1st Time to Moab and 5 days to plan it.....What are the best trails?

#1
I and 3 other friends have had a trip to Moab on the books for a few months now. I am usually the "planner", doing the research and mapping everything out weeks if not months in advance. But for this trip because I have been elbows deep in a new vehicle build ('89 Suburban) one of my friends said I'll do the planning. Well, he called me last night and is being forced to stay behind because of work and that I need to take over planning and mapping out the trails, oh and by the way “I haven't started planning anything yet!"

So, I am asking for the forum's help with what to see and where to go in Moab in the short time we are going to be there? I would normally spend the time researching on my own but with my Suburban still not done; I need help with this one. For this trip we have rented a house in the city of Moab (not the norm for us but we thought it might make life easier...), we will be departing Mesquite Nevada (maybe we can find a dirt road on the way to Moab) early Thursday and arriving in Moab about lunchtime and then departing Monday morning to make the 900 mile trek back to California. There are 3 vehicles going 1 WJ, 1 XJ, and my Suburban. The FJ80 backed out. We all have at least rear lockers, 35" tires, winches, highway worthy, and all the drivers are experienced. We are hoping for a fun sightseeing adventure like I see on so many of posts on the forum. We don't want to do the crazy rock crawling trails like you always see in the magazines. Base camp will be Moab every night. I was looking at Box Rocket's "San Rafael Swell" trip this morning and that looked like a fun trip with petroglyphs, the scenery, and mild challenge out of Cane Wash. I know we want to see Arches (Balanced Rock at the request of one of the wives) but also want to do our best to avoid the crowds and log some miles on the dirt.

With only 3 full days in the Moab and so many trails in the area where do we go and what do we do? Any help or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
 
#2
This is a great reference:

https://www.funtreks.com/guide-to-moab-ut-backroads-4wd-trails-new-3rd-edition

I think if you're in Moab the classics for your group would include Fins n Things, Poison Spider Mesa, Hells Revenge, and Golden Spike. All are close to town. Start with Fins and work your way into the harder ones.

If you want a more remote feel, try Lockhart Basin. Elephant Hill is perhaps the most scenic trail in the area but it's also quite some distance from town.
 

AggieOE

Trying to escape the city
#3
My wife and I actually just did this trip December '16 and also based out of an AirBnB house in Moab.
http://forum.expeditionportal.com/threads/167302-Arches-NP-Canyonlands-NP-amp-Moab-from-Texas-in-only-5-days

As far as Arches goes, don't go in the normal paved way. The Moab visitor center clued us in on the free and fun way to go in. It doesn't take long either and you get to drive right by some old dinosaur tracks. After passing the Arches entrance on highway 191, go ~8.3-miles (7-min) till you get to Willow Springs Road, aka BLM378 (38°41'48.2"N 109°41'55.5"W). Take that to the right (basically east) and you'll eventually pop out on pavement underneath balance rock. Make sure to hike up Delicate Arch while you're there... awesome view.



In Moab itself, we did the Fins 'n Things trail but it was also only our first time "wheeling". If you guys are experienced I'd suggest Hells Revenge trail. I never thought spending the day wheeling without a real destination would be fun but the views around are amazing once you stop worrying about sliding down the next rock. lol

We also did a portion of the White Rim rd (dirt trail) toward the Shafer trail up into Canyonlands. However, the Shafer trail was closed so we back tracked to Long Canyon rd (trail) and it was a blast to drive up in the snow.



I wasn't the biggest fan of being up in Canyonlands as I was being down IN Canyonlands on the trail. Even still, great picture opportunities everywhere!



There is SO MUCH in this area to explore. Next time we go back I for sure want to take the White Rim rd all the way around (in/under) Canyonlands (2-3 days) and camp in some of the Utah country since, well, it's free. Also, the La Sal mountains look like they'd be fun to explore into as well.

Anyways, have fun and take many pictures!
 
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#4
... Next time we go back I for sure want to take the White Rim rd all the way around (in/under) Canyonlands (2-3 days) and camp in some of the Utah country since, well, it's free.
I may be reading this wrong, but this sounds like you're thinking you can camp along the White Rim for free. That's definitely not the case, you need a (free) permit for day trips there, and there are fees for the campgrounds, which quickly get booked months in advance.

https://www.nps.gov/cany/planyourvisit/whiterimroad.htm
 
#5
I hate to be a party pooper but basing yourself in Moab is going to make the trips like you see here much more difficult. Many of these trip are many many miles and days of driving... at least camping on the trail gives you more time to enjoy the area instead of having to drive fast and not stop often to take in the sights. The area is so big you would spend hours on the highway from and back to Moab on top of 8-10 hrs (or whatever) on a trail trying to complete it in one day.
I used to base out of Sand Flats or Kens Lake when we did all the typical Moab trails but once we started venturing out into more remote areas that would have made it very miserable trying to get back into town.
In my opinion if you are wanting to stay in town do the trails around there, they are a lot of fun. But if you want to get away from the crowds and see the places in person you see pictures of here camp along the trail it will give you a much more enjoyable trip IMO.
What is the possibility of cancelling your reservations and camping on the trial

Darrell
 
#6
I The area is so big you would spend hours on the highway from and back to Moab on top of 8-10 hrs (or whatever) on a trail trying to complete it in one day.

What is the possibility of cancelling your reservations and camping on the trial

Darrell
I was afraid that we'd be spending a lot of time on the road being based in Moab but since I knew I would be in the middle of my build I wouldn't have time to do the planning. I was just supposed to be along for the ride on this trip. My family is the type to camp along the way but the friends we are going with on this trip are more "day trip" people. I also knew that this would be the first trip my Suburban, so staying kinda close to civilization will be ok for a few short days.

That's the problem with just a few days there what do we see? and are there trails close to town that are not rock crawling trails?
 
#7
I was afraid that we'd be spending a lot of time on the road being based in Moab but since I knew I would be in the middle of my build I wouldn't have time to do the planning. I was just supposed to be along for the ride on this trip. My family is the type to camp along the way but the friends we are going with on this trip are more "day trip" people. I also knew that this would be the first trip my Suburban, so staying kinda close to civilization will be ok for a few short days.

That's the problem with just a few days there what do we see? and are there trails close to town that are not rock crawling trails?
I Honestly I would look at the book of Moab area trails by Charles Wells of Funtreks (already mentioned) there are quite a few easy short enjoyable trails. Definitely enough to whet your appetite for next time and doable as a day trip.
Islands in the Sky and check out the overlooks
Schafer Trail from Islands in the Sky back to Moab or down Shafer Switchbacks then back Up Long Canyon and then back to Moab. Chicken Corners is well worth the run.
There are a bunch of roads in Yellow Jacket Flat NE of Moab but I don't know if much is there.
A couple hrs in Arches is nice but most of it is paved with a few hiking rails if your group is into that.
Sand Flats Rd up into the LaSalles is there although I have not done it myself.
There are a few easy trails NW of Moab but I haven't done many of those.

Darrell
 
#8
I looked up Funtreks on-line and I can't believe how many trails there are near Moab. I figured there was a lot but I didn't think there was that many!! Needless to say I ordered the book and it'll be here Monday (gotta love Amazon). We have Gaia Maps on our tablet but we will stop in town and also pick a paper map or two as a back up.

Thank you for the suggestions, I feel much better about my short notice to plan the trail rides. I'll be sure to post pics of the trip.
 

AggieOE

Trying to escape the city
#9
I may be reading this wrong, but this sounds like you're thinking you can camp along the White Rim for free. That's definitely not the case, you need a (free) permit for day trips there, and there are fees for the campgrounds, which quickly get booked months in advance.

https://www.nps.gov/cany/planyourvisit/whiterimroad.htm
Ah, yeah. Sorry I was meaning the country area but more so it's relatively "free" as compared to booking a place, much cheaper.
 
#10
7 mile RIM Trail. There are bypasses for the hard stuff. Views are AWESOME! Plan to take all day and visit Tusher Tunnel as well. Make sure to stop at Uranium arch.

Here is a video I did of the trail from last year:

[video]https://youtu.be/4555w_ODgRE[/video]

I have a video on Fins and Things as well. That is a fun trail right by town.
 
#11
Ah, yeah. Sorry I was meaning the country area but more so it's relatively "free" as compared to booking a place, much cheaper.
No problem, just wanted to make sure no one thought they could expect to find primitive camping any old place along that route. Cool trip report BTW!

OP, looks like you'll have some good weather. Maybe a bit of rain at the beginning / end of your trip. We'll be headed down a little west of there this weekend so I've been watching the forecast closely.
 
#12
There is a lot of BLM land out there for free camping. I would say to get a real map so you know that you are not on somebodys' property. Given your time frame, you will barely scratch the surface.
 
#13
Depending on your off-road skill level, I highly recommend going to Red Rock 4Wheelers website: http://www.rr4w.com/ and then requesting their newspaper for the Jeep Safari. The map won't be detailed enough to plan your routes and the descriptions of the trails are the same as the website; however, what IS nice is that they have trail groupings listed for "Freshman" and "Sophmore" packages.

These guys have been guiding trails for 50 years. The Freshman/Sophmore packages are specifically designed for novices and 1st and 2nd timers to the Moab area. They progress with difficulty AND they are chosen for their scenic qualities.

I love the area myself and there is plenty to do for decades on the "standard stuff" based around Moab. I grew up a rock-crawler so I've never done the multi-day expeditions this website is famous for (I'm dying to start); however, I've been going to Moab nearly annually since 1990 and my dad has gone since Jeep Safari #2 50 years ago and it still doesn't get old. The combination of scenery and trail quality is arguably top 5 in the world.
 
#14
After 43 years living in Moab, Hurrah Pass/Chicken Corners is still one of my favorite trails....easy trail and stunning, mind-boggling views all the way. It's an easy day trip from Moab. That trail and the Shafer Trail from Island in the Sky back to Moab are the two I almost always take visiting friends on. In my opiniion, Fins N Things and Hell's Revenge are highly over-rated...unless you're fond of amusement park rides. If you opt for the Shafer Trail (easy day trip), take a short detour out to either Green River Overlook or (longer) to Grandview Point. And rather than spending all your Moab time behind the wheel, check out Arches NP...great hike to Delicate Arch or various arches in Devils Garden...or The Windows section. However, Arches is now closed from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. for road construction...Sunday through Thursday nights. The closure will last through November. Sadly though, Arches is now pretty crowded. Gone are the times when I could spend an entire day out there and not see a single other person. Moab's newest traffic light is on Hwy 191 at the entrance to Arches. Progress.
 
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Doc McCoy

Untitled Offroad
#15
Wow. Moab is full on trail overload. With just three days it'll be hard to make suggestions.

How much rock crawling or slick rock climbing did you want to do. Fins N Things will probably be your middle of the road trail for that (and it's really close to town). If you're into the rock portions of that trail, Hells Revenge is right next door and if your into the sand and driving portions there is chicken corners and onion creek and so on.

Pretty jealous, don't know when I get to go back to trail heaven.