Rock crawling is the art and science of driving a highly modified 4x4 over undrivable terrain. A pile of boulders in the way? Not a problem for rock crawlers. An impassable slickrock wall? Rock crawlers drive up and over it. Utah is revered by enthusiasts for its grippy sandstone, beautiful landscapes, and accessible trails. The most popular trails are divided between the St. George area and Moab but the Great Basin throws its winch in the ring too.
Whether you want to spectate (from a safe distance) or get in on the traction, rock crawling in Utah is challenging fun for everyone. Here’s our list of top rock crawling trails in Utah.
New to rock crawling? Start here. Gemini Bridges Trail is a great 4x4 road with a few shelves and drops to navigate. At the trail's end there is a short hike to Gemini Bridges, two natural arches eroded into the sandstone mesa. If this sounds way too easy, access to the moderate Metal Mashers trail is right around the corner.
Intermediate rock crawlers will be challenged by Elephant Hill, the infamous switchback trail in the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park. Bring a more experienced buddy to guide you through the tight turns and staircase drops. This trail is so popular that you will need a permit from Recreation.gov before you head out. You will also need a modified 4x4 with high clearance and a soft touch on the gas pedal.
Sand Flats Recreation Area is rock crawling heaven. Just east of Moab, Sand Flats is a petrified sand dune mesa that overlooks the Colorado River and the Moab Valley. It’s the home of Hell’s Revenge, an expert trail that climbs over steep slickrock fins to a viewpoint of the river. You’ll want a highly modified stock car with clearance, big tires and previous experience under your timing belt.
Poison Spider Mesa is another world-famous rock crawling area west of Moab. Don’t let the name scare you, the spiders around here generally keep to themselves. A fun trail with some hair-raising drops and ledges, Poison Spider should only be attempted by experienced drivers and their trusted spotters. Stop at Little Arch to stretch your legs or merge onto Golden Spike Trail for more creepy crawling.
Milt’s Mile can be as hard or as easy as you want as some of the challenging sections can be bypassed. But don’t bypass the scenery. Set next to Sand Hollow reservoir and a wrench’s throw from Zion National Park, Milts Mile trail is as beautiful as it is fun. Ride the grippy sandstone and sandy washes while you keep an eye out for ledges and staircase drops. Stock 4x4s will want to stay on Milt’s Mile Lite trail to skip the scary stuff.
Double Sammy Trail is only 1.4-miles long, but it packs a punch. Drivers start out nice and easy on a sand dune up to a cliff area, only to white-knuckle it up and down steep slickrock. No worries, because the views of Zion NP, the Hurricane Cliffs and the Pine Valley Mountains make it worth your broken driveline. Camp out with the gang at Sand Hollow State Park or get an air-conditioned hotel in St. George.
Little Moab is a rocky outcropping near Eureka, Utah, that is perfect for rock crawlers wanting to get out for the day. Only a few hours drive from the Wasatch Front, Little Moab has trails for all skill levels. Try out your new tires where the stakes are a little lower than Pritchett Canyon in actual Moab. Make it a weekend and camp at Little Sahara Recreation Area for some fun sand dune OHVing.
Down the road from Little Moab is the Millard County Fairgrounds where fervent locals built their own rock crawling obstacle course. The human-made course hosts competitions for everything from dune buggies to ride-on lawnmowers. It’s been called an off-road rodeo and well, they’re not wrong. See the buckin’ Ford Broncos at the Delta Classic Rock Crawl event every May.
Stay safe and minimize your impact on Utah’s public lands by following a few written and unwritten rules.