Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Rock Crawling Around Black Ridge.

The Black Ridge Recreation Area, located in San Juan County, Utah, is approximately 12 miles south of Moab along Route 191.  You will see a large dirt parking lot with a road leading up and around a small hill; that is your way in for rock crawling, 4 wheeling, bike riding and camping paradise.  If you miss the parking lot, the next turn around will not be until after you have gone done the steep curve of Blue Hill and reach either the rest stop parking area, or the" Hole in the Rock" tourist attraction.  Directly across from Black Ridge Road is an unnamed dirt road which will lead you to Picture Frame Arch; this is considered an easy trail if you have a 4 wheel drive vehicle.  It is also the exit point which most people take from Pritchett Canyon and the Behind the Rocks trails. 
This area called "Black Ridge" should not be confused with the Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness Area. Even though 5200 of its acres extend into Grand County, Utah; the primary portion of the 75, 000 plus acres is located in Colorado, with the main entrance being in Fruita, CO.

Black Ridge is overseen by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) whose rules and regulations should be adhered to.  There are also private property sections along the road, so stay away from these areas;  this recreation area is vast, so no need to trespass.  There are many designated camping areas, some off the beaten path, and many signs letting you know where you cannot camp at all.  By the way, Black Ridge is part of the Moab Jeep Safari, an annual event that takes place for nine days around, and including, Easter weekend.

If you are into "rock crawling", then 1.5 miles down the road from the parking entrance of Black Ridge is an area called "Coyote Canyon".  Even though the trail is only .65 of a mile long; going over refrigerator sized boulders might just take a good part of the day to traverse.   I've seen photos of these vehicles at an almost completely vertical position attempting to go over some of these rocks.  This is an activity that goes into the category of "Oh Hell No!!!" for me personally; you might be of a more adventurous nature.  The BLM allows one group per weekend day (Friday and Saturday) with a maximum of seven vehicles; contact them for registration and fees. 

At the three mile mark is Area BFE, a privately owned, extreme trail park for 4 wheelers.  The trails, with names like Green Day, Smashing Pumpkins, Strike Ravine and LockJaw, are open year round, and free to the public.  Occasionally there are special events and a fee will be charged.

Ridge View to Arches National Park
As we drove along Black Ridge Road, we saw a road leading off here and there, that we put off to exploring on another day; I believe we even saw an abandoned mine entrance at one point.  Climbing upwards, you will get better and better views of the La Sal Mountains; on one ridge we were able to see clear into Arches National Park.  Unfortunately the SUV decided to act up; hint, when it is summertime in the desert, make sure you have your coolant at the proper level.  Luckily there was a road crew down at the parking area and they were nice enough to fill up the tank at no charge.  Thanks guys!!!

La Sal Mountains in background

Looking for adventurous activity in San Juan County, but not too far away from the civilization of Moab; consider visiting Black Ridge Recreation Area.  I'm looking forward to going back and seeing where some of those side roads go; never know what you'll find.

Mary Cokenour

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