Moab in the Desert Rain

“This is the sense of the desert hills, that there is room enough and time enough”

– Mary Hunter Austin

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My first official “riding trip” was in the fall of 2018, when my husband and I took a red-eye flight from Hawaii to San Francisco, San Francisco to Salt Lake City and then drove 4 hours to Moab, Utah.  Our sole intention of the trip was to explore the trails; and that is what we did with one day each of hiking, mountain biking, dirt biking and 4-wheeling.  If you haven’t already been to Moab, it’s an amazing place and I would visit again in a heartbeat!  Here is a recounting of our experience, hope you enjoy!

First Impressions

Moab is located in the heart of a desert called the Colorado Plateau.  As you drive in, you quickly realize that it is a magical place, a great expanse of red rock mountains greets you and you can start to see hints of deep valley gorges that were carved out by millions of years of flowing green rivers.  The town is quaint, with a main drive full of small eateries and all the usual amenities.  There are also a host of accommodations along the drag.  We booked a room at the Hotel Moab Downtown and were not disappointed, the rooms were comfy and as we pulled into the parking lot we were excited to see stalls filled with off-road trucks, bikes and trailers waiting for their owners to take them on their next adventure. We could already sense that this was our kind of town.  Since it was early evening, we walked down the street and grabbed a bite at Quesadilla Mobila (so yummy!) and then drove into Arches National Park to see if we could catch a glimpse of the iconic night sky through the clouds.

Hiking Arches National Park

The next morning we woke up to the sound of pouring rain against our hotel windows. We got ready for the day, and as we ran down the street to the Red Rock Bakery, large rain drops pelted down on us.  It was chilly out and I was a bit worried about the weather, but as we sipped our coffee and enjoyed our delicious toasted bagels with veggies, the cashier assured us that we were in for a treat. He explained that very few tourists get to experience the desert rain, and we would get to see waterfalls and possibly even desert crustaceans, if we looked carefully enough.  So after breakfast off we went to beat the other tourists to the iconic landmarks like Delicate Arch,  Double O Arch and all the others.  We hiked the day away, enjoying the views and were able to hike almost all of the trails in the park.

Mountain Biking Intrepid Trail System

Our next adventure was mountain biking the Intrepid Trail System at Dead Horse Point State Park.  Once again it was raining, but the boys at Chile Pepper Bike guarenteed us that Moab is totally rideable in the rain, if not even better in the rain.  So we loaded our rental bikes into the pickup-truck and headed out.

Dead Horse Point, was sadly named after the area’s natural corral that you can see in the distance.  The story goes that local cowboys used the point to herd wild mustang.  They would capture the horses they wanted and release the rest, however one day the additional horses were unable to escape and died of thirst on the plateau 2,000 feet above the Colorado River.  While the history is melancholy, the point is nothing less than stunning. Looking out you can see layers upon layers of colors unfold from the green river to the light beige, orange and even purple shades of mountains and valleys stretching into the expansive distance.

After checking out the point, we headed back to the visitor’s center to start our ride.   We chose to ride the outer loop of the trails counter-clockwise so that we could see all the views and give ourself time to warm up our legs before hitting the trails that the park reviews as “More Difficult”.

From the start, the trails were well maintained, with very little elevation change and lots of fun flowy sections.  It was our first time riding slickrock terrain and we quickly learned that even in the pouring rain, slickrock is less slippery than the “slick” name implies.  As we reached the first few lookouts on the eastern side of the park, we were still riding through mini rivers and crisp rain, so unfortunately we didn’t get much of a view of “Great Pyramid Rock” or the La Sal Mountains, but we had a blast riding through the varying terrain of silckrock and sandy dirt, and we knew for sure that we were ready to hit up the next set of trails.

The western trails were my favorite, there were lots of fun dips and rollers on the way over there and more technical slickrock to ride.  On the western end, we were also greeted by some sunshine and blue skies which made me fall in love with the area even more! It was a ton of fun, and even as a fairly new mountain bike rider, I didn’t find the trails too challenging.  We were done with half the day to spare, so we returned our bikes and headed back to Moab Giants for a little dinosaur discovery before calling it a day.

Dirt Biking Seven Mile Rim and Sovereign Single Track

Day three was dirt bike day.  This was the day I had been dreaming about, and basically the inspiration for the trip.  I was going to get to dirt bike Moab! My husband was just as excited as I was, and we were both up before our alarm, out the door, and patiently waiting outside Moab Tour Company by 8:00 am.  The men and women at Moab Tour Company were friendly and knowledgable, and after setting us up with our rental bikes, they were able to suggest some trails for us to ride.  We ended up choosing Seven Mile Rim trail which is actually a 4×4 trail, and much longer than seven miles.

The trail starts off on a dirt road but as you head up the mountain, the terrain quickly changes to varying slickrock and sand.  Before long we reached our first destination, Uranium Arch.  Uranium arch is a large arch spanning about 75 feet and named after a near by uranium mine (that we didn’t see). Here and hopped off our bikes to take a photo before heading out to Merrimac and Monitor Butte.  On the way to the Buttes there was a lot of fun slickrock to climb. The riding got a little more technical and I had fun challenging myself on my little bike and hitting the many slickrock step-ups along the way.  I normally ride a KTM 150 XC-W, so the small tires and 4-stroke motor on the Honda 125 was quite a change, but still good fun.

As we got even closer to the buttes, the terrain changed again and we rode fast paced sandy roads for about a mile before crossing between the two buttes. Once we crossed between the buttes the scenery got absolutely gorgeous.  The slickrock changed yet again, this time to huge sweeping hills that reminded me of rolling ocean swells.  There were beautiful layers of color in the stone, and the riding was breath-taking as I got to climb and descend monumental off camber hills.

It was right around here that we reached “Wipe Out Hill”, a fun hill climb just to the side of the Seven Mile Rim trail.  I didn’t get a photo, but if you look it up online, it’s a pretty steep off camber descent with some decent drop offs at the top, so I decided to play it safe and walk my bike down rather than find out if I would help it live up to it’s name.  To get back up I found a go around with a much smoother but still off camber climb and we continued on Seven Mile Rim trail towards Tusher Canyon.

Heading towards Tusher Canyon we rode long sandy river washes, that, because of the recent rain, were nicely packed down and super fast and flowy.  At the end of the washes were some sandy dunes that required a good deal of momentum to climb, and then the gorgeous Tusher Tunnel.  We parked our bikes and climbed through a crevice in the stone to be greeted by magnificent red rock views on the other side.  It was here that we stopped for lunch and spent some time searching for petroglyphs. Unfortunately, we were unable to find any authentic petroglyphs due to the amount of graffiti that previous visitors left.

After the tunnel, we had the choice to take an access road directly back to our truck or ride the trails.  With half the day left, of course, we chose the trails, and we had just as much fun riding the trails in the opposite direction as we did heading out the first time.

When we finally arrived back at the truck we had about 2 hours left on our rental so we crossed the street to Sovereign Single Track.  As the name implies, Sovereign Single Track is a network of single track mountain bike and dirt bike trails.  The trails are well-marked, but wind in and out, making it easy to get lost.  We didn’t have much time to explore, but we had fun on a range of terrain from rolling slickrock with technical descents to fast and flowy sand washes and berms. I would have loved to explore more, but time was running out, so back to Moab we went.

4×4 Hell’s Revenge and Fins and Things

Our last day we were back at Moab Tour Company bright and early to pick up a Polaris RZR.  They gave my husband the run down on the vehicle, and the standard safety instructions before turning to me and stating the number one safety rule:  “If you get scared, keep your hands on the grip bar in front of you.”  This is because if you let your instincts get the best of you and try to brace yourself when the vehicle is rolling, your arm will probably reach outside the cab and very likely break or possibly get severed.  Wide eyed, I followed these instructions to the T and for the rest of the day I was basically white-knuckling that grip bar any time I wasn’t driving.

Although I love mountain biking and dirt biking, 4×4 gets my heart was beating out of my chest every time, and that day was no different.  Fins and Things was a great warm up, and I even got to drive a bit, but Hell’s Revenge was another story.  It felt like the whole trail revolved around driving up and down steep cliffs with massive drop offs on either side.  It was a thrill, and I was glad that my husband was a confident driver because there were multiple points in which I screamed and closed my eyes.  With that said, I did have a blast and we did do Hell’s Revenge one more time when we finished and realize there was still time on our rental.

Ready for Round Two

All-in-all I absolutely LOVED Moab and would go back every year if I had the opportunity. The town has so much to offer any level of trail rider and it is all within a 30 minute drive. Not to mention, the really yummy food we had the whole trip. If you love Moab, or have any advice on fun trails to ride please leave a comment bellow and like and subscribe to trailridermama.com for updates on my latest articles.

Aloha,

Laura

 

 

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