Weekend Jeep Guide to Moab, Utah
A little bit about our Jeep, our crew, and our Moab plans:
Somehow, both of my sister’s and their husbands ended up with the same Jeep XJ as we have and it’s turned into a family hobby and a family trip. We typically try to go to Moab in February, since the weather tends to be decent (the mid to high 50’s) but Moab, in general, is quiet since it’s still offseason. Plus, our Jeeps all tend to run a little warm, so running them in cooler weather helps prevent them from overheating. This year, however, our Jeeps were not ready to go by February (still working on projects) and we decided to head down in April instead, right after the Easter Jeep Safari to avoid busy trails and pricy campgrounds.
This year, my sister, Ashley and her husband, Ryan were unable to make the Moab trip, so it was just us and my youngest sister, Katie and her husband, Preston, and their rig “The Heep.” Since the weather was a bit warmer, we decided to camp to save a bit of money (Jeeps with big tires are definitely not fuel efficient.)
Our Jeep is Running:
For anyone who is planning on going to Moab for off-roading, here is a list of all the modifications we’ve made on our Jeep before this trip:
- 33″ Mud Tires (we aired down to 18 PSI, but looking back, wish we aired down to 16 PSI)
- 4.5″ Suspension Lift
- One-Ton Steering with Tie-rod Ends (Aeres Fab)
- Steering Stabilizer
- Rear Aussie Locker
- Dana 30 Front Axel
- Chrysler 8.25 Rear Axel
- Rubicon Express Rear Leaf Springs
- Adam’s Driveshaft Rear Driveshaft and Slip-Yoke Eliminator
- Front Tie-In Kit & Steering Box Spacer
- Glasspack muffler (not really a performance modification, but a modification we made nonetheless)
Weekend Jeep Guide to Moab, UT
We got on the road early Thursday morning (by 7AM) and drove down to Moab. Preston and Katie decided to trailer The Heep, so we wanted to get on the road as early as we could since it would be slow going getting through Price Canyon. We ended up stopping in Price at the Walmart to fuel up and grab some snacks (pro tip – the Price Walmart is a pretty decent half-way stop for those driving from Salt Lake City.)
We rolled into Moab around 1:00 PM and set up camp. We had reservations at Slick Rock campground, and for multiple reasons, do not recommend staying there. This was the only downside to our trip this time around. The campground messed up our reservations and ended up putting us on the dog run by the dumpsters. There wasn’t any place to park our Jeep or the truck and trailer. By the second night, they had allowed giant groups of walk-ins pitch their tents all around us and wouldn’t do anything about the obnoxious karaoke machines that they were screaming into. They also were not willing to give us a refund or discount, even though our reservations were messed up, to begin with, and were incredibly rude when we asked about one. So, mental note: do not camp there. The only plus was that they had nice bathrooms (for a campground, that is.)
Anyway, after setting up camp, we decided to head to Arches National Park for the late afternoon. We got there after 4:00, when the gates were closed, so we had to pay at the visitors center via drop envelope. We wanted to hike Delicate Arch, which was about a 15-minute drive into the park. Arches is an absolutely beautiful park, and if we had more time, we would have spent the whole day exploring it. The Delicate Arch hike is about 3 miles long and VERY steep, but since the majority of the path is on Slickrock (very grippy rock) it didn’t feel dangerous. I was able to complete the hike in about 2.5 hours with my knee replacement (and that was with taking a lot of breaks.) It was DEFINITELY worth the hike – the arch is absolutely stunning in real life and such an iconic Utah landmark (it’s on our license plates, for goodness sakes!)
We were up and on the road early again because our main plan was to run the Poison Spider Mesa Trail.
Poison Spider Mesa Trail – Rated 6 out of 10 on the Moab Scale, 13.5 miles long (took us 6.5 hours to run.)
This trail is great for those who are more comfortable with off-roading and 4X4 driving. I wouldn’t recommend it for first timers (hit up Fins n’ Things first) because the biggest obstacles are pretty challenging from a technical standpoint and the majority of them are in the first third of the trail. There also weren’t by-passes for some of the obstacles, so you needed to be able to go over them (and have a rig capable of going over them.)
Pro-tip 1: This trail crosses with Golden Spike and Metal Masher, so make sure you have a trail book to help you navigate which trail to stick to.
Pro-tip 2: Little Arch is right off of the looped portion of the trail and has an easy path to walk down to it. Definitely worth stopping and checking out!
Our Jeep handled this trail beautifully and was able to do all of the obstacles besides the V-notch. We decided to bypass that obstacle because we aren’t locked in the front and that was a modification we needed in order to feel safe attempting it. The views were beautiful and we ended up eating our lunch on observation point, which was the perfect place to take a break from driving and chill out for a while.
We got down from the trail and back to our campground around 4:00 PM and decided to head downtown to grab some dinner. We ended up eating at The Spoke at the recommendation of my sister and brother-in-law and it was delicious. We started with the loaded fries and the spinach dip and I’m not even kidding: it was the best spinach dip I think I’ve ever had. Dustin and Preston both got delicious burgers, Katie got a pasta dish and I got the fish tacos. It was all delicious and because we ate at 4:30, we didn’t have to wait to be seated. By the time we left, about an hour later, the wait was over an hour!
We then walked down Main Street to the movie theater to see if we, by chance, could get tickets to see Avengers: Endgame. Much to our surprise and delight, the Moab theater is so old that it only accepts cash and doesn’t sell tickets online! We showed up at 6:30 and got tickets for the 7:00 showing on opening night! It was awesome! Even though the theater is older, the seats were still nice and only the lobby felt a bit dated.
Every April, Moab has an annual car show and it’s HUGE! We happened to be in Moab on the carshow weekend, so we spent Saturday morning walking around all of the old cars and talking with the people who restored them. After swinging by a few shops on Main Street to buy some commemorative tees, we got back on the road and headed East to tackle the Top of the World trail.
Top of the World – Rated a 7 out of 10 on the Moab Scale, 18.5 miles long (took us 5 hours to run)
Top of the World is one of the most iconic trails in Moab because of the view and photo ops at the end of the trail. There is a ledge that protrudes from a cliff that you can park your jeep on and take a picture of overlooking a huge canyon. The views are 100% worth it and we are so glad we stuck with our plan to run this trail (we were considering doing Moab Rim for a second.)
The first part of this trail is just dirt, which turns into bumpy rocks, but nothing challenging or hard. For the first hour, we were wondering if we’d be doing anything challenging at all. However, the trail got real challenging real fast and was a thrill to navigate. We definitely had to take our time and attempt a couple of obstacles multiple times before clearing them, but we were able to get both jeeps up and over them without any major mishaps (hit our rear diff on one rock, but no major damage.) Preston and Katie’s Jeep (The Heep) is on 35″ tires and we definitely noticed a difference in their abilities to clear certain obstacles over us in our 33″ tires. We were able to keep pace with them, but you DEFINITELY need to be locked in the rear for this trail. There are no by-passes, so you do have to go over several ledges to get up and having an experienced spotter is a definite plus. But, as I said, the views are so, so worth it.
Pro Tip: The trail also has a small loop at the top and we stayed straight going up and took the loop on the way back down. We are SO glad we did this because the loop was very challenging and would have been 10X harder to go up. Coming down was hairy in some parts, but given the choice, it was easier to go down that part and not go up.
We’re so glad we ran both of these trails, but definitely enjoyed the challenge and view of Top of the World a bit more. Since this was our second Moab trip, and our 5th and 6th trails that we’ve run, we would say that Hell’s Revenge, Top of the World, and Poison Spider are our top three favorite trails for technical off-roaders, but Top of the World, 7 Mile Rim, and Hell’s Revenge are our top favorite trails for scenic views.
Our Jeep has totally changed my life. I love learning about how it works and what modifications we can make to help it perform off-road even better. I love learning how to drive it off road and I love that it’s a hobby that Dustbust and I can do together. But most of all, I love that this Jeep has given me a bit of my life back. It’s taken me to places that I could never get to on my own two legs and it’s shown me that I can still explore the outdoors, even with a knee replacement.