Five Reasons to Mountain Bike in Southern Utah
By Christian Olson
*I want to preface this by saying that to me there are countless reasons why Southern Utah has the best biking. Not everyone may agree with me and my opinions*
Utah has three climatic regions--humid, sub-humid or semi-arid, and arid--and each region covers about one-third of the state. Depending on the harshness of the summer and/or winter, year round riding is just a good night's rest away. This area is blessed to have warm sunny days the majority of the year. When the sun decides to sneak behind a cloud, you may be sufficiently lucky to see a lovely desert rain storm (and rainbow). If you decide to visit in the Springtime months, you’ll be dazzled by the abundance of desert flowers. What makes certain parts of Utah so special is the ability to ride your bike year round. Now do not get me wrong. There will be times when Cedar City has 18 inches of snow on the ground, and I would not recommend trying to battle the 120 degrees of sunny St. George during the summer, but those days are but a short drive to the other location. Don’t care for the heat? Well then take a short drive up to the cool alpine aspens of Brian Head Resort to get lift-access trails. Would you consider yourself a mre of a snowbird? Take a hop, skip, and a jump to the red rock hills of Washington county.
THE OTHER ADVENTURES
They do not call Southern Utah the land of adventure for nothing. Let me just start by outlining something that others in different states do not have:
Zion National Park
Arches National Park
Canyonlands National Park
Bryce Canyon National Park
Capitol Reef Park
Fishlake National Forest
Dixie National Forest
Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
The Parks. If you are bored, you are living under a rock by yourself, living a sad lonely life. From rock climbing, to hiking, to canyoneering, kayaking, fishing, camping, skiing, jeeping, rafting, to rafting, Southern Utah has it all. I personally recommend taking a spin on a local trail in the early morning hours. Once it is really hot outside, take a paddle board out to Sand Hollow Reservoir to splash in the emerald colored water. If I still have energy left in the tank, I will grab my wife and a cooler filled with La Croix and head to a local rock wall near Snow Canyon State Park to finish the day.
*Chef’s Kiss. I have already given you a climate lesson, now it is time for a geography class. In the Colorado Plateau’s high desert, the winding canyons, curving arches, and ancient dwellings draw the eye. But eyes turned downward will notice that most of this place is covered in iron rich soil. You ask any local and there is not a better type of surface to ride than the red dirt we have. The day after a good rainstorm is prime. No better feeling is obtained than rolling the hills on some freshly packed dirt granted by mother nature herself. The powdered sugared sands will harden and create a smooth trail that cannot be found anywhere else in the world. I wish everyone could feel that sensation of hero dirt.
From shops, to strava groups, to encounters on the trail, what makes southern Utah so special is the people. Just yesterday I was able to experience why the people in this area are so awesome. I had made my way out to Hurricane from St George on my road bike. I was still a good 20 miles from home. As I was on my way out, I found that my tire had developed a good gash in it; too big for my sealant and of course I had foolishly left my flat kit at home. I had two options. Call a $50 uber or try to hitch a ride back home. Not even 5 minutes after putting a thumb out, the nicest couple stopped in their tracks, loaded me and my bike, and took me back. We laughed all the way home. I could not thank them enough. This story summarized the character of those in this region: Kind, thoughtful, charitable, and warm. Shoot, you go to any Red Rock Sponsored race and there is a plethora of volunteers ready to help you have a great race.
I mean this in two ways. The first is the type of bike and the second is the type of material you will be riding on. Let’s say you are a downhill shredder, Virgin is the place for you. Being the birthplace of Red Bull Rampage, the ridges of Virgin are loaded with pockets of jumps, berms, and wall rides to really break in that 150 mm of travel. Not your cup of tea? The plethora of trails winding through the desert hills is innumerable. Everything from greens to double blacks, the trial systems in Southern Utah have been perfectly curated to suit all skill levels. Ride a dirt jumper? Well then I recommend you head over to St. George’s Snake Hollow Bike Park to catch some air, shred some berms, and cruise a pump track. None of these suit you? Like to tour outside city limits? Grab your gravel bike and head in any direction. There are literally infinite amounts of gravel roads that lead you to places no other mode of transportation can go. Home to the infamous and world renowned Belgian Waffle Ride race, Southern Utah boasts the best gravel around. Lastly, let's say you just want to take a Sunday evening cruise around the block. Well guess what? I have just the solution for you. Hop on your beacher and ride the immaculately designed Virgin river trail system networking around, in, and through Washington County, perfect for a stroll with your family. Weird how one region can satisfy so many differing types of bicycle riders.