Last week my family and I did that classic road trip loop of National Parks in Utah and Arizona. One of our first stops was Moab.
When I was first getting into mountain biking in the the 1990s, near the peak of its heyday, Moab was spoken about in hushed tones. It seemed to my riding buddies and I like a sacred place where mountain biking dreams came true on strange rock formations and endless singletrack. We’d gawk at photos of it on the dog-eared, grease-smeared pages of Mountain Bike Action magazine at our local bike shop.
It took me about 30 years to finally get there and ride it myself.
And while Moab the town was a bit of a downer (huge highway running through it and 4X4 motorized vehicles seemed to be a much bigger deal to the locals than bikes), the riding was absolutely out-of-this world.
(Riding Moab Brands. Photos: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)
On the advice of my wife Juli’s friend (thanks Sarah!) we opted to not ride the world famous Slickrock Trail and instead explored the Moab Brands trails about 10 miles north of downtown. It was Juli’s first time ever on a MTB, Everett (11) is still a beginner, and let’s just say, I’m not quite the expert I used to be. Moab Brands was perfect, because all three of us had a really good time. There was a fun mix of flowy singletrack with easy rock features and lots of relatively mellow slickrock.
The trail system is so well built, our entire family had a great time riding together and no one was ever left behind.
After we had our fill of riding, Everett and I rode this spectacular paved bike path all the way back to town. It was paradise!
Hope you enjoy a taste of our day in Moab and I highly recommend this spot! Learn more about it on Trailforks.
I guess I must be missing something. Last time I was in Moab, there was a two-lane road with a turning lane going through town, not a ‘huge highway’. Maybe they have built something bigger recently or the author is whacked.
I just checked on Google Maps. Highway 191 through town is 2 lane in some areas, but mostly it is 4 lane with a center turn lane – similar to TV Highway – a typical major street in every town USA of any size. I am sure there is enough traffic to need 4 lanes, if not more. I thought it was rude to bash the town and the 4 wheel drives. 4 wheeling is very popular in that area, as it is in much of Utah, and many people who live out of town need 4WD to get around in the winter mud and snow.
I rode the slickrock trail back in the 80s. That was fun. Want to get an early start because it gets HOT.
They recently expanded the road to 4 lanes plus a turning lane into town. And in this case it was very much needed, the terrible backups that formed on any weekend afternoon going into town on the two-lane road were entirely unsustainable and severely impacted livability in the area for the residents. All that traffic is completely gone now that the expansion has been completed.
Thanks…big change since I was last there 2010? It was pretty mellow; I think it was probably November, since it wasn’t sweltering haha
Yep, it was just expanded last year. Generally Utah DOT is a pretty terrible agency: they pour a ton of money into totally unnecessary road expansions in the Salt Lake area and the roads they own in the cities are notoriously unfriendly for anyone not in a car. But this US 191 project is one expansion project that absolutely needed to happen, because the closest alternative route is quite literally hundreds of miles out of the way. Huge difference between when I went there on pleasant weekends before and after the project: the backup that was over 30 minutes long (and I’m not exaggerating) in October 2019 was completely nonexistent in October 2021.
Good report. That is EXACTLY why people want more lanes thru the Rose Quarter.
Eh, I think comparing this to the RQ project is like comparing apples and oranges. The RQ project has a multitude of alternate routes in the vicinity (e.g. I-405, I-205, MLK), in comparison to Moab where it is the only route into town without a hundreds-of-miles detour. Similarly, Moab is a tourist town, where there really is no good way to get to Moab without a car (no, Greyhound doesn’t count), in contrast to Portland where it’s very feasible in many (but not all) cases to get around town without a car.
That being said, I do think that people are choosing the wrong hill to die on here when it comes to the RQ project. Instead of pushing to cancel this project, we should be welcoming the project to get cars off of the surface streets while simultaneously road dieting streets like MLK, Broadway, and the like by adding protected bike and separated bus infrastructure at the expense of car lanes. It’s a win-win for everyone that way: fewer cars and less congestion on the surface streets, and less idling on the freeways. I would strongly oppose any project that increased the right of way that the freeway occupies or invokes any eminent domain, but not this project that simply alters utilization of the existing right of way.
Thanks for posting this. About to make my first trip there in 3 weeks and spend two of ten days in that area. My brain and tabs on laptop are having a tough time deciding on what trails to take
Would love to hear some that are jumping out to you. Will also be there in a few weeks for about 6 days of riding with friends. Never been, but super excited to check out both classics and other suggestions.
Have fun! We only did the southern half of Moab Brands. I am totally not an expert on riding in the area, but I feel very confident saying Brands is probably the best place you can go as an introduction to slickrock. My wife had never ridden a MTB and had a great time.
I’m no expert, but 30 years ago the slick rock was pretty easy. Just follow the painted lines on the sandstone.
Looks like you had a great time. The video was well done. For those going to ride Moab, a word of caution. With it being a dryer climate and higher altitude, it is easy to get dehydrated. I know this the hard way from Mtn Biking trips to Bend and Ouray Colorado. Also, I would avoid this coming weekend. It’s the annual Easter Jeep Safari. This event brings in around 2000 people and about 800 jeeps out playing on the trails.