Poison Spider Mesa


Poison Spider Mesa Trail

Summary: The route visits the mesa top just north of the Colorado River and west of Moab Valley, and it reaches overlooks of the river and valley. The expanses of unbroken slickrock and views of the Behind the Rocks area and the La Sal Mountains make it one of the most scenic routes in the area.

Poison Spider Mesa Jeep TrailRoute Directions: From the center of Moab, travel north on Hwy 191 for 5.9 miles and turn left on Hwy 279. Continue 6 miles from this junction until you reach the "Dinosaur Tracks" sign, where the route leaves the pavement. (Non-licensed vehicles must start here.) Although there are spur routes, the strongest route climbs switchbacks, and each higher level reveals more of the fins and mountains. After the last leg of the switchbacks, mounds of spectacularly cross-bedded Navajo Sandstone appear on the right, and the route skirts these mounds until it enters a sandy canyon. Watch carefully for the route as you climb out of the canyon--it turns on the first ledge, entering a slot to climb higher. These rocky climbs are the most difficult part of the route.

The route crosses areas of rock and approaches another slot. A slickrock bypass is marked to the left to avoid the side hill in the slot. After an area of sand, a final short, steep climb puts you on a flat area of Navajo Sandstone distinguished by a scattering of rounded, black rocks. The rest of the route is mostly on top of the Navajo Sandstone, but it continues to climb with the rock strata as they tip up toward the east. The route parallels the river on this flat mesa area for about a mile and is usually the obvious choice over the few spurs that branch right and left. After a smooth dirt section, the route drops onto another slickrock area where a short spur toward the river gives beautiful overlooks. The route then splits to begin a loop. The recommended counterclockwise direction around the loop requires a turn to the right to reach a large mass of slickrock. Past a large pothole, a startlingly steep descent leads to a short dirt section and a side hill climb onto a slick rock parking area. A short walk to the right takes you to a good-sized pothole-type arch called "Little Arch," presumably for its apparent size from the river below.

The marked route traverses another large section of slickrock and eventually drops into a sandy wash bottom. The route soon leaves the left side of the wash on a slickrock slope and follows a sandy route to another slickrock mass. After returning to the junction at the base of the sandy hill, continue the loop up the hill where it alternates between loose sand and sandstone. When you reach the largest sand hill, you will see why the recommended loop direction was chosen to go down the sand. The route continues on
sand and sandstone to close the large loop and retraces the earlier trail back to the highway.

NOTE: Poison Spider Mesa has been subject to much illegal off-road tracking. To preserve the beauty of the area, ALL VEHICLES – jeeps, ATV’s, dirt bikes and mountain bikes MUST stay on the existing, marked route.

Paleontological Resources

Paleontological resources are present in this area.

Please be cautious and considerate when observing dinosaur trackways in the area. Do not try to make your own plaster/rubber/cement casts of these footprints. Any disturbing, casting, rubber, or pouring anything into the dinosaur tracks is expressly forbidden under federal regulations [43 CFR 8365.1-5(a)(1)]. Your help in preserving these tracks for now and future generations is greatly appreciated.

Theft and vandalism to paleontological resources results in a loss to all of the people of the United States. Civil penalties include fines based on the value of the paleontological resource, and damage to the fossil as well as to the land. Criminal penalties include fines and/or imprisonment of up to five years.

Report looting or vandalism to a Bureau of Land Management Ranger or other local authority.