onX OffRoad: Durango to Moab, Part 1

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onX OffRoad: Durango to Moab, Part 1

One of the greatest benefits of onX Offroad is the ability to see defined trails. This allows for much easier discovery of areas to explore and gi

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onX OffRoad: Durango to Moab, Part 1

One of the greatest benefits of onX Offroad is the ability to see defined trails. This allows for much easier discovery of areas to explore and gives the ability to research details without having to do a ton of hunting online or purchase local guidebooks (which you should still totally do!).  This is going to be a multipart post that discusses planning an overland trip from Durango to Moab.

Sometimes the exploration and the adventure are actually what you want. And there are only so many people submitting featured trails. Also, many of the featured trails are, well, short. I get that not everyone can take a few days and push through the backcountry. But if you are truly into “overlanding” then multi-day, long journeys are where it is at.

Good day everyone and welcome to a new installment of AllOutdoor’s Off-Road and Overlanding series brought to you by onX Offroad–mapping software for all your adventures.

Planning a Durango to Moab Trip with onX Offroad

Featured trails are a great addition to the map, and perfect for those times when you just want a route you can pick up and enjoy without a lot of leg work. You can see pictures and get greater details than you would otherwise with regularly highlighted trails.

In the absence of longer curated routes, you can still use onX Offroad to help you plan. The biggest hurdle is sifting through the noise, and also being able to add in some legs to the trip that has not been otherwise tagged as off-road trails (onX only highlights off-road trails).

so many trails
So many trails here. You really need to zoom in and isolate the main route you want to take.  onX does a good job of showing off-road trails, but sometimes it can get a bit noisy.  I will sometimes use Google Maps in conjunction to give some confirmation.

This summer, my goal is to submit a number of routes that connect places. My first one is “Can I get to Moab from Durango with less than 10% of the distance asphalt”? Disclaimer: I have not yet attempted this trail, and am merely attempting to plan it out for a trip later this year. My plan is to make this a nice leisurely three-day trip with some time built in for side hikes and other adventures.

Route Planning Logistics

When you plan longer routes some of the route may need to include resupply/refueling stops. This particular route is only 158 miles on pavement. There is also a known bike route of around 215 miles in the backcountry via the San Juan Huts System. Both of these are well within the fuel range of my vehicle (equipped with a 32-gallon tank), but I would also plan to carry extra fuel for contingency. Also, keep in mind the Huts are not public access and are rented to backcountry travelers using human power–as an “overlander” you should be totally self-sufficient.

Not All Routes Are Mapped…

onX Offroad doesn’t have my desired route completely mapped out, but we can certainly find segments of it, as both featured trails and as standard roads.
If we attempt to follow the bike route (obviously being good stewards and staying on the jeep trails), we can start at the Durango Mountain Resort and run the Hermosa Park Trail, followed by East Bolam Pass, and then to West Bolam Pass.

hermosa park-leg 1
The first leg of our trek will be a fun off-road route that has been curated by a trail guide. Side note: you can apply to become a, onX Offroad “Trail Guide” here: https://www.onxmaps.com/offroad/trailguide

We’ll have a short blip on Highway 145 as we head north and cut west onto the Dunton Road. It is important to note that not all of the journey will be on high-clearance trails–it is perfectly acceptable to travel on the forest, state, and county roads. Our goal is to minimize time on concrete and asphalt.

dunton road to 52 junction
We will follow Dunton Road until the junction with 52 which is indicated by the waypoint and then cut north.

We will stay on 52 for a while until we skirt south underneath Groundhog Mountain (I wonder why it got that name–maybe bring a 10/22?).

52 to 534 junction
We will cut north around the mountain until we get to the junction with Forest Service Road 534.

534 changes into County Road 40J a bit west of Lone Cone Peak.

41j to 31U junction
We will stay on that as we pass by Miramonte Reservoir circling the top of the reservoir after getting on County Road 31U.
blm camping, night 1
Once we get near the “Dry Creek” San Juan Hut, we should be surrounded by a ton of BLM land which appears to be relatively flat.
3d camping spot
Using the onX Offroad 3D terrain feature I was able to find some flat spots that could work well.

Day 1

This part of the trip will be about 85 miles, give or take, and is a decent amount of off-road travel for a day. There are some great side adventures that look available–from plinking groundhogs to hiking to a dip in some cool waters.

Stay tuned for next week as we tackle the next segment of the route!

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Doc Rader

Tom is a former Navy Corpsman that spent some time bumbling around the deserts of Iraq with a Marine Recon unit, kicking in tent flaps and harassing sheep. Prior to that he was a paramedic somewhere in DFW, also doing some Executive Protection work between shifts. Now that those exciting days are behind him, he has embraced his inner “Warrior Hippie” and assaults 14er in his sandals and clean shaven face (bye, beard), or engages in rucking adventure challenges while consuming copious water. To fund these adventures, he writes medical software, teaches wilderness medicine and builds websites and mobile apps. He hopes that his posts will help you find solid gear that will survive whatever you can throw at it (and the training to use it). Learn from his mistakes–he is known (in certain circles) for his curse…ahem, ability…to find the breaking point of anything.

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