Lost Lifts of Moab

Moab, a town of 5,000 in the Utah desert is the surprising home of two failed lift projects – a gondola that never opened and a modern chairlift that lasted only a few years.

Moab Scenic Tram

Moab Scenic Tram from Google Earth.
Moab Scenic Tram from Google Earth.
Just south of Arches National Park stands the Moab Scenic Tram.  It’s actually a pulse gondola built by Doppelmayr.  A small group of investors spent $3.3 million to build the gondola along with a parking lot and two terminal buildings in 1999. From the outset it was criticized as the “tram to nowhere.”  Scheduled to open in April 2001, the tram’s owners got in a fight with the county over a removal bond to be paid in case the business failed.  Ironically the business never opened and the vandalized tram remains 16 years later.  Its windows and control panels have been smashed and graffiti is everywhere. The lift is very short with only five towers and a handful of cabins, some of which never made it onto the haul rope.  It is probably the world’s newest gondola to be tensioned with a counterweight and without level boarding.  If you’d like to check it out in person, it’s hard to miss at the intersection of US 191 and Route 128.

The lower terminal of the Moab Scenic Tram sits abandoned in 2015. The lift never carried a single customer.

Some cabins remain on the line while others lie in ruin at the base station.

Moab Scenic Skyway

The Moab Scenic Skyway scaled the Moab Rim.
The Moab Scenic Skyway scaled the Moab Rim.
On the other side of town was the Moab Scenic Skyway, a Garaventa CTEC quad chairlift which took hikers and bikers 1,000 feet up to the Moab Rim.  Longtime resident Emmett Mays had dreamed of building a lift on his property since the 1970’s.  He spent $2.2 million to build the lift, trails and parking lot and it opened in May 1999.  The entire lift was painted brown and orange camouflage colors to blend in with the rocks below.  Designed purely for sightseeing, it ran 250 feet a minute and took 16 minutes to ride round-trip.  The attraction lasted five years, closing in 2004.  The Nature Conservancy bought the land and the lift was sold to Whitefish Mountain Resort in Montana.  It operates today as the Easy Rider Quad.  The galvanized chairs still have patches of brown paint on them!

It cost $7 to ride the Skyway.
Moab Scenic Skyway circa 2002.

6 thoughts on “Lost Lifts of Moab

  1. Carson July 24, 2017 / 9:56 pm

    If you need any photos or videos just let me know


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