- Wear a helmet
- Recognize your physical and technical limits
- Carry twice as much water as you think you'll need
- Make sure your bike is functioning properly
- Carry repair and first aid kits and know how to use them
- Use a map, guidebook and/or guide
- Ride with others and re-group often
- Reserve enough daylight to retrace your route if you encounter problems
- On downhill runs, watch for uphill riders
Bikes are great tools for exploring canyon country when used responsibly. The most important guideline is to stay on approved roads and trails. Fragile cryptobiotic crusts and vegetation can take decades to recover if damaged by careless riders. Each year, individuals take hundreds of thousands of mountain bike rides in the Moab area. You can help protect this fragile land by adhering to the following minimum impact biking practices, and the Canyon Country Minimum Impact Practices.
Ride only on open roads and trails
Riding cross-country, taking shortcuts, and play riding around campsites damages plants and soils. Don't be a trail pioneer by leaving a poorly chosen path for others to follow. Help land managers keep areas open to biking by staying on designated trails.
Learn to recognize and preserve cryptobiotic soil crusts
This delicate, often black, crusty-looking, complex of soil and slowly growing algae, mosses, bacteria, and lichens retains water, reduces erosion, and provides a stable base from which higher plants can flourish. It takes many years for cryptobiotic soil crust to recover from the ruts created by one bike. If you don't know what it looks like, ask someone to point it out!
Avoid skidding your tires
Locking your wheels needlessly damages trails and leaves ugly tire marks on slickrock. Stay in control by "feathering your brakes."
Ride rocky, slickrock, and sandy areas when it's wet
Soils with high clay content, e.g. the first several miles of the Monitor and Merrimac Trail, turn to slippery, chain-clogging mud when wet. Riding through these areas under wet conditions leaves deep ruts that accelerate trail erosion.
Refrain from riding through and camping in riparian areas
Riparian areas, the communities of water-loving plants along streams, are precious to wildlife. Wildlife concentrate in these areas and can be displaced by recreation use.
Protect water sources
Washing mud off bikes and bathing can introduce lubrication, soaps, and oils from sunscreen into water sources critical for the survival of small animals.
When encountering slower-moving trail users, slow to their speed and wait for acknowledgement to pass or be passed. Always yield to horses and hikers. Remember that some mountain bike routes are also open to motorized use.
Riding in Remote Areas
If you have an accident in a remote area, it may take medical help hours to arrive. Travel with a group so that someone can be sent to obtain help and another rider can administer first aid. On a hot day, you will want to have more water than your frame-mounted bottles hold. Wear a camelback or backpack to carry extra water. If your bike breaks down, it can be a long push back to town. Carry appropriate tools and know how to repair your bike.
A vehicle shuttle is helpful for several Moab area rides, especially Gemini Bridges and Porcupine Rim Trails. Click here for a current list of shuttle companies.
Moab Bike Patrol
The Moab Bike Patrol is a local volunteer organization of experienced and dedicated bicycle enthusiasts and other support groups. We are dedicated to assisting bicyclists and other trail and backcountry users in a wide variety of ways to help ensure a safe and enjoyable adventure experience in Moab, Utah and surrounding regions.
Visit the Canyonlands Natural History Association website
to purchase maps and books of the area.