by Julie Trevelyan
What better way to truly experience the natural wonders of Utah than by both biking and rafting? On the Moab Biking-Westwater Rafting combo trip, you can whiz on mountain bike trails then raft the Colorado River. Win-win!
The La Sal Mountain Loop in the Manti-La Sal National Forest, near world-class biking mecca Moab, Utah,gives you a super fun mountain biking ride through ponderosa pine forests, “quakies” (quaking aspens), and beautiful alpine streams. You start off high on the mountain, in the cool above the desert floor. Enjoy spectacular views featuring the red rock playground below. On the second day of the trip, you’ll zip 4,000 vertical feet downhill to the desert floor.
Ready to raft?
A stunning little segment of the Colorado River, Westwater Canyon delivers a mini Grand Canyon river rafting experience. Popular and beautiful, it highlights some of Utah’s best river canyon scenery, complete with thrilling class III and IV whitewater rapids. Only 17 miles long, Westwater nevertheless boasts some of the nation’s best whitewater due to its geologic structuring. Ebony schist and vermilion redrock cliffs present classic desert colors as you float downstream. Short but sweet, Westwater Canyon is an exciting surprise to add to your river rafting adventure list.
Rafting the Lower Salmon while the water flow is anywhere between 2,000-20,000 CFS (cubic feet per second) can make for the perfect trip, depending on what you’re looking for. Check current water flow conditions at theUSGS site.
When conditions are right, a walk in Little Dolores Canyon may be on the trip agenda. The desert can be hot in the summer, which is why rafting through it is a great way to explore. As a bonus fun spot, a small waterfall and swimming hole beckon from Little Dolores Canyon, a scant 200 yards upstream form its confluence with the Colorado River. What a great way to cap off a day of rafting!
Native peoples including Fremont, Barrier, and Ute left their mark in Westwater Canyon via petroglyphs and potsherds, which you’ll get a chance to view. Miners and outlaws also played a role in the area’s history. The remains of their old cabins and homesteads allow the imagination to range back in time when the living was tough but the sights as gorgeous as they still are today.
Who will enjoy this trip most:
For any adventurous youngsters, oldsters, experienced cyclists/rafters and newbies alike who want to enjoy the thrill of downhill mountain biking as well as shooting great rapids, this Moab-Westwater combo mountain bike/river raft trip is a pretty ideal choice. Being in shape for the mountain biking will help you enjoy the experience even more.
1 The La Sal Mountains are the second highest range in Utah, with elevations reaching over 13,000 feet.
2. The Manti-La Sal National Forest has more than one million acres.
3. Westwater Canyon rapids include Hunter, Funnel Falls, Surprise, and biggie Skull Rapid.
4. Best-named rapids: Bowling Alley and Sock-It-To-Me.
5. In its 17-mile length, Westwater contains 11 Class III or IV rapids.
Written by Julie Trevelyan.
Julie is a freelance writer and wilderness guide in southern Utah. She especially enjoys books, coffee, yoga, wild country, horses, and dark chocolate.
See more of her work at www.wildgirlwriting.com