Grand County, Utah
View this on the Utah Trailheads Map
Trail Type: Straight Through
Nearby Towns: Moab, Green River
Nearby Trails: Secret Spire, Tenmile Wash, White Wash Sand Dunes
Trail Length: 31.15 miles
Elevation: 4,236 to 4,678 feet
This is a long trail that is nearly impossible to find without a preloaded GPS track and a decent map. It snakes through a large area, with many turns along the way. Do not go alone, as it is very remote.
There are six sections to this trail, and they alternate between technical dirt and slickrock portions to graded sand and dirt. It takes you in a roughly northwestern direction as you travel from Tombstone Butte to I-70.
Section 1 - Rough
The trail starts as an unmarked right turn at a "Y" in the trail off of the Secret Spire trail, just west of Tombstone Butte. Be sure to also veer right at the next "Y" in the trail. This takes you around the Needles.
This first section of trail is also known as Rainbow Terrace because it moves alongside the Rainbow Rocks, a colorful ridge just to the right of the trail. You can also see the Lost World Butte standing alone far off to the left (you'll be on the other side of it later).
This section has a fun wash to climb out of. It seems as though the trail has ended at a wall of Rainbow Rocks, but then it drops into a wash at a sharp left turn. You'll be able to see the various lines back out of the wash as soon as you get around the corner. This is a fun climb.
Just after the wash, hug the bluff and you'll weave your way through huge rocks. The trail circles down and away from the Rainbow Rocks and then heads straight north on the next section.
Section 2 - Easy
You'll have fun in this section of smooth sand. You can get going pretty quickly as you head north, but watch for sudden whoopdeedoos and ditches. You'll need to slow down a bit in spots, but not too much. Work your way around to the north side of the Lost World Butte.
Turn left at the "T" intersection, and then follow the easy trail through a creek crossing at a big cottonwood tree. Continue over a small hill and find yourself at the trailhead for the Tenmile Wash trail. This area is large and very sandy, with lots of parking for lunch. There is an old corral and lots of cottonwood trees, making this one of the only shady spots on the trail. It is also one of the only places you'll see trees.
Continue past the Tenmile Wash trailhead to the next intersection, where you'll turn right and head north. This dusty portion is wide and smooth. Take care to watch for an uphill climb just after a cattle guard. A left turn off of the easy trail at the top of the hill marks the next section.
Section 3 - Rough
The third section of the Crystal Geyser trail is probably the most challenging. There are many hill climbs and descents, with a few remarkable ones. The start of this section is easy to miss without GPS coordinates.
It starts as a rocky trail, and you are immediately presented with a fun and rocky climb over a bump. The trail weaves its way through dusty tracks and striped hills and across a very flat section, and then you see a hill in front of you with a trail going through a saddle in between hills. This is the hill climb.
Climb over this obstacle on rocks made slippery with white sand. Over the top, the trail climbs and descends over more hills, and sometimes it can get bumpy. Once you come out of the bleak hills and back into a meadow, the sandy trail can get difficult to follow. Just try to continue to the next section in a fairly direct manner. Many trails lead to the same place, and you should be able to reach the main road if you continue north. You can also go over Dee Pass to get to the main road.
Section 4 - Easy
You'll intersect with Ruby Ranch Road at an intersection that is a bit confusing. It's almost a 4-way intersection, but you have to travel a few yards on the main road before turning off and heading west on Salt Wash Road instead. It is a very wide and smooth road, though it is very dusty.
The scenery through this section is nice, and the road is quick. You should be able to make good time. Unfortunately, the start of the next section is very difficult to find.
Section 5 - Rough
This section starts as a right turn off of Salt Wash Road, and it is not easy to spot. If you have GPS coordinates with you, it should be easy to find, though. Take this narrow and sandy road north. It is not bumpy, but it has too many whoopdeedoos and ditches to take with any speed.
The landscape slowly changes as you work your way north through canyons and washes. The colors change to purples and whites, and it looks like another planet as you pick your way through it. There are some rocky sections and some fun hills, but no real obstacles. There is also a lean-to when you are almost to the power lines that offers some nice shade.
Cross through the Little Grand Wash in the White Sands Missile Range, and soon you find yourself at a very wide and easy road. Turn right on this road to start the last section.
Section 6 - Easy
This last section is extremely easy and very short. It takes you out of the Utah Launch Complex of the White Sands Missile Range and out to I-70. Rockets were fired from here from 1963 to 1979, all the way to the the main White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico (400 miles).
Follow this easy road up and over the last ridge, and soon you'll be within sight of I-70 at a kiosk for Crystal Geyser. To return to Moab, you have a few options. You can continue under I-70 to turn right at the paved road on the other side. This is the old highway before they built I-70, and it even feels historical. The pavement ends at exit 175 for Ruby Ranch Road. You can continue to follow the railroad tracks on dirt roads, however, all the way to the exit for Highway 191.
Information last updated on November 11th, 2008.
(NAD83 Continental U.S. datum)
|Section 1 Start
|Section 2 Start
|Section 3 Start
|Section 4 Start
|Section 5 Start
|Section 6 Start
From Moab, take Highway 191 north to Highway 313. Turn left on Highway 313 and turn right off of the pavement and onto Mineral Bottom Road at 8.5 miles. You can see Tombstone Butte in the distance, so aim for it. Turn right at 1.5 miles on Dubinky Well Road and continue heading for Tombstone Butte. At the intersection featuring the Dubinky Well at 4.9 more miles, turn left to head directly for Tombstone Butte on Spring Canyon Point Road. The trail starts at an unmarked "Y" in the road just on the other side of Tombstone Butte.
Meet at the McDonald's at Kane Creek Road and Main Street in Moab.