3 Million–Star Mountain Biking Trails
Apr 13, 2018
By: Chad Taylor
Mountain biking by day, stargazing by night. Let Holiday River Expeditions (now with land expeditions!) show you the Milky Way
Golfers dream of Augusta National. Marathoners aspire to qualify for Boston. For mountain bikers, it’s all about Moab in the heart of the Colorado Plateau.
Green River-basedHoliday River Expeditions isn’t just about helping you tame the rapids. They offer multiple mountain biking trips in the surrounding area to get you a little dirty and a lot exhilarated. What makes these trips even more epic is the fact that you’ll camp each night in designated International Dark Sky areas. So if you finish riding and you start seeing stars, don’t worry: It isn’t (necessarily) because you’re dehydrated!
The best part about these guided trips? The guides prepare the meals and there’s vehicle support to carry all the food, water and gear. All you have to do is pedal.
“Trip of a lifetime” sounds cliche, but what’s better than when a cliche comes true? This mountain bike trip in the heart of Canyonlands National Park is one you'll tell your kids about – one that people come from all over the world to experience. It’s fairly flat overall, but it’s long (up to 100 miles if you do the whole thing) with some technical sections and a few steep climbs, so inexperienced riders may find this trip to be too difficult.
Some trip highlights include a trip to Musselman Arch, panoramic views of Canyonlands from White Crack, time to stop and study some Native American ruins and the challenging climb at Murphy’s Hogback (bragging rights on the line). Some parts of the trail follow the Colorado River and other parts follow the Green, but you’re never more than a couple minutes from a crazy photo op.
The ultra-remote west district of Canyonlands is as wild and untamed as it is beautiful. This is some of the most challenging bike terrain you’ll find anywhere, but the gorgeous gorges and refreshing remoteness of the Maze District are worth whatever suffering you may endure.
Your first day will get you to the a-Maze-ing Overlook, giving you a top-down look at the labyrinths of Canyonlands and providing a wide open canvas for evening stargazing. There is a bit of hiking mixed into the trip to fend off saddle sores and allow you to get up close and personal with ancient petroglyphs. You’ll end at Lake Powell’s Hite Marina.
This trip comes with a very flexible itinerary based on what your group wants to see and do. The San Rafael Swell is one of the most uplifting geological uplifts in the world. In the Swell, located just southeast of Utah’s center in Emery County, layers of sandstone, shale and limestone jut into the sky to form a scrappy geological theme park. Within this vast expanse, you’ll find rugged trails and plenty of rock-formation eye candy.
This trip traverses a variety of roads, trails and terrain and features some super cool sights like a 3,000-year-old pictograph panel. The main highlight of the trip is climbing and descending through a local favorite, Little Wild Horse Canyon, as well as Bell Canyon and Ding & Dang Dome. You’ll end at 6,500 feet elevation for a good long look at the Colorado Plateau.
Holiday River Expeditions offers several stargazing trip options – by bike or by raft. They get you into desolate lands to ensure you get the best views of the Milky Way. Expert guides not only point out constellations, but go as far as counting each day’s time by the moon’s cycles. They’ve also partnered with the astronomers at Utah’s Clark Planetarium to make the experience even more... enlightening.