Pritchett Canyon Off-Roading Guide | Everything You Need To Know

The town of Moab, for 4WD enthusiasts, is considered one of the best places to go off-roading. Aside from the trails being very challenging, they are close to each other, so you can explore the others when you complete one. 

So, why should you go to Pritchett Canyon? Among the most famous trails in the off-road community, Pritchett Canyon is hailed as the “Trail of All Trails.” It has challenging rock crawling challenges, so it’ll test even the most experienced enthusiasts.

Are you planning to go to Pritchett Canyon on your next trip? Read this guide before you go!

How Do I Get to Poison Pritchett Canyon?

From Salt Lake City, you can follow this route:

  • Head west on 400 S/University Blvd towards Main St
  • After 0.2 mi, turn left at the intersection onto W Temple
  • Turn right onto 500 S/Cesar E. Chavez Blvd
  • Take the I-80 E/I-80 W slip road on the left to Cheyenne/Reno/SL International Airport/Las Vegas
  • Keep left at the fork, and look for signs leading to I-15/I-80 E/Cheyenne/Las Vegas and merge onto I-15 S/I-80 E
  • After 2.5 mi, keep left to continue on I-15 S
  • Use the right two lanes to head to the exit 257 B-A for US 6 E that will take you to Price
  • Continue onto US-^ E
  • After 127 mi, merge onto I-70 E/US-6 E
  • After 23.1 mi, take the exit 182 for US-191 S that leads to Crescent Jct/Moab
  • Turn right onto US-191 S after 0.3 mi
  • After 30.2 mi, turn right onto N 500 W/5th W St
  • Turn right onto Kane Creek Blvd
  • Turn left onto Pritchett Canyon Safari Rte
  • After 5.5 mi, turn right onto Pritchett Canyon

What Should I Know About Pritchett Canyon?

Pritchett Canyon is slowly becoming more difficult every year and is now to the point where the average, well-equipped 4×4 rig may have a lot of difficulty in completing the drive. Also, vehicles with large amounts of lift will find the path especially harrowing, as the many off-camber spots will induce body roll and severely gets into a driver’s nerve. Rollovers and broken parts are extremely common, and there are no easy sidetracks. Also, most rigs will require recovery gear on at least a couple of the hurdles.

If you can take your mind off the obstacles, you’ll find a breathtaking, narrow canyon. The trail ascends the lower section of the canyon and goes out via a side canyon over a gap in the Hunter Canyon system. Based upon how long it has taken to get to this point, your leader will then choose among several routes to head back to the highway.

Scenery

While in the canyon, the views are of the steep canyon walls, large side-canyon pour-offs, and a pool-speckled creek bottom. Pritchett Arch, Window Arch, and some smaller spans are visible from the trail.

Surface

The trail follows the rocky creek bottom at first but then climbs onto ledge routes on a mixture of rock layers and dirt. The major obstacles are several forms of bedrock now exposed after the erosion of the old roadway.

How Are the Off-road Trails at Pritchett Canyon?

The trail follows the canyon and is narrow in areas with many significant obstacles. It is common for large ledges, off-camber turns, and insane hill climbs. Only the most experienced and built rigs should try this trail.

Some groups prefer to the run-up to the end of the trail and then head back down while others continue out through Behind the Rocks. It is a decision you will need to make as you work your way through the trail.

The trail does get much harder as you near the end of Pritchett Canyon, thus be prepared for that.

Obstacle 1: Only a few hundred yards from the start of the trail, there is an edgy downhill that got so difficult Grand County graded it with heavy equipment a few years back. It is beginning to deteriorate once again, so care should be taken while you’re on your way down.

Obstacle 2: After going past a small mud hole made by a seasonal spring, the trail merges onto the drainage. The “Brickyard” is the name of the track that climbs back out. Although there are several options available, none of them are easy.

Obstacle 3: Chewy Hill comes next. It was once a graded dugway, and it has eroded to become a significant challenge. It is very off-camber and slippery, with several medium to large ridges that must be climbed up.

Obstacle 4: When you get close to Rocker Knocker, there is a significant slickrock area. Also, there’s an optional obstacle to the right called “The Waterfall,” which can be tricky after rain.

Obstacle 5: Next up is Rocker Knocker, and this trail’s double ledge needs the perfect line, and a climb will typically push a vehicle to the brink of tipping over. It is next to impossible if wet. Broken parts and tip-overs are normal here.

Obstacle 6: The next hurdle is an unnamed hill that resembles a 30-foot wide staircase. This string of large ledges claims a lot of axle shafts and drivelines, and tip-overs are highly likely. A bypass to the left can be more accessible, but a big rock that should be driven over can easily make a few body damages.

Obstacle 7: Axle Hill is up only a few yards along the trail. This hill begins in the wash bottom and ascends in two stages. The first part is extremely slippery and is the site of many rollovers. Meanwhile, the second part is very steep and off-camber.

Obstacle 8: The famous Rock Pile is the next one that you should prepare for. It is an 8-foot ledge that once had rocks stacked 2/3 of the way. The rocks are nowhere to be found now, and the ridge typically tips over even some of the best 4×4 rigs. A bypass some visitors began calling Son of Rock Pile needs constant rock stacking, and even then, may require a winch line.

Obstacle 9: the last hurdle is Yellow Hill, where the road passes through the top on an extraordinarily uneven and slippery ledge of colorful rocks. Also, caution must be exercised in this part, as a single flop could quickly turn into multiple rolls. Once you reach the top of the canyon, the leader of the convoy has a few options. The easiest is easy to moderate, but very long, the road back to US191.

What Are the Other Things That I Can Do at Pritchett Canyon?

If you’re done driving through the trails, you can head to:

  • Arches National Park
  • Hell’s Revenge
  • Canyonlands National Park
  • Dead Horse Point State Park
  • Corona Arch

What Do Other Off-road Enthusiasts Say About Pritchett Canyon?

“What a great trail! If you don’t have a very well built rig, and not prepared to damage it, this trail is not for you! We ran this as part of the 2017 Unlimited LJ Adventure the day after a massive flash flood filled the canyon. The notice at the beginning of this guide is no joke, and the water lines were 10 feet high from the storm the day before. It was crazy!

As for the trail though, the obstacles are such a blast. They will challenge any rig, as stated here. I have run the trail several times and have winched in different locations each time. Hopefully, I can clean it next time.” -Ryan Boudreau (Trails Offroad)

Where Should I Stay at Pritchett Canyon?

At the trailhead of this trail in a private campground, you will reach Kane Creek RV Park and isn’t very large. Thus, if you would like to stay there, it would be best to plan and reserve ahead of time. 

As for dispersed camping, there are no spots along this trail to disperse camp, but you can camp near Behind the Rock Trail on the southern end of the trail heading towards 191. There is also plenty of dispersed camping near Kane Creek just a little bit further west past the northern trailhead. Remember, when using free designated sites, you are required to remove all solid human waste from the area. Campers should bring, set up, and use portable toilets. Campers may not bury or leave exposed, solid human body waste or soiled toilet paper. The disposal of solid waste on public land is required. You must camp only in marked sites, and no woodcutting is allowed. Following these simple rules will ensure that the sites are attractive to future campers. Enjoy your stay!

If looking for other locations, The Moab Field Office maintains 26 campgrounds. Many of the campsites are located close to Arches National Park along the Colorado River. These campgrounds offer views of spectacular red rock cliffs amidst a green ribbon of vegetation.

Related Questions

How Long Is The Corona Arch Hike?

Highlights: Corona Arch (140 by 105-foot opening) and adjacent Bow Tie Arch; also views of the Colorado River and a large slickrock canyon. The Corona Arch Trail was declared as a National Recreation Trail on May 30, 2018. Length: 1.5 miles to Corona Arch, 3 miles round trip; allow at least 2 hours for your hike.

How Difficult Is Slickrock Trail?

The Slickrock Trail is rated high technical difficulty and high aerobic requirements. However, many mediocre bikers ride this trail, with many short hikes over the tight spots. Matt, Chad, and Mike ride a typical section of trail. 99% of the riding is on sandstone!

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