Higher Octane

9 DAYS
1140 MILES
Gear up or work with local outfitters and skilled guides. Plan ahead for river permits.

Ready for the most adrenaline-inducing, heart-hammering adventures Southern Utah has to offer? Whether you’re into bombing single track, charging Class V rapids, tackling hidden trails or jumping out of planes — we've got nine days of thrills for you to cross off your bucket list.
 
Bikers of both the mountain and road varieties will delight in this itinerary. On two wheels you can hit the ground literally rolling at 11,126 feet and drop for 33 miles tackling one of the most unforgettable mountain bike rides anywhere. You can cycle one of the world’s most beautiful stretches of pavement along famed Highway 12. Hit up the technical trails of the Magnificent 7, or the playful, imaginative trails of the Amasa Back. And there’s more where that came from.
 
With paddles you can dive right in for the best short white water trip in the West, dropping into Class III and IV rapids through Westwater Canyon of the Colorado. Or go for the big one at the confluence of the Green and Colorado rivers where you’ll take a wild ride through Class IV-V rapids in the legendary Cataract Canyon.
 
On foot, you can plunge yourself (and a guide) deep into the Fiery Furnace at Arches, a labyrinth of twisting and turning canyons and gorges. Climb to the hidden Moon House ruins, tucked deep into cliff sides, or the cliff’s edge Navajo Knobs with its 360-degree vistas. Wander through the Fairyland Loop of hoodoos at Bryce Canyon or the maze of canyons at the Doll House in Canyonlands. Or even head underground to the spectacular 1.4-mile-long Bloomington Cave.
 
Still fired up? Take to the sky with a tandem jump from an airplane for the best views of Moab.

Day 1 100 Miles
SAN RAFAEL SWELL TO GREEN RIVER
  • Good Water Rim
  • Ray's Tavern
  • Green River Rafting

It’s not exactly on the way. But savvy single-trackers won’t bypass an opportunity to ride the dips and turns of the Good Water Rim Trail in the San Rafael Swell. It’s a UtahMountainBiking.com editor’s pick. Of course, if you’re here for the riving rafting, best get started. Rafting the Green is a multi-day affair. The same is true of the Colorado River (see Day 4). Otherwise, fuel up at Ray’s Tavern and ready yourself for the ride, jump, hike, and adventure of your life. Overnight in Green River or Moab.


GOOD WATER RIM

Mountain biking any of the dirt roads in the Swell is suitable for the whole family, but for those looking for singletrack action with minimal climbing, look to the Good Water Rim Trail on the Wedge. This 21-mile loop (with options to shorten) is perfect for those with intermediate biking skills and some endurance.

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RAY'S TAVERN

Green River, a once bustling town and a hub for uranium mining and oil extraction, is now a little sleeper that’s primarily known for four things: delicious melons, the John Wesley Powell River Museum, being a pull-out for white water rafters, and Ray’s quarter-pound charbroiled burgers.

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GREEN RIVER RAFTING

Recreate on the Green River for a leisurely day of floating, or amp up your adrenaline on a commercial multi-day rafting trip through soaring canyons and rippling white water — this is one the American West's finest and most untamed rivers.

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Day 2 75 Miles
GREEN RIVER TO MOAB
  • Porcupine Rim or Whole Enchilada
  • Skydive Moab
  • Negro Bill Hike

Is it possible to mountain bike one of the greatest singletrack downhill rides, sky dive and sneak in a classic hike all in a day? Today’s a great day to find out. Overnight in Moab through the next three days.


PORCUPINE RIM OR WHOLE ENCHILADA

This challenging ride packs in a little bit of everything — or perhaps a lot of everything. Deemed one of the greatest mountain bike rides in America, the Enchilada ain’t for the faint of heart, but with sweeping downhills on the stunning descent into the Colorado River valley, it’s one you’ll never forget.

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SKYDIVE MOAB

You can explore Moab on foot, on bike, in a whitewater raft, or in a Jeep — but you’ll never quite get the same perspective as you do when flying through the air from 10,000 feet above it all.

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NEGRO BILL HIKE

A small perennial stream cut Negro Bill Canyon into this Navajo sandstone retreat near the Colorado River. The trail winds along the stream through an oasis of cottonwood and willow trees, cut off from the desert above by towering sandstone cliffs.

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Day 3 75 Miles
KANE CREEK ROAD TO ARCHES NATIONAL PARK
  • Magnificent Seven
  • Amasa Back
  • Fiery Furnace

So much trail, so little time. Both Magnificent 7 and Amasa Back are top Moab rides, and it can be hard to pick. The best conditioned riders may want to tackle both, or save the extra time to explore Arches National Park along with your previously booked tour of Fiery Furnace.


MAGNIFICENT SEVEN

A series of mountain bike trails that can be combined in numerous creative ways for both fun and long rides through beautiful desert country. It's ideal for riders with good endurance and bike handling skills — and the good sense to walk it at times.

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AMASA BACK

The Amasa Back area contains six mountain bike trails, five of which are non-motorized singletrack. Pot Hole Arch is the lone intermediate trail. From there things get expert. The Amasa Back area offers excellent views of Kane Creek, Behind the Rocks Wilderness Study Area and the Colorado River. Image courtesy Sebastien Launay.

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FIERY FURNACE

Reserve a tour through the Fiery Furnace. This twisting labyrinth of brilliant red rock fissures and spines is so intricate it is highly recommended to find your way through with a guide. With a permit from the visitor center, experienced explorers can enter without a guide.

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Day 4 100 Miles
COLORADO RIVER OR WHITE RIM
  • Colorado White Water
  • White Rim Trail
  • Moab Dining After Adventure

As mentioned on Day 1, if this trip is about the rapids, you’re probably already riding them. Of course, there is the popular Moab Daily stretch if you want just a taste of the mighty Colorado. Otherwise, keep pumping those legs on the bucket-list White Rim Trail. Make no mistake. It can be done in a day. One long, incredible day. Most prefer to break it up with a support vehicle.


COLORADO WHITE WATER

Utah's most popular river trip, the Moab Daily, is a 13-mile stretch of the Colorado River from Hittle Bottom to Takeout Beach along Highway 128. This float can be easily done in a day. Of course, many raft the Colorado for Canyonlands’ famous Cataract Canyon. With two or more days, you can too.

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WHITE RIM TRAIL

The 100-mile White Rim Road loops around and below the Island in the Sky mesa top and provides expansive views of the surrounding area. Trips usually take two to three days by four-wheel-drive vehicle or three to four days by mountain bike. Grab a permit and get ready for a bucket-list ride.

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MOAB DINING AFTER ADVENTURE

There are a lot of great places to eat in Moab. Adventures out here can stir up a quite an appetite. For those days, here are a couple of excellent options to replenish the calories spent on the trail.

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Day 5 175 Miles
MOAB TO CEDAR MESA
  • Moon House Ruin
  • Fallen Roof Ruin
  • Swingin' Steak

Spend some time in the remote Cedar Mesa. There are plenty of overnight, backcountry options, but here are a couple of shorter hikes — though not hikes to be taken lightly — to introduce you to the landscape and save time to either take on the loop hike of Natural Bridges National Monument or drop south on S.R. 261 to Mexican Hat (with the right gear you can climb this namesake rock feature) for a killer steak. On an alternative route from Moab down U.S. 191 to U.S. 163 you could start your day on the Wildcat Trail of Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park then head north on S.R. 261 for a hike in the Cedar Mesa area. Overnight in Mexican Hat or camp at Natural Bridges National Monument.


MOON HOUSE RUIN

Moon House is a remote undeveloped ruin in McLoyd Canyon southeast of the Kane Gulch Ranger Station. It is accessed with a permit by a strenuous 3-mile hike and is not for those who fear heights.

FALLEN ROOF RUIN

Fallen Roof Ruin, located on Cedar Mesa in Road Canyon just off of Hwy 261 near Natural Bridges National Monument, is an extraordinary Puebloan ruin that consists of four small rooms — three of which remain perfectly intact.  This ruin gets its name from the unique pattern left behind on the "roof" when a large slab of the alcove ceiling fell away and shattered on the ground below.

SWINGIN' STEAK

A little off the beaten path, this rustic restaurant and lodge is famous for serving up some of the best steaks around. And a cold beer by the outdoor fire makes for the perfect appetizer.

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Day 6 220 Miles
CEDAR MESA TO ESCALANTE
  • Hickman Bridge + Navajo Knobs
  • Hell's Backbone Road
  • Cycling Scenic Byway 12

Navajo Knobs is a front country hike that works its way to the top of a ridgeline for killer views over Capitol Reef National Park. You’ll have covered 9.5 miles by the time you complete this out-and-back. From here, tour the Hell’s Backbone Road and consider a short hike into the Box-Death Hollow Wilderness or see a portion of the All-American Road Scenic Byway 12 on two wheels. Overnight in Escalante or Boulder.


HICKMAN BRIDGE + NAVAJO KNOBS

These front country hikes in Capitol Reef National Park lead to amazing rock formations and panoramic views of Southeastern Utah. Hickman Bridge is a short out-and-back (about 2 miles). The Rim Overlook and/or Navajo Knobs add 2.3 and 4.7 miles, respectively, for an elevated view of Capitol Reef’s tilted landscapes.

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HELL'S BACKBONE ROAD

The gravel road from Boulder to Escalante features precipitous drops and panoramic views into the Box-Death Hollow Wilderness. There are moderate trails and multiday backpacking options across the diverse lands of this wild and beautiful place. Photo courtesy The Greater Southwestern Exploration Company on Flickr.

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CYCLING SCENIC BYWAY 12

If you are interested in a unique way to see a lot of beautiful Utah landscape, look no further than this ride down scenic Highway 12. Professional Tour of Utah cyclists race the whole length; this journey settles for 54 miles round-trip, or 27 miles one way, with approximately 4,000 feet of elevation gain included.

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Day 7 175 Miles
HOLE-IN-THE-ROCK TO THUNDER MOUNTAIN
  • Hole-in-the-Rock Hike
  • Fairyland Loop
  • Thunder Mountain Trail

With a high-clearance vehicle, drive to the end of the Hole-in-the-Rock Road (there are also great trails along the way). Here, you’ll scramble down a cut in the rock. Because this is an unpaved road that gets pretty rough, this trip can take the better part of the day. Leave early to squeeze more in or stay on Highway 12 and head toward the Bryce Canyon area for a great hike in this classic Utah national park or a very cool ride through the appealingly named Thunder Mountain. Overnight near Bryce Canyon City or Panguitch.


HOLE-IN-THE-ROCK HIKE

When a new settlement was selected near the mouth of the San Juan River, pioneers needed to find a suitable route. Amazingly, they chose the shortcut across present day Grand Staircase–Escalante to a narrow crack in the canyon rim down to the Colorado River. Your hike is only a mile, but it’s steep and rocky. Image courtesy Ken Lund on Flickr.

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FAIRYLAND LOOP

Indigenous myth has it that Coyote locked the spirits of the wicked in dramatic hoodoos. Over an 8-mile, 4-hour hike you’ll come to believe in this landscape’s mythical qualities. This is iconic Bryce Canyon with less of the crowd. Short on time? Trail run it.

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THUNDER MOUNTAIN TRAIL

After a relatively brief climb to the ridgeline, the fun begins as the 10-mile trail contours along the ridge down valley with epic views over Red Canyon, tight switchbacks, and a few technical sections thrown in for good measure. Complete with a two-car shuttle or ride the paved 5 miles back to the trailhead.

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Day 8 160 Miles
ZION TO ST. GEORGE
  • Orderville Canyon
  • Gooseberry Mesa
  • Gun Barrel Steak & Game

There are many ways to see the stunning slot canyons of Zion National Park. Most visitors peruse the landscape from the Mouth of the Narrows. Those prepared with the right equipment or an outfitter can go the more technical route. It will take the better part of your day. Another option is to head straight for Gooseberry Mesa. You won’t be left wanting for Zion scenery and you’ll enjoy the diversity of trails. Either way, plan time for Gun Barrel Steak and Game in nearby St. George to cap the day’s adventures.


ORDERVILLE CANYON

Canyoneers love this technical day hike through a desert slot canyon that takes you into the heart of Zion. Often called The Narrow’s little sister, Orderville Canyon is just as beautiful, but with an additional technical aspect. It’s one of the easiest technical canyons in the Zion area, but it still demands respect. Photo courtesy Chris M Morris.

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GOOSEBERRY MESA

Gooseberry incorporates technical slickrock and awesome singletrack atop a stunning mesa. Expect a few uphill grinds, but a smorgasbord of turns, quick dips and short climbs too. You can play out here for hours especially as you pause frequently to take in the panoramic views near Zion National Park.

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GUN BARREL STEAK & GAME

Like its sister restaurant in Jackson, Wyoming, the centerpiece of Gun Barrel is its open grill. Patrons watch chefs cook their dinner to perfection over mesquite wood in a restaurant atmosphere inspired by local art and heritage. From there, it’s beef, elk and buffalo (in addition to many other great dishes).

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Day 9 60 Miles
SNOW CANYON TO SAND HOLLOW
  • Snow Canyon State Park
  • Sand Hollow State Park
  • Spelunking Bloomington Cave

Can you trad climb a wall, power an OHV over a dune, and spelunk a cave all in one day? Today’s a good day to find out. Of course, you can also pick one of the two incredible state parks and devote your day to it. We’ll leave that choice up to you.


SNOW CANYON STATE PARK

Cut by water, sculpted by wind and time, Snow Canyon’s Navajo sandstone cliffs share the same history and geology as Zion National Park, one hour to the east. It is a national park-caliber destination in the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve that is popular with road cyclists, hikers, climbers and families.

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SAND HOLLOW STATE PARK

The sprawling 20,000-acre park often feels like a national park. Sand Hollow offers recreation opportunities for nearly every user from boaters to bikers, and OHV riders to equestrians. A favorite destination for local off-highway vehicle (OHV) enthusiasts, Sand Mountain provides 15,000 acres of perfectly sculpted dunes.

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SPELUNKING BLOOMINGTON CAVE

The largest caving system in the St. George area offers a well-rounded and all-encompassing spelunking experience that's difficult and dirty, but technical. Grab a permit and click on that headlamp, it’s time to get muddy!

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