Moab USA - cowboy film panoramas, awesome riding and dinosaur footprints. Pictures by

My brother lives over in Denver Colorado so a trip to visit him provided a great excuse to head to one of mountain biking's famed locations being Moab in Utah.

Much is made of the Slick Rock Trail located at the heart of Moab but I have to say the trails around Moab blow away the Slick Rock Trail in terms of fun and scenery. And I barely scratched the surface when it comes to the number and array of trails available in the region...

Trail and Services Links
An assortment of trails taking in slick rock, desert and rocky trails. The Poison Spider bike shop guy recommended this as a good introduction to the types of trails around Moab and he was right.
An assortment of trails with rock and sand surfaces that follow the mesa rim in the Dead Horse Point Park. Lots of spectacular overlooks over the surrounding canyons.
Climb the slick rock to the Arches National Park whilst treading where dinosaurs one trod.
An assortment of trails with rock and sand surfaces. These trails have a combination of fast flowy sections with lots of rock obstacles thrown in for good measure.
Heard lots of things about this track before I went which were mainly along the lines of "You'll die". But this is a must do ride if you're in town and are experienced. A bit of a slog of a climb at the start followed by 15 kilometres of downhill. Massive views and rough trail riding before plummeting down into the Colorado River canyon. I'd love to have this back at home...
Goodwater Rim Trail (Bancoora) About 200 kms NW of Moab but well worth the effort for the views. Google Map Wedge Overlook for location. Low technicality trail around canyon rim but with breath taking views at every turn. Local Utah website nominates it as the best in Utah - that's a big call but it's pretty good.
Moab's famed slick rock circuit. Very challenging with some great views. Neil Armstrong didn't step on the moon, he landed here...
Good trail summary here.
Website containing trail and bike rental information.
Website containing trail, shuttle and bike rental information.
This is the Moab Tourist Information centre website - they have stacks of information on the area from a general and MTB perspective and can provide maps, etc..
Not the actual tourist information centre (refer above) - a website containing trail and bike rental information. Click here to access their MTB trail information.
Website containing trail, shuttle and bike rental information. Poison Spider can provide cheap maps at the shop (couple of dollars each) of most trail networks in the area. Please buy these maps as the proceeds are fully directed back into trail maintenance. An example map is here to give you an idea of what they are like. I presume you can get these at other bike shops in town as well.
Website containing trail, tour and bike rental information.
Website containing trail and tour information.
Web page with lots of local Moab trail maps
Falcon Books has a good guide to the Moab trails (available at Tourist information centre for about USD10)
Website with lots of trail descriptions and GPX files for GPSs so you can stay safe
Maps and Directions To Get There
Moab Click on link for map showing how to get there.

Moab has a small local airport but it is more likely that you would fly into one of the larger airports and drive the remaining distance to Moab. Salt Lake City (3 to 4 hours drive), Denver (4 to 5 hours drive) or Las Vegas (6 to 7 hours drive) are the main candidates to get you close to Moab.

Note that the road from Denver crosses the Rocky Mountains so may be subject to snow and ice at certain times of year. The American highways are fantastic with typical speed limits of 65 mph (100 kmh) in Colorado and 75 mph (120 kmh) in Utah making travel fairly quick and efficient. Roads are typically two lanes in each direction so you shouldn't get stuck for too long behind anything. Car rentals are cheap even from the larger agencies with vehicles available for about AUD350 per week. Fuel is cheap at $3.50 per gallon and the mid sized vehicles I hired were very economical getting 45 mpg (5.5 l/100km) on the highway so no issues there. (Prices April 2013)

Bike Hire

I would recommend hiring bikes at Moab unless you are going for a long time as I was typically quoted AUD150 per leg for bike transport by air to and within the USA.

There are a number of bike shops in town and we got some very top end Ibis Mojo SL-R carbon fibre bikes (a number of years ago now) for just USD75 per day. We used Poison Spider Bike Shop and they were very good to deal with and provided some great tips on trails as well as maps. Poison Spider and other shops in the area also provide shuttles and tours to various mountain bike locations around town.

For those that also like road biking, there is an off road trail network up the main highway and along the Colorado River which then lead into some great road rides into the Arches and Canyonlands National Parks.

Most rides were uncrowded with the exception of Slick Rock which gets very packed with queues forming on some of the harder sections which are quite regular!


Accommodation is plentiful and cheap but I believe it gets quite a bit more expensive in the peak season. We stayed at the Motel 6 chain (get in early or book ahead - they sell out early each day) which had brand new rooms for only $40 per night (I note with the peak season now upon us at the time of writing that they have increased to $110 per night and will rise further to $130 per night so are obviously quite sensitive to the time of year in which you visit). They were MTB friendly and readily let you take bikes up to your rooms rather than leave them in the car.


There are plenty of places in town where you can get cheap and good quality meals so you can basically eat out all of the time with little, if any, premium over cooking for yourself. Most shops are located on the main strip.


I went in April and the riding conditions were superb with crisp mornings leading in to beautiful sunny days - take plenty of food and water as you chew through it pretty quickly even in these cooler conditions. Climate data can be found here. Note that June through August can be very hot and this is accentuated by the rock surfaces absorbing the desert sun. Locals recommend you carry a gallon (4 litres) of water if back country riding.


As always, ride within your capabilities and walk any sections that need walking to be safe. While most trails are within the capability of intermediate riders, there are serious drop offs to the sides of some trails (eg Porcupine Rim) and some big ledges within some of the more technical trails so be alert and safe where required.

Tourist Information

For Moab, refer to Moab Tourist Information Centre website.