The Ultimate Guide to Mountain Biking in Moab, Utah


Introduction to Mountain Biking in Moab, UT

The high desert of Moab, UT has become one of the most iconic and popular destinations for mountain biking in the United States. With an abundance of trails that wind through striking red rock landscapes and range from gentle dirt roads to extreme technical challenges, Moab attracts mountain bikers of all abilities.

The unique terrain around Moab offers an incredibly diverse mountain biking experience. Slickrock, which is a type of sandstone created over millions of years by wind, water, and geological shifts, dominates the landscape. While hard like rock, the gritty surface offers incredible traction for mountain bike tires. Riding on slickrock is an experience unlike any other trail surface.

Moab rose to fame in the 1980s as pioneering mountain bikers began exploring the terrain and riding in areas across the Colorado Plateau. Early trailblazers like the legendary Wally Byam noticed the riding potential around Moab and started promoting it in the mountain biking community. Soon Moab became known for its incredible terrain. Mile upon mile of trails were constructed to create a veritable playground for mountain bikers.

Today Moab remains at the epicenter of mountain biking culture in North America. Hundreds of thousands of riders make the pilgrimage to Moab every year to ride the famous trails carved into the evocative desert landscape. The terrain offers endless challenges, scenery, and adventures for mountain bikers of all abilities and interests. From hardcore technical trails to gentle gravel paths, Moab has an exceptional diversity of mountain biking experiences.


Moab is home to some of the world's most iconic and technical mountain bike trails that attract riders from all over the globe. The trails range from beginner friendly routes to extremely advanced and dangerous terrain only suitable for expert riders.

There are over 100 miles of singletrack trails crisscrossing the red rock canyons and mesas surrounding Moab. The most popular and acclaimed trails are the Slickrock Trail, the Magnificent 7 trails, the Kokopelli Trail, and Porcupine Rim.

The Slickrock Trail is a stunning 10 mile route through petrified sand dunes and slickrock formations with jaw-dropping views. Described as an "outdoor gymnasium" it contains steep climbs, descents, and technical maneuvering making it a challenging trail for even experienced riders.

The Magnificent 7 is a system of 7 trails that can be combined into epic rides from 7 to 39 miles in length. They traverse some of the most scenic areas in Moab with a variety of terrain from jeep roads to singletrack. The trails range from moderate to difficult.

Porcupine Rim is considered one of the most famous and challenging trails in Moab. This 15 mile trail contains fast descents, technical rock sections, steep climbs, and exposed ledges with big drop offs. It provides amazing vistas into Castle Valley and the La Sal Mountains. Only advanced to expert riders should attempt it.

Kokopelli's Trail is a 142 mile route starting in Loma, Colorado and finishing in Moab, Utah. The section through Moab is 15 miles of intermediate singletrack with tunnels, bridges, and technical sections through spectacular desert scenery. Riders can do the whole trail over 2-3 days or just sample sections of it.

Moab offers mountain bike trails suitable for every skill level. Beginners can enjoy easygoing routes while experts can challenge themselves on rocky terrain with big drops and obstacles. The iconic red rock vistas provide a stunning backdrop making a mountain bike ride in Moab an unforgettable experience.

Slickrock Trail

The Slickrock Trail is one of the most iconic and pioneering mountain bike trails in Moab. First opened in 1969, it was one of the first mountain bike trails developed in the western US.

The trail was originally used by motorcycles but as mountain biking grew in popularity in the 1980s, the trail became a mecca for mountain bikers who were drawn to the unique and thrilling experience of riding the steep, slickrock landscape.

The Slickrock Trail is an 11.6 mile loop trail that winds through the sandstone fins and slickrock formations in the Sand Flats Recreation Area. It offers stunning views overlooking Moab, the Colorado River, and the surrounding canyons.

The trail is marked by black dashes painted on the pink and white Navajo sandstone slickrock. It has steep ups and downs with rollercoaster like drops and climbs on the slickrock. There are also some technical sections with ledges and tight squeezes between rock fins that require bike handling skills.

While a challenging technical ride, the Slickrock Trail has become a classic that every mountain biker must experience when visiting Moab. The stunning and unique geology of riding on bare sandstone gives an otherworldly experience unlike any other trail. From the thrilling downhill runs to the breathtaking views, the Slickrock Trail encapsulates the best of mountain biking in Moab.

Magnificent 7 Trails

The Magnificent 7 trails are a network of iconic cross-country trails situated high above the Colorado River, offering incredible views and world-class mountain biking. This system consists of 7 trails that range from beginner to expert level over a variety of slickrock and singletrack terrain.

Gold Bar Rim is the easiest and most accessible Magnificent trail, perfect for beginners. It's a 6.5 mile out and back route following a doubletrack jeep road along sandstone rimrock overlooking the river. Hidden Valley is another nice introductory ride at 8 miles roundtrip through juniper forests and hills.

For intermediate riders, Klondike Bluffs descends down red sandstone with incredible scenery of Arches National Park's iconic landmarks. Klonzo is a fast 7.5 mile loop with fun flowy berms and banked corners. Bar M Loop also provides a more technical 7.5 mile ride through pinyon and juniper forests with great views.

The longest and most challenging Magnificent 7 route is Porcupine Rim, a challenging 15 mile point-to-point ride with steep and rocky terrain. This iconic Moab trail delivers breathtaking panoramas spanning from Colorado to Utah along the entire ride. The Magnificent 7 trails offer an amazing way for riders of all abilities to take in the sights of Moab.

Porcupine Rim Trail

The Porcupine Rim Trail is considered one of the top mountain bike trails in Moab and worldwide. This iconic trail was constructed in the early 1990s by the Colorado Plateau Mountain Bike Trail Association and still stands as one of their premier achievements.

The 30-mile loop trail begins in the La Sal Mountains and traverses singletrack, doubletrack, dirt roads, and some paved road as it winds along the sandstone rim high above Castle Valley. Riders are treated to incredible views into Castle Valley and Moab from the edge of the rim throughout the ride.

Some key details about the Porcupine Rim Trail:

  • 30 mile loop
  • Starts and ends at the trailhead parking area off Highway 128
  • Elevation gain of 1,500 feet
  • Mix of technical singletrack, doubletrack, dirt road
  • Rated moderate-difficult overall with some advanced exposed sections along the rim

Riding Porcupine Rim is an incredible experience with stunning red rock vistas around every turn. The climb delivers big rewards with an extended, heart-pumping downhill run back to the valley floor to finish the loop. Riders will enjoy singletrack through juniper forests, fast flowing sections along rim's edge, and an iconic final downhill known as the Whole Enchilada. Porcupine Rim has cemented itself as a must-ride Moab trail for any mountain biker.

Kokopelli's Trail

Kokopelli's Trail is one of the most iconic and renowned mountain bike trails in Moab and the Western United States. Stretching 142 miles from Loma, Colorado to Moab, Utah, it traverses high desert, slickrock, and the breathtaking Colorado River valley.

The trail was conceived in the 1990s by the BLM and volunteers who wanted to create a long-distance riding opportunity through this iconic red rock landscape. The trail is named after Kokopelli, the Native American fertility deity often depicted as a humpbacked flute player. His image can be found scattered throughout the rocks along the trail.

Kokopelli's Trail contains sections of varying difficulty, though much of it is intermediate and advanced. The Loma to Dewey Bridge section near Moab covers 70 miles of breathtaking canyon riding, with numerous river crossings and rocky technical sections. Some of the most renowned highlights include the views from Kokopelli's Trail Overlook, riding Under the Ledge, the challenging climbs at Mary's Loop, and riding through the solitude of Westwater Canyon.

Riding the full Kokopelli Trail point-to-point takes 3-4 days, with shuttle access along the route. While a challenging long distance undertaking, the stunning scenery and constant variety of terrain make Kokopelli's Trail a bucket list ride for avid mountain bikers. From slickrock to singletrack, Kokopelli's Trail captures the magical essence of Moab's iconic high desert.

Moab Mountain Biking Events

Moab hosts several iconic mountain biking events throughout the year that attract riders from all over the world. These races offer a chance to ride with top athletes and experience the famous trails in a supported setting.

The Skinny Tire Festival

The Skinny Tire Festival is held every March and offers road cycling events from the 40 mile "Eye Opener” up to the 120 mile “La Sal Loop.” Routes wind through the beautiful canyon country surrounding Moab.

The Thaw

The Thaw mountain bike race takes place in early February. It's the first big race of the season and brings elite racers and enthusiasts ready to ride. There are multiple categories for age and ability across distances from 25 to 50 miles.

The Moab Rocks Mountain Bike Stage Race

This multi-day race in May features timed downhill and cross country stages. Racers compete individually and in teams for over $40,000 in cash and prizes. Stages utilize classic Moab trails like the Whole Enchilada and Magnificent 7.

24 Hours of Moab

The 24 Hours of Moab in October is the largest 24 hour mountain bike race in the US. Solo riders and teams see who can ride the most laps on the 12 mile course through day and night. The race starts under the iconic Moab rocks formations.

Gran Fondo Moab

Modeled off the famous Italian races, the Gran Fondo Moab offers a mass start on pavement, dirt and jeep roads. Distances range from 35 to 105 miles through unique terrain like the La Sal Mountains. It takes place in mid-May each year.

Bike Shops and Rentals

Moab has over a dozen specialty bike shops that offer rentals, repairs, supplies and gear for mountain bikers. Here are some of the top shops to check out:

Poison Spider Bicycles

  • Great selection of mountain bikes from hardtails to full suspension
  • Large fleet of quality rentals for all levels and budgets
  • Friendly and knowledgeable staff provide excellent service
  • Offer shuttles, tours, and guided rides
  • Well-stocked with parts, accessories and clothing

Rim Cyclery

  • One of the pioneering bike shops in Moab since 1983
  • Rent everything from cruisers to high-end mountain bikes
  • Full-service shop with expert mechanics for repairs and maintenance
  • Guided singletrack and slickrock tours available
  • Helpful staff assist with bike selections and trail advice

Chile Pepper Bike Shop

  • Huge selection of mountain bike rentals starting at $45/day
  • Daily shuttle service to popular trails and bike parks
  • Retail store stocks quality gear, parts and accessories
  • Professional bike mechanics handle all repairs and tune-ups
  • Provide route planning and trail condition updates

Moab Cyclery

  • Local, family-owned shop since 1991
  • Extensive rental fleet including electric mountain bikes
  • Custom bike fitting and assembly services
  • Daily shuttles to the trails with bike racks
  • Retail store carries bikes, parts, and accessories


Moab has plenty of accommodation options for mountain bikers to choose from.


Moab has numerous campgrounds perfect for mountain bikers who want to sleep under the stars. Some top camping options include:

  • Canyonlands Campground - A convenient campground located right outside of downtown Moab. It has tent sites as well as RV hookups.
  • Slickrock Campground - A classic Moab campground surrounded by red rock formations. It has 100 sites and amenities like showers and laundry.
  • Up the Creek Campground - A peaceful creekside camping spot located near the Colorado River. It has secluded tent sites tucked beneath cottonwood trees.

In addition to formal campgrounds, there are many areas in nearby national forests and BLM lands where backcountry camping is permitted. Just be sure to practice Leave No Trace principles.

Bike-Friendly Hotels

Moab has a handful of hotels that cater especially to mountain bikers. These hotels make it easy to store your bike safely and provide tools for repairs and maintenance:

  • Gonzo Inn - A fun motel with a pool and hot tub to soak weary muscles after a ride. There's an on-site bike wash and repair station.
  • Kokopelli Lodge - Spacious rooms and bike storage rooms for groups. They offer shuttle services to trails.
  • Red Cliffs Lodge - Situated on the banks of the Colorado River, this lodge has secure bike storage and a full-service shop on-site.

Other reputable hotels like Best Western Plus Canyonlands Inn or Big Horn Lodge also offer bike storage and bike friendly amenities.

Tips for Visiting Moab for Mountain Biking

Moab is a world-renowned mountain biking destination, but there are some tips to keep in mind to ensure a great experience.

Best Times to Visit

The most popular season is spring, from March to May, when daytime highs range from 60-80°F. Fall is also ideal from mid-September through October. Summer brings very hot and dry weather, so it's best avoided unless you don't mind extreme heat while riding. Winters are cold with some snow at higher elevations.

Weather Considerations

The climate is arid, with low annual precipitation. Afternoon thunderstorms are common in late summer. Check forecasts and plan accordingly if storms are predicted. Always carry extra water and food due to high temperatures and dry conditions.

Packing Recommendations

  • Sturdy mountain bike with front suspension for technical trails
  • Helmet
  • Cycling shoes
  • Padded cycling shorts
  • Sunglasses
  • Sun protection - hat, sunscreen, lip balm
  • Layered clothing - short sleeves, long sleeves, jacket
  • Windbreaker for cooler weather
  • Hydration pack or water bottles
  • Snacks/energy bars
  • Multi-tool and spare tube
  • First aid kit

Safety Tips

  • Know your limits and ride within them - some trails are extremely challenging.
  • Carry adequate water and food. Dehydration comes quickly in the desert.
  • Watch for flash flooding in canyon areas during storms.
  • Ride with a partner or group when possible. Cell service is spotty in remote areas.
  • Yield right of way to uphill bikers and hikers.
  • Wear bright colors and use lights if riding at dawn, dusk or night.
  • Carry a map, GPS device, or ride app to avoid getting lost.
  • Tell someone your planned route and expected return time.
  • Helmets and basic safety gear are strongly recommended.

Following these tips will ensure an epic yet safe mountain biking adventure in Moab! Let the stunning scenery and amazing trails inspire your ride.


Keep Exploring!

-Riley Bauer

Co-Founder, Beyond Boundaries

Stay tuned for more stories of exploration, adventure, and the pursuit of mental wellness. Follow us on Instagram @BeyondBoundariesBrand and use the hashtag #FreedomToDiscover to share your own experiences of breaking free from boundaries and embracing the outdoors.