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Couple following phone map to Moab stranded, rescued in backcountry as storm approaches

A Maryland couple that attempted to take the "back way" from Groundhog Lake to Moab became stranded near Lone Cone peak on wet, snowy roads. They were rescued unharmed. (Courtesy Dolores County Search and Rescue)
Maryland couple stranded at Lone Cone Peak; route ‘not even possible’

Two tourists who relied on a phone app’s map to drive from Groundhog Reservoir to Moab became stranded near Lone Cone Peak and had to be rescued, according to Dolores County Search and Rescue.

The couple from Maryland were unharmed, and were rescued Oct. 25 at 10,800 feet elevation as a winter storm approached the area, said Keith Keesling, operations captain for Dolores Search and Rescue.

“Apparently, a map on their phone suggested a back way to Moab from the lake,” Keesling said.

He said the route was “not even possible because of bad weather and closed roads.”

The Groundhog Lake area is situated in rugged mountain country.

The couple had attended a wedding at Groundhog when they decided to take the scenic route in a rented Toyota RAV4 to Moab based on a driving map app, Keesling said.

On Forest Road 534 at the base of Lone Cone Peak, they lost control of the vehicle on rugged and snowy roads, became stranded and called 911.

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Rescuers arrived on ATVs, and the couple was medically checked out. Dove Creek ambulance chief Jerry Whited drove the RAV4 down to dry roads. A short time later, a snowstorm hit the area with a foot of snow.

“They were very thankful, and happy to take the paved highway to Moab instead,” Keesling said.

He said visitors who rely on travel apps that suggest shortest routes through mountainous terrain and passes have caused numerous rescues over the past few years.

“Shortcuts work in cities, but not in the mountains. Pay attention and don’t blindly follow Google maps,” Keesling said. “Always make sure you tell someone your planned route. If this couple had not had cell service, they would have become trapped in that storm.”