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“Never again!!”
Review of Shafer Trail

Shafer Trail
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Canyonlands Backcountry 4x4 Half-Day Tour
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: 1-2 hours
Owner description: Cattle trail which can be used by sport vehicles.
Reviewed June 24, 2011

My friend and I had actually gone down this trail in June of 2008 (we were at Canyonlands again in June 2011). We wanted to do some 4-wheeling and were told about this trail at the visitor's center so we decided to give it a try. We started at the top and had driven down to the bottom and I must say I have never been so scared in my life. We were in a Nissan Frontier truck (4dr cab, 4-wheel drive) and at times my friend could not tell which way the trail went and we hoped we would not end up going over the sheer drop-offs. We kept hoping no one was coming up from the bottom because there was absolutely no way to pull over or back up. I have had a job that involved dangerous situations but this experience scared me to death more than my job ever did. I had a death-grip on the interior bar/handle in the truck (also known as an "OH MY GAWD!!!" bar) and I had pretty much felt that my life was going to end that day. About half way down there was an orange cone marking where some of the path had fallen away, which we thought was absurd because the whole trail seemed very hazardous to us. I can't describe the relief I felt once we made it to the bottom. I don't like heights to begin with but never dreamed it would be this terrifying. I had thought it would be fun to have a little adventure and we both said "how bad can it be??". The times that my eyes weren't closed tight, I would just stare at the mountain wall next to the truck. Every now and then I would try to look out down into the canyon just to try to overcome my fears and experience the views. I was just at Canyonlands again in June 2011 and took some photos from an overlook of Shafer Trail and I still get weak-kneed when I think about riding down the canyon. I refuse to do it again and I got nervous just watching the other vehicles that were on the trail. I suppose this would be a great trail for those who have nerves of steel and love adventure but this is just a bit too much, in my opinion.

34  Thank retired111
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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"potash road"
in 28 reviews
"high clearance"
in 18 reviews
"potash plant"
in 7 reviews
"hairpin turns"
in 5 reviews
"the cliff"
in 11 reviews
"canyon floor"
in 9 reviews
"wheel drive vehicle"
in 5 reviews
"heart stopping"
in 3 reviews
"visitor center"
in 12 reviews
"steep switchbacks"
in 4 reviews
"flat tire"
in 2 reviews
"coming down"
in 3 reviews
"drive uphill"
in 2 reviews
"small vehicle"
in 2 reviews
"opposite direction"
in 5 reviews
"switch backs"
in 3 reviews
"rock face"
in 4 reviews

114 - 118 of 158 reviews

Reviewed June 5, 2011

Stayed at a B & B in Moab and the owner said we just had to take the shafer trail road to canyonlands park and that it was the only way to go and I might add there was no mention of sheer cliff walls and adrenaline rushes. I think he mentioned it would take 2 hours from Moab up Shafer trail and back. He also mentioned that we we would go by the place where Thelma and Louise go over the cliff in a car in the movie. If I had to do Shafer Trail again i would save myself from the drenching sweat from the pure adrenaline rush and just follow Thelma and Louise's lead and go over the cliff early. The road from potash looks like a typical 4 wheel adventure and there are lots of great scenes and things to see wonderful rock formations etc. Then you get to the fork in the road and see the sign for the visitor center and you make the mistake of assuming the road would be somewhat good. I knew something was up when we ran into a couple that had just come through the canyon part of the drive in a smaller 4 wheel drive. They stopped and chatted with us and asked if the roads were any better from the direction we had come from....we told them it was rough....but one look at the woman in the passenger seat should have given us a heads up that what was up ahead was some serious stuff....because her face was ashen white and she looked shell shocked. Later when we were too committed to turn back that would be about 6 switchbacks later we flashed back on her face and understood what was up and regretted we didn't inquire about the road ahead of us when we had the chance. So we took off headed for the visitor center noticing the beautiful river and at the same time trying to figure how we were going to get out of the canyon since there didn't seem to be anyway out and we were looking at sheer cliff walls. In fact I told my wife there doesn't look like there is a road out of here. It felt like we were in an Escher paining because you could not see the road ahead and it looked like we were driving into the canyon wall and would get stuck and just then the switchback would appear and we could see our way up and this went on for what seemed like 2 hours but I'm sure it took only half that time. My wife was so scared she kept asking me to stop because she thought she wanted to get out of the truck. At one point she did jump out of the truck and was convinced it would be easier to walk out.....once she was on solid ground she did much better, but I did mention to her I thought the road would be better traveled on a donkey or llama. She kept saying that it looked like the truck our Toyota Tundra off road package simply couldn't fit on the road and that she was sure we were going over the edge. We did a lot of breathing and reassuring to get up the canyon wall. It was the thrill of a lifetime. I asked my wife why she was looking over the edge if she was so scared why not just close your eyes but she said she wanted to face her fear. After we got to the top I asked her if we knew what we were headed to would she have done it and she had to admit she would and so would I. Definetly one of the cheapest adreneline rushes you'll ever have....bring some depends and you'll be fine.

12  Thank focofarmers
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 1, 2010

After reading the reviews, I couldn't decide if this road was doable or not! But it is! I am a 50+ female from the flatlands!

We drove down from the top in a 4WD Toyota Forerunner. Yes, it is a bit steep at the top on the switchbacks. Just put it in 4WD and low and let it go! Perfect control. The road is actually much wider than I expected. If you are going down, you can take a peak ahead and see another vehicle coming and pull over in one of the many convenient pull-overs. You do not nearly scrape the wall or totter on the edge of oblivion. I think interstate driving in some cities is much scarier than this.

After you get through the switchbacks, the road levels out, relatively and turns into Potash. The views of the Colorado River are spectacular and the paved roads through the Canyon are very nice with canyon walls rising on one side and the river on the other.

The views and thrill of adventure are definitely worth it. The views from Canyonlands are wonderful but if you take the Shafer, you are so much closer to the canyons and can really get the perspective.

Highly recommend the ride but would only use 4WD vehicles for the clearance and sometimes rocky road. I preferred going down rather than up. For one, because the view was always in front of you and two, you didn't have to press the gas going up the switchbacks!

7  Thank photogal205
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 25, 2010

This was the sentence that came out of my mouth as my husband, an experienced 4-wheeler, made the tight, narrow hairpin turn that caused me to see the sheer drop now on my side of the truck. The one he had been experiencing for the past however many miles on our way down the canyon on Shafer Trail. I could've sworn to you that the drop-off was about a trillion feet down, so I said, "Okaaaaaaayyyyy, you might want to maybe hurry this up a little." He informed me that if he did, we'd probably end up in the canyon, so I shut up and let him drive. Thus was my very first experience with 4-wheeling.

We had started from the top of the trail that begins right before the visitor's center in Canyonlands, and took it all the way down to Potash, then to Moab. I've read other reviews that say starting from the bottom and working your way up is the way to go. I heartily disagree, because at least when you're going down the canyon, you can see what lies on the road ahead. It took us about 2 1/2 to 3 hours to do the whole thing with my husband's stock 2002 Ford Ranger, "Bessie II" (or "Elizabeth the Second" as I call her), who did a very good job when put into low 4X4. We also did it a few days before Memorial Day, so we didn't have any contentious weather, and we also came across many other people on the trail as well.

It started off as a very nice ride. A little bumpy, but nothing to freak out over. Then all of a sudden, my husband (who is very very afraid of heights), clenched the steering wheel and gritted his teeth. I looked over and saw that the driver's side of the road had given way to a very steep drop-off, and also noticed that the road was narrowing. Since I was oblivious to the true nature of the drop-off, I thought it was cool, and made him stop so I could take some pictures. After a few miles or so, suddenly, the very narrow hairpin turn that dropped into what I was sure was at least a 15% grade, caused me to see exactly what I had been missing. For the rest of the ride down. It was a little scary, I'm not going to lie. Your choices are basically to run smack into the rock face or go over the edge with little room for error. Just take it slow.

Once down, you still need to be in 4 wheel drive as the road can get quite bumpy and there are still a lot of places that require it for navigation. The view makes the whole ride worth it, both from the bottom and the top. There are a lot of places to pull off at the bottom to take some really good pictures of the Colorado River and rock formations as well. We also happened to be lucky enough to drive by a film crew from Paramount Pictures wrapping up for the day on the highway back to Moab (we speculated they were there to film Mission Impossible IV, but only time will tell I guess).

All in all, a really great drive, great views, and a little bit of an adrenaline rush at times. I'd recommend it for at least the semi-experienced 4 wheeler and probably between the months of April-October if you don't want to deal with winter weather/slick conditions. It's a little on the scary side at times, but highly worth it for both the 4 wheeler (hubby) and shutterbug (me) alike.

4  Thank Wanderervin
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed January 25, 2010

Death grip doesn't come close. Pass the Xanax and close your eyes. I've stood over Niagara Falls, right on the edge, done the Gondolla up and down Jasper Mountain, heights hadn't been a problem before this "ride". Standing on Dead Horse Point and looking down into the valley next to the Colorado River, we asked ourselves "I wonder how you get on that road down there?" Stupid question. Little did I imagine we'd end up on this trail in a Dodge Ram!!! It's a trail, not a road and has no guardrails. Seems to me it is more condusive to mountainbiking than driving. What was actually a 1/2 day ride might as well have been an eternity because that is what it felt like. I don't think I've ever been so scared in my life. The "trail" is not wide, actually you shouldn't take a big truck on there. All I could imagine was going box over hood all the way to the bottom when our truck slid on the icy surface of these "switchbacks" over the edge. I've never been so glad to get to the bottom of something in my life.

Followed that up the next day with a hike to Delicate Arch, where the last 200 feet is on the edge of a cliff!

Truth be told, I"d do both again knowing now what I didnt' know then when we started out.

4  Thank Born2run1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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