Moab Biking Roundup

If You Go
Have a great trip!
Have a great trip!

Bike Shops

Moab isn't just great trails—you'll find everything else you need for an unforgettable mountain-bike vacation right on Main Street. For bike parts, repair, and rental, check out Poison Spider Bicycles. It's the best-equipped shop in town. For great trail information, visit the smaller and more laid-back Chile Pepper Bike Shop, where employees enjoy taking time to discuss Moab's fabulous trails.

Eats and Drinks

When you leave Chile Pepper, head next door to the Moab Brewery for refreshing microbrews and a bite to eat, then extend your brew tour to Eddie McStiff's Restaurant and Microbrewery for more great grub and suds. For the best postride pizza in all of southeast Utah, visit The Poplar Place. If you believe in carbo-loading, chow down at Pasta Jay's. There you can load up on great Italian cuisine in an outdoor courtyard under the desert sky and redrock canyon walls.

Where to Stay

Great camping is available all around Moab in both public and private campgrounds. Moab is loaded with good hotels, both small mom-and-pop operations and many of the national chains. The best deal is the Lazy Lizard International Youth Hostel just south of town on U.S. 191, where you'll find inexpensive accommodations, and where campers can buy showers.

When to Come

Spring and fall are the best times to mountain bike Moab. Spring in canyon country runs from March to May. Weather is changeable then, with storms and wind popping up quickly. Flash floods are possible. If you're caught out in a thunderstorm, move off the ridges and domes where lightning might strike. Autumn, from mid-September to early November, offers delightful weather. Occasional storms roll through, but most days are calm and clear. By November the cottonwood trees burn bright yellow against the buff-and-red canyon walls. Summer is usually too hot for good biking, but can be enjoyable if you finish riding by mid-morning or start after 6 p.m.

Being a Good Biker

Be respectful of the land. Don't touch or rub petroglyphs or pictographs—even small amounts of sweat and body oil can degrade these treasures. Stay on trails or slickrock when riding in canyon country so you won't destroy the cryptobiotic soil common to the region. It looks like nubby black crust, and is actually a living community of lichens, mosses, fungi, and bacteria that help hold the desert soil in place. Once destroyed, this fragile crust takes years to grow back.

Ride Safely

Do the Moab Search and Rescue Team a favor and prepare well before you go. Study a reputable guidebook before showing up in canyon country, and carry one of the many excellent mountain-bike maps when you hit the trails so you won't find yourself shivering in the surprisingly chilly desert night, wondering where you missed a turn or trail marker. Allow more time than you think you'll need. Carry a little food or energy bars and lots of water—one quart for each hour of biking. Even if you're riding in spring or after a rain when the potholes are full, you should still carry your own water supply. Leave the potholes to the desert critters that have evolved to depend upon these intermittent water sources.

Getting the Most From Your Trip

Bring your camera and lots of film—and use it! This country is like no other you'll ever see, and if you ride past all the scenery focusing only on your riding and not your camera, you'll kick yourself later. A camera is just like your bike—it can draw you still deeper into this redrock wonderland. This unparalleled landscape makes great photographers of everybody.

Most important of all, learn to enjoy whatever the desert brings you. A rainy day in this rugged country isn't a soggy inconvenience—it's an incredible gift to both you and the thirsty land. Thunderclaps echo off canyon walls like artillery fire, and the desert you thought so dry and barren comes to life. Potholes fill and reflect the sky. Streams come to life and gush across the slickrock. Ephemeral waterfalls pour off cliffs, splash into the canyon below, and cascade out to the Colorado River. And you, like the desert, will be refreshed by the cooling rain, in body and spirit.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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