Seeking Moab Advice fr Pa Riders
Taking the wife and daughter to Moab in the middle of May. I've been reading and researching all the good sites that were recommended over in the Utah forum,but I wanted to get some advice from those of you who have been there. Where did you stay? Would you stay there again? Where did you rent bikes from? Where not to waste time .... on rides or places that were crowded, where did you like to eat? What kind of vehicle did you rent?
We're flying into SLC and driving the 5 hrs (per Mapquest) to Moab,renting a condo for 8 nights south of Moab, and have Arches,Slickrock, and the Canyonlands on our agenda so far. Planning on renting from Poison Spider Cycles.
Any Moab veteran's insight would be greatly appreciated!
My family and I visited the area last summer with main intention of visiting parks, secondary intention to ride for a few hours. Due to weather (rain, bion) we did not ride, but can add a couple words of advice from what I learned.
Poison Spider, Chili Pepper Bike Shop, others rent. Plan ahead to reserve a bike and/or coord. transportation to trail head. The 2 mile practice loop at Slick Rock should give you a good idea of what the rest of the trail is like.
There are other rides better suited to families if wife and daughter want to scale it back a notch. Ask at bike shop.
You need to stop in at the Moab Brewery too...
DB Dirt Club
DBs on Dirt since 2010
First off, I envy your trip. I haven't been back to that region since Dec 07. The trip will rock (literally) and you'll have a great time.
Originally Posted by 73cuda
I don't think I can make any recommendations on places to stay, it's been too long since I've been there. So long as they have secure bike storage and afford you bike cleaning facilities you should be good. When I stayed there it was at Red Valley Home, like 1 block from the center of town. I know not if they're still in business though. There were mobile-homes converted into lodging that you rented wholly. I think the last time I looked they started around 100/night, but could accommodate up to 6 people per.
Poison Spider was a great shop, I have a hard time believing they're not now. Moab Cyclery and Chili Pepper also come to mind. Get a nice 5" or 6" travel FS bike for the most enjoyable ride. Be sure to call and reserve bikes way ahead of time (call them to find out how early!) to make sure that there are some available. When you pick up the bikes ask what chain lube they use and make sure you have something to clean and lube the drivetrain out there (at least every other day IMO - the sand out there is incredibly abrasive and you don't want chain-suck or drivetrail failure ten miles out). I'd guess that they would either answer directly or give you any maintenance hints they think are appropriate. Take a shock pump with you. I always took my own bike so I know not about renting directly, but don't skimp if you don't have to. We always cleaned up and prep'd our bikes aftger returning the ride of the day. FYI, I used to live in Texas so me and my buds would drive up to Moab (23 hours drive time).
Think about one day taking a guided ride. Like one guide for just the three of you. Or, if the family wants a day off, take one by yourself with a different group.
Where do the three of you ride around here, and for how long (time and distance)? What do you ride here? I ask to help define your various rider abilities.
How much have you read up on the desert riding? Things to watch out for and prepare for? Can you identify cryptobiotic soil (to avoid it)? Are you ready for cactus?
If you haven't, get the Falcon Guide for Moab - lots of good info.
I highly advocate the Latitude 40 Maps, for best coverage the Moab East and Moab West maps. Their newer map of Classic Moab Trails I have not seen.
If you're planning big rides, like Poison Spider Mesa or Procupine Rim or others, what navigation aids are you taking? I always took topo maps and a GPS. I'm a GPS nut so I like to record the rides I've been on, plus it gives me the helping-hand that if we lose the track you don't fiddle too much trying to figure out where you ARE. Still, pays to be competent at land navigation if you're going more than a few miles out.
Have you ridden in areas where the trail is often marked by "paint-splotches on rocks" or cairns, or less? For some of the trail (segments) that will be all the guidance on them that you will get. Some are MUCH more clearly demarcated though. While I admit the possibility I find it challenging to think someone could get lost starting from Porcupine Rim trailhead off Sand Flats Road all the way down to the river.
There has been a bit of growth and development of bike-centric trails in Moab in the last couple years, so be sure to take your time getting oriented from the bike shop and getting the "411" ;^) I was there the year the Sovereign trail (first bike only trail in Moab?) openened to the public and it was a great addition.
If you're going to be there a week, you should consider at least one day driving over to Fruita (about 90 minute drive) and riding at either Kokopelli Loops, the 18 Road trails (Joe's Ridge, Kessel Run, etc.), lots of trail options at both these areas for different skill levels and they have a different character than those in Moab (for the most part).
Ride Tech Comments
o Slickrock (e.g. the named trail OR any of that rock formation you traverse, e.g. sandstone) affords ridiculous amounts of traction. As long as you have weight on your tires and your tires are in contact THEY WILL NOT SLIP. You can traverse up, down, and across mind-bendingly steep segments, if you have the legs for it.
o Loose sand on Slickrock is slippery! Think ball-bearings.
o The red clay of the area is icky-sticky when wet, and still abrasive. You have been warned.
o If you're renting bikes and you ride clipless at home, take your pedals with you, with your shoes.
Trails to Ride
- easy runs -
o Klondike Bluffs, great for just a couple hours out-n-back (harder to get lost!) with small hike at the end for a great view into Arches NP
o Sovereign Trail, it's a loop with a good smorgasboard of all the trail tread types in Moab featured, pay attention to paint splotches on the slickrock section.
o Gemeni Bridges, shuttled to the top of the ride. You almost coast down a gentle jeep road for 8 miles to the bridges, then continue on and it gets a BIT more interesting with one steep loose-dirt/rock descent, followed by a moderate climb out. You can coast down hwy 191 back into Moab from the end or park a car there.
- moderate runs -
o Poison Spider Mesa out and back, just up to the top of the bluff from the parking area and back. Bad sand at the bottom usually, but it's not long, then it's all slickrock and dirt goodness. Great view from the rim.
o Porcupine Rim, from Sand Flats trailhead. Couple miles of climbing then essientally downhill for about 15 miles. Stupid fun.
- difficult runs -
o Gemeni Bridges to Golden Spike to Gold Bar Rim to Poison Spider to Portal Trail - me and some friends did this and it was one of my favorite rides ever in the region, but it took us almost 8 hours. If it had been warm we could not have done it ( temps were in the 50-60's that day ).
o Whole Enchilada; I've never done this one, only read about it, but soo want to do it. Basically it's the shuttle drop where you start up in the La Sal mountains and connect trail all the way down to the end of Porcupine Rim. Something like 25-30 miles of trail, mostly downhill. Do not think that makes it easy. :^)
- Rainy Day Rides (as in currently sprinkling or previously rained a lot) -
o Go hit Slickrock Trail or Bartlett Wash; being that both are 100% slickrock you can't hurt the trail AND you still have fabulous traction.
A Word of Caution
Last I was there, there is essentially NO cell-phone service when out on the trails. Don't count on that as a Backup Plan.
May can get really warm there, i've seen it go from freezing temps to 80 in a week in APRIL. I usually rode with 100oz bladder + 2 32oz bottles, or more. One of the hot rides there I took two 100oz bladders. Watch the weather trends and plan accordingly. Pack NUUN tablets, or the equivalent, in your camelbacks.
If you search on MTBR (Passion I think) there's a story buried out there how a father/mother accidentally allow the environment to kill their daughter through dehydration in three days. How much have you planned to fight dehydration? Do you know about the balance between water and electrolytes and how younger people can be more vulnerable?
If you'd like more of my opinions, feel free to PM me and we could exchange email for more info.
I nominate that response as "Best Ever"!
DB Dirt Club
DBs on Dirt since 2010
Indeed, good post! I'm still laughing about "Can you identify cryptobiotic soil?", I yell at people all the time for that.
As a transplant from PA to Utah, I can say that you'll have a blast but be careful you don't end up moving. It's not like every outdoor pursuit you can do is world class in Utah or anything. To add in some information, I wouldn't consider Porcupine Rim a moderate trail for most people, it's a pretty full day and you'll be whooped good by the end of it. LPS and UPS (lower and upper porcupine shuttle) are really good trails if the Whole Enchilada isn't melted off or dry.
*May is hot, bring water
*There is a fantastic couple of options for large rental areas in town, there's been a few threads about this in the Utah forum
*Poison Spider bike shop is good, Poison Spider trail is not good (unless you like 6" of sand)
*I got a lot of good vibes from Uranium Cycles when we were there last, check out their rentals too, might not be as busy as PS
If you give us an idea of your riding level or expectations, we can probably give out some more focused advice on what trails you "can't miss". For me, Amasa back to Jacksons and Portal are must rides, but I sure as hell wouldn't send intermediate riders anywhere near those.
I was hesitating to post another "need vac. advice" thread,but I'm glad I did. Thank you!!! I agree w/ MT Miller for best reply ever.. ,thank you bear! To answer your question about what are my riding abilities...I like more fast and flowing.. think Blue Marsh (for anyone that has ridden Blue Marsh). Ever since having plates and screws put in my right wrist last year,and the doc saying "if you break this again your screwed," I have toned down the big drop,Hans Rey kind of riding.
I have been reading and researching a little each day on the Utah climate, and yes I know to stay off the funny looking soil and out of the puddles you talked about. I am going to get Mels' guide to Moab and also the LAT 40maps. We would have liked to go maybe a little earlier or in the fall, but the middle of May is what works for our schedules.
I had watched one guy's vid on his Portal ride and wholly schi@!, penalty for failure is big in some spots on that ride. We were only out west 1 other time 2 yrs ago.. did a big loop of the state in Co. and we have alot of respect for how quickly you can get in trouble when you are way out in the back country.
I have a Garmin 60CSx which is a must I think for this trip like bear had said. I don't know what NUUN tablets are... I'm guessing salt? I usually mix a Powerade into my 100oz. bladder w/ H20.
Hey zebrahum, thank you also... Do you know of flooding problem they had in Rim Village causing mold problems in the condos there? I take it from your post you live in UT now? ..thought I'd ask. Another question I thought of...I was told by the Moab visitor's bureau that I didn't need a 4x4 vehicle. What kind of vehicle would you suggest I rent?
Alright, don't want to make this a book,so I'll shut up now.
NUUN is an electrolyte add in for water. It's actually really good and works far better than a powerade in your Camelback.
Yes I do live in UT now, and I don't know any more about the floods than that they happened. I do know they're working on drainage mitigation plans and county work of that sort.
As for a rental car, you might want to get something that can hold bikes. Your options are far greater if you have the ability to chuck the bikes in the back and go drive somewhere then if you rely on the shuttles. You don't need 4wd, there isn't too much out there that you'd need it for.
And I have to say that I really endorse Amasa to Jacksons trail, there's some big exposure on the Jacksons side, but it's all walkable if you don't feel comfortable.
Nice ....thanks again for the tips.Hopefully I can return the favor sometime.
Originally Posted by zebrahum
check out this site for trail descriptions as well as downloadable gps tracks that you can put on your garmin.
I dunno about Porc Rim being difficult, if you don't TRY to do the big features. I'd never endorse any drop the Diving Board that wasn't into it, but it is a simple roll-around. The singletrack half that rolls into Negro Bill Canyon is just super-wonderful in my memory, with only 2 or 3 technical spots (other than continuous exposure to differing degrees).
Oh yeah, lots of trails there have "exposure" of varying amount. I don't so much remember them that way any more because I got accustomed to it and travels since in other parts of the SW have sort of acclimated me to it, so I could very much be under-rating Porc Rim for that reason. Hmm.
For someone who likes fast n flowing I actually strongly endorse Porcupine and Sovereign even though they're very different. Things could certainly have changed, and admittedly my perceptions are skewed (my FS bike has 2.5" tires and 6" of wheel travel...) but I have always found those to be two of the smoothest stuff. +5 on the endorsement to sample Fruita for the fast and flowy - the 18 Road trails and much of the Kokopelli Loops are like the Poster Children of smooth flowy singletrack.
The biggest need for phat tires and suspension, I recall, was because of how much faster I was hitting stuff there. I can't go down a 1/2 mile long wide-open downhill and *not* leave off on the brakes.
I have ridden Blue Marsh once, the whole loop, on my rigid 29er. Fun day. You live down Allentown-way?
Like was said, stopping and walking ANYWHERE you feel the need is prudent. Remember to stop and take some pictures too.
Perfect. Fabulous unit, great accuracy, great battery life, always start the day with a full charge and you'll not run out. Do you have maps on it too? The Garmin Topo data for the area is plenty-fine enough to help with orientation and such. I have had a 60CSx for years, it has been to Moab a couple times.
NUUN Portable Hydration - many bike shops, REI, etc., have them. MUCH better than Powerade (no sugar, Things don't grow in the camelbak). I usually rode/ride with a bottle of Cytomax mixed with water on the frame, and just water in the camelbak, and NUUN for when I ran out of Cytomax. Then I drank a bottle or two of Cytomax once "back at the barn" daily - but the groups I went on tended to ride pretty hard day-after-day, YMMV.
Definitely no need for a 4x4, but something to easily take the bikes will be very good. Minivan. Pickup. Whatever.
You biggest obligation, however, is posting up write-ups and pictures after you get back.
Oh yeah, great food at Moab Brewry (and beer I hear, but I don't drink beer so YMMV). In groups I've been there with we have also enjoyed Eddie McStiffs, and some cool BBQ place a block west of 191 on a side street, but I can't remember the name. This being five years after I can make no guess what the status of these places are now. ;^)
There was also a fabulous coffee/bagel/breakfast joint in the shopping center at 191 and Center (south-east corner), can't remember the name. Great coffee, good food, cute staff.
Yeah, I'm biased, so what?
I wouldn't say that trail gets flowy until the doubletrack ends, before then the rocks can take their toll on a body on an inappropriate bike. Perhaps not difficult so much as potentially strenuous. I've come across more than a few groups with people who have completely bonked because of the rough ride up until the singletrack. But I agree that a 6" with big tires will mitigate this and you'll have a blast.
Originally Posted by bear
Are you thinking Mondo? Good place for breakfast and coffee, another good option is Eklecticafe toward the north end of town. Can't recall the BBQ place, sorry; and yes, Moab Brewery has good beer (and a thank you to Moab Brewery from a bikedance rider is in order as well).
Originally Posted by bear
Yeah, Mondo's is the place I was thinking of, thanks for the name.
Does it sound like I want to go back sometime? Naaaaaa..........
a couple thoughts...
....we went a few years ago in mid September....our main purpose was riding....we included the Fruita Colorado area in our trip.....the riding there was very enjoyable if you want to skew the vacation toward riding. When in Moab......Chilli Peppers was our rental location....rented Cannondale Prophets...tires were equipped with Slime to help avoid flats...trail thoughts..
Porcupine Rim- must do....I also thought it was very challenging due to drops and long run but very enjoyable.
Klondike Bluffs- must do including the hike to the overlook to Arches.....very enjoyable rip on the way home.
Soverign Trail- Single Track in desert...more like Fruita riding....you can get lost on this ride.....but again a must do.
I can second or third the suggestion of going to Moab Brewery.....
Lastly, Arches is a true gem of a National Park....must do...Enjoy your trip.
There are two paths you can go by but in the long run........
No Gansta Lean here.
+1 for Mondo Cafe
If into camping try Up the Creek campground right in town.... a tip from Poison Spider during our trip planning.
Geez - just checked out http://www.moabupthecreek.com/camptour.htm and can't believe I missed that place. Yes, we were tenting last summer. Camping 2' from 73' long RVs gets really annoying, and the lack of shade doesn't help. UTC cures all that... I WILL check it out next time in Moab! Thanks for the heads up.
Originally Posted by Eastcoaster
DB Dirt Club
DBs on Dirt since 2010
So... if temps are doable,and you had a wife that could handle a couple days worth of riding at Raystown, and a 10 yr old who was pretty good as far as 10 yr olds go... is Klondike on the family list of rides? I ask because the hike and view into Arches sounds really cool. From what I've seen researching, it looks like a 10yr old could handle it ?? Am I crazy ?
I should have added.I think I read somwhere that my bike will still be there when I get back from the short hike to the overlook into Arches.. true ? or should I make sure I take out insurance on the bikes
I'll try to look at my gps track from '02 but I think a 10yro MAY be able to handle it, i'll post up again tonight. The hike is not strenuous on Klondike, about a mile I think.
The ride is "generally" up outbound and vice-versa on the way back IIRC, but like I said I'll check my GPS track. I can overlay it onto some great topodata these days.
I'd do it, and just take time, but I may be crazy too. :^)
We never worried about our bikes.
I actually drove there in June of 2008, so my advice on a rental vehicle is minimal. However, I had a 4x4 pick up truck with an off road package. It allowed me to some explore some fun, off road areas that were very mild. If you can do that, maybe rent a 4x4.
Poison spider was a great bike shop for a day of rentals and anything else needed bike related. I can't say enough about how impressed I was with them.
I'd do all the must-do trails mentioned above. I'd also recommend bartlett's wash. I'm totally torn on slickrock, I did it the first day as a "welcome to Moab" type thing and enjoyed it, and its nice to say I did one of the more famous trails in the world, but honestly it wasn't comparable to some other better stuff there.
We stayed at the KOA campgrounds. Awesome cabins for very little money, extremely clean and the campground seemed full of friendly cool people. I'd gladly stay there again
The 4x4 pickup truck is the way I'm thinkin i'm gonna go. Like dascro said, then you have more options for playing (read -- tourist getting into trouble ) Plus tossing the bikes in the back is way less hassle. Go Steelers ! ( next year that is )
coda, here's the data deluge.
Elevation profiles of some of the rides.
The "chunky" ones are based upon GPS data collected with a Garmin Rino 120 (small memory, no altimeter).
The "good" ones are based upon GPS data collected with a Garmin GPSMAP60CSx (set to collect as much as possible).
I added elevation data to the Rino collected data to make the profiles.
Links for the tracklogs follow, the zip file has a separate GPX file for each of the above, and one unified one that also has all the waypoints. The Goog file also has everything.
If I get motivated tomorrow after working on my bike, I may dig up my limited Fruita data. I've been to both Kokopelli Loops and 18 Road trails so can provide some info for there.
Please don't consider any of my stuff EXHAUSTIVE for the area, it's not possible.
Behind the Rocks (point to point)
Gemeni Bridges (point to point)
Gemeni Bridges, Golden Spike, Gold Bar Rim, Posion Spider, Portal (point to point)
Hurrah Pass, Jackson Hole, Jacob's Ladder, Amasa Back (loop)
Klondike Bluffs (out and back)
Poision Spider (abbreviated out and back)
Porcupine Rim (point to point)
Soverign Trail (out and back "lollipop")
Top of the World (out and back, early pickup on the way back)
Google Earth File
Zip file with GPX Tracklogs
ride, hike, climb, live, utah is awesome!
the links below will take you to our trip log from one of our Moab trips. some mtn biking pics too.
for a brief slideshow of a 2005 trip:
No Gansta Lean here.
If going back? I'd want to hotel it... IN town.... BUT if camping? No doubt that I'd be back at Up The Creek Campground.
I could not agree more with NEPMTBA . Thanks for all the helpful insight people !! Can't wait till May !! MTBR members Rule !
Originally Posted by NEPMTBA
Good luck, and hope you can get lot's of pics to share back here.
Originally Posted by NEPMTBA
Agreed - can't wait to see some photos. Bear - in the meantime maybe you could dig some of yours out to hold us over. I'd love to see a photo of cryptobiotic soil.
Last edited by nankerphelge; 02-15-2010 at 03:25 PM.
Heh. Working on it. I recently "found" the (somewhat marginal) pics from my first trip to Moab and am just trying to get them into some kind of uploadable shape, so hold that thought.
In the mean time, how about a little Arizona ride
including the proper post-ride festivities
snakes and things that bite
The picture of the rattlesnake that nosilla posted,made me want to ask.How many snakes and other scary creatures did you guys see while out on the trails.?? seeing how if it's hot,we will be out early,and from what I know that's when the snakes like to come out and warm up in the early morning sun. I'm more concerned for my daughter,than for the wife or me. Is it about the same as here in Pa. ?
I've been to Moab three times, probably ridden a total of about 15 or 18 days there, never seen a wild critter.
Keep in mind that just like here in PA (where we have plenty of rattlers of our own) they want to avoid people almost as much as we want to avoid them.
The important thing is to simply stay aware of your surroundings. Take your time. Enjoy yourself, don't be in a hurry, and you'll be fine.