1. Arizona’s Sonoran Desert
Priding itself on near perfect weather all year round, the Sonoran Desert is filled with sunny skies, stunning scenery and spectacular sunsets. I made a point to visit in early winter when it was cold, gray and wet in my neck of the woods.
Dove Mountain offers 9.9 miles of singletrack, known as the Tortolita Preserve. Be prepared for typical desert trail conditions—a mix of sand, hardpack and some rocky sections. Cacti are abundant here as well. Take it from me and avoid brushing up against one at all costs.
The 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo race course in Tucson, Ariz. Was undoubtedly one of the most beautiful trails I’ve ever ridden. A ribbon of singletrack winds through the Sonoran Desert, and brings riders up close and personal with native spiky flora—just don’t get too close! If you choose to visit here, remember that you’ll be riding close to 17 miles in the middle of nowhere, in the middle of the desert. Be prepared.
2. Southwest Utah
Visit Gooseberry Mesa for a combination of slickrock and singletrack. This technical trail is widely considered one of the best mountain bike trails in America. Soak in the incredible views of Zion National Park, but don’t take your focus off the trail for too long—advanced features require your full attention. With more than a thousand foot drop, the consequences are steep if you do fall! Motorized vehicles are prohibited. Crowds are rare, if non-existent.
Of course, you can’t talk about Utah without mentioning Moab. Touted as “the home of the greatest mountain biking on the planet,” Moab is a must-ride for any mountain biker—at least once. The variety of trails are well-suited for all types of riders, from beginner to advanced. Perhaps the most well-known trail, however, is the technical 9.6-mile Slickrock Bike Trail. Plan to ride an assortment of singletrack while you’re out here to see for yourself the many and varied trails Moab has to offer. Intermediate and advanced riders will want to ride Amasa Back, Porcupine Rim, Slickrock and Sovereign. Don’t forget your camera—the scenery is top-notch here.