Canyonlands National Park: Along Shafer Trail Road to Potash

Dangerous Roads 

DangerousRoads comments on the Shafer Trail Road-Shafer Canyon Road.

Shafer Trail Road-Shafer Canyon Road is a 18 miles dangerous dirt track located in Moab, a city in Grand County, in eastern Utah, in the western United States. It requires extreme caution at the best of times for vehicles and mountain bikes, but especially so in inclement weather and at night.

This road has humbled many egos. It’s not for the sissies and shouldn’t be attempted by novice drivers. The road is in dreadful condition and requires strong nerves to negotiate it. It’s certainly breathtaking and it has a fearsome reputation. It still remains an adrenaline-pumping journey and is definitely not for the faint of lungs, heart, or legs. Words can’t describe the road and pictures don’t do it justice. This is a great trail for someone who is looking for an off road experience, but doesn’t have access a highly modified rock crawler. Virtually any four-wheel drive vehicle will succeed in navigating this well maintained road. Highlights of this trip include well marked Indian petroglyphs and amazing natural stone arches. You’ll also have an opportunity to tackle the Schafer Switchbacks, a breathtaking climb with expansive views of the surrounding canyon-lands.

I think the description is a bit over-dramatic, and contradictory. I agree with this assessment “Virtually any four-wheel drive vehicle will succeed in navigating this well maintained road,” provided the steep switchbacks don’t scare you to death.

I do not remember precisely what vehicle we had as it was a rental. All I remember was that it was a mid-size SUV, I believe with 4-wheel drive. Not a high clearance vehicle. I think any car could have done the road actually. I did not find it at all dangerous. But if you are not used to such conditions, I can see that it would have been scary. This road is about a half-mile from the visitor center. Just ask about conditions.

Caveats

  1. Do not travel this road in bad weather
  2. Drive from the national park to Potash, not the other way around. Nearly all the traffic is headed down, If you go opposite, not only will you have a horrendously steep climb, all the vehicles will be coming at you.

Feature Image Details

This is a panorama composite of six vertical images taken with a Canon 16-35MM F4 L Lens.

Here is one of the individual frames.

Green River Overlook

That is another panorama stitch of 10 images or so with one set of images for the land and another for the sky.

I would travel the road again if only for the chance to see this overlook once more.

Desert Candle Wildflowers 

We passed that scene in a side canyon and I just had to stop at the first possible pullout.

Yucca Blooms

Yuccas were blooming all over the place. I isolated the best one I could find against a beautiful background of clouds and red rock.

Other Canyonlands Images

Mesa Arch, Murphy Point, and the Grand View Overlook are all easy hikes.

False Kiva is a difficult hike and now closed by the park because of vandalism.

Nearby

If you are at the Canyonlands Island in the Sky district, then Arches National Park is nearby.

For most, it’s probably the reverse, visiting Arches then going to Canyonlands as a side trip.

Arches National Park Images

Equipment List

Those interested in my equipment and recommendations can find it here: Mish’s Equipment List.

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5 thoughts on “Canyonlands National Park: Along Shafer Trail Road to Potash

  1. We were camping in Moab 2 years ago. We booked an extreme Jeep tour. That Jeep I swear went right up cliffs I thought were impossible. The other riders were scared to death. I thought it was one of the most fun things I ever did. The driver showed us dinosaur tracks imprinted in the rock that his father discovered many years before.

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  2. I do not remember as it was a rental. All I remember was that it was a mid-size SUV, I believe with 4 Wheel drive. Not a high clearance vehicle. I think any car could have done the road actually. I did not find it at all dangerous. But if you are not used to such conditions, I can see that it would have been scary. This road is about a half-mile from the visitor center. Just ask about conditions.

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