vehicle, and how stupid I was for going down that trail on a touring street bike. Ahhhhhhh .... the ignorance of youth!

It truly is fun, and I'm not trying to scare folks away from it. It's just something one needs to be prepared for and smart about.

One other note that is of interest about the Schaeffer trail ... There is an observation point at the upper bluffs as a lookout point. I was up there after having just ascended in the truck. There was a family with young kids at the point, and they were throwing rocks off the point into the canyon, right down onto the trail. I yelled at them to stop it! They could see there was a trail down there, and they didn't stop to think that the rocks they were throwing could have easily hit a vehicle (or moron on a motorcycle) coming up the trail. The parents were oblivious and then suddenly realized the problem. Some folks just don't think before they speak or act; clueless to the effects or consequences of their actions. I know the little kids may not have known better, but they parents should have. (insert eye-roll of disgust here).
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