Difficulty Accuracy: Harder
I think time, use, and the weather have made Rose Garden Hill more difficult than it's rating.
I had my daughters (17 and 20) with me in Moab last weekend. I normally fly solo, so before going on a new trail I typically do a lot of research to ensure I don't get in over my head. I wanted to take my daughters to Top of the World and also do Onion Creek. When I saw they were connected by Rose Garden I thought the three would make a great day. We'd start at Top of the World and then take Rose Garden to Onion Creek and get back to 128 and head back to Moab. I saw that Rose Garden's difficulty rating was the same as Top of the World, so I thought this would be a great trio. It was not.
I have a stock 2021 JLU Rubicon. My only non-stock parts are 35s, custom bumpers, and a winch. Based on my thorough research I figured Top of the World would be challenging, but I shouldn't have too much trouble, and I was spot on. We all had a great time on Top of the World. We made it to the top and back out to Kokopelli with no issues. My daughter spotted me twice, though I could have made it fine on my own. Then we hit Rose Garden. It started out fine, pretty narrow, but not all that difficult. Waypoint 6 (off camber stairs) wasn't too fun, but that's just becuase going off camber gives me the heebie jeebies. Both my daughters were shaken a little, but we made it through fine and continued, perhaps a little nervously. The primary driver of my nerves was the fact there were no fresh tracks on the trail and it looked like it hadn't been traveled in a few weeks or more. If something were to happen, help wouldn't arrive quickly.
Then we got to Rose Garden Hill. Up to that point the trail had been no real technical challenge at all; just the uneasiness of being on a remote trail alone and the girls were rattled a little by the off camber stairs. Then looking down Rose Garden Hill terrified my daughters. I walked down to survey the situation and I didn't like the way things looked. The first couple ledges were on the larger side, but no worse than other's I'd done on other trails. I pointed out the line to my daughter and she spotted me great. So far so good, just a little scraping on the bottom, no big deal. Then the third or fourth ledge was the big one; I'd have to say it was three+ feet, maybe close to four.
There was no good line for my stock Rubicon. I stacked what I thought would be enough rocks below the ledge to get me down safely. My daughter spotted again. I slowly let my front wheels go over the edge and then a hard stop. I gave it some gas and nothing, my wheels just spun. I tried the lockers, all four wheels just spun. I got out to survey the situation; I was hung up on the frame and the cross member at the front of the transfer case skid plate. My front tires were barely touching the rocks I had stacked below the ledge. On the top side of the ledge there was just enough of a hole that my rear wheels also had very little traction. We were severely high centered.
Now my nerves started to kick in. We were stuck on the worst part of the trail, no cell service of course, and it was about 105 degrees; thankfully we had plenty of water. Both my daughters wanted to make a distress call at this point, but with no cell service, it wasn't an option without a long tough hike. I was rattled a bit, but I was still holding it together and looking for options. I walked the rest of the hill. There were two more ledges after the one we were stuck on, but they were smaller and had workable lines. The remainder of the hill was just big boulders, so not a problem; we just had to get off of the ledge we were stuck on. Our only option to get off the ledge was the winch.
I looked and there was a tree down the hill a ways. I started pulling line hoping it would be long enough. Thankfully, the winch had enough line. I wrapped the recovery strap around the base of the tree hoping it would hold. I got back in the Jeep and started reeling in the rope. The Jeep didn't move at all at first, Then as the tree started to move the Jeep finally slid forward a little bit, but then stopped again. Now the tree was moving, but the Jeep wasn't. I started giving the Jeep some gas hoping it had moved forward enough so that I would get more traction. First nothing, and then finally my wheels caught and I got down of the ledge.
I pulled in the rest of the line. My daughter spotted me through the last two ledges and then they walked to the bottom of the hill as I navigated the boulders. The remainder of the trail was simple and Onion Creek was a very good cool down trail. We all loved the views and appreciated the simple trail. In total we were off the highway for 9 hours 45 minutes. We were on Rose Garden Hill for a good hour of that. Thankfully we made it out in one piece and with no trail damage.
I would not recommend Rose Garden for anything stock, and regardless of how built your rig is, do not attempt this trail solo. Had I done better research like I normally do I would not have attempted this trail, so that is completely on me. With the current condition of Rose Garden Hill I don't think there is a line that would would qualify as a 6. Comparing Rose Garden to Top of the World, which are both rated the same (6 to 8), Rose Garden is easily more difficult, by a good margin. The remainder of the trail, above and below Rose Garden Hill isn't difficult at all, but Rose Garden Hill is very difficult. Even with a 2.5 to 3.5 lift and 37s I think it's at least a solid 7 as a minimum difficulty.
Unfortunately I didn't get any pictures from Rose Garden. I was more concerned about getting off the trail safely so I didn't get any photos.