On the Lion's Back

I won't ever forget the first time I saw a video clip of an SUV crashing off a huge rock fin in Moab. Of course, back then I didn't know it was Moab or that the rock formation is referred to as a fin. Never did I think I would find myself there at the base of Lion's Back located just on the outskirts of Moab.



Apparently the campground and the rock formation are privately owned now, so there is no more chance to ride down this very scary slope. When we drove out on Sand Flats Road there was no one at the site and looking at it, there is no way of really understanding the scariness of the drive. From this view, the Lion's Back does not look high or steep.





There is a fee to get into the Sand Flats recreation area, but if you just want to drive through to the La Sal Mountains, you can do it without paying. We decided to pay because we wanted to wander around, get out the Jeep, and hike. The Jeep trails are too difficult for us. The biking trails even seem at a more advanced level. But, walking we can do. So, we parked in a nearby lot and started hiking, not really realizing we were heading towards Lion's Back until we were right next to it.

This little "valley" between the fins can be traversed by the Jeep, but there was no chance in hell I was going to do this with our stock Jeep, not without a guide.





This is about where I stopped my hike. I was too nervous to continue, a bit hungry so I knew I would get shaky, and decided my heart would be better off just watching my man head on up. I still haven't really figured out how the Jeeps get up there other than to drive right up the slope and turn around for the trip down, but for some reason, I was thinking there was another route. In any case, we did not see any other way that day.

My heart was in my throat just watching the Big D make his way to the top of Lion's Back. If we weren't supposed to there, there was no one around to say so. I was holding my breath as he climbed the side of the fin and hiked to the top.





Apparently the view from the top made it worth his while. See the road down there? That's where we came riding in. The campgrounds are located at the bottom of this fin. And the La Sal Mountains provide a stunning backdrop to this setting.





This is the view as you head down the slope. How do people do this? Very, very slowly.




See, there I am, waiting and imaging the worst that could happen. There was cattle dung all around, lots of brush, sand. I had a lot of time to look around while i waited for Big D to go up, then climb back down.




As we hiked back to the Jeep, the sun rose higher in the sky, washing the area with bright sunlight. We spent the next 7 hours driving the length of this road that leads into the La Sal Mountains, stopping at a deserted campground for lunch, one that had an incredible 360 degree panoramic view. We also walked a little of the "fins and things" Jeep trail that is a series of these fins. And yet another 4WD campground was found and we bounced our way through it, but we ended up having to turn around as the exit was blocked by a couple of other suvs stuck in the sand.

This was planned as a "free" day on this roadtrip to Moab. We didn't have anything planned, but we ended up having quite an adventure that day. And this is where I learned that we shouldn't leave our motel without a packed lunch. By the time we stopped for lunch we were a good two hours drive from any gas station or diner.

Off season travel is the way we go. Although we saw a couple of bikers and a few cars, we felt like we had the area to ourselves. There was plenty of time to contemplate the vast beauty of this place in peace and quiet.

The path was good to us that day.

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