Category Archives: moab

Bill’s Moab Memory

Bill Wentworth’s endo tattoo

It hurts more in Moab

Doug Boccuzzi’s Moab Trip

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In February, around my 40th birthday, my old college roommate, Nick, emailed me and asked if I would go away with him for his upcoming 40th birthday, on a mid-life crisis trip of sorts.  Nick is an Assistant Principal at a local school, and he’s got a sister in Santa Fe, NM, so he thought it would be good to take his spring vacation somewhere in the southwest and visit her.  He’s not a huge cycling enthusiast, but I asked if we could spend some time in Moab, and he was game.  Nick had been to that area with his wife some 15 years earlier, and had fond memories of the region.

I’d never been to Moab but I knew whom to ask for advice:  Jill and John.  They seemed more excited than me at the prospect of this trip, and they provided me with oodles of helpful advice, all of which turned out to be absolutely spot-on.

Horsing around in Durango

We flew out of Bradley on Friday morning, April 16.  We booked the trip through Albuquerque so it would be easier for Nick’s return from his sister’s place, and after arriving early afternoon, we started driving our rental car northward.  We spent Friday night in Durango CO, a quaint little cowboy railroad town with a cool village vibe and good restaurants and shops.  We stumbled into a show by one of my favorite bands, the veteran jump-blues/swing masters Rick Estrin and the Nightcats (formerly Little Charlie and the Nightcats), who just happened to be playing at a local theatre.  Serendipity was already on our side.  It turns out Durango was also hosting its annual bluegrass festival that weekend, so musicians were everywhere and the whole place was hopping.  We didn’t sleep much on Friday night, and I would have liked to stay longer, but Moab was beckoning, and we drove onward Saturday morning.

The scenery became more and more breathtaking and awe-inspiring as we drove on.  Arriving in Moab, the town was much as I expected.  Nestled in a desert paradise, it was a busy bohemian utopia even in this early off-season.  Every car that wasn’t laden with a rack of road and/or mountain bicycles, had a trailer filled with ATV’s and dirt bikes.  The weather was perfect–sunny and about 78 degrees.

Nick and I were ravenous so we stopped at Hogi Yogi’s and ordered the pulled turkey sandwich, as Jill had recommended.  Wow.  Perfectly cooked tender white meat, blue cheese dressing, fresh lettuce and tomato on crispy yet soft foccacia bread.  If you really want to treat yourself, add avocado to the party.  Hogi Yogi’s ice cream and smoothies didn’t suck either.

Top of Klondike Bluffs

In order to burn off those calories, we showed up at Chile Pepper bike shop, where Jill and John had steered me, to pick up the rental bikes I’d reserved.  Very cool place, and extremely helpful staff, both with the bikes and with suggesting riding areas and trails for us to explore.  We loaded up our Giant Trance X2’s and headed off to check out the Klondike Bluffs trail, about 20 minutes away.  This was a good introduction to the somewhat foreign world of slickrock.  The trail wasn’t too challenging for Newbie Nick or out-of-shape Doug, in terms of climbing or technicality, which was good since we didn’t start out until about 3 pm.  The end of the trail provided access to a short hike at the boundary of Arches National Park, with great views of the park and the LaSal Mountains looming in the distance.

The entire landscape of the area is difficult to process:  there are dramatic, sweeping mesas, majestic buttes with craggy cliffs, layers of painted sandy/soily colors and textures representing different historical eras, impossibly complex and delicate stone structures sculpted and scalloped through the ravages of the elements, literally over millions of years.  The backdrop of the larger peaks in the distance was still blanketed in snow.  It was like simultaneously touring a gigantic studio of nature’s art gallery, and receiving a crash course in visual geological history.

After our ride we checked into the Gonzo Inn, a really funky and comfortable hotel (another Jill and John winning recommendation).  It had a very quirky hip/industrial vibe to it and included breakfast, as well as an outdoor pool and hot tub.  Although bicycles were not allowed in guest rooms, it was clearly bike-friendly, with a dedicated, secured bike storage area, and even a community space to wash and service one’s ride (including a bike stand).  When we’d cleaned up, we walked down Main Street to Moab Brewery for dinner.  We enjoyed the fresh local swill (I liked the Scorpion Pale Ale and Derailleur Ale), but neither of us was impressed with our BBQ combo dinners.  We were shooting for quantity over quality when we ordered, and that’s just what we got.  A nearby table ordered the hummus plate appetizer which looked and smelled fantastic when it rolled by us.  We vowed to return and try that dish sometime.

On Sunday morning we headed out early to explore Dead Horse Point State Park, about 45 minutes drive away.  The access road to the park itself is a beautiful ride, with sweeping views and cattle roaming the surrounding fields and even the road itself.  We parked at the visitor center, which was all but deserted at that hour, paid our fee, and unloaded the bikes.  We biked the relatively new Intrepid trail, about 10 miles total.  The trail snakes along the plateau with various viewpoints offering incredible vistas.

Sittin on Dead Horse Point

The terrain was a fairly easy mix of slickrock and single track dirt/sand, with relatively gentle slopes.  When we finished the loop, we hiked about a mile from the visitor center to the Dead Horse Point lookout (also accessible by car via the main road), where, at an elevation of approximately 6000 ft, we were treated to panoramic views of the Colorado River snaking through the canyon some 2000 ft directly below us.

We hiked back to our car and drove the return route to Moab, for lunch at the Slickrock Café.  I enjoyed my chicken wrap but the service was slow, and the clock was ticking on our bike rentals.

After lunch we drove over to the true Mecca—the infamous Slickrock trail, just a few miles from town.  Our bikes had to be back at Chile Peppers by 5 pm, and it was already about 2 pm.  Due to the late hour and the fact that we’d already biked and hiked all morning, we resigned ourselves to the limitations of the shorter “practice loop”.  It was definitely enough.  A big lunch (the fries were poor judgment) and the hot sun conspired to make the slickrock a real challenge.  I’m not sure how anyone could ride that trail in the full heat of the desert summer.  The climbs and descents are daunting and unforgiving, although the traction on the bare sandstone is remarkable.

SuperGrover vs SlickRock

It is truly a unique bicycling experience.  We finished unscathed and in time to return our bikes to Chile Peppers with some additional wear, several layers of dust, and 3 flat tires.

On Sunday evening we ate at Pasta Jay’s on Main Street in Moab, which had a nice patio dining area, substantial and flavorful entrees, and very good service.  We ended the night with a soothing dip in the Gonzo Inn hot tub, and a game of setback with coffee by the pool.

On Monday morning we checked out of the hotel and departed fairly early to Arches National Park, the entrance to which is only about 5 miles from Moab.  The park fee was waived for the week, and the access road is an exhilarating climb through scenic switchbacks, making me wish I was pedaling on a road bicycle rather than sitting in a rental car.  We drove the entire main park thoroughfare, with several side-trips and hikes to various arches and stone formations of interest.  There are literally thousands of amazing structures to gawk at.  We parked and hiked up to the famous and infinitely photogenic Delicate Arch, which included a nice climb up a slickrock face that led to an up-close encounter with this remarkable formation.

Nick and Doug Dwarfed by Delicate Arch

In the interest of time, we made our last stop at Devils Garden, where we hiked to some additional arches.

We returned to town for another lunch at Hogi Yogi’s (pulled turkey sandwich was a winner again) and then headed back towards Albuquerque, so I could make my flight home the following day.  After sharing the 7 hour drive, we arrived about 8:30 pm, and checked into our hotel, Casa de Suenos, in the Old Town section of Albuquerque.  We got settled and enjoyed a late dinner at a cozy local restaurant called High Noon, where we treated ourselves to a couple of great steaks, and some untold number of excellent margaritas.

The next morning we were greeted by the sights, sounds, and scents of the Casa de Suenos courtyard, which seemed more like a B&B than an actual hotel.  With hidden flowering gardens, patios, and a made-to-order breakfast, it was a nice place to recharge for a while.  We wandered around the shops and cafés of Old Town before heading off to the airport.  I boarded my flight and Nick continued on to visit with his sister in Santa Fe.  As the plane took off, I found myself dozing, dreaming of gorgeous vistas and endless slickrock.

Moab Pictures

Pictures from Kevin and Rob’s recent trip to Moab

Cuts and Bruises


Hidden Valley and Moab Rim

Porcupine Rim

Bartlett Wash


Bartlett Wash

Kevin and his brother Rob, shot some video at Bartlett Wash from his recent trip to Moab.

Moab, Utah

Mike Nugent has made a great web site of the recent trip to Moab, Utah with a number of Nerac Earth members, The Nerac Earth Adventure Page.

Kokopelli to UPS to LPS

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After a death defying drive into the LaSals in the truck we luckily avoided hitting the cows that were ambling along the narrow roadside and sometimes in the middle of the road. We found the Kokopelli trail head and parked the truck. The temp up here is a chilly 54 degrees so we start off with long sleeves. It only takes about 15 minutes before the temperature warms up and we start shedding layers. The trail is well defined now compared to the last time Michael and I were up here and we don’t have to worry about wrong turns at all. Never ending, narrow single track along the rim, some rock playgrounds, and views that you can only glimpse quickly at because you are so close to the rim. Too quickly we arrive at the traditional lunch spot and none of us can quite believe we descended so quickly. We all know the next part so we head down at our own pace which means Michael disappears with Kevin not too far behind and John and I following. I’ve never seen John ride like this before, he’s actually taking jumps and his rented Epic is flying over the rocks. See what a little suspension can do! For those of you who are not familiar with John’s bike, I’m pretty sure his front fork is shot and he’s lucky if he’s got an inch of suspension on that thing. This is the perfect final ride for this trip as I don’t think our legs could have survived any more climbing than porcupine rim dished out. The final stretch of exposure felt familiar and we all remembered the good lines that Jimmy showed us a few years back. There was one section that had totally disintegrated (the clip when the down hill rider scoots down in front of us) but we all cleaned it. We ride back to town and sadly turn in our bikes and walk back to the hotel. Depression sets in as we pack up, say goodbye to Kevin, and start the drive to Salt Lake at 10pm. We all stayed up the entire time which wasn’t too hard with Michael and John telling stories that made me laugh so much I could hardly see the highway. The airport is pretty creepy at 3am. We dropped off the car and found some seats while we waited to check-in at 4am. Nobody wants to talk, we’re dead tired and heading away from our favorite place – there is nothing to say. Well there is one thing: YeeHaw Utah!!!! Can’t wait to get back. –Jill

Hidden Valley to Moab Rim – Slickrock Trail

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Hidden Valley to Moab Rim

Arrived in the dining room to breakfast and was shocked to see it was raining. One of the bike tours pulled in to pick up a group and I recognized Matt Hebberd (2004 Mountain Bike Hall of Fame inductee and Rim Tours owner) so I ran out to get some ride recommendations for wet conditions. He assured me the rain would not last and we could ride just about anywhere but to be on the safe side should stay on trails that were mostly rock. We decided to do a shorter ride and settled on Moab Rim. I warned everyone about the nasty portage to Hidden Valley but I don’t think they quite believed me. The trail head was close enough to ride to so we hopped on our bikes and headed about 3 miles north of town to find the trail head. I was a little nervous because I was the only one who had ridden this trail before and was hoping I would remember it enough so we wouldn’t get lost. The 3 road miles felt like 10 miles, our legs were toast from yesterday’s ride. Our directions were good and we got to the trail head easily. We started up, and up, and up. It was only around 70 out but sweat was pouring off my face from the effort it took to push, pull, and lift my bike up the vertical, rocky trail. I looked up to see where the others were. John was 1st and almost out of site, then Michael, Kevin, and me trailing behind after trying to take a phone call about our dysfunctional fridge at home. A hiker caught up with me and told me it’s a 20 minute hike w/o a bike and also said I was almost at the top. I straight out told him he was a liar, which he readily agreed with but promised to tell the other guys that the view at the top was worth it. I wasn’t sure anyone would be speaking to me when I arrived at the top but it seemed that they were so glad it was over and the trail through the valley was flat that they chose to forget how difficult the portage was (or at least kept the swearing to themselves). The view is incredible from up here and you can scream through the narrow singletrack that flows through the field. The only problem here is some nasty barbed plants on the side of the trails that scrapes the skin from your shins, the burn starts about 10 minutes later as the sweat creeps down. But the trail from here is fun and we forget about the burn. As we turn onto the rock the trail goes downhill with tons of Jill sized jumps. I take the first one and get a pinch flat. Bummer, fixed it and started up again. Oops, forgot about the petrified pooh rock. If you check out the pictures you can see just how mortifying this was to look at. I prefer Kevin’s explanation of “it’s a pine cone”, but if you know John and Michael, they were delighted at finding “petrified pooh”. Moving on, this trail has a little of everything, including incredible views and some really cool slickrock sections. You can tell we are all pretty wasted from the climb up, it seems like we are riding in slow motion. The end comes too soon but brings a superb view of the Colorado river and we get to see a train of jeeps trying to traverse the steep climb up. We get another great downhill weaving in and out of the jeeps and ride back into town which is mostly downhill again.


After a quick lunch at Zak’s we head back to the hotel. It starts to rain so we decide to relax for a while then head over to Slickrock when it clears up. We regroup at 3pm and Michael decides to save his legs for his favorite ride tomorrow which is Porcupine Rim so Kevin, John, and I head over. The road over is a steep winding climb and there is always a mountain biker or 2 slowly creeping up. I’m thankful we’re driving up in the truck because slickrock requires a ton of effort. We decide to ride the practice loop and a little bit of the lollipop stick before it breaks off to the regular loop because we are tired, it’s late, and it takes about 3 to 4 hours to ride the whole thing. I was a bit skeptical that my legs would hold out but as soon as I started riding I knew I’d be ok. Slickrock is like riding on another planet, it’s like no other ride at Moab or anywhere. We got a lot of footage here so you can check out the pics for this ride, it’s really hard to describe how crazy it is and how your tires can stick to almost vertical rock faces. I was filming John and Kevin climbing this crazy vertical up when we ran into 2 guys heading out. We chatted for a few minutes and the first guy headed up the rock, his buddy starting behind him. John is yelling for him to go, you can do it, keep riding, when the guy gets to the steepest part of the climb and falls over his bike backwards and rolls a few times while his bike pump tumbles and tumbles down the rock (Nathan, this would be considered a small yardsale!). The three of us just watch, horrified. This is what you don’t want to think about when you are climbing at Slickrock – falling backwards. The guy gets up, runs down the hill for his pump, grabs his bike and pushes it up the hill. It’s almost harder to walk these climbs than it is to ride them. The bike tires stick better than bike shoes. And what’s the first question John asks when the guy is out of sight, “Did you get that on film????”. Nope! We go a little bit further then decide to head out, we’re all starving and can’t wait to get some dinner, the sport jelly bellies aren’t cutting it. Super fun ride, one of my favorites… –Jill

Gold Bar Rim to Portal


We decided to do the epic Gold Bar Rim to the Portal Trail. This ride is a point to point ride, so we left a car a few mile up Potash Road, at the end of the Portal Trail and drove the truck to the start of the ride on the other side of the rim. It has been a few years since Kevin and I rode the trail, guided by “Dirty Bill”, but as we started much of what we encountered was extremely familiar. Mike had his new GPS so he could map the route out and have it for future reference. The beginning of the ride is a jeep road for a number of miles before you reach the backside of the rim to start the climb. Once you start to climb, it’s pretty much climbing constantly. We took a break in the shade a rock ledge, a quick snack and off we went to the rim. We checked out the awesome view for a few minutes, then proceeded to ride the rim towards the Portal Trail. We had planned on eating lunch in Pin Hole Arch, a very small arch right on the rim, very visible from the highway below, but almost impossible to see when riding. We had made some reference points to the arch from landmarks near the highway while traveling to the start of the ride, so we were pretty certain that we would find it. Good planning led us right to the arch and we took a few pictures and ate our food. Now that we had eaten the next portion of the ride is to follow the rim all the way to the Portal Trail. This is where the trail is difficult to follow, but there were a lot of cairns to guide us and eventually we reached a jeep road that both myself and Kevin recognized went to the Portal Trail. This trail is on the edge of a cliff and has some scary exposure to the river below, it is not for the faint of heart. The trail is short and in no time we were at the bottom to our car, so we could drive it back to get our truck that was left at the start of the ride. We took a little side trip down the road to see some petroglyphs and then headed back to town. An awesome epic ride. — John

Sovereign Trail and Bartlett Wash

Pictures Videos

We started out to Willow Springs road instead of Dalton Wells around 8 am to ride the Sovereign Trail in the opposite way in which I have ridden it before. Jill and Mike knew where the starting point was, so there weren’t any issues with the start of the ride. Kevin, Jill and myself took a bit of time for our lungs to adjust to Moab’s altitude, where Mike seemed to not notice the lack of oxygen at all. The ride in reverse was awesome and we were all having a great time and took us probably less than an hour, so we decided to extend the ride once we reached the turn around point at Dalton Wells. There were clues that we should have turned around soon after we started riding the new single track, such as the sandy washes we were riding in and the loose climbs, but we continued anyway. Big mistake….the sand got worse… the trail got worse, hike-a-biking, the temperature climbed and all the little bits of fun we were having on the new single track was offset by all the not so fun stuff. Three hours later we all were wishing that we had turned back before dropping into the new single track. We kept going forward until finally we reached a large wash that we followed back to Dalton Wells. We then took the pave road back to Willow Springs and decided never, ever would we do that single track ever again (you have been warned!). After getting more water and trying to forget about the nasty ride we just finished, we decided to go to Bartlett Wash, a huge freeform slickrock playground that is not too physically challenging, but is unbelievable in it’s vistas and tilted, rolling terrain. We did a bit of filming and picture taking, all the while having a great time. A great finish to the day! — John

Salt Lake to Moab


Kevin, Jill, Mike and myself flew into Salt Lake City on the same flight. Kevin took a smaller plane into Moab and rented a pickup truck there, while we rented a car (Chevy Cobalt) in Salt Lake for shuttling and Jill drove us into Moab. What is it with Utah and Wendy’s? We saw a million Wendy’s on our way out of Salt Lake…every exit! When we got to Moab we met up with Kevin at the Gonzo Inn, where we are staying, got our rooms and headed off to the supermarket to get our supplies. We ended up renting four different bikes from two different shops. Chile Pepper Bike Shop had Kevin’s Santa Cruz Blur LT (nearly brand new with only one ride on it so far). While at Chile Pepper we ran into our old friend Jimi, a great mountain bike guide and mechanic (he also made a cameo appearance on a television show about the Great National Parks of the Southwest). We then headed over to Rim Cyclery to get Jill’s Specialized Stumpjumper, Mike’s Specialized Enduro and my Specialized Epic. All the rentals went without a hitch and the bikes seem to be in great shape. We ate a delicious dinner at out traditional “first night at Moab” restaurant, Pasta Jay’s, discussed which rides we would like to do the following day, then headed back to the Gonzo Inn to setup the bikes for tomorrow’s adventure. — John