Mountain biking on some epic singletrack: check. Canyoneering in ancient rock formations: check. Hiking up, way up, to see some of the best views in the US? Absolutely. If that doesn’t convince you to head to Southwestern Utah, just take a look at these photos.
It’s no doubt that Southwestern Utah is a beautiful place, just look at it. Whether you’re looking for a super-strenuous ride or a cruise on your bike along a flowy path, this is where you need to be. J.E.M. Trail (pictured above), in the heart of the badlands, is a breezy combination of singletrack and doubletrack, with a handful of easy hills, and a view that seems to go on forever.
Speaking of the badlands, there are endless signs that when you head out for an adventure around these parts, you’re quickly saying goodbye to the comforts of the city, and saying hello to nature and all of its elements. Just try not to end up like this guy, okay?
Also in the area, the site of the Red Bull Rampage – an intense competition with some of the world’s most skilled downhill racers, slopestyle riders, and natural-terrain freeriders. Sure, it doesn’t look too tough from a distance; but as you get closer you realize that, even as a decent biker, it’s nearly impossible to find a good line to ride. Let’s just stick to spectating, shall we?
It’s certainly one of the most popular hiking trails in Utah, and for good reason. Perfectly paved paths, maintained trails, relentless switchbacks, and vertigo-inducing cliffs will lead you to the top of Angels Landing, in Zion National Park, and the view alone is worth fighting the crowds. Wear shoes with a good grip, and bring plenty of water; several fatalities have occurred on the way to the top, and a bit of preparation is your best bet in staying safe.
See that climber just over two-thirds of the way up the photo? No? Look harder. It’s like looking for Waldo about 200 feet up a huge rock wall. This man in particular is making his way up Moonlight Buttress in Zion National Park, a popular route that’s known within the climbing community for its difficulty. Even if you’re not experienced enough to tackle Moonlight, there are countless routes in the area, so you’re bound to find something that’s just right.
There’s no denying that the Southwest of Utah is essentially a giant playground. Pictured above, a group taking part in a Sacred Rides tour hike high up onto some stunning rock formations in preparation for rappelling down nearby canyons. Climb up and over, lower yourself down, squeeze through… you’ll never be bored on a canyoneering adventure.
What goes up must come down. The canyons vary quite a bit in size and depth, and there are usually multiple ways to get down, so if you’re an adrenaline junkie – you’re set. Alternately, if you’re a bit squeamish with heights, chances are there’s a good option out there for you too. So get geared up and just enjoy the ride, bro (sorry, climber speak).
The bike trails in Southwestern Utah vary greatly – some are incredibly technical, some are nice and flowy, and others, like Bearclaw Poppy, are packed with woohoo-inducing hills. Make sure you pack a couple of spare tubes and a pump – a flat tire is very possible when you’re riding fast on those chossy rocks (sorry, biker speak).
While the bike trails are, indeed, amazing, it’s important to stop and take in the view every now and then. It’s surreal. It’s perfect in a way that doesn’t exist in many other places in the world, so make the absolute most of your visit by appreciating it in every way. Here at Gooseberry Mesa, you’re guaranteed to see amazing vistas, dramatic cliffs, and several changes in scenery throughout the impressive trail network.
Stand on top of the world (well, it’s more of a big rock, but it’s still pretty cool, right?) after a great hike at Snow Canyon State Park just outside of St. George. Looking for something other than a hike? Try cycling, canyoneering, mountain biking, climbing, or horseback riding through the park; there’s an awful lot to do there, so you better get started.
Want to make the trip but don’t want to plan it out? Check out Sacred Rides’ Sublime Southwest Explorer trip and they’ll do all the work for you.