How to Mountain Bike Moab

How to Mountain Bike Moab
For serious and casual mountain bikers alike, Moab is the stuff of dreams. If you plan one mountain bike-based vacation in your life, Moab should certainly be on your short list of destinations. Moab's slickrock and high desert scenery are world-renowned and you can expect mountain biking that meets or surpasses its lofty reputation. In order to get the most out of your trip, you'll want to plan thoroughly.


Difficulty: Challenging

Things You’ll Need:
  • Hydration pack
  • Map(s)
  • Trail guide
Step 1
Determine your time frame. The best times to travel to Moab are the spring from mid-March through May and the fall from September to mid-November. During the summer, particularly July and August, daytime temperatures are extremely hot in the desert that surrounds Moab and mountain biking can be both uncomfortable and dangerous. While night mountain biking, morning and evening rides are options, the summer is still not the ideal time to visit. Some of Moab's trails are navigable year-round, but winter weather can be unpredictable, covering trails in snow and ice.
Step 2
Plan ahead. Moab is a very popular destination for all types of outdoor recreation travelers. The lodging in and around the town has a tendency to fill up, particularly during popular holiday weekends like Memorial Day. It's best to plan your trip several months ahead.
Step 3
Pack all the provisions. Before biking, be sure that you have a full mountain bike repair kit including several spare tubes, a pump, patch kit, spoke wrench and chain tool. You don't want to lose the function of your bike miles into the hot desert, so fully preparing is important.
Step 4
Pick your trail. Pick up a map or mountain bike guide book and determine the trail that you want to ride each day. Some of Moab's more famous routes, including Slickrock Trail and Porcupine Rim, are quite technical and better left to skilled, experienced riders. If this is you, take your pick. If not, consider some of Moab's less demanding options like Bar M and Gemini Bridges. Klondike Bluffs is an excellent intermediate option that features a lot of lightly graded slickrock, providing a good introduction for someone who's never ridden the feature. The trail ends at the gates of Arches National Park, where you can leave your bike and hike in for some great views of the park. Be sure to carry a detailed topographic map and perhaps a guide book when riding.
Step 5
Rent a bike. If you didn't bring your own bike, rent one at one of Moab's bike shops. Given its status as a mountain biking mecca, it's not too hard to find a shop. Some Moab bike shops that rent bikes include Rim Cyclery, Poison Spider Bicycles and Moab Cyclery. Like lodging, reserve your bike ahead of time to be sure you get what you want.
Step 6
Plan your ride for early morning or late evening. If the temperatures are going to be high, riding in the morning or evening is a good way of avoiding the hottest part of the day and enjoying more moderate temperatures.
Step 7
Pack plenty of water. Even when temperatures are mild, Moab is hot and dry. A gallon of water a day is a good, simple rule to follow, but long, strenuous rides may demand even more. Packing a large 100-ounce hydration pack and a water bottle or two on your bike is not overkill, especially for longer rides. Leave additional water or sports drinks in a cooler in your truck for when you finish the ride.
Step 8
Consider a multi-day route. If you're really looking for a challenge, consider tackling one of Moab's multi-day trails such as the Kokopelli (Moab to Fruita) or the White Rim Trail. The San Juan Hut system serves mountain bikers who ride between Durango, Colorado and Moab, providing a series of huts to stay in on the multi-day adventure. Also, consider hiring a touring company such as Rim Tours for your multi-day ride. Again, plan ahead to reserve your spot.

Tips & Warnings

Respect the desert ecosystem and don't disturb the soil or rock off the trail.
Pack out all garbage and excrement.
Mountain biking is a dangerous sport and biking in Moab includes a variety of hazards including uneven rock surfaces, excessive heat and thorny vegetation. Be sure that you're prepared physically and technically before taking a trip there.

Article Written By Joe Fletcher

Joe Fletcher has been a writer since 2002, starting his career in politics and legislation. He has written travel and outdoor recreation articles for a variety of print and online publications, including "Rocky Mountain Magazine" and "Bomb Snow." He received a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Rutgers College.

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