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Moab, Utah Shamrock Tour®

Text: Luke Swab • Photography: Luke Swab, Cameron Muilenburg

We all know Moab, a small town in Utah that caters to outdoor enthusiasts. Mountain bikers dream of riding the famous Slickrock Bike Trail, while kayakers and rafters can paddle up to 120 miles on the Colorado River. Side-by-side and Jeep drivers test their luck at the Sand Flats Recreation Area on trails like Hell’s Revenge and Fins & Things. The outskirts of the town are filled with rock climbers, living out of their Sprinter vans and searching for the best crag. Needless to say, the town carries an air of adventure. It’s the perfect basecamp for a Shamrock Tour® and Cameron and I are the lucky ones to do just that.

“I’m doing quarterly ayahuasca ceremonies. I’m microdosing LSD, psilocybin, and peyote to maintain psychiatric balance these days… Just kidding, okay!” says Dave, the owner and operator of Moab Moto Tours, as we shake hands for the first time. He has the biggest personality I’ve ever come across. To call him a character would be an understatement. He catches his guests (and us) off guard in the most wonderful way. Dave truly understands the power of humor and, as a tour guide, he adds value that you won’t find anywhere else in town.  

Dave met us the first evening at the Apache Motel on Fourth St. Even though I researched our routes online to the best of my ability, it’s always best if you can find a local to check your plans. We knew we wanted to do Shafer Canyon Rd, and Dave gave us the beta on which direction is the best, while also telling us about a “secret” way to complete the route via Gemini Bridges Rd.

 

SHAFER CANYON AND GEMINI BRIDGES

Shafer Canyon Rd is the only way out of a deep box canyon sitting on top of a shelf high above the Colorado River. Its six hairpin turns zigzag up a seemingly impossible cliff. Dire consequences await if you slide off the side. In many spots, the dirt road is only wide enough for one vehicle, meaning you have to wait to pass in the narrow sections.  

To get there, our route started on Potash Rd, along the banks of the Colorado River. We passed large ponds where a brine mixture is pumped from the underground into these shallow pools where it evaporates, leaving only the potash behind to be harvested. A steep, rocky, and sharp right turn with a 100-foot drop was the first indication that we must take this route seriously. There are no guard rails in sight and the loose rock demands a focused rider.  

We passed a gate and entered Canyonlands National Park. The road runs through and beside a large wash until it ends at a box canyon where we started the daunting Shafer climb. Once we safely reached the top, we relaxed again and eased onto a beautifully paved road to cruise for a few miles before taking Dave’s suggestion and turning right onto Gemini Bridges Rd. Back on the gravel, we could slide the bikes around, with no looming dangerous cliffs. If you ride this route, take your time stopping and taking photos of the beautiful sights before popping back on the highway leading to town. I could not think of a better route to get your feet wet in Moab. It was a perfect first day.

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For the complete touring article, including facts & information, map(s), and GPS files, please purchase the March/April 2022 back issue.