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Shafer Trail to Moab, UT



If you are not afraid of heights, are secure in your driving skills, have a high clearance 4 wheel drive vehicle, and have a very adventurous spirit, I have the road trip for you!


The Shafer Trail to Moab is approximately a 45 mile drive via Potash Road. It starts just inside Canyonland National Park at the Island in the Sky area. The Shafer Trail is a dirt road that goes down the side of a canyon by way of switchbacks. There are no guardrails, it's a two way road and can be very nerve wracking! I have wanted to do this trip for years. I bought my Nissan Xterra just for occasions like this!


Do your research before you do this trip. Make sure it's for you. Keep in mind everyone has their own experiences and opinions about this drive. I read one blog post that said you should be able to get from one end of the trip to the other in 2 hours. There's no way, which leads me to believe they never actually did the drive. It took me about 5 hours. The road is dirt, uneven, has some deep sand and my average speed was about 10 miles an hour. Maybe. I didn't plan on doing anything else that day as I really did not know what to expect. You never know until you know! Would I recommend it? Absolutely! It was everything I thought it would be! Bring your camera with enough storage on your SD card and a backup battery. I had enough but if I hadn't, I would have been more than a little annoyed with myself. Don't forget a hat and sunscreen in case you need it.


Below are some general pictures of the Shafer Trail. You can't really get a feel for what the edge of the road is really like and how far down you will fall if you drive off the edge.

Vehicles traveling up the trail have the right of way. Keep an eye on the trail ahead of you and if you see a car approaching find a wide, safe place to pull over to the side of the road. I passed about five cars on my way down. Not a lot of cars but on a narrow dirt road with no guardrails... This was one time I wish I'd had a dash cam that can record for at least a half an hour in my car.



These next pictures are from the bottom of the canyon. the first one looking back from where I just came from.



It's about a five mile drive from the start of the Shafter Trail to the junction of Potash Road the White Rim Road. One of these days I want to bicycle the White Rim Road, it's on my bucket list. Stay off the White Rim Road as you need a permit to be on it.


Colorado River Thelma and Louise Point


When you see the Potash Plant with the very blue water you are almost to the end of the dirt road section of the drive. Your bones will be grateful for paved roads again. It doesn't seem like 30 miles would be a long way to go but on a dirt road it seems to last forever. To be honest by the time I hit the paved road I was done with the dirt road. A few more stops to make! I had planned to hike to Corona Arch but the temperature was up there. I'll do that hike another time. Keep an eye out for the Petroglyphs and Dinosaur tracks. There's a good parking area for those with a very short hike up to see them.


The pictures above from left to right: Colorado River, Petroglyphs, Dinosaur tracks.


You are almost back to civilization! Moab is not far! Dinner, cold drinks and people await!


It was an amazing day. One big item on my Bucket List was checked off! I would absolutely do this drive again but I think it would go faster and be more fun if I can find someone to go with me. Are you game to take this drive?


What I was drinking that day:


A cherry milkshake from Milt's Stop & Eat! I can't tell you how good it tasted! If you want to try a buffalo burger this is the place. It's not on the main street but worth the detour! Learn about them here.


I know a lot of people like a cold beer after a long day. There is a brewery in Moab - Moab Brewery on the main drag. I can't speak for their food or service as I'm not a beer fan. At all. I'm mentioning it in case that's your thing.


Whatever your thing is - make the most of it! Feel alive!

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