Thought About Hitting Moab? Better Know How to Drive in Sand!


Known as one of the most revered spots for sand duning in the United States, Moab Utah is a great place to take your 4X4 when you want to try something a little different.

If you’ve never done it before, off-roading on sand is a lot of fun; however, it’s also challenging because the surface is different from any other.

The good news is that it’s easy to get the hang of driving on sand when you follow a few practical tips for better traction and a better time overall.

Use these pointers from experienced drivers when you head out to Moab, or any other sand trails to have a great time without spending it all trying to dig you and your Jeep out!

Pack the Necessities 

A day driving at Moab or on other sand trails should be viewed the same as any other day out on the trails as you need to anticipate having problems and bring the right gear with you to solve those problems.

Since it’s sand you’ll be driving through and not mud or water, the list of essential necessities to bring with you is similar but slightly different:

  • Sand Flag - Sand flags are an important safety item when you’re driving in popular dune spots where there are a lot of offroad trucks going up and down the dunes because the tall flag serves as a means for other drivers to see you coming, and vice-versa.
  • Shovel - A critical tool for digging out when your Jeep gets stuck.
  • Traction Boards - Another critical tool for getting unstuck on sand, whether used to help you drive your way out or hand to your friends to help you dig out faster.
  • Recovery Gear - Standard recovery gear like a winch and recovery straps is recommended. If there’s a chance you might end up on the dunes alone, a sand anchor is also recommended so you can winch yourself out.
  • Sunglasses - Protect your eyes and keep clear vision with a good pair of sunglasses to tone down the bright reflection off the sand.

Lower Your Tire Pressure

The best way to improve traction on soft surfaces like sand and mud is to air down the tires on your Jeep, typically to between 20 and 15 PSI.

Doing so does two things:

  • Increases the size of the tire’s contact patch over a wider area.
  • It makes the tire softer and more flexible.

Combined, you get better traction with your Jeep across the top of the sand from a softer, wider tire footprint, whereas a harder, thinner tire will instead dig down and make passage through soft surfaces more difficult.

Just don’t forget to re-inflate before you drive on the road again or you’re likely to damage your tires.

Know Effective Sand Steering

Steering on sand is a bit different than steering on more solid surfaces as the tires need to be moving at speed before you attempt to turn the steering wheel to prevent the tires from swiveling and digging in.

Steer by first applying the accelerator on your truck or Jeep a little more and then turning the wheels.

Using this technique, it’s essential to think ahead so you can turn where you need to without running past your turn point or running into others.

Maintain Your Speed

Another important factor in keeping the tires on your Jeep moving on top of the sand and preventing them from sinking into the sand, sliding on hills, or spinning wheels is forward momentum.

Keep your truck or Jeep moving in low gear with enough speed to stay rolling over the sand without digging in or sliding, even when going up and down dunes.

Drive Straight Up and Down the Dunes

Sand is loose, so it shifts and slides under your tires, especially going up and down hills.

To avoid this and the possibility of sliding or even rolling, it’s critical that you always drive your off-roader straight up and down inclines.

If you need to go back, don’t attempt to turn around but rather back yourself down to the base of a dune.

Putting your vehicle at an angle on such an unstable surface can too easily result in a dangerous loss of balance.

Tackle Moab With the Skills Needed for Safe Sand Driving

A great thing about off-roading in different environments is how we can put our off-roaders, and ourselves up to different challenges and learn obstacle driving skills.

When you go to a place like Moab, or even just to the beach, it’s essential to understand how sand behaves and how your truck or Jeep will react driving on it, then use these practical tips.

Taking these ideas into account, go have a blast on the sand dunes at Moab without getting stuck - and have a totally enjoyable day!

Fab Fours

Covering That Jeep Love With Great Bumpers!