Top

Driving the Shafer Trail between Canyonlands National Park and Moab is absolutely hair raising. The descent from the park’s visitors center to the canyon floor is a heart stopping collection of narrow switchbacks. Better yet, the narrow trail is flanked by a sheer, 1,000-foot cliff on one side and a rock wall on the other. And if that is not enough disincentive, there is little between you and a precipitous drop other than a few tenacious sage brush.

Aluminum Avion C11 truck camper driving down Shafer Road through Canyonlands National Park.
See the Avion? See the cliff?

Aluminum Avion C11 truck camper driving down Shafer Road through Canyonlands National Park.
It’s an even bigger cliff than you might have first thought.

As we drive, we are constantly on the lookout for approaching rigs and the rare pullouts where we can just barely let those vehicles pass. Usually, we are all about taking our time, savoring the experience, and collecting a lot of pictures. With these views, I am inclined to take more pictures. Unfortunately, there is little opportunity to pose for a group shot. The traffic is regular enough that we desperately dash between pullouts to allow oncoming traffic past us. ⁠Only once we reach the base of the cliff, less concerned for life and limb, I can look at these pictures and acknowledge, yeah, that is pretty!

Aluminum Avion C11 truck camper driving down Shafer Road through Canyonlands National Park.
There is no such thing as a 1-point turn on these switchbacks.

Aluminum Avion C11 truck camper driving down Shafer Road through Canyonlands National Park.
The views just don’t stop on this road!

For some, this cliff section is a right of passage, a proof of off-road grit. Personally, though, I am happy to reach the base of the cliff and enjoy the slightly more horizontal section of Shafer Trail. Not long after the dirt road flattens, it splits between Potash Road and the famous White Rim Road. The scenic, multi-day White Rim Road may be an iconic overlanding route, but today we will be turning left for Potash Road and exiting the park. Even so, the terrain continues to impress as we drive by hoodoos and further into the canyon.

Aluminum Avion C11 truck camper driving down Shafer Road through Canyonlands National Park.
At the base of the cliffside descent. We pause for a breather.

At a fenced cattle guard, we cross out of Canyonlands National Park and into BLM land. The road is continually flanked by cliffs, even as we rise up for a vista at Gooseneck Overlook. Here, we get our first view of the Colorado river winding tightly around carved red bluffs. Another two-miles past the Gooseneck Overlook is Thelma and Louise point. The views keep delivering for the next three miles until we wander onto private land. Even so, the road will continue to follow the river until it empties us at Highway 191.

Aluminum Avion C11 truck camper driving down Shafer Road through Canyonlands National Park.
Our first glimpse of the Colorado River.
Aluminum Avion C11 truck camper driving down Shafer Road through Canyonlands National Park.
Random boulders remind you of what is hanging not too far overhead…
Aluminum Avion C11 truck camper driving down Shafer Road through Canyonlands National Park.
Almost all of the road is flanked by colorful cliffs.

Aluminum Avion C11 truck camper driving down Shafer Road through Canyonlands National Park.
The views really are non-stop!

Lexi lives in a truck camper down by the river.

post a comment