Wanting to Have Some Off-Road Fun in a Subie in Moab?

Wanting to Have Some Off-Road Fun in a Subie in Moab?

A number of you have followed my #AscentAdventures all over the country, especially in Utah, and asked me “where can I take my Subie in Utah?” Well, the question is kinda complex, because it really depends on how your Subie is set up.

So, here’s some tips for Subaru Owners, from my May 2021 Utah/Arizona #AscentAdventure. Of course, if you’re heading up there in a Jeep CJ or lifted Land Cruiser, these tips won’t apply to you.

Moab Area

Read on below, to see tips and photos from the adventure. Or, before you do that, watch this portion of my Utah adventure.

Shafer Trail 

  • Street tires are fine
  • No skids required (be careful crossing water run-off channels though)
  • No special prep
  • No airing down necessary

Shafer Trail can be done without skid plates, with care, slow speeds and watching what you are doing.

Taking my Ascent down 19.1 miles of switchbacks

If you don’t have skids, I strongly suggest to turn around at the end of Shafer Trail (you won’t see a big marker for it – look for a sign on the left that has all the BLM rules and warnings), because, if you continue, you will be on…

Potash Road 

  • Skid plates suggested
  • Air down for comfort and potential muddy spots (22-25psi worked for me)
  • All terrain tires suggested

For that, I suggest skid plates. (LOTS of care without them, and you can make it through if you know what you’re doing). It looks like a breeze for most of it, but you will hit washed out and rough areas where you risk damaging your CVT on rocks. BUT, the views on Potash Road are spectacular, including some amazing vantage points overlooking the Colorado River. You should air down for Potash Road.

Stopping for a lunch break on Potash Road, with the Colorado River in the background
Panoramic view of the Colorado River

BLM378

  • Skids highly suggested
  • Do NOT drive this if it’s rained recently (or is raining when you get there).
  • All terrains required
  • Air down (I aired down to 18-22psi)

Also around Arches are things like BLM378, a road that starts in Arches National Park and exits through Bureau of Land Management maintained land which I highly suggest skid plates for, and suggest you skip if it’s rained (everything turns to wet clay-like cement glop), but the views and especially the sunsets are stellar…

Salt Valley Road/BLM145

  • Airing down is not necessary, but you should, for comfort
  • Regular street tires are fine, with care
  • There are some great dispersed (and free) camping spots in the BLM land portion north of Arches National Park

Salt Valley Road/BLM145 is safe for non-skidded driving, and has some amazing (and free) camping spots all along it. The road is VERY washboarded, so, air down for comfort and bring a portable pump to air back up. BLM145 becomes Salt Valley Road when it crosses into Arches National Park.

Camping under the stars against Sunshine Wall
Amazing landscape in all directions

WARNING: many of the side trails require skid plates and all terrain tires. There are side trails off it, that definitely require skid plates, so, be aware of the terrain if you turn off.

Baby Steps North 4×4 Road/Little Valley 4×4 Trail

  • Skid plates (front, mid and rear) REQUIRED
  • True all terrain tires REQUIRED
  • Lift RECOMMENDED
  • Air down (I aired down to about 20 psi)

Baby Steps North 4×4 Road and Little Valley 4×4 Trail are gorgeous little 4×4 trails that run up and all over Copper Ridge. The views are stunning, and the ride isn’t too technical, except for a few spots here and there. Check out Part 1-3 of the big video at the top of this post to see what it’s all about. It’s an intermediate trail that’s a lot of fun.

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00:00:35 Part 01: (O/T) Off Roading On Our Way To Tower Arch

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On our way to a hike at Tower Arch, we got distracted by the trails and decided to do some off-roading to Copper Ridge

00:01:02 (T) We off-road to the top of Copper Ridge

00:04:13 (O) We tackle some fun terrain on Baby Steps North 4×4 Road into Long Valley 4×4 Trail

Nose to the grindstone

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00:06:07 PART 02: (S) A View From The Sky at Copper Ridge

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Check out a cool aerial view showing where we camped and off-roaded on our first days. We were pretty close to everything, with Arches National Park right over the ridge behind us, Gemini Bridges and Canyonlands National Park right around the corner, and lots of other cool places in the distance.

The snow topped La Sal Mountains in the background

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00:08:13 Part 03: (O) Little Valley 4×4 Trail – Leaving Copper Ridge

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Leaving Copper Ridge on Little Valley 4×4 Trail and Baby Steps North 4×4 Trail was a lot of fun, as we made our way around random boulders sticking out of the ground in the little scenic dips on the plateau.

About to scrape things flatter with my Primitive Racing skid plates.

Tower Arch 4×4 Trail

  • Skid plates (front, mid and rear) REQUIRED
  • True all terrain tires REQUIRED
  • 1.5″ or higher lift REQUIRED
  • Extreme care and spotters REQUIRED

One trail I wouldn’t take a Subie on without both skids and a lift is the Tower Arch 4×4 Trail (do NOT take this without a second car with you, and a lift and skids) off Salt Valley Road… this hole is big enough to use as a sofa, and you’d have to drive up and over it.

Holes big enough to be a sofa

Climbing up the first set of obstacles…

Still climbing

The “easy” part goes from steep rock shelves into soupy sand… it’s not “easy”. This is over 15° and the drop offs get very steep. The sand “incline” at the bottom is actually the flat part.

Steep climb down
Slipping and Sliding

Gemini Bridges

  • Skids highly recommended
  • All Terrains highly recommended
  • Airing down highly recommended (18-25psi worked for me)

Gemini Bridges Road is a gorgeous drive through valleys, plateaus, and more. But, do NOT attempt Metal Masher Road, if you visit Gemini Bridges – I am not even sure if it’s possible with my 2.4″ lift and skids (I’ll find out August 2022). Stay on Gemini Bridges Road, and be VERY careful, and, you can make it without skids (but I recommend skids, especially if you’re newer to off roading and aren’t yet the best at picking a line). The views are spectacular…

It might be a beautiful sunset, but, my Ascent is still taking up most the shot – as it should be, lol!

Maps of the Area

These conditions change frequently, so, these recommendations may not apply when you visit

  • DARK RED THIN LINE: Park road, paved
  • RED: need skids (and perhaps lift)
  • ORANGE: skids would be nice. Be very very careful without
  • PURPLE: clay sands… truly impassable when wet
  • GREEN: don’t need skids
Gemini Bridges Road (green route from top right to bottom left) can be done with care… but skid plates would be nice. There are some dicey spots that you need to pick your lines well on.

Arches is directly across Rt 191. Canyonlands is directly south.

More to come!!!