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Off The Beaten Path Rally – Day 5

Day 5: Moab, UT to Telluride, CO
Before heading out on our planned route, we made a brief stop at Arches National Park to look around and hike into the park. Arches National Park is obviously famous for many natural stone aches that have formed over millions of years. The park also offers miles of awesome hiking. We spent only a few hours here hiking in to one of many arches. It was a great way to start the last day of our journey.

After a great night’s stay at the Gonzo Inn, we were well rested for our final day of driving. Telluride, CO was only 170 dirt miles away. The La Sal mountain range stood directly in our path to the east. It was less than a half-hour outside of Moab, when we found ourselves on tight twisty Forest Service Roads. This was also the first time on the trip where we were into Aspen trees. La Sal National Forest is full of pine and aspen trees as well as 13,000-foot peaks, lakes, and wonderful campsites. This is also where we learned that our planned route traveled directly through a large parcel of private property that was fenced and clearly marked, “No Trespassing.” Our goal, from the beginning, was to set out on an adventure anyone could do. Trespassing was never going to be OK. We know if the roles were reversed, we would not want people to start invading our privacy. This being said, we were going to have to find another way through the forest.

Our GPS had stopped provided terrain and map information about 3 days prior. Our original route still displayed, but essentially all of our map data was not. This made finding alternative paths very difficult. Sometimes we used old-fashioned paper maps, when we had them, and other times we simply used our intuition. In the end, we would never understand what happened to the GPS. Maybe I loaded the map data incorrectly, but it was there for the first day-and-a-half, then it was not. Again, this was part of the challenge, and certainly part of the fun.

2010 Off The Beaten Path Rally - Day 5
2010 Off The Beaten Path Rally - Day 5

We crossed the Utah / Colorado State line somewhere in this forest. Our choice was between heading north around the top of the La Sal range, or heading south, more towards Telluride, and the San Juan’s. We chose to head south.

Southeast of La Sal National Forest, we spent a few hours chasing down old pipeline roads that may have worked, if we were in a true, rock crawling vehicle. We marked these spots on our GPS, and plan to attempt them later. It’s always a shame when these routes do not pan out. You feel a bit defeated especially when you have to follow your original trail back out.

We ended up in Basin, Colorado where we stopped for lunch. Grilled cheese never tasted to good. The two ladies running this tiny restaurant in the middle of Colorado farm country confirmed our route into Uncompahgre National Forest. By this time, we were chasing a storm that would eventually catch up with us. We were only 65 miles West of Telluride. The end was in site.

The final portion of the trip could not have been more scenic. 14,000-foot snow capped mountain peaks were visible from every window in the truck. We were crossing rivers every few miles. We saw our first elk at the base of Mt. Wilson. America’s farm workers were out in the fields, and their cattle still preferred to stop in the middle of the road to say hi to us. We didn’t take as many pictures as we should have. I think we were a bit like old horses that knew they were close to the stable.

When our final dirt road hit the pavement into Telluride, CO our trip odometer said 1550 miles. That’s over 300 per day in a stock vehicle on mostly dirt roads. I was proud of what we did. It was raining in Telluride, but thankfully we had friends and family there to greet us.

Questions? Comments? I’d love to hear from you.

Chad Ragland
chadragland at gmail.com