Road trips don’t always have to involve cars. People who love to go on biking expeditions can get the best of the driving and pedaling worlds when they head to the canyon country of the American Southwest. The best months to explore the canyons of Utah, Colorado, and Arizona are early September to early November and March to early May, so you have time to start preparing for this epic biking expedition. Not convinced canyon country is the ideal destination for you? Our three reasons will change your mind.
1. The Varied Landscapes of Utah
The canyon country of Utah is perfect for road bikers and mountain bikers alike because of the variety of scenic drives the state offers. You can explore aspen forests and petrified sand dunes, or you can coast through mountain passes and take in the beauty of the desert.
For those who prefer to mountain bike, Utah has a variety of trails featuring diverse terrain and scenery. Guides are available, or you can go it alone if you prefer. Utah also welcomes mountain bikers to use some of their hiking trails as biking trails. Because the terrain of Utah’s canyon country varies so widely, you should take some time to research the areas in which you will be biking, camping, and hiking. The most popular mountain biking areas include Moab, Slickrock, Porcupine Rim, and Amasa. New singletrack trails such as the Sovereign Trail and Magnificent 7 are not to be missed.
To prepare for the varied terrain of Utah and some of the more challenging rides that require strong technical skills, you should consider riding the shorter Practice Loop of the Slickrock trail. You should also be prepared to do some climbing in Utah to get to the truly picturesque regions of canyon country, so do some strength training and rock climbing before your trip.
2. The Singletracks of Colorado
Colorado is practically synonymous with mountain biking country: Steamboat Springs is known as Bike Town USA, Winter Park is known as Mountain Bike Capital USA, and Crested Butte is known as the birthplace of the mountain bike. It’s also a haven for singletrack lovers of all ability levels. Mountain bikers love the rides on the Monarch Crest Trail, which offers unbelievable views and then awesome descents along Silver Creek and Rainbow Trail.
No matter which singletrack you choose to conquer in Colorado, be sure to check in at bike shops along the way to learn about trail conditions and shuttle information. The weather in Colorado can change from one valley to the next, so it’s best to be prepared by getting reports and knowing where you may encounter snow and ice. Riders can also get information and maps or take care of their last-minute gear needs at the shops that dot the trails.
3. The Sedona Mountain Bike Trails in Arizona
Sedona, Arizona is the perfect destination for desert riding among the canyons. Mountain bikers from all over the world travel to Sedona, especially in the fall and spring. Sedona also offers plenty of food, lodging, and camping options, so you can pack as much or as little as you’d like for your biking expedition in this part of the American southwest. Mountain bikers who also enjoy rock climbing love Sedona and its sandstone spires and towers. Cragging routes, bouldering, and basalt climbing are just a few of the activities you can add to your mountain biking expedition in Sedona.
Regardless of which canyon country trail you choose to follow on your biking expedition, you should pack a few standard items:
- your mountain bike and helmet
- pedals and shoes
- enough socks for each day’s ride
- wool or polypropylene biking tights
- comfortable biking shorts
- riding gloves for cooler weather
- riding jerseys and T-shirts
- a light jacket that you can wear while riding
- a hydration pack that is roomy enough for food and extra gear
- bike repair tools such as spare tubes, a patch kit, and a small set of Allen wrenches
Mountain biking in canyon country is one of the best ways to view all the wild and wonderful landscapes of the American southwest. From the scenic areas of Utah, to the singletracks of Colorado, to the Sedona mountain bike trails of Arizona, this part of the United States boasts some of the best trails for riders of all abilities.
Image via Pixabay by mtbevents17