July-August trip to Western US - any recommendations?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    July-August trip to Western US - any recommendations?

    Hey there,

    We're from the UK and, if finances are OK, there's a good chance that we'll be visiting San Diego in late August for a family wedding. Our plan is to try and get two or three weeks touring and mountain biking in before the wedding. My nephew in San Diego reckons it'll be way too hot for biking in the South West in July-August - but then he's a surfer, not a biker

    We wondered about flying into Salt Lake City ('cos of direct flight) and then heading North - maybe fly to Boise and pick up an RV.....but not 100% on that yet. We've seen some YouTube vids of the trails in Idaho and really like the look of some of the riding and scenery there.

    For background, the area where we live in the UK is known for its rocky tech trails - grippy sandstone with areas of slippery limestone, and loads of loose potato sized rocks, slippy roots and not much flowing singletrack. It'd be a real nice change to ride somewhere with smooth flowing buff singletrack.

    I guess you could say my wife and I are mixed ability, I'm an experienced rider and capable of riding DH (but at 53 years old, I don't mind riding more mellow flow XC trails). My wife is more beginner to intermediate; quite a strong climber, but slow descender - especially on tech trails. So, my guess is that the classic stuff at places like Moab might be a bit too much for her.....and me

    So, looking for some advice. Can anyone recommend some suitable riding areas that would be good during July-August please?

    Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
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    Lots of options. Look into California areas at higher elevation (Big Bear Lake, ski resort areas), southern Oregon, Park City UT, Crested Butte Co, etc.

  3. #3
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    Hi seen your post my girlfriend and I vacation each year in the U.S from 1997 to date For vacation, typical trip length being 3 weeks. we live in Belfast as with UK is long haul flight. I didn't realise there was a direct flight from the UK to SLC .?

    I have ridden in a number of the places you mention. Park city ( 1hr max from SLC )been a few times riding is great , Idaho Ketchum , sun valley,Stanley ( 5-6 hr drive from SLC ) areas the riding is fantastic. The last two years I've been to bend Oregon and really enjoyed the riding there it's also a great town and vibe. We were there specifically this year for the high cascades 100 race then flew to Canada for a stage race the singletrack 6


    Moab in August your riding early am with the temps a lot use it for riding typically out of the super hot periods that said its still busy in those months

    Driving from Idaho to Southern Cali would be a long drive. An awesome trip could be SLC ride PC drive to sun valley ride Stanley , Ketchum drive 8 hrs to bend Oregon then fly from Portland to southern Cali , if you need any more Intel let me know

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    Lake Tahoe,especially south shore and south of there near Kirkwood ski area is good summer stuff-Tahoe Rim, Armstong, Toads, Pony Express, Thunder Mountain- this is mostly somewhat techy xc and DH riding, requiring some tough climbing at times, but good stuff. Mammoth Mountain Bike park, between San Diego and Tahoe has some great intermediate level trails. Santa Cruz is nice in summer and has some good xc trails at Wilder Ranch and good easy to moderate DH/XC at Soquel Demo forest, but small potatoes compared to Tahoe. Downieville has some xc (North Yuba) but is best known for shuttled DH (moderate techy). Ironically, the Rocky Mountains in Colorado,
    Utah, Wyoming and Idaho are not as rocky as the Sierra, but some exceptional XC style riding at Crested Butte, Durango, Park City, Sun Valley and Jackson Hole. Durango and CB can be very high elevation, so that can kick your ass. For your wife, I would lean toward Park City, Sun Valley/Stanley, and maybe Jackson Hole/Targhee.

  5. #5
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    Yeah, if you don't want to spend half your time driving around the western USA, then stick to the places mentioned above in California. I just did a Cali trip a few months ago and rode the Tahoe Rim and Flume trails (a must do), then did the Downieville shuttle run ( another must do, and not really all that technical imo), and then rode all over Wilder Ranch in Santa Cruz (not impressed, other than the nice views of the ocean). I've ridden moto bikes before in Kernville and there are some sweet trails there that are open to mtb too (like the Cannel Plunge), and I've seen some nice looking trails when I went through Big Bear. Like I said, no reason to leave the state. You can do another trip out to Colorado and spend a week or 2 there riding CB, Breckenridge, Keystone, Salida, Fruits, and the San Juans down to Durango!

  6. #6
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    Thanks for the replies guys. Coming from a tiny island, I guess we're still trying to get our heads around the size of the Western US - and there's a bit of a reality check going on here😉 We drove from the UK to Italy last year, and my butt has only just recovered😆

    Some of the suggested locations look absolutely awesome - dry dusty trails that aren't filled with rubble and mud.....Nice!

    As I'm gonna be driving, I don't wanna spend(waste?) days driving between places when we could spend more time in two or three places enjoying more riding.

    We're just looking into the practicalities and cost of flying into somewhere like Denver and then hiring a car, doing some riding in Colorado - then maybe driving or flying down to Hailey or Ketchum for some Sun Valley rides, then onto California before heading down to San Diego for the beach party....sorry, wedding...ahem.

    Mark_b, we heard about the direct flights to SLC from couple that we met recently while on vacation in N.Italy. They were from SLC and mentioned a new direct flight from Heathrow (with BA I think). I like your suggestion of SLC, PC then onto Idaho, Oregon and then fly down to Cali or SD - not too heavy on the driving, especially as I guess I'm not gonna be doing my usual 90+mph European highway gallops in an RV.

  7. #7
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    P.S. Also gonna look into the option of spending more time in California, as it sounds like there's a fair bit of riding there that we could do as a couple. My wife isn't that keen on DH type stuff and after a recent trip to the European Alps/Italian Dolomites, where I rode a few red & black DH tracks and harder off piste stuff on my own, I've decided I actually now prefer riding less steep, more fast and flowy singletrack routes - Some of those buff flowy descents that go on for mile after mile in Idaho look very appealing.

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    It sounds like Oakridge/Waldo Lake, Oregon, plus Mckenzie River, Umpqua River, and perhaps Bend, would be more to your liking than say, Downieville. There is a MTB festival in Oakridge every August with shuttles all over the place-beautiful trails-some can be a bit steep at times, but not particularly technical. Also some great camping along the Willamette River. Check out "Mountain Bike Oregon".

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    Thanks for the Mountain Bike Oregon info. Just had a look at their website and videos - looks very nice, with options for both of us to do sperate rides...and maybe an opportunity for me to demo a new bike....heeheeee. I'm starting a covert 'new bike stash', as I fancy picking up something like a SC Tallboy Carbon while we're over there, as SC UK charge the US dollars price in pounds sterling over here!, also save dragging my old anvil over on the plane.

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    I live up in the mountains about an hour outside of Denver. Sounds like you have been given a lot of good options, and everywhere listed would make an awesome trip in itself.... but unless you have half a year to spend, you are going to be driving more than you will be riding. There is enough riding in CO to fill all of your time, if you flew into Denver and rented an RV or car you could head to all of the classic mountain riding destinations in CO, the high country should all be good to go at that time. Moab and Fruita will be deathly hot and miserable at that time.

    To drive from Denver to San Diego will take you 18+ hours of driving without stops. Through all of the desert that will be too hot to enjoy. Better to fly from Denver to San Diego, check Frontier Air or Southwest Airlines for low cost flights.

    You can PM me if you need more specifics of the Colorado riding.

  11. #11
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    Just saw this thread. If your in San Diego there is a ride called Noble Canyon that should not be missed.

  12. #12
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    You do not want to do Moab in July or August. It's really hot there and people die.

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    I live in San Diego and we ride year round w/o any issues. I've also ridden all over the Western US including most of the places listed in this thread (with the exception of Idaho). If you're set on flying into Salt Lake, I would go to Park City for up to a week and then go up to Oregon for a week, then drop down into the Lake Tahoe area for a week.

    Oakridge is great but I think your wife will like the Bend and Hood River area better. The Mountain Bike Oregon is camping with 400+ of your closest friends who drink as much beer as possible after riding for the day. Not my cup of tea and I'd avoid the area at all costs when the event is going on. However the riding is awesome. I'd also highly suggest the McKenzie River Trail up there. In a normal year, the dirt/soil in Oregon is the best I've ever ridden.

    The trails down in Lake Tahoe will be drier (and dustier) in July but totally rideable and the variety is endless with tons of trails (and epic views) to sit the riding styles of both you and your wife. You really can't go wrong with Tahoe other than it's a MAJOR tourist destination and certain areas (but never the trails) will be crowded.

    As far as San Diego goes, I saw Noble Canyon mentioned. It's the best ride in San Diego county for sure but NOT for your wife. There is other riding up that way (Big Laguna Loop) that it sounds like your wife would absolutely love.

  14. #14
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    As mentioned above, you could easily stay in CA the entire time. In addition to the riding, there is a lot of other stuff to do to break up the driving or on rest days. Driving from SoCal to Tahoe, you could stop at Kings Canyon, Sequoia, and Yosemite National Parks. If you are into hiking Yosemite alone could keep you occupied for weeks and weeks, but just driving around for a day or two and doing a few short hikes to the major attractions is something everyone should do in their lifetime. Tahoe offers a lot to do in addition to riding bikes at minimal cost - paddling and swimming in the Lake, floating the river, free outdoor concerts, casinos. Downieville is close and should be done at least once. If you feel the need for more riding, and it's the main focus of your trip, it's about 8 hours from Tahoe to SLC or the good riding spots in OR. If you are looking to mix in other stuff you could just head to the coast, stopping in Napa or Sonoma if you are into winetasting, and then ride Mendocino, check out the redwoods, and cruise down the coast on Hwy. 1, maybe stopping to ride in Santa Cruz and San Luis Obispo.
    While CO, UT, OR, ID all have lots of worthy riding, staying in CA will save you a lot of driving or flying. You could easily plan it so that you are only driving maybe 3-4 hours a day or less from one stop to the next, and then hang out in one area for a few days at a time. Enjoy!

  15. #15
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    Not real experienced in riding in the western US, but welcome and have fun. I've been to Moab in April and it is awesome. If you really want to see something spectacular go to Yellowstone Park.

  16. #16
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    Hi just picked your comment regarding purchasing a bike whilst out in the U.S. Good plan. I've done this several times myself with a hugh saving against the UK prices. This year I bought a Niner Jet 9 RDO saving on UK was 2k Were every you decide to go you'll have a blast just don't spend the 3 weeks in the car it's better spent riding were ever

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by let's mtb View Post
    Thanks for the replies guys. Coming from a tiny island, I guess we're still trying to get our heads around the size of the Western US - and there's a bit of a reality check going on here😉 We drove from the UK to Italy last year, and my butt has only just recovered😆

    Some of the suggested locations look absolutely awesome - dry dusty trails that aren't filled with rubble and mud.....Nice!

    As I'm gonna be driving, I don't wanna spend(waste?) days driving between places when we could spend more time in two or three places enjoying more riding.

    We're just looking into the practicalities and cost of flying into somewhere like Denver and then hiring a car, doing some riding in Colorado - then maybe driving or flying down to Hailey or Ketchum for some Sun Valley rides, then onto California before heading down to San Diego for the beach party....sorry, wedding...ahem.

    Mark_b, we heard about the direct flights to SLC from couple that we met recently while on vacation in N.Italy. They were from SLC and mentioned a new direct flight from Heathrow (with BA I think). I like your suggestion of SLC, PC then onto Idaho, Oregon and then fly down to Cali or SD - not too heavy on the driving, especially as I guess I'm not gonna be doing my usual 90+mph European highway gallops in an RV.
    Next time you're near Moab think about renting our RV. We can deliver in the Grand Junction/Fruita/Moab area and provide full setups including food and trip planning services: https://www.outdoorsy.co/rentals/2570
    OVER the rocks, not around

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