Moab – May 2011

May 27-30, 2011

The Gardiner and Wright families spent the Memorial weekend in Moab this year.  We did two dirt bike/ATV rides and explored some of the area around the Hook & Ladder OHV trail system and some Jeep roads near Picture Frame Arch.  We also did some sightseeing in the Canyon Rim area on Sunday afternoon.

Gardiner: Dee, Kim, Kevin, Jason, Jamie

Wright: Taylor, Rachel, Roberta, Jason, David, Nathan

For additional photos, visit my Picasa Photo Albums at:

Our trip video:

Saturday May 28: Hook & Ladder

The San Juan Public Entry & Access Rights (SPEAR) group in Blanding has developed a series of OHV trail systems.  One of these, the Hook & Ladder trail system, sits just east of Highway 191 about 30 miles south of Moab.  A portion of the official trail map is shown below.

Hook & Ladder OHV trail map

The primary trail, trail #1, is shown in yellow.  Most other trails are accessible from trail #1.  The Hook & Ladder trails are perfect for groups looking for a slow-paced ride with a wide variety of trail conditions and interesting scenery.  The trails are not well suited for groups looking for high-speed travel.  The trails are not overly technical (other than those rated as black diamond), but they are pretty rough and bumpy.  They also contain many tight blind corners and numerous trail junctions.  These conditions make for slow, but enjoyable, travel.

Our primary destination was Wilson Point, which offers an excellent view of Wilson Arch and makes for a nice lunch stop.  There is even a picnic table – although it was already taken by another group.

The staging area is in the lower left corner of the map.  We started off on trail #1 and then turned left on Cameo Terrace (#9).  The trails consisted of short sections of sand, a mixture of dirt and rocks, and a fair amount of bumpy sandstone.

Rachel on one of the dirt sections of the trail

We then took trail #3 north to the “narrows” section, and on to the junction with trail #1.

Kevin on the “narrows”

A short ride left on trail #1 brings us to the “Indian Bathtub” along with a wooden ladder to access the tub.  I assume this is where “ladder” became part of the name of the area, but I do not know where the “hook” is.

The ladder to “Indian Bathtub”

Trail #1 from the ladder to Wilson Point (#15) was a fun ride.  The trail was somewhat smoother and faster, although it did have numerous tight corners.  On the way back, Jason G. missed a sharp turn and crashed.  Luckily it was soft dirt and he only hurt his pride.

Wilson Arch

After a nice lunch break we took trail #1 all the way back to the car.  Beyond the “ladder”, trail #1 is a little more challenging and offered a few steep slickrock climbs.  Kim didn’t like the steep sections, but she made it up each one just fine.  I think she only asked for help on one loose rocky climb just before the end of trail #3.

Kim climbing a very steep section of slickrock

Our ride was only about 26 miles long, but it felt like much more due to the rough nature of the trail.  I wouldn’t rate this as my all-time favorite trail system, but it is definitely worth doing.  It would be worth another visit to explore some of the other trails in the area.

Sunday May 29: Canyon Rim Overlooks

After church on Sunday we went for a car ride and enjoyed some sightseeing in the Canyon Rim area.  Canyon Rim sits between Highway 191 and the Needles portion of Canyonlands.  Jason is working on his 40 hours of driving for his driver’s license, so this made an excellent opportunity for him to get some driving experience.  Unfortunately, it was extremely windy all day, so that made driving Highway 191 fairly stressful with all of the on-coming traffic.

We first visited the Needles Overlook.  The wind put a lot of dust in the atmosphere, so the conditions were not ideal for photography.  The kids did, however, enjoy throwing rocks over the edge and watch them fly up and land behind us as they got caught in the updraft.

View from Canyon Rim

We also took a nice gravel road out to Anticline Overlook, which is just above Hurrah Pass and the Chicken Corners Jeep trail we rode a few years earlier.

Monday May 30: Picture Frame Arch & Kane Canyon Overlook

The “Behind The Rocks” Jeep trail is one of the most challenging in the Moab area.  An easier version, called “Tip-Toe Behind The Rocks” bypasses the most challenging obstacles.  Just south of these trails is a very easy sandy road out to Picture Frame Arch.  This was our chosen route.

It was a beautiful day.  The temperatures were much cooler (about 68º), the wind had died down, and the atmosphere was very clear

View along the trail

There is a small sand dune area just off the road, so we stopped to play around for a few minutes.  Jason took a nasty crash going down one of the steep backsides of a dune.  He hurt his shoulder, broke the hand guard on his handlebars, and got a mouth full of sand.  Once again we concluded that we do not like riding in sand.

Picture Frame Arch GPS track

Just off the main road is a lesser known road that goes around a large outcropping of sandstone.  On the east side is Balcony Arch, and on the west side is Picture Frame Arch.

Picture Frame Arch

After a brief stop at the arch, we continued west on the main road.  Some of us took a short detour out on the Behind The Rocks trail to see “Hummer Hill”.  They say the hill is so steep that if turned sideways, a Hummer will roll over.

I considered trying to climb the hill, but decided it wasn’t worth the risk.  There is a bit of a ledge at the bottom, making it difficult to hit the hill with any speed.  And the rubber on the hill makes it obvious that Jeeps spin their wheels trying to get enough traction.  David went around the bypass and came down the hill – twice.

David on top of “Hummer Hill”

We continued on the main road, which eventually led to Prichett Arch and then Prichett Canyon.  We turned off the main road and visited Kane Canyon Overlook – almost directly across the canyon from Anticline Overlook, which we visited on Sunday.  This made a nice place to stop for lunch.

Kane Canyon Overlook

Following lunch we bee-lined it back to the car, packed up, and headed for home at about 2:15 PM.  We wanted to get an early start back since Kevin had to get back to

This was a pretty easy ride, although there are some rocky stretches along the way.  The total ride was around 30 miles in length.  There are other trails in the area that I would like to explore someday, including other overlooks above Kane Creek Canyon.  All in all, this was a nice and relaxing trip – although no one got much sleep on the hard beds in the motel.  But it was nice to get out and enjoy some of the beautiful scenery around Moab.


About gardinerfamilyadventures

A really great family!
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