Hole in the Rock Trail

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5/5 (6 reviews)
Halls Crossing, Utah (San Juan County)
Last Updated: 04/11/2023
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Trail Information

Highlights

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Camping Category Icon Camping
Desert Category Icon Desert
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Overland Category Icon Overland
Rock Category Icon Rock
Sand Category Icon Sand
Scenic Category Icon Scenic

Imagine yourself in the slickrock of Moab. Now, on that one trail that tested your rig's abilities time and time again. Lastly, picture yourself on that epic multi-day adventure away from the stress of everyday life. Now, combine each of those aspects into one breathtaking bucket list-worthy opportunity. That is just the surface of this grandiloquent adventure. Pack up your vehicle and prepare your mind to follow along a path rich in history dating back to the winter of 1879. The Mormon Pioneers decided to try a shortcut from the town of Escalante to what is now the town of Bluff. 6 weeks planned was the journey that quickly became a 6-month mission to reach their final destination. Once they transported their wagons and equipment across the Colorado River (now Lake Powell), they found that their journey was about to become arduous. Today, we have the ability to experience this strenuous trek in the comfort of motorized transport; however, it is a far cry from relaxing and easy. This journey will push you and your rig over the course of 16+ hours. Although it may be technical and demanding, be sure to bring your family and friends on this lifetime experience, taking in some of the most incredible sights that this part of Utah has to offer.

Trail Difficulty and Assessment

Trail Navigation

The entirety of the Hole in the Rock trail consists of a multitude of trail conditions. In the beginning stages of the trail, it is a graded road of dirt and occasional soft sandy areas. There is plenty of room to pass. Once you get to Waypoint 11, you will start to see rocky patches and a steep uphill climb, which at this point is still graded dirt. If there is any rain, this hill may become very slick. After passing the turnoff to Nokai Dome at Waypoint 12, the road is no longer maintained, and you will begin to feel the trail get a bit rougher. There are quite a few wash crossings that can be quite deep sand. Once at Waypoint 15, you will start to see the slickrock domes that will soon become prominent. From Waypoint 15 to 48, you will be treated with obstacles consisting of shelves, waterfalls, off-camber situations, and loose rock climbs. On top of Grey Mesa at Waypoint 48, the road will become a lot tamer, and you can pick up some pace. There are still patches of rough that you will have to slow down for, so be careful and pay attention. At Waypoint 52, the trail will begin to get rough again with rocky patches and occasional climbs and descents. At Waypoint 60, you reach The Chute, which is very accurately described as mini Hell's Gate. The actual "chute" part may not be the hardest obstacle, but the drop into the top bowl will surprise you. Shortly after The Chute, there is a steep uphill climb. After this climb, you will fall more rocky obstacles of a similar variety to what you have already faced until you reach the end. Keep in mind that this is an out-and-back trail 34.74 miles in length ONE WAY, and many of the challenging obstacles you will face first will be downhill. The return trip may prove to be more difficult in many spots. The named obstacles along this route include The Chute and what is collectively known as the climb to Grey Mesa. This trail is suitable for anyone in a lightly modified 4WD vehicle and some driver experience. Be prepared for possible breakages and very long days on the trail.

Trail Reviews

5/5 (6)
Open
Rated 5/5
Visited: 05/01/2023
Difficulty Accuracy: Spot On

The trail rating, I think, is in line with other trails of this same difficulty rating that I have four wheeled. The remoteness and length of the trail along with the difficulty makes this a trail that must be taken seriously. If you have a mechanical or medical issue, getting help may not happen guickly. I think the Grey Mesa climb has become more difficult judging from the TOR route pictures of that section that show more sand and soil on the trail surface. That climb is pretty much rubber smeared sandstone steps and bumps. (The Grey Mesa climb is the most difficult and dangerous section IMHO). The suggested vehicle in the description- SUV with light mods - is misleading and I’d recommend at least a rear locker, great ground clearance and 35” tires. Oh, be sure your vehicle is in great mechanical condition overall- this is an “all in “ trail in unforgiving country. If you are not sure if Hole in the Rock is for you, I’d suggest doing the Trifecta in Moab- Poison Spider-Golden Spike-Gold Bar Rim to get a taste of the difficulty and length of a day on this trail. If you have done the Trifecta, then you have a good idea what in store for you. If you do go, be prepared to wear out the word “epic” because the country, history and the trail are just that -epic.
Trail Review: Hole in the Rock Trail - Jeff Nelson
Trail Review: Hole in the Rock Trail - Jeff Nelson
Open
Rated 5/5
Visited: 05/01/2023
Difficulty Accuracy: Spot On

This trail has been on my bucket list for some time and when my wheeling buddy suggested doing it this spring I was all in. The scenery is unparalleled and the story of this trail is nearly unbelievable after you have traveled the route after reading David Miller’s book about the Mormon expedition to Bluff.
Open
Rated 5/5
Visited: 04/24/2023
Difficulty Accuracy: Harder

Easily a favorite. More challenging towards the end. Definitely bring friends. Prob not rated accurately.
Trail Review: Hole in the Rock Trail - James Morris
Open
Rated 5/5
Visited: 04/21/2023
Difficulty Accuracy: Harder

This trail is a must on your bucket list! Spent 3 days and 2 nights with multiple other Jeeps. The scenery is second to none specifically once you get on top of Grey Mesa. With that being said, beginning at waypoint 43 the difficulty ratchets up quickly to 6+ depending on the obstacle. Came across a small group with a Toyota pickup and a Raptor that turned around at waypoint 43. What an incredible trail and would do again!
Trail Review: Hole in the Rock Trail - Thomas King
Trail Review: Hole in the Rock Trail - Thomas King
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14800
Open
Rated 5/5
Visited: 04/25/2021
Difficulty Accuracy: Spot On

A must do trail that I can't wait to do again. A lot of people do this as a 3-day event but it's not necessary to take that long unless you want to. We started out about 10am on Saturday and got back around 2:30pm on Sunday after camping overnight. Amazing scenery and walking through some of the spots that the wagons came through around Grey Mesa was mind blowing. The trail is easy to traverse but there are definitely sections where you must be mindful and take it slow, most notably for me around Waypoint 45 where it gets off camber and the trail surface is covered with "Monkey Balls" - basically sandstone marbles. If you have the opportunity to do this trail, I highly recommend you take it.
Trail Review: Hole in the Rock Trail - Scott Mitchell
Trail Review: Hole in the Rock Trail - Scott Mitchell
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