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“Beautiful Scenery!”
Review of Shafer Trail

Shafer Trail
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Canyonlands National Park White Rim Trail by 4x4
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Moab Combo: Colorado River Rafting and Canyonlands National Park
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Canyonlands Backcountry 4x4 Half Day Tour
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Recommended length of visit: 1-2 hours
Owner description: Cattle trail which can be used by sport vehicles.
Reviewed August 4, 2013 via mobile

The reason 4wd is suggested is mainly for higher ground clearance to avoid vehicle undercarriage damage. A stock SUV such as our Dodge Durango does this road with ease. You don't need a jacked-up bouldering jeep. The amazing canyon scenery makes the approximately 3 hour trip well worth your time. We traveled from Moab to the Canyonlands NP Island in the Sky visitors center via this route. 17 miles from Moab via paved roads to the Potash mine and the start of the dirt trail. The first 5 miles of the road travel on the border of the mine property and appear to be maintained fairly well by the mining company. The next 6 miles appear to be through NFS land and occasionally maintained. The final 6 miles is well maintained gravel road within Canyonlands NP. The final few miles switchback steeply up the canyon side. In places the rock canyon wall is eroded under the road making the road in egfect cantilevered. This will be scary if you fear heights but drive slowly and it is safe. Stay away from this road in wet weather or if strong thunderstorms are likely as the road transits numerous dry washes and slickrock plates which are no place to be when wet. Don't be afraid though - this is a pretty mild off-road experience well-suited for stock SUV travel.

4  Thank A_Michigan_Traveler
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed July 23, 2013

Before deciding to drive this 18 miles dirt road you need absolutely a four wheel car with high clearance. Best is to be not afraid of heights. The drive can be started both ways : the first option is to take 4 miles out of Moab the Potash Road and to drive the whole Shafer road before arriving ont the Shafer Road and climbing the steep switbacks at the end. Choosing the other way (25 miles of Moab) your start will be downhill the wall with the splendid view of the valley but also of the scary small road on your feet.
We started on a saturday at 3.30 PM, begin August, I do not recommend to start later because you need 3 hours for this excellent drive.
4 miles north of Moab we took the 279 left, named the Potash Road. This road - 9 to 10 miles long - comes into the gorge of the Colorado River after 2.5 miles and is not difficult at all. Some stops includes petroglyphs (after 5 miles) and even dinosaur tracks.
The end of this road joins the Shafer Road.
The beginning is very easy and for some miles it's not technically difficult at all. Brown strange rock formations appears everywhere beside the dirt trail. The road is no longer level but the few dips gives it a surprising effect.
After almost 80 minutes we arrived at the Colorado River with some further a gorgeous gooseneck.This place is wonderful for photographs on both sides.
Here you have to take the road on the right entering a confusing spectacle of rocks with a very rough dirty road passing the entire decor.
A the right - some 500 yards above the floor - the viewpoint of dead horse point state park appears.
Now the road is more bumpy and we have at some times to drive from the right to the left to avoid some wells and had to the drive on large angled plates. We never could drive more than 10-15 miles an hour to protect also the car. But with all this beauty around no problem at all !!
This was the longest part of the Shafer road. For more than 30 to 40 minutes the hugh high dark brown mountain walls at the right keeps us company, looking at the same time where the last climb was beginning. In the middle of nowhere a wooden shield indicated the entering of Canyonlands and the entering fee.
We crossed on the whole Potash drive only 5 cars., but no one on the climb we reached after almost 2,5 hours.
The climb is steep witch even steeper switchbacks of 15%. The road is now very narrow and only in the turns some passing seems possible. The views beside to the valley we came from or on he climbing road and switchbacks just under us are incredible and of a exceptional beauty. We even stopped in a turn to get out of the car for taking pictures. The amazing mix of colours made this a painting of great value.
Arriving a the top of the mountain wall you stille have 25 miles to drive to reach Moab.
The Potash drive is not tecnical and not very demanding. My son-in-law drived the entire Potash road without any problem and also without any experience of 4-wheel drive.
I think the most important feeling is not to be afraid to meet this magnificent spectacle.
This is one of the best 4-wheel drives I ever done. A splendid half day activity.

1  Thank idesbald d
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 6, 2013

I am not an off-roader or a 4-wheel driver by definition. I was apprehensive about taking my Suzuki XL-7 down this road being not sure whether I could drive it safely or not. I am so glad I took the challenge. The road was easily passable with my unmodified vehicle, and could have easily done it without the 4-wheel drive on. The perspective it gave to Canyonlands was tremendous-seeing the canyon from the bottom rather than the top gives an even greater sense of its majesty. The road has a few challenges, but nothing undriveable. Efforts have been made apparently lately to improve the road (that's what we were told at the visitors center). We took the road from the Island in the Sky Visitor Center through to Potash and passed a total of two cars. The descent to the canyon floor is definitely the most awe inspiring, but the overlook of the Gooseneck below Dead Horse Point is equally amazing and left all to yourself. The color of the condensation pools at Moab Salt are equally amazing if not unnatural!

1  Thank worldmusician
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 1, 2013

This has to be one of the best tourism things you can do, anywhere!

You definitely need a vehicle that sits up a bit; 4WD recommended, for sure.

Read some mixed reviews prior to doing this, so was a tad apprehensive, but anyone can do this. The guys that work on the roads in the parks actually got dump trucks and a road grader down this thing, so a little Jeep or even a big 4x4 truck has no problems.

Recommend you go from the bottom, up. Otherwise, you'll be riding your brakes a bunch....and you would definitely need really good brake control if you're going from top-down.

Rented our Jeep from Moab Tourism Center; really nice folks there, and new Jeeps.

Highly recommended outing! Would happily do it again.

2  Thank WVBuckeyes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 31, 2013

We took a trip up Shafer Trail and I'm glad we didn't decide to rent a 4WD and drive ourselves. We took the half day Canyonlands tour with Navtec Expeditions and was glad to have their expertise and knowledge of the area (their first hand stories make it interesting!). We started out Potash Road and stopped along the Colorado River where one of our guides, Kevin, prepared a picnic lunch for us. Then we went on up to the spot where Thelma and Louise drove the car off of the cliff in the movie. Then they took us to Musselman Arch, where one of the guides took photos of us walking across the arch with my camera (I didn't think the kids would believe it so I needed photographic evidence). Then we started up Shafer Trail. At one point I looked at the winding road far below us and said "Wow, we've really gained some elevation" and the driver said "Just wait until we get to the top!". The views from the top of Shafer Trail are indescribable. There are cliffs all around, the view off into the valley and into the distance to the Colorado River, and the snow capped La Sal Mountains in the background. I couldn't even have thought to paint something this beautiful!

1  Thank Janice K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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