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Moab Fall Pilgrimage

Each fall, the warm days and the cool nights of Moab draws outdoor enthusiasts looking to squeeze in their last hiking, mountain biking, and camping adventures before a layer of snow blankets the ground.

By: Chris Engelsman + Save to a List

A few weeks ago, I was one of those people. A group of friends and I headed down to Moab to celebrate a friend's birthday and get some of the last mountain biking in for the season.

The beauty of Moab is the vast amount of BLM land for free camping, along with many developed campsites and plenty of options in town for lodging. So, there is a lodging option for everyone. 

Even though the days can be warm - in the '60s & '70s, the nighttime and early morning temps can drop low. The cold temps are fine because it allows you to huddle around the campfire and swap stories of the day's activities while catching up with old friends. During these cool nights and mornings, an essential device I've been loving is Zippo's new HeatBank 9s Hand Warmer. The hand warmer is a rechargeable battery that fits in the palm of your hand and cuts through the cold - lasting up to 9-hours. A great way to keep your hands warm!

 On this trip, we camped at Willow Springs, which is a reasonably central location for mountain biking. You can easily access the Klondike Trails, Moab Brand Trails, Mag7/Gemini Bridges trail complex, and Dead Horse Point. We chose to ride the famed Portal Trail, which is a Moab classic, but not for the faint of heart! The trail starts on the cliff edge 1,000 feet above the Colorado River and descends along the rock face for 2-miles.

The second day was another classic Moab mountain bike ride - the Whole Enchilada! It's a 31-mile ride that descends 7,200 feet! To ride the Whole Enchilada, you need to grab a shuttle in town that takes you into the La Sal Mountains. An hour later, and you are at Geyser Pass. From Geyser Pass, it's a strenuous 1.5-mile pedal to Burro Pass, which tops out at 11,200 feet. From there, it's pretty much all downhill with amazing views of Castle Valley from Porcupine Rim and, eventually, the Colorado River. 

On the third day, we took it a bit easier with a ride at Dead Horse Point. This Utah State Park is breathtaking. If you visit Moab, this park needs to be on your bucket list. It provides magnificent views of the Colorado River and Canyonlands National Park. 

Moab in the fall and spring is a wonderful time to visit. The temps are much more manageable than the summer, and it avoids all of the summer tourists. Check out my go-to gear list for all of the items that make car camping a pleasure. 

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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