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  View original topic: Moab and Utah Trip Report
SSWesty Fri May 09, 2014 11:39 pm

This year Southern Utah popped on the radar for a spring break getaway. Since my wife has limited time off from school we did something a little different to buy us more time on the trip. I drove our Westy from the the Seattle area down to Salt Lake City the weekend before our trip and flew home Sunday. Then on the following Thursday night after work we flew to Salt Lake to start our trip. Kudos to Southwest for “bags fly free”, we were able to bring all the stuff we didn’t get packed with us without worrying about crazy baggage fees. I left our westy parked at one of the diamond lots that has valet parking and security. It worked out really slick with no issues and it was really a convenient way to go and a time saver. So the plan was to wander around Bryce, Capital Reef, Canyonlands and Arches for a good 7 days then head back north on the following Saturday.

We were treated to a really unique experience at Bryce, one day was sunny and great for hiking and the next was snowy and neat to see the hoodoos with a dusting of snow. Holy smokes the elevation had an impact on power when we drove out to Rainbow Point, elevation 9,100 feet. We had to use trusty 2nd gear on some of the hills getting out there, no chance for 3rd when you have to slow down to 25mph for the corners.


The folks in blue jackets were from Switzerland, they had travelled a chunk in Europe and were working on the Americas as in North and South. We had great fun chatting with them and hope to see them on their way back down from Alaska. They are traveling in a custom built syncro.


Next came the Burr Trail and Capital Reef National Park. I really like travelling the Burr Trail eastbound from Boulder. The terrain is so diverse from the canyons to crazy switchbacks. Captured some stars with the point and shoot from one of our camping spots.


Daytime view of same location.


Did a couple nice hikes off the Upper Twist Muley Trail and it was a fun 3 miles getting to the trailhead.


Next came Canyonlands, here is a trail map of that has the places I talk about below. http://www.nps.gov/cany/planyourvisit/upload/island.pdf


We scored a night at the Shafer Camp however snow overnight nixed our plans to climb the Shafer trail. The ranger came by in the morning and said they had to close the trail because of the snow and mud. Only 1 vehicle is allowed at the Shafer camp so it was a very quiet night since we were the only humans around for miles.


A couple days later we scored a night out on the White Rim Trail by getting a spot from someone that cancelled. We spent about 3 hours getting to the Gooseberry camp and averaged about 8 mph. Doubtful that we’ll do that camp again in our Westy, the Airport camp would have been good enough for me. Here is a shot out on the trail.


And here is a picture at the Gooseberry camp. It was crazy quite out there, you could listen for sounds and hear nothing.


We tried going down the Lathrop road off of the White Rim trail to get down to the river. However there was a wash that didn’t look to good to me and we’d already had come through some sketchy sections so we turned around about 1 mile in. On the way back out there were a couple of steep sections where I had to slip the clutch to keep the rpms up to maintain forward momentum. One section was pretty rough so I decided to smooth it out with the shovel to reduce the chance of dragging bottom. I think this road would be best traveled with a couple rigs working together or solo in a syncro. This is the only road we encounter where having the granny low from a syncro tranny would have been helpful. Last year I had AA install a peloquin and it paid off big time coming up that road. I am doubtful that we would have made it with just 2wd. The peloquin also came in handy in a few spots on the White Rim trail. I think I could have made everything with a plan old 2wd(1 wheel drive) however it was nice to be a little sloppy on picking a line and just let the peloquin manage the traction in the rear.

We spent some time in Arches however no back country camping there.

We did one night of casino camping on the way back home :) That’s quite a change from the White Rim trail.


Gas mileage ranged from 20.5 to a low of 14.3. When we were travelling from Bryce to Boulder we had strong tail wind that gave use 20.5 mpg and north bound through Idaho the wind was ridiculous. I was monitoring the weather stations along the route and for a good chunk of the day it was a steady 25-30mph wind on our nose. At times it was a struggle to even do 55mph on the flat with the gas floored. This of course produced a painful 14.3 mpg. The rest of the time we were around 16-18.

I made some sand ladders for this trip but never used them. Thread about that here. http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=584724&highlight=ladders

So we racked up 3,000 miles on this trip and it was nice to break up the driving by doing the bulk of the southbound leg the weekend before. The only issue that came up was the passenger window crank that I super glued on a couple years ago fell off on the Burr Trail. I used a little 5 minute epoxy this time around to glue it back on, not looking forward to taking if off if the need every arises.

I am a big fan of Southern Utah and would recommend the area to those that have an opportunity to get there.

Ahwahnee Sat May 10, 2014 6:25 am

SSWesty wrote: ...I am a big fan of Southern Utah...

Me too, thanks for an interesting & informative trip report.

Love My Westy Sat May 10, 2014 7:59 am

I'm impressed that you did the White Rim Trail. I started on it from Mineral Bottom last year in my stock 2WD. I was alone and when I came to the first really steep hill it was all I could do to get up it in low gear. The worst part was that about 3/4 of the way up I almost caught up with a jeep going slow (probably in a lower gear than I had) and I was worried I might have to back off the gas. When I got to the top and saw the steep hill going down, I turned around because I didn't want to go down anything I might not be able to get back up.

I wish I had a Syncro tranny and a Peloquin.

DontBeAfraid Sat May 10, 2014 8:50 am

Awesome story!
I am hopefully headed that way for a few days this summer and this gives me some great ideas!!
It's also good to hear that you got as high as 20.5mpg! Are those the 27/8.5/14 General Grabbers? I just installed mine and haven't been out on the highway for a full tank since so I'm curious of what my new (reduced) mpg will be. I don't mean to hijack the thread, just curious!

Thanks for the great post and photos!!

Our vans look so good spattered with dirt and mud!!:)

singler3360 Sat May 10, 2014 9:30 am

Thanks for the post and pics SSWesty. Looks like it was an awesome trip.

At Spring Break this year we also drove down to Canyonlands because I had snagged a backcountry camp permit in Chesler Park for a few nights. After the hike out, while having dinner at the Moab Brewery, we decided to camp up on the mesa going toward Dead Horse Point. Before finding camp, we decided to drive to the Schafer Trail switchbacks. With no one around so late in the day we decided to go for it anyway. The drive down was grippy fun and the experience was awesome.

I wasn't sure how our Westy was going to handle the climb back out but it did great with the Peloquin and the low torque of the TDI. Not even a hesitation around the steep hairpin turns.

Thanks for your trip report about the rest of the White Rim road and camp spots. We will definitely go back to try the rest.

SSWesty Sat May 10, 2014 11:11 am

Hey just to clarify a couple points we didn't do the whole White Rim trail, just the section from the Schafer side to Gooseberry. The first night at Shafer Camp we came in and out on the Potash road since the Shafer trail was closed. When we came back for our night at Gooseberry we came and went via the Shafer trail. On the other end of the White Rim trail there is some sand that I wasn't sure we could navigate so we didn't even explore that end. We stuck to the eastern end of the trail on this trip.

No issues going up or down the Shafer trail and it was easy enough to keep the rpms up in the switchbacks. I did take an IR gun with me on this trip and would checked the brake temperatures now and then. Coming down the Shafer trail I checked my rotor temps at the bottom and got about 205 degrees on the drivers side and 220 on the passenger side. This check produced the highest readings I've every taken and would consider it somewhat of an extreme scenario. Looks like I need to investigate what's going on with the front brakes. Something is making them uneven. I would also double check the temps back and both and the passenger side would always read higher.

Yep the tires are Grabbers and this was their first major trip. They were great on the highway and I loved them off-road. Off-road I air down to 30 pounds to help smooth out the ride. There are so many variables to figure out if the tires impact mpg and they may by about .25 mpg. Usually we have an easier time hitting 17+ mpg but on this trip it was harder to do that. I am not sure how much elevation had to do with this because I am typically travelling around at lower elevations than Utah's common 4,000 feet.

One more item I forgot to mention that in "Moab" travel mode we tipped the scales at 4,950 pounds loaded with fuel, water and supplies. My wife and I make up about 390 of those pounds and other extras for this trip probably weighed around 180 pounds. Extras for this trip were a 2nd spare, 3-4 gallons of extra water in a metal jerry can, 10 gallons of extra fuel in metal jerry cans, metal sand ladders, and a scissor jack as secondary jack.

We've only gotten 20+ mpg on three trips. Two involved STRONG tail winds on 50mph roads and one was in Alaska on a 45mph road running ethanol free fuel. 20 is definitely not norm in our 35,000+ miles of travels.



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