This is one road that when you see it, you will get the urge to drive it and prove you have what it takes. Of course make sure the weather isn’t bad (raining, snowing or earthquake) and it’s wise not to drive at night otherwise, it wins and you lose.
You will find Shafer Canyon Road approxamately 1 mile north of the Canyonlands Island in the Sky Visitor Center. Before going, and this we highly recommend, drive to the Shafer Canyon Overlook just south of the visitor center. You won’t be disappointed!
The views are stunning and you will get the best possible vantage point of the switchbacks leading into the canyon.Truly breathtaking scenery! Photos won’t do this justice. Spend a hour or two and just soak it all in then get up, get in your car and go do it.
One thing I will honestly say, before starting this drive we were a little concerned. Thoughts like how tight are the switchbacks, what if a car is coming up, is there room to pass, what if the car has a problem. The road is very intimidating! We stayed focused and just did it.
Once we made it to our destination, setup camp, and could relax, we realized it wasn’t as scary as expected. Don’t get me wrong, you should pay attention at all times, drive slow, have a spotter look for oncoming cars or even just get out and look around the sharper turns before driving through them. If you do all these things you should be fine. Oh and it’s recommended you drive a 4×4.
Beginning the Drive Down
The drive down will provide you with so many great sights unless you are the driver and as the driver you should ONLY be watching the road!!
The scenery is incredible everywhere you look. Here are a few photos of rock formations, mountains, and layers of colors.
Shafer Campground was in a great location. It is the ONLY campground at the very bottom of the canyon so if privacy is what you want then you will have it. Fantastic scenery in all directions, quiet at night and the sky was loaded with stars. We only stayed one night but could have stayed much longer.
Beginning the Drive Up
Starting the drive back to the top of the canyon. It’s hard to believe how intimidated we were yesterday, now we are confident, comfortable and excited.
By the way, we were so focused on driving we forgot that there are Indian petroglyphs and some arches to be seen. We don’t have any details exactly where they are located along the drive but when we find out we will update this.
One last note, Canyonlands is a breathtaking national park. If you have only a short time, get to the overlooks and do some short hikes. You won’t be disappointed.
We hope you enjoyed the pictures!
Now we are off to Elephant Hill to explore the Needles District!
More Area Information
Just a few useful notes
• It’s recommended your vehicle is 4 wheel drive / 4×4
• No water is available in the canyon so bring what you’ll need
• No speeding or passing
• $30 for a 14 day backcountry permit
• I believe we were told we could only stay two nights consecutively