I arrived in Moab on June 19th and found a nice RV Park just at the south edge of town that had trees at every space to provide some shade. As I registered at the office, I noticed a printout of the forecast for the next several days. It looked something like this: Friday 101°, Saturday 103°, Sunday 105°… My jaw dropped. I mean, I was prepared for it to be hot by the time I got here, but I didn’t think it would already be reaching into the hundreds by early June! My mild-temperate bones rarely see the likes of these scorching temperatures. I’ve been cooped up in Western Washington too long.
The rest of the afternoon was spent planning out my week-long stay. I booked a few guided bike tours and I planned a few days for exploring Arches and Canyonlands National Parks. After arriving and walking around town a bit, I got the impression that Moab is a tough little town whose locals take the outdoors seriously. But it also has a cool urban vibe where you’ll find delightfully unique cafes and restaurants with friendly staff. It seems if you’re a local and under the age of 35, you must either have dreads or visible tattoos. Mountain biking, whitewater rafting and off-roading are the biggest outdoor activities to do here. For off-roading, they either use Jeeps or these things.
The following day I joined a father and son on a guided mtb tour of the Navajo Rocks trail system which is only a year or two old. Even though we met up at 7:15am to beat the heat, it wasn’t early enough. The views were amazing, and the trails were fun. They were similar to Guacamole at Zion but not quite as challenging with the vertical ledges.
Having never ridden slick rock trails before this trip, it was interesting to see how they build these trails. The Guacamole trail in Zion mostly used natural materials like rocks and logs or dead branches to define sections of the trail so you don’t get off track. However, there were large portions of the trail where I couldn’t even discern that we were on a trail. It could have been because I was following someone and not paying close attention that it seemed like you would have to know your way around. In Moab, many, if not all, of their slickrock trails are painted with color coded marks.
By the time we started the last trail back to the van it was probably 10-10:30 and nearing 90 degrees. The dad had bailed at this point and rode back to the van. His son, Drew, looked just as apprehensive as I felt about this last leg. Fortunately, most of the trail was rolling and didn’t require a ton of effort, but the last 15-20 minutes had a good dose of more climbing. By then, we were toast and giving it everything we had just to make it back to the van. The issue with biking out here in the higher temperatures is that the rocks seem to radiate the heat, so it feels hotter than it is. We finally made it back to the van around 11am. It took me a good 24 hours to recover from that ride, but I was surprised I felt better than I did that first ride in Bend!
Several days later, I rode Amasa Back and Capt. Ahab with a younger woman from New Zealand, Rebecca, and our guide, Sam. Apparently, Capt. Ahab is the ultimate downhill trail in Moab. I was also told by my previous guide that the area these trails are in is generally hotter. He was right. Amasa Back was mostly a gradual climb with technical spots to the top, so I was nice and toasty for the ride down Capt. Ahab which was mostly down slick rock with a handful of some pretty good techy rock rollers. At the end of the ride, I was once again happy to be back at the van relishing in the air conditioning. On our drive back, Sam told us about a creek right in town that is perfect to sit and cool off in after a ride like this. So, after we dropped off our bikes and ate some food, Rebecca picked me up and we headed over to the creek. Although we had to do a little bush-whacking in places, we didn’t have to walk too far to find a little hole to sit in. We hadn’t been there for more than a few minutes before Rebecca jumped and cried, “Something touched me!”
I got out and looked around.
“There!” she said pointing to a couple little red crayfish-looking things crawling around at the bottom of the hole. Apparently, New Zealand doesn’t have very many creepy crawlies, so she’s been jumpy since being in the States.
The following two days, I explored Arches and Canyonlands National Parks. I’ll let the photos speak for themselves.