Utah: Canyon Rides

The geological wonders of Moab have mountain bikers spinning their wheels. The fiery red canyon lands of southwest Utah is one of the most sought-after destinations for recreational biking.

Where are the world’s best rides? Mountain bikers claim it’s Utah’s unique red-rock canyon lands. Giant sandstone formations, canyon mazes, and thousands of natural arches draw recreational cyclists to Arches and Canyonlands National parks.

Hiking trails lead to spectacular sites in Arches National Park.

What else attracts mountain bikers to Moab? Easy logistics. Great Lakes Airlines flies into Moab from Los Angles and Las Vegas. You can check into a hotel in town or into the Red Cliffs Lodge on the river and ride different trails every day.

Moab is the epicenter of the activity, surrounded by wide-reaching public lands and dazzling single-track trails with sheer drop-offs.

You can rent bikes or sign up for  guided bike trips at Moab Adventure Center, a reliable source for expert advice on the entire trail system.

The trails that snake into sheer-walled canyons can be intimating for beginners. If you are on a family vacation, start out with an easy ride. The Intrepid Trail Loop in Dead Horse Point State Park has dirt single-track trails for families with younger children.

Riders with some experience at shifting on dirt trails can hop on the Great Pyramid Loop. The Big Chief Loop has a few white-knuckle challenges but most of the trail can be ridden with a single-gear bike.

The 7.9-mile Bar M/Courthouse Loop is a fairly easy ride with an elevation change of about 300 feet. Many families ride this trail, including baby trailers and trail-a-bikes.

The 13.5-mile Gemini Bridges Downhill is a popular warm-up ride for locals due to its dramatic scenery and long descents along a decent dirt and gravel road.

There are hundreds of natural arches in the canyon lands.

On non-biking days, discover Native American rock art sites on a hike. At Canyonlands’ Horseshoe Canyon, hike to the Great Gallery. Humanoid forms—heroes, hunters or shamen—stand 10 feet tall with animals, cloaked in robes with mysterious symbols. The Anasazi and Navajo created these petroglyphs hundreds of years ago.

Because southeastern Utah is an arid desert, spring and fall draw the crowds. Summer brings scorching heat but you can always bike in the early morning and late evening. That leaves you the option during the warmest part of the day to cool off on a rafting trip or go on a Hummer safari.

—Donna Peck


  1. What a great story. I can only imagine what kind of story would come out of an actual on the ground experience for Donna. Thank you for making Moab a part of your great magazine.

  2. Jamie Pearce says:

    Moab really does have it all. The travelers to this incredible location could find any number of activities to do. Moab is a wonderful place, and as the article states, it has a variety of activities. From biking to rafting and four-wheeling, Moab is the place for the adventurous traveler and the family vacation. Thank you, Donna, for exploring the countless opportunities Moab has to offer.

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