Moab Rim Trail - Moab Utah

The Moab Rim Trail was described to me as a trail that requires your undivided attention.  The obstacles are not really difficult provided you have lockers at both ends, a reliable rig and no fear of heights. It reminded me of walking along a 12 inch plank laid on the ground, but when you hoist that same plank 400 feet in the air it becomes terrifying and a totally different kettle of fish. The trail is just 2-1/2 miles from downtown Moab and can be seen from the Colorado River and through Angel Arch on the Poison Spider Trail.

I was fortunate to be guided by RR4W guide Dave C who was pre-running the trail prior to the Easter Jeep Safari. We were accompanied by a family from Colorado who we nicknamed The Sarge as he was a Sarge about to be deployed back to Iraq  was driving an olive drab International Scout. Unfortunately he was plagued with mechanical issues on each of the days we shared trails. This day was no different when he bailed off the trail with a broken locker and hub.


Pictures of the trail from Angel Arch


The first few hundred yards will give you a good indication of what is to come as the trail climbs 940 vertical feet across off-camber rock strata of the Kayenta Formation to the top of a plateau that overlooks the town of Moab. The problem is that if you change your mind it is just like riding a rollercoaster at Six Flags because you are there for the duration, or in this case until after you climb the first well known obstacle - The Devil's Crack, and by the time you have climbed it and have traversed the nerve racking off-camber section that precedes it you might just as well continue on because if you do turn round you will have to do it all again on your own. The third vehicle in our group blew it's front locker at the Devil's Crack and was forced to turn around and take his wife and family shopping for new parts.

      Climbing the Kayenta Formation Rock Strata

Climbing the Devil's Crack

The Sarge guided by Dave - Losing your brakes here would not be good!!

The next obstacle is the infamous "Z" Turn which is really no more than a series of irregular rock ledges with a sharp right urn followed by a sharp left. This obstacle is further away from the edge of the gorge so you can breathe normally here, plus if you do roll it would be near impossible to go over the edge to either the Kane Creek Boulevard or if you have great momentum, the Colorado River several hundred feet below. (Don't forget to do a half Gainer and a Twist before entering the river to score better than 7.5 from those tough Russian judges)

     Dave going up, 

The Z Turn viewed from across the Colorado, Below - the JK coming back down

I normally don't have any problems with off-camber sections and actually enjoy them but with a new Jeep that is so much wider and taller than the Willys, and not being able to see the passenger side tires made the ledges a heart pumping proposition. Luckily for me Dave was not only a great guide and mentor he was an excellent spotter that appreciated the difficulties I was having with the width and blind spots of the JK. If I had my trusty Willys MB I am sure these sections would have been a cake walk but then again I would have had problems with the ledges because of the 87" wheelbase whereas the JK's 116" wheelbase made the climbs up the ledges a walk in the park without any tire slippage at all.

Behind the Rim - A lack of photographs caused by mechanical issues which took precedence

Upon reaching the plateau overlooking Moab it was time to breath easy and relax, take in the views of the town and cruise around for awhile. The next item of interest was a reputed 85% climb up a Slickrock Dome. This was a simple, Atlas 4 Speed controlled crawl for the JK. The headers and cat-back exhaust added the necessary extra horses to pull it to the top where it started to fire on only five cylinders. We let the motor cool sufficiently so that we could check the plug wires and connections but could find nothing wrong. The motor continued to run badly for the rest of the day and the cats smelled so bad I thought the JK would burst into flame at any moment.

A little more cruising and it was on to the sandy sections, first a downhill and then an optional deep sand, fairly steep climb play area but with the engine acting up I decided to by-pass. I doubt very much if a stock engined JK could make this hill as plenty of horsepower is required and that is something a JK just does not have. A short drive further and we were back at the top of the plateau again and of course what goes up must come down and the Moab Rim Trail is no exception.

5.38 gears and the Atlas helped the 5,500 plus pound behemoth creep down the trail. Gravity was my friend so all six cylinders were not needed. The 37" BFGs made short work of the ledges but it was good to have Dave spotting. The views of the Gorge and the Colorado River were as usual spectacular which 2D photography can never show.


The Devil's Crack offered some entertainment to several young hikers as they watched me lift tires coming down so close to the edge and just could not understand why anyone would want to drive up and down the Rim when you could so easily walk it. (Who was it that said youth is wasted on the young?)  From there it was clear sailing but I was anxiously waiting for the last obstacle to scare me but I had already passed it. In the parking lot at the trail-head the Atlas decided neutral was the only place it wanted to be. It took about an hour to get back to the campground where we tried to get it to shift properly and the engine to run on six cylinders. We finally gave up, nursed it back to the storage bin and with much aggravation and cursing rented a Rubicon for the final day of wheeling to the Top of the World via the Rose Garden Trail. A plug wire had burned through from the extra heat from the headers caused by a poor design. They are now wrapped in plug wire heat shields and the Atlas needed adjusting at the transfer case end which was blocked by the under armor.

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