Scenic Roads Happenings June 2010
Top of the World Trail
Article and photos by Rob Cassingham
With assistance from a spotter, some people drive farther onto the promontory. Not the author!
The “Top of the World” trail presents the intrepid visitor with one of the most sublime panoramic views to be found anywhere, but take note that this route is definitely not advised for stock four wheel drive vehicles. The trail is rated as ‘moderate’, but some may find it more difficult. Taller tires, extra ground clearance, and skid plates are necessities. Many obstacles will require you to pick the best ‘approach’, and a spotter will prove to be very helpful. Don’t forget a spare tire and tools, and bring extra water just in case.
To begin your trip, head to the intersection of Main and Center streets. Reset your trip meter.
Mile 0.0 You are at the intersection of Main and Center streets, in front of the Moab Information Center. If you wish to purchase a map before starting your trip, this is a good place to do it. When you are ready, drive north on Main Street.
Mile 2.4 Utah Highway 128 heads east at this point. Turn right on Highway 128 (locally known as “The River Road”. The River Road is extremely scenic and should be a part of every visitor’s Moab experience. Enjoy your drive as the road and river both twist sinuously through the narrow gorge.
Mile 32.3 Turn right just before the River Road crosses the Colorado River and reset your tripmeter. You are now on the well-maintained and beautiful Entrada Bluffs Road, which is normally passable to standard highway vehicles for a fair distance. This is also the only location for restroom facilities until you return to this point.
Typical scenery along the Entrada Bluffs Road.
Mile 0.0 Start by driving east on the Entrada Bluffs Road. You will shortly pass a cattle guard and the road will transition to dirt.
Mile 2.0 The road drops down and crosses a wash. Depending on weather conditions and the time of year, this wash may be dry or be quite deep. In mid-May, when the author crossed it, it was only 4 to 8 inches deep. The bottom is firm, so getting stuck should not be an issue.
Mile 5.3 The Top of the World Trail intersects at this point. Reset your tripmeter and turn right. REMEMBER: This road is on the difficult side of a moderate-category trail, and is very challenging for stock vehicles. Having taller tires, a body lift and skid plates are very helpful. A spare tire and plentiful water are highly advised.
Mile 0.0 Start up the Top of the World Trail.
Some obstacles may require building ramps out of stones in order to continue.
Mile 0.0 + 50 yards Turn right at this intersection.
Mile 0.3 Pass through a fenceline and continue forward, up the rocky ledges.
Mile .6 The road travels over a large expanse of bare sandstone (slickrock). You should be able to discern the trail towards the left side of the slickrock.
Mile 3.0 You have come to the first of many difficult rock ledges. If you find this obstacle very daunting, turn back now as these obstacles are going to become frequent and usually more difficult until you return to this point.
Mile 3.3 Keep right at this intersection. You will be returning to this intersection via the road on your left.
Mile 4.1 The Top of the World. You have arrived at one of the most spectacularly impressive panoramas in the region.
Please remember that there are no safety rails, ropes, or anything else to prevent a sheer drop of 1200 to 1500 feet. Watch your children/pets VERY closely. Also, though it is rare, rock climbers occasionally challenge themselves on the cliffs below-don’t throw rocks or boulders off the edge!
The view to the northwest from Top of the World.
To the northwest, you can see all the way to the Book Cliffs, with the Colorado River shining in the distance. To the southwest, you look down upon the Fisher Towers, the twisted and folded geology of the Onion Creek/Fisher syncline, and Adobe Mesa. To the southeast, you can peer down upon the Onion Creek Road-which appears like dusty length of string from this height-as it twists and wends its way through the contorted landscape, and the La Sal Mountains tower in the distance.
When you are finished ‘oohing and ahhing’ over this sublime view, continue following the trail as it heads east/northeast.
Mile 4.8 Another very rough section. For the next .2 miles, you will have to be careful with your tire placement. A spotter could be very helpful with the worst obstacles.
Mile 5.1 You have rejoined the trail at the intersection you passed at mile 3.3. Turn right and retrace the route an additional 3.3 miles back to the Entrada Bluffs Road.
We hope that you have enjoyed your excursion to Top of the World, and your vehicle is reasonably intact! When you return to Moab, please pick up the latest copy of the Moab Happenings for another great route waiting for you to discover!
Looking southwest from the Top of the World..