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Trans-Rockies Adventure Trail

Updated: Aug 30, 2023

The Trans-Rockies Adventure Trail might just be the most epic overland track that traverses the heart of the Colorado Rockies and into the canyonlands of Utah, and finally through the Wasatch Mountains. Connecting Denver with Salt Lake City, the 935 mile track features nearly 700 miles of dirt through some of the most iconic mountain tracks and passes through the Rockies. Along the way, expect to be blown away with spectacular alpine views, majestic peaks, alpine lakes and meadows, red rock canyons, and a series of high elevation jeep tracks and mountain passes.



Route Overview


Trip Length & Season

Adventure Rating: Epic Trip Length: 2 - 4 weeks, 935 miles (675 miles of dirt) Season: Late June/early July to October, but highly variable. The track summits a number of high elevation mountain passes. During years of heavy snowfall, many of these passes may not open up until mid-summer. Passes may temporarily close during summer due to inclement weather. Prepare accordingly.

Technical Ratings & Terrain

Recommended Vehicle / Moto / Adventure Vans

Fuel, Provisions, and Recommended Gear

Alternative Routes

Camping Recommendations

Discovery Points

Land Managers & Other Resources

Permits & Papers


 

Route Details

The Trans-Rockies Adventure Trail is the ultimate overland route through the heart of the Colorado Rockies, connecting Denver to Salt Lake City. Along the way you'll experience astounding alpine views that the the Rockies are famous for, rugged mountains and deep canyons, groomed gravel roads, technical jeep tracks, pristine alpine lakes and and red rock canyonlands. Given the demanding nature of some of the trails along this route, a high clearance 4x4 with rock sliders is recommend.


The Trans-Rockies Adventure Trail passes by 37 high elevation mountain peaks that are discovery points, including four 14ers, 13 13ers, and three peaks over 12,000'. See how many you can spot along the way! The track also includes sever high elevation passes, six of which are above 10,000', and 3 are over 12,000'. Given the high elevation of this track, it's best to check with the local ranger stations on the status of the various passes along the route, some of which can close temporarily during the summer when storms roll through. The track begins by climbing into the Front Range just west of Denver, and then passes through other well known ranges like the Sawatch Range, Elk Mountains, La Sal Mountains, Uncompahgre Plateau, and the Wasatch Range that borders Salt Lake City.


And while the track gets pretty darn remote on a number of stretches, you'll pass through a half dozen of so mountain and resort towns including Salida, Crested Butte, Paonia, Delta, Moab, and Park City, and even smaller mountain outposts like Tincup, Gothic, and Crystal.

And if living inhabitants aren't really your thing, there's a small handful of ghost towns and old mining camps worth checking out like St Elmo, Hancock, Woodstock, and Ashcroft. St Elmo is definitely the most well preserved of the four.


The most technical trails along the track are typically those that lead up and over the high mountain passes. The first of the passes along the main track is Cumberland Pass, which tops out at 12,171'. Cumberland Pass is a nice warm up, as it's rather mild for what's to come. Despite the wide graded dirt road, the alpine scenery and views are still rather impressive. Next up is Taylor pass, elevation 11,948'. Taylor pass is a moderately technical (technical rating 5) trail with more difficult options for those seeking out a challenge. While taking on Taylor Pass, expect a number or rocky sections with small to medium sized boulders that all but require 4x4s to slow down to a crawl. Not long after summiting Taylor Pass you'll encounter Pearl Pass (elev. 12,723). Pearl Pass has some of the best views along the track, but you'll need to earn them! Expect long sections of rocky trail that's also off camber in many sections. Things start to get slightly mellower when you start working your way up to Schofield Pass (elev. 10,705'). There are still a number of tight rocky sections that earn this trail a moderate rating. The additional passes along the track are either paved (McClure Pass), or the rated as easy (Geyser Pass in the La Sal Mountains), but still pack an impressive punch when it comes to scenery. Once you've traveled through the high elevation passes of the Colorado Rockies portion fo the track, the track connects with the RimRocker trail that works its way up and over the La Sal Mountains before dropping down into Moab. The scenery upon reaching Utah is decidedly different than the high alpine of the Colorado Rockies. The conifer give way to pinyon pine and other high desert flora. The towering and majestic rockies turn into a series of mesas, tabletop buttes, and red rock canyonlands. From Moab the track works it's way northwest, passing through the lesser known, but certainly not any less impressive San Rafael Swell. After the Swell, the track climbs into the Wasatch Mountains that border Salt Lake City's eastern border. The views along Skyline Drive are impressive all around-- take it in as you're nearing the end of the track. The track snakes its way through the Wasatch Range for over 200 miles, passing by Park City until ultimately reaching the tracks terminus at Salt Lake City.

 

Maps + Navigation


Download Digital Mapping Files


 

Terms of Use: Should you decide to travel a route that is published on Overlandtrailguides.com, you do so at your own risk. Always take the appropriate precautions when planning and traveling, including checking the current local weather, permit requirements, trail/road conditions, and land/road closures. While traveling, obey all public and private land use restrictions and rules, and carry the appropriate safety, recovery, and navigational equipment. The information found on this site is simply a planning resource to be used as a point of inspiration in conjunction with your own due-diligence. In spite of the fact that this route, associated GPS track (GPX and maps), and all route guidelines were prepared under diligent research by OverlandTrailGuides.com, the route accuracy and current conditions of roads and trails cannot be guaranteed.

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