Steel Bender Trail & Photo Album (4/10/98)

From Downtown Moab drive south on Hwy 191. Turn Left (East) on Spanish Trail Road and follow around. Drive past Murphy Lane and road name changes to Westwater Road and curves left. After the curve there will be a dirt road to the right. This is the trail head. There will be several miles of mild trail (along the Mill Creek bottom). After completing the trail you'll drive back up onto Mill Creek Road (the name may be Meader Ranch Rd.), turn right (North-West) and follow on our. In a mile or so you come to a fork, stay left. Turn Right (North) on Geyser Pass Rd (or the name could be LaSalle Mountain Loop). Turn Left (West) on Hwy 124 and turn Right (North) on Hwy 191. You'll be back in Moab in a few minutes.

Download DeLorme Coordinates STEELBEN.GPS in zip format.
  • N38o 31.69' W109o 30.17'
  • N38o 32.33' W109o 28.45'
  • N38o 32.45' W109o 28.21'
  • N38o 31.82' W109o 27.54'
  • N38o 31.74' W109o 26.96'
  • N38o 31.91' W109o 26.70'
  • N38o 32.20' W109o 26.39'
  • N38o 32.55' W109o 26.43'
  • N38o 32.81' W109o 27.05'
  • N38o 32.89' W109o 26.90'
  • N38o 33.05' W109o 26.86'
  • N38o 32.85' W109o 25.74'
  • N38o 33.05' W109o 26.86'
  • N38o 32.85' W109o 25.74'
  • N38o 32.48' W109o 25.53'
  • N38o 32.34' W109o 25.22'
  • N38o 32.00' W109o 25.05'
  • N38o 31.79' W109o 25.65'
  • N38o 31.39' W109o 25.32'
  • N38o 31.35' W109o 25.09'
  • N38o 30.59' W109o 24.85'
  • N38o 30.21' W109o 24.30'
  • N38o 30.23' W109o 23.96'
  • N38o 30.07' W109o 23.80'
  • N38o 29.96' W109o 23.82'
  • N38o 29.58' W109o 23.70'
  • N38o 28.90' W109o 23.96'
  • N38o 29.88' W109o 24.25'
  • N38o 28.98' W109o 24.49'
  • N38o 28.32' W109o 26.16'
  • N38o 29.32' W109o 27.11'
  • N38o 29.29' W109o 27.76'

I finally got to the task of creating a DeLORME Topo Map™ for this trail with Longitude/Latitude coordinates. Let me know what you think. Suggestions? NOTE: DeLorme uses a built in error formula that keeps the coordinates from being exact. If you use these coordinates please don't drive off the edge of the cliff because the coordinates said that's where you needed to be... use that ol' common sense.

I've done Steel Bender before, so if I sound bored, forgive me. This is a picture of Bob climbing the first obstacle. It ended a leisurely drive up a creek bed and started the trail with a 60-70 foot jagged climb. I spun my tires and heard squealing... hmmm. A few more rocks later and with tires breaking traction again, I discovered I hadn't yet engaged four-wheel drive. DUH! I dropped it in 4LO and voila, it was as simple as could be.

I don't know what this climb is called but it was pretty cool. It was a near vertical climb (at least it seemed that way) and got the attention of several of the drivers. We stopped and watched a few that used speed to shoot over. It didn't take much to get over, well not at least for the long-wheel-based rigs.

Here's Dean in his fully ARB locked 94 full-sized Bronco. I met Dean and Kim out at Moab and in one of those circumstances that make this world a little smaller, it turned out they live only a few streets away from us. We've been wheeling a few times since...let me just say this, Dean's an animal! Anyone that would take a newer truck like this and USE IT to the extreme and without regard for body panels deserves recognition. If I can convince him to get me some pictures I'll show you what I mean.

Dragon's Tail. About midway through the trail we came to the best obstacle of the day. It's a loose rock and dirt stair-stepped climb between two rock banks. As you're climbing from the bottom it doesn't seem so bad, but soon the tires start spinning and most of your traction is to speak. This Jeep did some nice four-wheel hops, not so great for the rig but great crowd pleasers.

The toughest part of the Dragon's Tail is the last ledge. It manages to have steps at each axle of shorter wheel-base vehicles. So unless you're locked and can crawl, or want to use brute force to get you over, you're pretty much stuck. This is Flatlander in his new Jeep Grand Cherokee (of 4X4NOW.COM fame) high-centered on his rocker panels. Ouch!

This pic shows me past the second turn of Baby Z. So far a piece of cake. I wasn't even close to the edge. And that's saying something since I usually have to do three- or four-point turns to get this Beast around most tight corners. Pat, in his early Bronco, is starting the first turn behind me.

Here's a full-size coming up the same hill...

And here I come too...

There were only a few more decent obstacles remaining, nothing tough. There was one point where I got too far ahead of the person following me and had to back up. I did a Mario Andretti. Using only mirrors, I zoomed backwards up a rock hill...then BLAM! I dropped my front axle into a rock crevice. Later when I was back on a tame dirt road I heard a familiar clunking sound. This photo is the end of the trail, where we met Mill Road, it's a nice place to check out some ancient indian art.

This looks familiar. Last year when we where here I managed to twist my front axle yoke. When I heard the clunk earlier in the day it was because I lost my U-joint cup from the same yoke. There wasn't any physical damage so I bought a new U-joint and only used one of the cups. With all the practice, I can pull this front axle out and replace it with my eyes closed! The other casualty from the "clunk" was a bent steering arm and smashed steering shock absorber. I straighted the steering arm and tossed the shock. Maybe I should slow down...not!

Not seen on rocks, but getting plenty of looks in the parking lot, here's a cool thing-a-ma-jeep. I was told this guy can climb anything and that he made Potato Salad Hill look like child's play earlier in the week.