Ahhhh, Moab... I've yet to meet a die-hard mountain biker who doesn't drool when you mention it. With its seemingly endless parade of epic rides, Moab lures novices and pros alike to test their mettle for days on end—or at least until vacation days run dry.
But what if—God forbid—adhering to some sort of inhumane compromise with your significant other, you only had one day to ride the area. Here's one proven recipe for success that'll fulfill your need to tear it up and make the family happy, too.
The fleeting spring days are getting hotter, so start early—yes, the 5 a.m. kind of early—so you can prepare your gear, check your rig (highly advisable as Moab is the last place you want to break down) and get a good deal of calories down the food hole. For eats, try the Jailhouse Cafe on Main Street. Open at 7 a.m., its delicious breakfast fare and kick-butt service make this a can't-miss spot. Try the whole-grain waffle with walnuts.
Stretch and send the family to Arches, because now it's time to tackle Amasa Back, a sure-to-please Moab classic out-and-back—three to four hours depending—with a challenging climb, mind-blowing views and a fun descent. Easily accessible from town, Amasa Back requires no shuttle, saving more time to ride. Just take Kane Creek Road, at the McDonald's, and follow the road to the trail head.
On the Trail
The ride starts with a challenging rock-staircase descent—just pick a good line and keep that butt behind the seat—that drops you to the beginning of the climb.
A turbulent mixture of Jeep tracks and slickrock, the climb up the ledge of Amasa Back Rim is doable but tough, providing a good meter of where your climbing skills are at, as you're constantly greeted by multiple rock lifts. Each obstacle, though, grants you another chance to nail that climbing move that has so far eluded you, so don't give up.
The payoffs are the views along the way, especially the ones of Jackson Hole as you near the top. Essentially a massive butte sunk deep in a canyon, Jackson Hole is sublime and the view makes it seem as if you're the first mountain biker on Mars. As you near the crest of the climb, get off your bike and walk the Humbucker—a huge exposed drop (we're talkin' death here) that you don't want to mess with.
Not too long after Humbucker, the ride forks: The left spur leads to Jacob's Ladder, a hike-a-bike to the base of Jackson Hole; the right leads to a brutal downhill ride for those without fear. Opt to live another day and go down the way you came to enjoy the fruits of your climb.
Post-lunch Family Rde
You'll find yourself back in town just in time for a late lunch. You can't miss with the $10.99 all-you-can-eat pizza and salad bar at Zax. After lunch, you're ready for that second ride of the day with the wife and kids.
Try Klondike Bluffs—a huge slickrock ramp that overlooks arches and makes for great family fun. Whipped from Amasa, you'll enjoy the ease of this ride and will earn points for spending quality outdoors time with the family.
As your day in Moab comes to a close, hit the Moab Diner for one last meal before you leave town. Again, great food and service, with ice cream included with most meals. You can't go wrong with that. Tired but happy, you'll leave satisfied that you got the most from your day. And who knows, maybe you can stop there for another day on the way back.
If You Go
From the center of town, head south on Highway 191 and turn right on to Kane Creek Road. Follow the signs to the Amasa Back trailhead
Follow Highway 191 north out of Moab for 17 miles. Turn right into the lot at mile marker 142. Follow the signs.
- Jailhouse Cafe, 101 N. Main St., 435-259-3900
- Zax Pizzeria, 100 S. Main St., 435-259-6555
For more information, visit www.Moab-Utah.com.