Spring in the desert is sublime. The Earth bounces back to life. Bright flowers bloom. Critters come out of hiding. Temperatures hover around perfect. You start itching to wear shorts again and get a little color back into that pale face after what’s been a sweet but long winter. When that happens, it’s time to head to Moab and explore some new trails and adventures and revisit a few old favorites. Here are our top choices.
Ride Klondike Bluffs
This spot about 17 miles north of town offers world-class singletrack and classic, must-ride slickrock. Even though it’s easily accessible, has primitive campsites near the trailhead and miles of new trails, most visitors overlook the area. That makes it one of the few trail systems where you may still find solitude in this increasingly popular town. Don’t miss the physically challenging (but technically simple and extremely fun) 8.2-mile roundtrip up the slickrock Klondike Bluffs jeep trail that ends at the Arches National Park boundary. Take the short hike to the top of the Bluffs where you’ll be rewarded with stunning views of the Park. As for singletrack, if you’re an expert looking for a ride that will test your lungs, legs and skills, hit EKG, a 10.6-mile round trip off the Dina Flow Trail. If you’re looking for something a tiny bit easier, that will still push your limits, hit Baby Steps Loop (14.9 miles out and back; 1,700 feet climbing).
Road Ride Arches Road
Moab isn’t just for mountain biking. In fact, it’s got some of the sweetest road riding in the state. Our favorite is the 41-mile ride from the Arches National Park entrance to the end of the road at Devil’s Garden and back. This is truly a unique way to see the park. As you climb and descend and climb again, you can take in every inch of the iconic rainbow colored sandstone arches, walls and towers set against the breathtaking backdrop of the snow-capped La Sal Mountains without anything—like a car window—to get in your way. Allow time for stops and short hikes at the Windows, Balanced Rock, the Fiery Furnace and Skyline Arch. Bring enough water for the first 20.5 miles; you can fill up at the Devil’s Garden campground.
Discover Hidden Valley
Hike or trail run this underrated route and you’ll be rewarded with stunning vistas, solitude and incredible rock art. From the trailhead three miles south of town, climb up through a series of steep switchbacks until the trail levels out and enters Hidden Valley, a lush broad basin that few visit. After just two miles, reach a low pass from which you can see the incredible sandstone fins that make the Behind the Rocks area so special. From here, head right on a small trail to explore the petroglyphs that decorate the giant rock wall above you. Then return to the main trail and head back the way you came (about four miles roundtrip) or continue over the pass to meet up with the Moab Rim 4WD trail, a fun, hilly route that cruises over giant expanses of slick rock sandstone that feel really remote even though you’re only a few miles from town. Go on a weekday in off-season and you won’t see many, if any, jeepers. You can run or hike for as long as you like—even all the way to the Colorado River—if you’re feeling adventurous and energetic. Retrace your steps to return (about 10 miles roundtrip) or shuttle a vehicle for a one-way run (about five miles).
Climb Mt. Peale
People come to Moab to experience the desert. We get it. But, how can you totally ignore the beautiful La Sal Mountains rising in the distance? If you feel the same way, then take a day and head to climb or ski Mt. Peale, the range’s highest peak at 12,271 feet. Snow typically sticks around on the couloir until mid-summer so be prepared with an ice axe and crampons (and skis—if you want to test your skills on the downhill). From the trailhead, which is accessible all year long, it’s a short five-mile round trip with 2,700 feet of elevation gain. The crux comes on the steep (30–35 degrees) couloir that you climb from 10,700 feet to reach the ridge crest at 12,000. The unique perspective this climb offers of Canyonlands, Arches and the rest of the La Sals make it well worth the effort.