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Welcome to Hell's Revenge, the world's most famous slickrock trail. Slickrock is petrified sand. The slickrock moniker dates back to when horse-drawn wagons would try to cross the seemingly easily traversed undulating sandstone. Metal horseshoes and steel-rimmed wagon wheels found no grip on the sandstone. Thus, it was called slickrock. Modern tires love the course sandstone. Moab's Hell's Revenge is considered a must-do for many wheelers. It's also in most folks' top 5 Jeep Badge of Honor Trails. When picturing Moab, the slickrock rollercoaster, fins, steep climbs, insane traction, and the two rubber tracks cresting over the hills off into the distance of Hell's Revenge is what comes to mind. If eavesdropping on conversations at any Moab watering hole, you'll hear names like Hell's Gate, The Hot Tubs, Car Wash, Micky's Hot Tub, The Escalator, and Tip Over Challenge mentioned reverently and constantly at the heart of any good Moab story. They are all on Hell's Revenge.
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Hell's Revenge can be run as an out-and-back or a half-loop exiting west of the entrance. The classic slickrock trail gives incredible traction, and all major obstacles can be bypassed. The trail begins with fins and ledges before encountering the more challenging and optional obstacles like Hell's Gate, the Escalator, the Hot Tubs, Tip-Over Challenge, and the Steps. Given that the hardest obstacles are optional, the trail is suitable for beginners in stock high clearance vehicles with a 4-low transfer case. Airing your tires down will enhance the drive by making it cushier and adding traction.
Hell's Revenge is well-marked with paint and signage. As you drive, you will come across four paint markings that you should be aware of:
As you complete the entirety of the trail, there are two options to exit. The first is the traditional exit at Waypoint 37, which is long and rough. The second is at Waypoint 3, now the more common exit.
Fees and Area Information
Hell's Revenge is located within the Sand Flats Recreations Area and managed through a partnership between Grand County and the BLM. All 4X4s, ATVs, motorcycles, and bikes must remain on designated roads and trails. There are no open play areas within Sand Flats. Penalties for violations of trail use can include, among other things, forfeiture of vehicles. Please Stay on the trail! Remember, indiscriminate vehicle tracks represent the theft of beauty that you came here to see.
Sand Flats offers a few different types of use passes.
Enter in a private vehicle, and you can purchase a 1-day pass for $5.00 or a 7-day pass for $10.00. Sand Flats also charges a vehicle trailer fee of $5.00. An annual pass for $25.00 is available. The pass admits the cardholder and passengers in a single, private vehicle for day use through the last day of the month and year indicated on the pass.
The trail starts at a large parking area just past the entrance station to Sand Flats Recreation Area. There is plenty of space to park and air down. There is also a restroom.
The trail immediately traverses a narrow, steep, slickrock fin. This is a one-way-only fin and an example of the typical terrain along the Hell's Revenge Trail.
After dropping off the slickrock fin, the trail passes a one-way exit. Two-way trail traffic begins. The alternate exit returns to the parking lot.
After passing the exit, the trail enters a deep rock depression in the rock that is often filled with water after rainstorms. There are two lines through this section. The lower line is a bit rocky. The upper line is smoother but slightly off-camber.
The first of many ledge obstacles along the trail. Many lines across the ledge ranging from 6 inches to several feet.
The road flattens out briefly and passes fake dinosaur tracks. An informational sign tells the tale of how a local man stole the original tracks, then somehow lost them. Views of the famous Lion Back are fantastic from this spot. Signs will remind you to stay on the trail.
Continue northeast, passing Hell's Alternate. You can see the next two obstacles from this intersection and determine if you would rather take the alternate route.
The trail approaches a slickrock fin. You can either attempt the steep, smooth side face or circle around to the right and gradually traverse the fin like a long ramp.
Traverse up a long, steep, slickrock hill following black tire marks. The hill climbs at a 27-degree angle.
Follow the painted yellow diamonds on the rock and drop down the other side of the slickrock dome at a 31-degree angle.
Cross over a 4-way intersection with Hell's Alternate and traverse a long, steep, 31-degree slickrock dome, following yellow diamonds. If this hill seems too daunting, take the alternate route to the northeast and rejoin at Waypoint 15.
Traverse across the top of the large slickrock dome, following yellow diamonds and painted lines on the rock.
Stay between the yellow-painted lines and make a hard turn as the trail drops abruptly down a 31-degree hill. The stop sign ahead at the top of the hill marks the exit of the Staircase trail, which is a one-way-only trail from west to east.
The trail slowly weaves down the slickrock with fantastic views of Abyss Canyon.
The trail continues past the intersection with Hell's Alternate and begins traversing much more sandy terrain.
Another stop sign marks the intersection of the bypass for the Staircase obstacle. The Staircase Bypass is a one-way trail from west to east.
Continue straight passing Hell's Alternate #2, a shortcut that bypasses many obstacles and rejoins the main trail at the bottom of Dragon's Tail.
In a tight turn, traverse a small chunky ledge with great views of the La Sal Mountains behind you.
To the west is a ledge obstacle with several lines from easy to moderate. Bypass the obstacle by circling around to the east.
The trail flattens out and begins crossing a sandy section as the bypass route reconnects from the east.
Continuing north at this intersection takes you to Hell's Gate and the Colorado River Overlook. You will return to this intersection later and head east to finish the trail.
Pass the exit of Hell's Gate, where it's not unusual to see crowds gathering to watch vehicles attempt this difficult, optional obstacle. The entrance to Hell's Gate is 50 yards further ahead and well-marked.
Pass the optional Hell's Gate and continue up a steep slickrock fin to the overlook.
A popular and often crowded gathering spot, the river overlook marks the end of the northern branch of the trail. Incredible views of the Colorado River and the La Sal Mountains will have your camera praying for more memory. Return the way you came, back to Waypoint 21.
After returning to Waypoint 21 and heading east, you begin traversing long stretches of continuous slickrock.
Drop down twin, side by side, 30-degree hills.
The Black Hole is named for the shadow that constantly lurks under the large overhang of slickrock. This is also an area where you drive right along the edge of the large cliff. If you're nervous, focus on the black tracks in front of you. If you are brave enough to look down, you will see the rusted remains of a vehicle below.
This optional obstacle has several names, including Devil's Highway, The Big Hot Tub, and Devil's Hot Tub. This is an extreme obstacle that takes loads of power and full commitment. This is the largest hot tub along the trail, and water is almost always pooled at the bottom, making it even harder to get traction. Vehicle rollovers are common on this obstacle.
The car wash is another hot tub directly west of Devil's Highway that is steep but much easier than any other hot tub along the trail. The drop into the deep hole is an exhilarating 35 degrees before leveling out across a sandy bottom. The climb up is a smooth 27 degrees with plenty of traction for your tires to crawl.
Pass by the optional Mickey's Hot Tub, another pothole famous for inflicting carnage. The hot tub is a short, steep drop, followed by an immediate steep climb out, and requires a good amount of momentum to conquer.
Follow between yellow paint marks as you continue down a blind drop called Dragon's Tail. This extremely steep, 30-degree pitch is relatively smooth and uneventful, but the slope with leaving you guessing how it's possible to descend such a slope.
At the bottom of Dragon's Tail, drop into the sand and continue south, passing Hell's Alternate #2, which is a shortcut back to Waypoint 17.
Continue past the exit of the Escalator route to the west. Escalator is an optional obstacle that begins farther down the trail.
After traversing a short section of sand, you reach an area lined with wood fencing. At the end of the fencing, you pass the entrance for Escalator on the right. This is a very popular optional obstacle. Escalator is a difficult obstacle with a high risk of rollover. It is essentially a natural staircase, with each stair being a deep pothole slightly higher than the previous one. Conquering this obstacle is very technique sensitive and can easily cause vehicles to lie over onto their side. The deep, off-camber holes also have a tendency to take out rear corner lights and roofs.
Continue southwest to reach the end of the trail. The one-way trail heading east is the Staircase which rejoins the main route back at Waypoint 13.
Tip-Over Challenge is an optional obstacle with a complete bypass. This multi-threat obstacle skirts around a rock face and is both steep and off-camber, with a 23-degree roll near the top. This obstacle can easily lift a tire and sometimes may slide you sideways to the point of rolling. The bypass is clearly marked at the bottom of the obstacle and will take you around to the right.
At a Y-intersection, choose left or right. Both routes reconnect 300 yards down the trail. Both routes consist of hard-packed soil with some protruding rocks.
Both routes from the prior waypoint reconnect and continue toward the exit.
As you ride close to the cliff edge, descend a short, steep series of rocky, fractured sandstone ledges.
As the trail turns south, you traverse a steep, rutty drop where tire placement becomes important to avoid damaging the undercarriage. Erosion along this stretch of the trail creates deeper holes and ruts with each passing rainstorm.
Drop down a steep, double sandstone ledge with several rocky, rutty lines.
After several descents, the trail travels through a brief section of sand before climbing up a chunky rocky hill that requires momentum if the terrain is wet.
Pass the entrance to Lions Back Resort and continue on the well-maintained gravel road.
Once the site of the old staging area, Hell's Revenge ends at an intersection with the paved Sand Flats Road south of the entrance gate. A new staging area has been created on the east side of the road, about 100 yards north along Old Dump Road.
Camping is not allowed on this trail. However, Sand Flats Recreation Area has 120 campsites in 9 campgrounds marked with the letters (A-J) to represent the names Alcove, Bobcat, Cottontail, Datura, Echo, Fox, Globemallow, Hawk, and Juniper. The sites are offered on a first-come, first-serve basis. The campsites have picnic tables, metal fire rings, and nearby vault toilets. Unless noted, campsites are limited to 10 people and two vehicles per site, and all vehicles must park in the parking areas provided. Campers will need to bring drinking water. Checkout time is 11 a.m.
Sand Flats offers two reservable group campsites. All other camping is first-come, first-serve at $15.00 per night per vehicle, with an additional $5.00 charge for a utility trailer. (2022 fees)
From City Market in the middle of town, head north on South Main Street (191) for 0.1 miles and turn right onto E 300 S. Continue for 0.4 miles. The road will come to a T. Turn right onto Fourth E Street. Continue 0.1 miles and turn left onto E Mill Creek Drive. Continue straight, and the road will eventually turn into Sand Flats Road as you pass by a graveyard. After 1.7 miles, you will reach the gated entrance of Sand Flats Recreation Area. Stop and pay your entrance fee. Just past the gate is a large parking lot. The trailhead is at the other end of the parking lot below the rock faces.
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