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Moab 2000
May 5 - 7, 2000
By: Rick Horwitz & Gerald Jarrett
Photos By: Rick Horwitz unless otherwise noted

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Group on the Gold Bar Rim Trail

Moab, Utah is a paradise for outdoor recreation. Hiking, biking, kayaking, rafting and some of the most famous four wheel drive trails in the country attract tourists from across the country and around the world.    

Lions Back is a great example of slickrock

One of the magical attributes of Moab is it’s famous “slickrock”. The rock is anything, but slick when you combine it with the treads of sticky rubber tires. The fact is that our tires grip tenaciously to the Navajo sandstone. This “slickrock” gives our four wheel drive vehicles the ability to climb and descend unbelievably steep hills and also allows us to traverse wildly off camber side hills without loss of traction.  

My website, www.explorer4x4.com, has hosted several “Serious Explorations” over the past two years. These events bring Ford Explorer owners together from around the country and occasionally even from beyond our borders. The Moab 2000 trip was the most talked about and highly anticipated event to date. There were over 500 messages discussing which trails we would run, who would lead and which weekend would be the best time for the group to gather. It was decided that the weekend of May 5-7 would work out best for the majority of those who were interested in attending.   

I arrived in Moab a couple days before the main event. Since no one else from our group was there, I decided to tackle an easy trail by myself. I had heard that the Gemini Bridges trail was well traveled by mountain bikers as well as four wheelers so I wasn’t worried about traveling alone. The trailhead to Gemini Bridges starts about 7 miles North of Moab on Hwy. 191. After reaching the staging area I aired my tires down to a modest 20 psi to help smooth out the graded dirt road which leads towards Gemini Bridges. 

The first portion of the trail is an easy ride through some switchbacks. The view from here is incredible. As you gain altitude the view of Hwy 191 quickly broadens. You can see for miles in either direction and there is a shear vertical drop below the graded road. While taking in the view don’t let your eyes stray too long as there are usually mountain bikers on the trail and there are plenty of blind curves for them to pop out of. 

Once the switchbacks are complete it’s a short drive to the beginning of the well-marked Gemini Bridges trail. The trail offers several small ledges in the first 2 miles. Once you are within ¼ mile from the end the ledges become steeper, but there are bypasses that most stock 4x4 vehicles can handle. When the trail ends you are left asking yourself “where are the bridges”? Once you walk a few feet from your vehicle it become apparent that they are right in front of you! The tops of the “bridges”, which are natural rock arches, are even with the surrounding terrain. There is a huge amphitheatre like opening to one side and an extremely long drop into the canyon below on the other side. The two bridges are separated by a VERY narrow chasm 5-10 feet across. I parked my Explorer on the wider of the two bridges for an incredible photo opportunity.   

Rick on Gemini Bridges

Friday morning our group of Explorers met in Moab’s City Market parking lot. A few of us had met on previous trips, but most had only been previously acquainted through our discussions on the Internet. We spent a good deal of time introducing ourselves, checking out each others Explorers, and meeting with the 11 Ford reps who were there to ride along with us. 

This was the third time that Ford Motor Company sent a team of representatives with us on one of our “Serious Explorations”. Vivian Palmer who is Ford’s Marketing Plans Manager from Dearborn, Michigan was leading this group. Vivian had rode along with us on our Truckhaven 2000 trip in Southern California so she wasn’t new to fourwheeling. 

After a short drivers orientation meeting we all headed out to the Gold Bar Rim trail. It had been decided that the “moderate” group would follow the “modified” group as far as they possibly could and once they could proceed no further they would turn around and run the Gemini Bridges trail.    

Matt Adams
Photo by: Peter Weber

Watch Paul Bredehoft's Explorer descend this ledge on MPG video!

Matt Adams
Photo by: Peter Weber

The first couple of miles on the Gold Bar Rim Trail were very easy. A few small ledges made things interesting for the moderate group. Those without modifications easily bypassed the first major obstacle. The obstacle was shear drop off a ledge that was nearly 3 feet tall. The object here was to slowly crawl down the ledge as far as you could until the front tires lost contact with the rock, at this point the four doors had the advantage. The four doors were able to slide down the ledge while their rear tires kept firm contact with the ground. The two doors however were getting high centered. A bit of bouncing on their rear bumpers gave them the traction they needed to continue on.   

Matt descending rocky trail

Matt descending steep decline

Shortly after the ledge the moderate group had to break off from the rest of the pack and head back to Gemini Bridges. At this point there was a section of trail with no bypass. It started out very rocky with plenty of large loose boulders. The trail then took a sharp left turn down a nearly vertical section of slick rock. Most of the rigs got air under their rear tires as they made the sharp left and dropped down the slickrock to the desert floor below. After this obstacle the trail was filled with many smaller ledges and steps. It even had one section that resembled the famous “Golden Crack”, only on this trail traversing the crack was far less exciting. 

Soon we found ourselves near the end of the trail. The last obstacle was probably the most difficult of all. The obstacle consisted of a steep climb up a very narrow chute. Tire placement was very critical at this point to maintain the rigs on an even keel. I believe one of the group received a bit of body damage at this point on the trail. Once past the chute we were within eye site of our destination, the famous and spectacular Gold Bar Rim. From atop the rim you are immediately overwhelmed by the incredible 360-degree panorama. Looking East, straight out over the rim gives you a view of Highway 191 and Arches National Monument, some 1500 feet below the edge. To the South is the Colorado river, the view to the West is an impressive display of slickrock and vast canyons. To the North you can follow the ridge running along Highway 191 for miles.    

Jay atop Gold bar Rim

Rick atop Gold bar Rim

We decided to take our lunch at this incredible location. After we finished eating we paused for a group photo, assembling all of the vehicles and participants for a one of a kind photo opportunity. After our photo shoot we decided to try one of the more famous obstacles on the Golden Spike Trail, Double Whammy.

Jay atop Gold Bar Rim
Photo by: Peter Weber

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Copyright 2000 Rick Horwitz Photography
All Rights Reserved