Shafer Trail

4.8/5 (34 reviews)
Moab, Utah (Grand County)
Last Updated: 09/11/2022
Zoom in to see trails...

Trail Information


Easy and iconic, the Shafer Trail is a must do when visiting Moab or the Canyonlands. The road was originally a cattle trail built by John Sog Shafer in 1917. Later in the 1940s and 1950s, it was constructed into a useable road for trucks hauling uranium ore from the benches below. Long gone are the remnants of the old mining days but the incredible and imposing rim walls still stand to remind you of just how grand planet Earth really is.

Trail Difficulty and Assessment

Trail Navigation

An entrance fee for Canyonlands National Park is required which you can pay at the visitors center or online. The guide described here is running the trail from top to bottom for the view, but it can be run in any direction. The dirt road is relatively smooth with steep switchbacks and narrow in spots that either descends or rises 1,300' in 5 miles. Almost all of the switchbacks have a small area to pull over if you need to let someone pass. There are no guardrails so be sure to watch the road. The road will close quickly if there is rain so be sure to check the current conditions. This road can be combined with the White Rim or Potash Road to make for a full day or multi-day trip. While this road is suitable for any SUV, if you plan to combine it with White Rim, a higher clearance vehicle will be required.
This road could be very dangerous when wet and will typically be temporarily closed by the National Park Service during wet weather.

Trail Reviews

5/5 (34 reviews)
Status: Open
Rated 5/5
Visited: 09/18/2022
Difficulty Accuracy: Spot On

Fun, beautiful, and in good condition
Official Crew
Status: Open
Visited: 09/11/2022

Recent rains have created more erosion issues. AWD or 4WD is recommended.
Status: Open
Rated 5/5
Visited: 09/01/2022
Difficulty Accuracy: Spot On

Fantastic views and just enough pucker factor to make it an exciting drive without being technical. Recent rains have left some deep ruts along the road and a few washouts, but BLM construction vehicles were repairing things even as I drive the trail. Combine with the Potash Road for an excellent few hour drive between Canyonlands and Moab.
Trail Review: Shafer Trail - Matthew Corbett
Status: Open
Rated 5/5
Visited: 06/24/2022
Difficulty Accuracy: Spot On

Iconic and easy to get to from Island in the sky district. Saw a lot of AWD and FWD cars/SUV on the road so it must be doable. Not too difficult but can be busy. If you want the same or perhaps a better expirience with less traffic, check out the switch backs on Mineral Bottom Road.
Status: Open
Rated 5/5
Visited: 06/22/2022
Difficulty Accuracy: Spot On

Fun trail and breaks you in for White Rim. It’s steep and easily passable if you pick your spots but nothing anyone with off-road experience should worry about.
Trail Review: Shafer Trail - Dwight Becker

From the Community

Start a free trial and get this level of detail on every trail guide
Go All-Access