Navajo Rocks

Family-Friendly Bike Trails near Moab

Ian Anderson

Moab’s reputation as a mountain bike mecca is well deserved. With over 200 miles of singletrack through some of the world’s most unique and breathtaking landscapes, it should be on every rider’s bucket list.

While Moab rides like Captain Ahab, the Whole Enchilada and Mag 7 are world famous for their technical challenges, in recent years Moab has also built over 100 miles of beginner and intermediate singletrack that’s perfect for kids and families. Here is a primer on Navajo Rocks, a destination to add to your list.

NAVAJO ROCKS

How to Find it

From downtown Moab, drive 11 miles North on State Highway 119, passing the entrance to Arches National Park. Turn left onto State Highway 313, “Dead Horse Mesa Scenic Byway,” which winds through the Navajo Rocks area on the way to Canyonlands National Park.

Where to Camp

Horsethief Campground (see map) is conveniently also the trailhead of two fun, approachable easy loops described below. No reservations = sites are first-come. Amenities: fire pits and picnic tables at each site; vault toilets and trash dumpsters.

Further down Highway 313 (south of area shown on map), you’ll find Dead Horse State Park. Or, veer right onto Island in the Sky Road to get to Canyonland National Park. Reserve sites for both parks through www.reserveamerica.com. Amenities: camper / trailer sites with electrical hook up, tent sites, picnic tables, fire rings, toilet facilities and visitor’s centers where you can learn about hiking trails inside each park.  Dogs?  Dead Horse, yes. Canyonlands, no.

Resources

The folks at the Moab Adventure Center (25 E. Center Street in downtown Moab) go above and beyond to help visitors navigate the many trails, backcountry roads and options, from attractions to dining, and can provide detailed descriptions and maps. www.moabadventurecenter.com

The Mountain Bike Project website offers extensive descriptions, photos, elevations and even videos. The site covers almost 40 thousand mountain biking trails, both in the U.S. and abroad. www.mtbproject.com

Easy to find, Navajo Rocks offers entry-level and challenging rides, all within a bike ride from Horse Thief Campground. (credit: Rich Camp)

1. Green: Wrangler & Rowdy

(Located in the Horsethief Campground.) Wrangler – at less than a mile long, this trail is a perfect introduction to mountain biking and was built with kids in mind. There’s fun, sticky slickrock to explore and a couple of easy obstacles to challenge new riders. Add the adjacent Rowdy loop trail for extra mileage and a step-up in technical challenge. Balance bike friendly.

2. Blue: Mustang

Look for signs for the Mustang trailhead. This three-mile loop is ideal for intermediate riders who love singletrack. The trail climbs just over 300 feet to a high point, followed by a fun, flowy downhill before circling back to the start.

3. Blue: Ramblin’

Park at the Navajo Rocks parking lot off of Hwy 313. With long stretches of wide open slickrock to explore, this trail is a favorite for the kids. There are a handful of technical moves and short climbs, which are a fun challenge for more experienced riders to try. This trail is best ridden west to east and can be easily shuttled.

4. Blue: BIG MESA

Add this 3 mile loop onto Ramblin’ for more mileage and more technical riding – and stellar views.