There are thousands of miles of 4WD trails in Grand County. Most are unmaintained relics from mining or prospecting for minerals such as uranium, vanadium, copper, gold, and oil. Yet, except for the trails themselves, there are few scars on the landscape. Some trails are used in current mining and grazing activities, and major access roads receive some maintenance from the county. Others are repaired just enough to get through, consistent with what seems to be a 4W driver’s credo, “never move a rock if you can drive around it or over it.” Among the trails is a variety of scenery and a range of challenge to the off highway abilities of vehicle and driver.
4W driving difficulty is hard to describe objectively. Opinions vary, and an individual’s judgment may change considerably as he gains experience. The easiest of these four trails (Chicken Corners) is barely out of the two-wheel-drive class. The most difficult (Moab Rim) is barely passable to first-rate off-road equipment. The other trails are well within the capabilities of stock four-wheel-drive trucks and utility vehicles.
As with many activities, 4W driving leads its enthusiasts in the direction that more risk is fun. Be aware that difficult 4WD trails entail some risk of damage for the vehicle and occupants. Novices are advised to develop experience on easier trails first and to seek advice for reducing risks on difficult terrain.
All of the trails described here are on public lands–some state parcels, but mostly on federally owned land administered by the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) under a policy of promoting multiple uses. While we enjoy use of the roads built mostly by mining interests, we often find that we are sharing with ranchers who lease the land for grazing. That is why you’ll find fences throughout the country. A prime courtesy for our fellow users, therefore, is to leave each gate open or closed, as we find it.
Other users of the roads–miners, ranchers, riders of pedaled or powered cycles, and hikers–should find trails as clean as we would like to see them. Unfortunately, the courteous people always clean up after the discourteous, so please carry out more than you carried in.
The occasional muddy conditions found in this area should not be considered part of the four-wheeling challenge. These roads can be severely damaged by use when they are muddy, while it takes only a little patience–usually about one dry day–to avoid the problem. If you are not convinced by courtesy considerations, be advised that a heavy shower can make many of these roads impassable, and even dangerous. You may see occasional vehicle tracks off the trails, left by irresponsible travelers. Our desert plants have learned to grow in pace with the little moisture they receive, and they are slow to recover from a tire track. No one has yet claimed to have traveled all of the established trails in the area, so there should be no need to go off the trails.
Please support Minimum Impact Practices
1. Tread lightly when traveling and leave no trace of your camping. Drive and ride only on roads and trails where such travel is allowed: hike only on established trails, on rock, or in washes. Camp at designated sites or, where allowed, at previously-used sites. Avoid placing tents on top of vegetation and use a camp stove instead of making a campfire. Unless signs indicate otherwise, leave gates open or closed as you find them.
2. Help keep Canyon Country clean. Pack out you trash and recycle it, clean up after less thoughtful visitors, and dispose of human waste properly.
3. Protect and conserve scarce desert water sources. Camp at least 300 feet from isolated water sources to allow for wildlife access. Where possible, carry your own drinking water. Leave potholes undisturbed and wash well away from pools and springs.
4. Allow space for wildlife. When encountering wildlife, maintain your distance and remain quiet. Teach children not to chase or pick up animals. Keep pets under control.
5. Leave historic sites, Native American rock art, ruins and artifacts untouched for the future. Admire rock art from a distance and never touch it. Stay out of ruins, leave artifacts in place, and report violations.