There are two dirt roads just west of Moab that take you up the side of a steep wall of rock to the top of a high mesa. Last week we posted a blog about our ride up to Island in the Sky in Canyonlands NP by way of the Shafer Trail Road. Recently we picked up David, Karen, and Cody and drove the second of these two roads, Long Canyon Road, which takes you up to the top of the mesa just outside Dead Horse Point State Park.
To get to Long Canyon Road we drove out Potash Road, the same road we did to get to Shafer Trail Road. The road itself is not marked but it begins in the parking area clearly marked for viewing Jug Handle Arch.
As you leave the dirt parking lot you are immediately in Long Canyon, with soaring rock walls on both sides of the road.
After a few miles the road begins to climb and go around some sharp switchbacks.
We stopped often to enjoy the view of the canyon below with the snow covered La Sal Mountains behind us.
As we rounded a curve a sharp pillar of rock rose up in front of us. There were three cars parked along the side of the road near it so we stopped to see why.
A closer view of the rock wall of the pillar revealed the reason for the parked vehicles.
About a half mile beyond the rock climber, we came upon one of the neat features of Long Canyon Road, a pass under a huge boulder. Now we know this boulder is going to fall down some day, but it didn’t appear that today was the day, so we felt pretty safe driving under it.
The road under the boulder was a bit rough.
But it is no problem for a high clearance vehicle.
Right after the boulder the road goes up a steep, narrow canyon then turns sharply around a switchback . . .
. . . and continues to climb up the canyon wall.
At the top of the steep grade pictured above is the top of the mesa. A small, primitive camping area is located there. This area is pretty remote and the “only” amenity is the spectacular view along the rim of the mesa.
At the top of the mesa the road continues along flat terrain for another mile where it meets Utah Rte. 313, a paved road leading in to Dead Horse Point State Park. We entered the park and drove out to the point to enjoy the great views below. We could see most of the Shafer Trail below us as it headed to the Island in the Sky section of Canyonlands NP.
In the distance we could see the evaporation ponds for the potash plant. We passed right next to them last week when we drove the Shafer Trail Road.
We enjoyed Long Canyon Road so much we decided to take it back down the mesa on the return trip and enjoy the great views again. Our decision was a good one as that great view behind us on the trip up was now constantly right in front of us on the trip down.
Both Shafer Trail and Long Canyon are “must do” trips in the Moab area in our opinion. Both roads are well-maintained and only require a bit of high clearance in a couple of spots. Allow at least a half day for each as it is slow going, but that’s OK as you need to enjoy the scenery anyway!