Less populated than that other mountain biking mecca, but just as spectacular, I recently spent a week riding in Southwest Utah and can’t recommend the St. George / Hurricane / Springdale area local trails enough. From fast and flowing “epic” singletrack to on-your-toes technical trails, there is certainly a ride to suit every mountain biker’s preference.
Plan to spend at least a week in town—while you won’t be able to ride every single trail, you’ll get to sample a good portion of slickrock and singletrack. I spent five days in town and didn’t come close to riding even a majority of what’s offered. All the more reason to plan a return visit.
Before you go, you’ll need to know some basics. Don’t worry. We’ve got you covered. Find out where to fly into, rent bikes, rest your aching muscles at night, etc.
How to Get There
If you’re coming from another part of the country, flying into Las Vegas, Nevada, makes a lot of sense. You can even build a night or two into the beginning and/or end of your trip to live it up in Sin City. You’ll get two (very different!) vacations in one. From Vegas, it’s an easy two-hour drive up Route 15 to Hurricane. We rented a car in Vegas and were happy to have a means of transportation to and from the trailhead once we got to Utah.
Renting a car isn’t your only option, though. Hop aboard the St. George Shuttle—which is fueled by clean propane and natural gas—if you’d prefer to have someone else do the driving. The bus makes daily trips between Las Vegas, St. George, Springville (Provo Area) and Salt Lake City. Check out an up-to-date list of shuttle prices here.
Where to Rent Bikes
However you arrived in “The Beehive State,” if you haven’t traveled with or shipped your bike, you’ll need to rent one. If you don’t mind parting with your personal steed for several days, I suggest you visit Over the Edge Sports in Hurricane or Red Rock Bicycle Company in St. George to get hooked up with a sweet rental. Both places have a fleet of average to exceptional mountain bikes in their line-up. Your rental price will reflect the bike you choose, ranging from about $50-$100 per day.
We opted to rent bikes this time around instead of checking them in at the airport. It turns out, our route to the airport was a bit complicated, and we were beyond happy that we didn’t have to lug the big black boxes from the subway to the shuttle to the train to the airport! Once we arrived at our destination, we didn’t need to worry about wasting time assembling the bikes or whether our rental car would be big enough to haul three bike boxes. (It wasn’t.)
Instead, the three of us rented bikes from both Over the Edge Sports and Red Rock Bicycle Company—and we received top-notch bikes and superior service at both places. The employees were more than happy to recommend their favorite trails and tell us how to get there. While you’re at the shop, don’t forget to pick up a local trail map. It was helpful to pop in the bike shop every couple days to have a local mountain biker highlight a favorite trail or area on our map.
Where to Stay
Lodging options are abundant in this area. Choose from a variety of big-chain hotels (Comfort Inn, Rodeway Inn, Travelodge, etc.) if you're the type who relies on a warm shower and springy mattress at the end of each exhausting day. For the ultimate in comfort, the Zion Canyon Bed & Breakfast has a 5-star tripadvisor rating. If a sleeping pad is an adequate substitute for mattress, look no further than Gooseberry Mesa itself, where camping is allowed on the public lands. Look for sites that show signs of previous campers.
Where to Ride
Lots of options exist for mountain biking in the area. However, two of my favorite trails are Gooseberry Mesa and the Hurricane Cliffs Trail Network. Gooseberry is situated at 5,200 feet, which means it stays cooler than most other desert trails in warm weather. Riders of every level will enjoy the fairly technical trails, which are labeled on local maps as easy, intermediate or difficult.
Right down the road is a designated IMBA "Epic"—the Hurricane Cliffs Trail System. Take it from me, this is a must-ride if you’re in the area and up for putting some mileage on your loaner. If you ride it right, you’ll pedal along a cliff’s edge and end with the miles of flowing, descending singletrack.
Go ahead and put them both on your short list!