Moab is no doubt a mountain bike mecca. We spent a little over a week here and didn’t nearly exhaust all the sweet riding you can do here. We had a chance to ride at Klonzo Trails, Moab Brand Trails, Klondike Bluffs, and Navajo Rocks. Our two most notable rides were The Whole Enchilada and the White Rim Loop. Here are some more details about those two rides.
The Whole Enchilada
When we headed to Moab, we knew we wanted to ride The Whole Enchilada, one of the most popular rides in the world. For many, this is a shuttle ride, but we like doing things the hard way. Plus sitting in a van with 10 strangers for an hour sounds like a great way to contract the coronavirus. We weren’t sure how long the 60 mile loop would take us, so we stocked up on 3,000 calories and 6L water. We read reports of creeks flowing along the route in the La Sals during the spring, but weren’t sure whether those water sources would still be reliable in the fall. We started at 6am at the Lion’s Head Park parking lot north of Moab. After we got through town, we had very little traffic on La Sal Mountain Loop Road up to the shuttle drop off point. We did end up passing a few filterable creeks still running near the top. The ride to the trailhead was 20 miles of pavement and 10 miles of gravel. Once the singletrack started, the climbing continued, including a bit of pushing to get to the top of Burro Pass. We took a break to eat a snack at the top before the looooong descent back to town. The top of the descent was steep, dusty, and rocky. We got to a clearing with a view of the mountains and changing aspens that left leaves on the trail like confetti. We made the transition from aspens and pines to sagebrush and dirt on the Jimmy Keen trail with some more pedal-y riding. The scenery changed again from sagebrush and dirt to red rocks and sand on the Porcupine Rim, offering huge canyon views, lots of steep slickrock, and drops for days. It was a good reminder that the bike will roll just about anything you commit to. We finally made it all the way down to the bike path paralleling the Colorado River back to the Lion’s Head Park trailhead. We sat in the car, chugged a bunch of water, and ordered 2 pizzas that we dug into immediately when we got them. The challenge of riding the Whole Enchilada and the variety of the trail was rewarding. We were all the way worn out at the end of the day.
White Rim Loop
We decided to ride the White Rim Loop almost as an afterthought. We had a big day with the Whole Enchilada and weren’t sure if we’d have the legs before it was time to move on to our next destination. We are so glad we had the time and energy to do this ride. This rugged jeep trail was probably the most scenic day ride we’ve been on. The route traverses through Canyonlands National Park and you are required to get a permit to travel the road. The permit is free, but you do have to pay to get into the park. We camped just off Mineral Bottom Road on BLM land along the route, planning to ride the loop clockwise in a day. The toughest part of this route is the lack of water. There is zero water along the route. If you were in a tight spot, you could bushwhack down to the Green River around mile 80. That’s it. People who do the route as a bikepacking trip often cache water ahead of time. Logistically, it was easier for us to finish the route in a day. Again, we loaded our packs and framebags with 6 liters of water and 3,000 calories each. From where we started, we had 17 miles of gravel and quiet highway before arriving at the entrance of Canyonlands National Park. We started at 6am under a full moon and rode through the park gate right after the sun came up- perfect timing! The first view of the canyon was stunning. My head was on a swivel, taking it all in even as we wound down the tight switchbacks to the bottom. The route delivered view after view around every bend in the road. It was fairly rugged, rocky, and sandy in some parts and we traveled much faster than the vehicles we came across. The riding was very manageable and we took lots of picture breaks. The toughest part for me was going up the last climb- 1,200 feet out of the canyon in the heat. Carrying 6 liters of water was perfect and I ran out just as we approached the van. Though this route was longer in mileage than The Whole Enchilada loop, White Rim took us less time and energy because the riding was much less technical and had less climbing.