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Shafer Trail is a 18.3 mile moderately trafficked point-to-point trail located near Moab, Utah that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from March until November.

Length 18.3 mi Elevation gain 1,118 ft Route type Point to Point

Mountain biking

Scenic driving

Ohv / off road driving

Views

Wild flowers

Wildlife

Rocky

Washed out

No dogs

Description
Waypoints (0)

This is a beautiful off-road driving route offering views of Dead Horse Point and Canyonlands. The route on this page has the driver going from west to east, but it can also be done the opposite direction.

Weather
UV Index
Daylight
Reviews (90)
Photos (289)
Recordings (81)
Completed (196)
Kevin Sullivan
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 21, 2020
OHV/Off Road Driving

Rented a Jeep from Twisted Jeeps in Moab and had a great day. After some short, quick hikes in Canyonlands, we exited the park via Shafer Trail, which is super cool. Sure, you don't need a suped-up Jeep to do this, but there are some places where the road isn't in great condition. I saw a compact car that did it, as well as a vintage Westfalia, but I wouldn't recommend that. As far as "off-roading" goes, this is an easy trail, but descending the canyon wall and seeing the evaporation ponds are really cool. (We did put the rental to a greater test after this trail, for the record ;) After you get to the paved road, be sure to stop and see the dinosaur tracks and petroglyphs on your way back to town.

Teddy Sall
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 16, 2020
OHV/Off Road Driving

So much fun to drive! Did it in a rented Ford Taurus with 5.1" of ground clearance, so it is doable in a 2 wheel drive sedan if you have some testicular fortitude, are a good driver who knows where your tires are/understands how to approach rocks without bottoming out, and of course do not care about wear and tear on the vehicle. Did it going down the canyon along Potash Rd all the way to Moab (as we thought going up would be more difficult with tires spinning) and did not bottom out once. We were the only non SUV or truck we saw on the trail though so definitely not common. Definitely do not do without 4WD if it is wet/muddy though. The switchback portion is the easiest of the drive. Once you get down the switchbacks but are still in the park the road is ok with a few spots of rock that you need to navigate and pick lines but nothing too hard. When you get out of the park boundary the road becomes much more rough, with more rock faces and chunks to go over and made decisions about how to attack. There are a couple spots where you will be going uphill and need to have some momentum and quickly choose lines to make it up the loose rock. As the road approaches Potash it gets better but is still rough until you hit the pavement. Absolutely worth it though. View are spectacular all the way down and along the route, and it is a absolutely blast to overcome the challenge. So overall you can do it in a front wheel drive sedan if you are a confident and skilled driver. Obviously it is much easier in a higher clearance vehicle, but the challenge of doing it in a sedan probably made it even more fun for me!

Erika Durst
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 8, 2020
OHV/Off Road Driving

OMG! This was our first trail when we got to Moab. We did it in a stock Jeep JLX with 33” mud tires. My boyfriend did great because he has a ton of off roading experience. I drove for a few miles and it was fairly easy. There is a narrow ledge that can be a little daunting. But for the most part, this was an excellent trail. We came across several jeeps and trucks. We also saw a few Subarus and a Kia. Everyone seemed to be doing alright. Just go the pace you are comfy with and use the turn outs to let people pass.

Harold White
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 4, 2020
OHV/Off Road Driving

Great trip my wife drove her first trail! It’s fairly simple go slow when you think you should. Enjoy a beautiful view!

View Harold's Recording
April Ung
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJune 24, 2020
HikingRocky

The drive down is insanely beautiful. Drove down spontaneously after seeing the roads from Shafer trail viewpoint and the canyon overlook. Highly recommended if you want to get away from the crowd in the park and you should get a high clearance vehicle to fully experience off-road driving. My rental Nissan Rogue made it down the hill fine but I couldn’t go any further due to lack of high clearance from the road. Recording was for one way down.

View April's Recording
Philip Sorg
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJune 14, 2020
OHV/Off Road DrivingRocky

This is such a cool drive! You should be a confident driver though because the drive down the switchbacks is a little unnerving. I did this in a Honda CRV, and it was fine. I saw other people in minivans. My mistake was I turned down Potash Road to go to Moab, rather than continuing on Shafer Trail, and I would definitely recommend a higher clearance vehicle for that. It was pretty dicey doing Potash Road in a CRV. The views were spectacular though!

Ashlee Jensen
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarNovember 15, 2019
OHV/Off Road DrivingRocky

Would recommend an off road vehicle. Bumpy and a little scary if you’re new to off roading. I’d say intermediate to beginner if you have someone more experienced to talk you through it. I did use 4 wheel drive but I think 2 wheel drive would make it. I’d definitely recommend a higher clearance vehicle. Amazingly beautiful!

Kai Herrmann
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarOctober 26, 2019
HikingRocky

excellent for sight seeing. easy for any AWD vehicle. I would recommend a competent driver though as the road is right on the edge of many cliffs.

Marc Johnson
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarOctober 22, 2019
Hiking

Absolutely cool with very sharp and steep switchbacks at the Island in the Sky entrance. We did it in a 2001 chevy van with a small trailer for a trail bike. It was very rough in places with some rocky stretches. We did lose a trailer light due to the vibration. I would recommend a higher clearance vehicle that can handle rough roads or a trail bike. My brother took the trail bike and said no problems at all. My sister said never again. LOL. She was scared to death going down the switchbacks. It was probably scarier on her side and she wasn't driving.

Keisuke Takemoto
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarAugust 11, 2019
OHV/Off Road DrivingNo shadeRocky

Awesome trail. Great view of the canyon. We came from Canyonlands and into Moab. If you come the other way around I don’t think you have to pay the $30 fee.

Devon Young
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 6, 2019
OHV/Off Road Driving

Excellent drive, definitely suggest going from Canyonlands into Moab during the morning. Beautiful light and less crowded.

View Devon's Recording
Robert Jones
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 27, 2019
OHV/Off Road Driving

Stressful but fun. Descended in a Grand Cherokee Overland with Terra Grappler tires. No slips or wheel spin. Stayed in off-road 1 most the way, just in case of a random high point rock. Off-road 2 in a couple spots that looked high, but not for long. Take your time. We saw sheep on a cliff and dry bed near the trail and deer fawn in another creek bed.

Jeff Mills
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 19, 2019
OHV/Off Road Driving

This was an amazing drive! I recommend starting in Canyonlands NP and finishing in Moab.

View Jeff's Recording
Michael Bruning
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJune 19, 2019
OHV/Off Road Driving

Easy trail with a stock 4Runner. Only put it 4X4 a couple of times. Great views in Canyon Land Park.

View Michael's Recording
Scott Horetski
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMay 6, 2019
OHV/Off Road Driving

Incredible adventure in our Chevy Trax. Very steep, but had a great time. If the washes were full of water, we would have been in trouble. But they were dry. Road goes into Moab. Fun!

Rob Putnam
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarMarch 25, 2019
OHV/Off Road Driving

Took this trail to get back to Moab from Island in the Sky. There were a couple of muddy spots in the beginning. Very nice scenic drive.

View Rob's Recording
Breck Tuttle
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarOctober 12, 2018
OHV/Off Road Driving

Driven twice very fun

Charles Newman
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSeptember 13, 2018

Amazing ride through the Canyons and next to the Colorado River. Would have like to had a little more time to run a little ways down the White Rim Trail but that’s another day. Looking forward to it!!!!

Jeni Buchanan
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarJuly 27, 2018
OHV/Off Road Driving

Took the road less traveled for sure. Need 4 wheel drive and patience. Bring water and hopefully you have a/c. Temps reached 103 mid ride.

Bo Moreland
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarMay 27, 2018
OHV/Off Road Driving

Fairly simple trail, with not much in the way of technical driving. Just don't slide off the switchbacks.

View Bo's Recording
Saurabh Kadam
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarNovember 27, 2017
OHV/Off Road Driving

Easy one nothing technical Be careful on the shafer trail switchbacks though Had to complete in the evening aa the next day was reaerved for the White Rim Trail

elinkjoe .
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSeptember 1, 2017

This is a great trail. Beautiful and challenging to the right degree, the ascent at the Canyon Lands entrance is breathtaking. Probably not so much if you have fear of heights, but I would do it again in a heartbeat.

Alex Telkowski
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarAugust 12, 2017
OHV/Off Road Driving

Starting around 4pm in August the trail was infrequently trafficked, we only met 1-2 cars coming the other direction in the switchbacks (the only real spot where you're in trouble when you meet a car). Once you enter the north gate of Canyonlands (about a 35 minute drive from Moab), the turn off is clearly marked just before the visitors center. You will immediately start narrow switchbacks down into the canyon. You may need to reverse back to a corner in some areas if the trail is not wide enough for when you meet a vehicle coming from the bottom. This will continue for about 4 miles or so with stunning views of the canyon. The only thing I would change would be starting this trail in the morning as the canyon faces out east and the light may be better on the rocks as it rises. After the switchbacks the trail is well marked with signs and Potash Road continues for 14 miles of winding trails following the Colorado River for the majority. Some turn offs along this section provide for photo opp areas that you will not see from the majority of Canyonlands visitors. Throughout the trail you will need to occasionally navigate around rocky obstacles. You will need 4x4 and at least 8-9" of ground clearance in some spots. We completed the trail easily in a 2016 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk 4x4. And though I did put it into Rock Mode for an area or two, I found that I probably could have just used the standard 4x4 mode, perhaps with a litter added wheelspin. Once you get to the bright blue water, you may feel that you're on a different planet, but they are simply evaporation pools for the Salt company of Utah/Moab. You may find yourself passing multiple Hired-Tour company vehicles coming up from Moab but the trail is usually wide enough at this point. Added bonus, as you leave the trail and join up with the main road heading back to Moab, you'll see a sign advertising Indian Markings, these were very cool 3-8000 year old sketches right on he side of the road, very neat.

David Horowitz
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 4, 2017
OHV/Off Road DrivingNo shade

We have driven this trail many times and it has never disappointed. This trail can be made with a high clearance stock vehicle but there could be some underside contact. Along this road you will see the famous site of where the car went off the cliff from the "Thelma and Louise" movie. As you continue on to the portion that enters Canyonlands National Park, ATV's are no longer permitted. Climbing the switchbacks to the main road in Canyonlands is not for the faint of heart as the overlook is a long ways to the bottom, but the view is amazing.

Lance P.
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 5, 2017
OHV/Off Road Driving

Incredible scenery and fun little ride back to Moab.

Timothy Liu
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarApril 21, 2017
First to Review

We took Shafer Trail and turned on to White Rim trail and to the Lathrop Trail to Colorado river, then back to Potash road and go to Moab. The White Rim part requires a permit which we got online (it's free). We drove a rental Chevy Tahoe which is Ok. The trip is bumpy but the SUV handled it well. White Rim requires 4WD with high clearance. The part from Shafer to Colorado took about 3 hours with stops at a couple of places including Musselman Arch. The return to Potash took 1.5 hours and maybe another 1.5-2hours back to Moab.

Sumeet Sachdeva
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 27, 2020
Hiking
View Sumeet's Recording
Raul Sanchez Silva
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJune 25, 2020
Hiking
View Raul's Recording
Ron Hoffman
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarJune 20, 2020
Hiking
View Ron's Recording
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