The town of Moab and its surrounding vast red rock landscape is Utah’s ultimate adventure playground. What other place can you visit multiple national parks, mountain bike unbelievable singletrack, rock climb slickrock, slide through narrow canyons, and raft down the infamous Colorado river through high red rock walls all within a few miles from town? Moab is one of the best adventure destinations in the entire world. Its red rock landscape boasts over 800 miles of biking trails, the mighty Colorado River, a maze of canyons and sandstone towers for climbing, and 2 of Utah’s most infamous National Parks – Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park.
Moab is an absolute mecca for mountain biking. With hundreds of miles of trails, Moab appeals to bikers of all skill levels. While the riding tends to lean toward challenging in many areas, beginners to the sport can find smooth singletrack complemented by panoramic views and mesa tops at the Klonzo, Klondike Bluffs and Bar M trail systems. Klonzo incorporates flow singletrack with small rock gardens and slickrock for an all-around Moab biking experience across its 24 trails. Bar M, or Moab Brand trails, is the trail system closest to town with 16 trails and slickrock riding options. Klondike features 27 trails with excellent beginner and intermediate options and spectacular views of Arches National Park. The great thing about all of these trail systems is the variety in trails – there are options for everyone from beginner to advanced! A bit further away, Dead Horse State Park has fantastic beginner and intermediate riding opportunities with some of the best scenery around. Bike along the edge of canyons and peer down at the gooseneck of the Colorado River!
If you’re feeling more adventurous, take on the steep, technical and fast Captain Ahab trail in the Amasa Back area, or for the same incredible views but a slightly less technical ride, take on the newer Hymasa trail nearby. Complete the Moab experience with the Whole Enchilada – a crowd favorite shuttle ride that features 34 miles of singletrack that starts high up in the La Sal mountains and ends at the Colorado River. This advanced ride covers almost every type of riding and scenery that Moab has to offer.
Moab is also home to some of the best road biking routes in the West including the La Sal Mountain loop road and the Blue Mountain loop. With little to no traffic, mild to wild terrain, rolling hills, flat roads, steep inclines, and gorgeous views, Moab is an excellent year-round road biking destination. Mellow rides start at Potash Road – a 33.4-mile out and back route that has gentle, flat roads for road biking beginners. For more of a challenge, try the Needles Overlook route with its hills and climbs. For expert road bikers, don’t miss La Sal Mountain’s 62-mile loop featuring steep and steady climbs and fast descents.
Beyond Moab’s towering rock formations and canyons are the Colorado River and Green River – two major destinations for river activities in the Moab area. Both rivers have sections that cater to calm, relaxing river tours and SUP, kayaking, and packrafting tours, as well as more challenging whitewater adventures for river rafting. Exploring the Colorado and Green rivers is a great way to discover the gems of Moab via the water.
The section of the Colorado nicknamed Moab Daily is a famous section of the river for rafting and inflatable kayaking. The 13-mile stretch alternates between several sets of Class I through III rapids and flat water. Moab Daily meanders through gorgeous red rock scenery with views of the Fisher Towers, Castle Valley, LaSal Mountains, and Arches National Park. The full 13-miles trip makes for a great beginner and family-friendly rafting trip. It requires a shuttle, and starts 23 miles up highway 128 after the junction with 191, and ends 10 miles up at the well signed Take Out beach. For a shorter trip, there are many other put ins and camping areas along the highway. For flatwater kayaks or SUPs, the 8-mile section of water from Big Bend campground to the 191 bridge takeout offers a great, mostly calm water day trip, with a few smaller rapids depending on the time of year.
For a multi-day calmwater paddling and camping adventure, the Green River’s Labyrinth Canyon is a great pick. The calm water is perfect for kayaking, canoeing, or stand up paddleboard. It requires a shuttle and a BLM permit and is very remote, so self sufficency (and lots of water) is required. Within its 44-mile stretch starting from Green River State Park, you’ll get to see desert highlights, deepening red rock canyons, and get a glimpse of Moab’s ancient history. Most paddlers leave a vehicle and take out at Ruby Ranch or Mineral Bottom (68 miles). For experienced paddlers who want to go further into Stillwater Canyon and the Confluence Point in Canyonlands National Park (120 miles from Green River State Park) the only take-out option is hiring a jet boat shuttle to pick you up at the Confluence and bring you back upstream to Moab on the Colorado River. Warning: the Confluence is where the Colorado and Green rivers meet, so rough waters are typically present.
Visit Moab in spring and fall for the best weather for outdoor activities. The months of February through early May and September to November are best riding weather. Early spring and late fall are the best times to avoid Moab’s influx of tourists.
TripOutside features the best local rental shops and guided tour providers for Moab biking, kayaking, SUP, rafting, rock climbing, canyoneering, packrafting and more!