Moab, UT & Elephant Hill (Part 4)
by K
en Womack

Elephant Hill 

Well FolksÖIf you can rememberÖ This was Dan & Dianne Neussís and our (Ken & Evelyn Womackís) trip to Moab in June 2001.  This particular run was to The Needles District and happened Tuesday on the second week.  This is one of Danís favorite spots at Moab, and I could see why after just a short time there.  This is the place he met his buddie's family, and started the annual trek to Moab for the last 30 years. 

We left Moab early in the morning to head for the Needles District and to gas up at the Needles Outpost, the only gas and store in the area.  You need to gas up there because itís a 60-mile drive from Moab, and itís better to have too much gas than not enough.  The store has some interesting things both necessary and not so.  The gas is pricey as well as the food, but understandable due to the transportation costs to such a remote area.   

After topping off the tanks and some shopping, we headed out for the staging area.  There we aired down and met up with a guy who wanted to take his stock 4-Runner with us.  We said come ahead.  He had some apprehension about going, but decided to try it.  The entrance says itís tough, and it is.  Dan said he had done it in stock Jeeps and even a S-15 Jimmy, but I feel that it requires at least a slightly modified rig to make it.  Lift, at least one locker, and minimum 31 in. tires. 

The 4-Runner had 32 in. all-terrains and started out well, but felt he was thrashing his rig, and turned around after several ledges and switchbacks.  We had a small audience as we climbed up to the top of Elephant Hill.  Some were obviously amazed at what a Jeep could do.  After the summit was a series of steep sharp downhill switchbacks.  So sharp, in fact, that you have to drive one, then back down the next.  Itís a little hairy, but doable, definitely a Jeep Thrill! 


Dan going down Elephant Hill 

Dan had done this trail 20 times at least and was old hat to him, but I had sweaty palms, and Evelyn just plain got out- to take videos (She says J).  After the switchback experience, we had a relatively easy stretch of sandy road before a set of obstacles.  They were no problem after conquering Elephant Hill. 

Next was a narrow section through a rock wall called The Devilís Lane.  Itís off-camber and narrow, but careful driving will get you through easy, if your rig isnít too wide. 


Devilís Kitchen 

There is an awesome campsite named the Devilís Kitchen.  It has all day shade, picnic tables and a covered (by the cliff overhang) place to set your tent.  Itís cool, and private, a perfect campsite, but you need reservations and a permit to stay overnight.  We ate lunch there, relaxed awhile, and then loaded back up.  We drove a long sandy 2-track road to Chesire Park, and checked out some pictographs made by The Ancient Ones.  There were many sets of handprints painted into the rock walls.   


ďThe Ancient OneísĒ Pictographs
 

We left to do SOB Hill, down, then back up again before heading back through the park and towards the Confluence Overlook.


Ken and Jeep Thrills at The Silver Stairs
 

Here we went down The Silver Stairs, a set of downhill stairsteps and through some rocky sections.  Just before the Confluence Overlook parking area,  

Dan noticed his power steering unit squealing.  We stopped to check it out, and he found his power steering hose had separated from the plastic tank.  The oil leaked onto to the engine and burned before it could hit the ground.  Dan told us to go ahead and do the half mile hike to the overlook while he assessed the situation.  


Evelyn at the Confluence - the meeting spot of the
Green River with the Colorado River 

I asked him after the hike if he had some JB Weld.  Good preparation by Dan as he had some.  It was so hot and dry that the JB dried in 2 hours instead of the usual 24.  Some more fluid and crossed fingers and we were on our way.  We took off about 2 hours before dark, and the sky looked like rain.  It would have been very tough going up Elephant Hill in the dark and rain.  Luck had it that we got out just before a shower hit. 


Ken coming back down Elephant Hill
 

It was now dark and Jeep Thrills began to act up.  The fuel pump was going south, though we would not know for sure until late the next day.  It was a long, cold wet ride back to Moab, with my Jeep stalling every 5 miles or so, then would run again, then stumble and die.  We got back to Moab very late, very cold and very tired.  But it was such great fun! I must return there to camp in The Devilís Kitchen!  

Many thanks to Dan and Dianne Neuss, who once again showed us one of their favorite places.  We shared lots of laughs and good times.  The next day had me trying to find out Jeep Thrillís problems.  We changed plug wires, fuel filter, and ran fuel injector cleaner, but to no avail.  I bought a fuel pump from the auto parts store, and Dan and I worked to close to midnight getting it in.  It ran fine!Ö.Until the next day in the afternoon.  But thatís a story for the final chapterÖ.  Til then Ö Happy Trails to You!

Ken Womack