If it excites and scares you at the same time, it probably means you should do it.
I knew Moab, Utah was called “America’s off-road capital,” and it lives up to the name. The region’s unique “slickrock” makes for a driving experience unlike anything else, and with breathtaking scenery. Off-roading is a culture, and trying it was on top of my bucket list as I explored national parks in the area. I chose a tour company called “Epic 4×4 Adventure” and I actually experienced an epic and thrilling ride, so the company name was exactly what I experienced, something “epic”.
To start, I want to give a special thank you to “Epic 4X4 Adventure”. The owner, Jennifer, was very nice and takes great care of her customers. She saw my special circumstance: a young and small woman was going to drive one of her aggressive off-road trails solo, and I had never driven such a vehicle before. She was concerned and wanted me to have the maximum amount of fun, safety, so provide me a special favor: she assigned me a private guide, Gavin, and we completed this epic adventure together.
My tour was called “You-Drive Hell’s Revenge and Fins & Things Trail (Sunset)”. My private instructor Gavin was very experienced, professional and knowledgeable, and made me feel comfortable and confident before this wild adventure started.
The first trail was Fins and Things, reached through Sand Flats Recreation Area. It was a moderate trail. Gavin and I drove single file in separate vehicles, with him in front. Gavin communicated with me via 2-way radios, giving me directions and offering tips to navigate the uneven terrain. I followed him and drove through some sudden steep climbs on and off the slickrock. I had a little trouble shifting the transmission properly a few times at first, so Gavin patiently stopped and came to check on me, then we’d be back to the trail again.
As an off-roading beginner, this trail was a good introduction for me to learn the basics of true off-roading, and how conditions can change quickly with small hills, steep drops, large rocks and a generally challenging driving environment. I immersed my whole enthusiasm in this activity.
After completed the Fins & Things Trail, we headed to the Hell’s Revenge Trail. It is one of the top off-road trails in Moab. It is an adventurous and difficult trail, with this major slickrock area including steep climbs, sharp turns and hair-raising descents along high ridges with little room for error left or right. It is more technical than Fins & Things. Gavin decided to sit beside me in the same vehicle for this one, providing instruction along the way regarding speed, gear and direction.
The first challenge of this trail was to drive and up onto a narrow fin – a long but thin stretch of road with steep drop offs on either side. Although I am not afraid of heights, my heart beat fast at that moment. But I had a good instructor, his directions were spot on, helping me to move smoothly on this scary-looking trail.
I kept driving straight and entered a low spot, experienced some high mounds and steep descents, up and down, using brake and gas. I drove into the bushes a few times, but Gavin was very patient and instructed how to turn back toward the trail. I drove much better as I went along, like a new driver, learning how to drive a new car on the road. It is a learning process, and I loved it.
One of the most impressive moments occurred when we drove to the summit of the hills, a high vantage point overlooking the Colorado River with beautiful, classic scenery, a panoramic view from the La Sal Mountains through Arches National Park to the cliff rims that overlook Moab Valley. It is a simply spectacular view.
We decided to keep going because I wanted to explore this trail more deeply. It included even tougher terrain and obstacles, so Gavin drove and allowed me to experience it from the passenger seat. It was very steep and bumpy with speed; it was so much fun. At one point, I could not see the actual edge of the road from inside the vehicle as it dropped off so quickly from view. These long steep climbs and white-knuckle descents offered me a roller coaster ride across slick rock fins, scary-looking but exciting.
We drove through the sand road with extreme speed, too, allowing the fresh wind to sweep over us in the open-air vehicle. I could sense the power mingling with the charming views of true desert life. The desert’s soft sunlight painted the evening sky along the way, making this ride even more amazing.
On this trail, Gavin always encouraged and pushed me to drive more, teaching me how to adjust to the tough terrain. I appreciated this very much. It was my happiest day in Moab. Thank you “Epic 4×4 Adventure” for this special arrangement, making this adventure more awesome and memorable. I’ll come back！
Driving off-road is exciting and terrifying at the same time, but you should ride it. Embarking on a new experience, when you are willing to try and learn, you are actually developing skills. It is a journey: learn, adjust, overcome and enjoy. This is a part of an adventurous spirit, too!