Hell’s Revenge – Moab, Utah

Hell’s Revenge – Moab, Utah

Hells RevengeStory and photos by Albert Vandervelde

One of the most popular areas in Moab is the Sand Flats Recreation area. Sand Flats is accessed through town via E 300 S Rd. to Fourth St. then S Mill Creek Rd. which turns into Sand Flats Rd. The area can be seen from town with the towering La Sal mountains in the background. Following Sand Flats Rd. brings you straight into the BLM gate where a small $5.00 fee gives you access to the entire rec area for a day and $10.00 for a full week.

Hells Revenge trail was our destination, one of the best slick rock 4×4 trails in Moab. While the trail is a mere 6.5 miles long, you will experience some of the best “fin” driving Moab has to offer. Sand Flats also contains a host of less-extreme trails such as Fins & Things, Porcupine Rim, and Mill Creek Rim west & east. Sand Flats is also home to the slick rock bike trail (pedal and powered), which intertwines throughout the Hells Revenge trail.

This 6 (out of 10)-rated trail starts right after the BLM gate on the left in a small staging area and covers the well-known obstacles including the Escalator, Hell’s Gate, Tip Over Challenge and the Hot Tubs. The best part of this trail is the fact there are bypasses to almost all the difficult spots, but don’t let that fool you; the drops and steep climbs make approach and departure angles critical to get on and off the endless steep climbs as you go up and down the sand stone fins.

Glen, my wheeling partner, had no issues with his lifted Jeep JK. I, however, was in a bone stock Toyota TRD Pro and relied on the tow hitch to keep the rear bumper safe as we dragged it all day long. If you run this trail, you will see many of these scratches at the bottom of each fin, and we added quite a few! Getting onto many of the steep climbs took good tire placement to keep the front bumper from bashing every sand stone fin as well. Besides the amazing views over the endless stone fins, a side loop takes you right to the edge of the cliff overlooking the Colorado River and to the Hell’s Revenge side loop – which we bypassed on this day, saving the TRD Pro for other wheeling adventures.

Hells RevengeThe trail is designated one way, and is clearly marked both with paint marks on the rocks and in various spots, trail signs to keep you headed in the right direction. The main giveaways are the two lines of black tire marks which wind their way back and forth across the sand fins. One of the most disconcerting parts of this trail is reaching the top of a fin and not being able to see anything over the other side – we got out a few times to check! There was a lot of lifting our butts in our seats to try and see over the hood to make sure we were lined up for the drop on the other side of the steep fins.

The trail is rated as a 4-hour drive but the vistas and views (and the hard lines of you take them all) can slow you down, and are not to be missed. We ran this trail during the 2017 Easter Jeep Safari, entering the trail in the mid-afternoon. Despite the large number of Jeeps in Moab for the Safari, our late start meant we were one of a very few vehicles on the trail along with a couple of tour groups of quads, a couple of side-by-sides, we say no more than ten Jeeps.

Mickie’s Hot Tub, generally a hang out spot for those not willing to risk a back flip onto solid sand stone, was deserted and Glen took a shot at one of the smaller hot tubs and still needed me to give him a tug out the top, so there are challenges for everyone on Hells Revenge – though it generally is not rated stock Jeep-friendly. We had a great time on the trail and while it has been quite a few years since we tackled this one, it won’t be such a long gap before we visit again.

That may be the best part of Moab – with so many trails all over the area, you forget which ones you have been on, and they are always an amazing surprise when you get back to them. Can’t wait to bring a more capable vehicle back next year – Moab has this ability to draw you back year in and year out!

Sand flats rec area information:


Red Rock Four Wheelers host the Easter Jeep Safari – lots of trail information:


Planning a trip – here is a great site as well:


A book everyone should have – search the web and order it before your trip!

“Guide to Moab, UT Backroads and 4-Wheel Drive Trails by Charles A. Wells”

Categories: Features, Off-Road Plus