Left Coast Wanderlust: Down & Dirty in Utah

jeepin'What’s up, Left Coast? Let’s talk about traditions. Every family has traditions. Whether it be during the holidays or weekend routines that make sure quality time is spent between all, there are things that make each family special. Growing up in Colorado, my most treasured and long-standing traditions are centered around the great outdoors. In the winter: we snowshoe and we ski. We attend free outdoor concerts in freezing cold temperatures. In the summer: we hike, we fish, we camp. And my new favorite; we Jeep.

Unannounced to most of the country, the west coast is immersed in a healthy love affair with exploring the unknown. And going off-road whenever physically possible. Although my family only recently had joined the “Jeeping Community”, I’d already felt like I had uncovered a whole new world. For example, did you know that Moab, Utah is one of the largest destinations for outdoor vehicle (aka off-road vehicle) enthusiasts in the country? Did you know that every year, hundreds of people flock to Moab for its annual Jeep Week? I had no idea! I, a proud, adventurous, off-road-vehicle-owner, had no clue that Jeeps were such a big deal.

Memorial Day in Moab

Fast forward to this Memorial Day weekend, which I decided to spend in the (yes, you guessed) Moab desert, gaining insight into the Jeep and desert communities. Aside from scorching temperatures, I couldn’t think of a better way to spend the holiday than enjoying the nearby national park and learning about new outdoor lifestyle trends specifically related to Jeeps. With any luck, I was hoping to join a number of other Jeep fanatics and learn all the hidden hot spots and secrets Moab had to offer along the way. Man, was I in for a surprise!

Music is Like Magic

In the rhythmic words of one of my personal favorites, Marshall Mathers, “Music is Like Magic”. And in this case, makes every mundane (and extremely hot!) activity much more fun.

Here are four things I learned shortly after my arrival:
1. First of all, I should have pre-made a Spotify playlist
(which if you find yourself without service often I highly recommend).
2. Consequently, I did not bring enough sunscreen.
3. Also, there are levels of intensity for hiking and driving trails (I’m a solid level two, thank you).
4. And most of all, off-Roading is a dirty, dirty past time.

Luckily, I am not very picky when it comes to my musical taste and the campground had free showers, so I wasn’t too far out of my comfort zone. Most of my time was spent hiking up red rock, riding on cliff edges, and enjoying the town. The town of Moab was a pleasant surprise and offered a number of bars and venues that featured local talent and open mic opportunities for any wanderer who found themselves lost here.

moab flowerThe Highlights: Mill Creek Falls

The loud engines being tested at the campsite next door and the unbearable heat (80 degrees by 7 am) is how we woke up every morning. Sweaty, but excited, I took the early wake up as an opportunity to get a full day of fun in the Mars-like wonderland. While the original plan was to spend most of the time behind the wheel (or in my case in the backseat) of our off-road vehicle, the heat was so intense that a trip to a local hidden swimming hole seemed to be much better option.

The watering hole is at the top of a short, adventurous hike. On weekends, it gets so packed, that it’s almost impossible to get to. Part of the trail requires hikers to trek through a creek bed for a quarter mile; the alternative being a bed of hot red sand. The most noteworthy was after a beautiful walk full of cacti and wildlife, hikers are rewarded with the ultimate hang out spot: Mill Creek Falls.

mill creekI know what you are thinking but the pictures do not do it justice! The watering hole was a decent size and already full of travelers relaxing and enjoying the sun with a refreshing swim. While I am always up for a good thrill, I could not bring myself to join the more adventurous of the group in jumping off some of the ledges and just stuck to playing fetch with my dog. One of my favorite parts of this hot spot was the explorer diversity it garnered. There were groups of college students having a day party, a group of senior citizens reading in the shade, and my family taking it all in for up to two hours. After we had played just as much fetch as any corgi could handle we made our way back to the Jeep to finish our day doing what we came for:
to get lost and dirty (off-roading of course)!

MoabChicken Corners Off Road Trail

I will admit I was a little overzealous with my ability to handle large machinery in hot dangerous places. The professionals make it look easy. It turns out there are different levels of difficulty that rank each trail. There’s a one, which any car could do, to an eleven, which only special vehicles and veteran drivers attempt. Lucky for me, the nearest trail to our campsite happened to be a safe and simple two named “Chicken Corners”. The whole point of my trip was to not only see what all the fuss was about but also to see if Moab really was as “poppin” as I had heard when it came to young people and outdoor living. Within minutes of hopping in the driver’s seat, the answer became apparent: yes, it is indeed poppin’. On our way to the start of the trail I counted 14 other jeeps and 12 smaller off-road vehicles passing us on the way. Every campground was full and every car window was down with music blasting. I was in heaven.

utah jeepin'The trail itself in my opinion should have been ranked much higher on the scale or I need to find a new pastime because that road was INTIMIDATING. Most of the drive is steep cliffs, vertical rock walls, and rough roads. The views however, make all the dirt and fear totally worth it. Overall, I think I need to practice my driving before I tackle the backroads of Moab again. But would I come back to enjoy their hikes and general atmosphere? As soon as I possibly could! Finally, as much as I want to keep this gem to myself, if you ever find yourself passing through Utah, it is more than worth it to spend a weekend in this beautiful desert oasis.

Next episode: Music Venues

Looking for the best music venues in the CO area? Stay tuned as I bring you the top venues with the best live-music experience!

MaggieMaggie Shaffer is a recent college graduate, receiving her B.A. in Communications from High Point University. She is originally from Colorado and is an Account Management Associate at Creative Allies. Maggie loves all things music and hopes to one day attend a concert on (almost) every continent in the world.

Guest contributors are the opinion of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of Creative Allies Inc. or its affiliates.

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