Outbound Collective logo

Forget Winter at These Southwest Mountain Biking Hotspots

Beat the winter blues.

By: Sara Sheehy + Save to a List

There's nothing wrong with needing a little break from winter. No matter how much you love it, it's natural to catch yourself longing for the feel of the sun on your skin or the thrill of stepping outside in less than three layers.

When the craving hits you hard, it's time to head south. A getaway to any one of these Southwest mountain biking hotspots will leave you refreshed and ready to face Punxsutawney Phil's judgment on Groundhog Day.

So pack up your bike (or rent one!), and make your way to the warmth of the southwest.

Tucson, Arizona

Photo by Josiah Roe // Mountain Bike the Desperado Loop

Not only is Tucson, Arizona, a great place to ride in the winter, but the season's cool temperatures mean that it's primetime for mountain biking. You'll see as many Tucsonites on the trails as tourists!

Cut your teeth on the gentle grades and short loops in the Sweetwater Trail System, then make your way to Honeybee Canyon for a 19-plus mile loop through the desert. 

There are also some fun trails in Tucson Mountain Park, just outside of the city.

Sedona, Arizona

Photo by Katie Yarborough // Hike or Bike Secret Slickrock Trail

Sedona, Arizona, is a landscape that you won't soon forget. It is covered in red rock spires and buttes, which look even more stunning against the dark-green trees and shrubs of this desert playground.

Sedona is known for its hiking but is now gaining a reputation as a mountain biking destination, too. Beginner riders can start out on Bell Rock Trail, and then advance to something a bit more challenging like the 2.4-mile Mescal Trail

For expert riders, you'll find all the thrills you need on the 8-mile HiLine Trail.

Las Vegas, Nevada

Photo by Jake Young // Bike the Cowboy Trails Near Red Rocks Canyon

The glittering lights of Las Vegas are keeping a secret: there is excellent mountain biking on the outskirts of Sin City. Las Vegas is a particularly attractive destination for a winter biking getaway because you can always find a great deal on flights, hotels, and food in this tourist city.

The Railroad Tunnel Trail is mellow, scenic, and historic, making it a perfect spot for beginner riders and families. For a bigger challenge, head to Bootleg Canyon in nearby Boulder City. Bootleg Canyon features over 35 miles of trail and a shuttle service on the weekends so that you can do as many hot laps as you'd like.

Expert riders will dig the technical routes at the Cowboy Trails near Red Rock Canyon.

Moab, Utah

Photo by Josiah Roe // Mountain Bike Amasa Back / Cliffhanger Trail

Few places loom as large in the minds of mountain bikers as riding the slick rock trails of Moab, Utah. What was once a tiny desert outpost is now the preferred destination of many winter adventurers. 

Moab's most iconic trail is the Slickrock Bike Trail, a 9.6-mile technical journey over exposed rock. It's ride everyone should do once in their life, but it's not for beginners. Budget up to four hours for this ride!

For something a bit more chill, check out the Bar M trail system for a little bit of slick rock, a little bit of singletrack, and a lot of stellar views. Another great option is the 5.5-mile Monitor-Merrimac Loop.

There are also a few epic one-way routes in Moab, like the Whole Enchilada and the Magnificent 7. You can book shuttles for these at almost any mountain bike shop in town.

Hurricane, Utah

Photo by Chris Engelsman // Camp at Little Creek Mesa

If you don't have Hurricane, Utah, on your radar, get it there. Located right outside the western entrance to Zion National Park, Hurricane is a hidden gem filled with free camping, 360-degree views, and lots of great mountain biking.

The JEM trail system crosses right through a BLM camping area and is a great spot to set up your home base (you'll undoubtedly be camped next to other mountain bikers!). 

After exploring the JEM Trails, venture a little bit further out to Holy Guacamole, Gooseberry Mesa, and the Bearclaw Stucki Loop in St. George.

Cover photo by Josiah Roe

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!

Do you love the outdoors?

Yep, us too. That's why we send you the best local adventures, stories, and expert advice, right to your inbox.


10 Things you need to do in Baja

wyld honeys

Journey to Wyoming’s premier snowmobiling destination: Togwotee Mountain Lodge

Samuel Brockway

A peek through God's window

Heather Arnold

Big Bend Bound: Crafting Your 3-Day Adventure

Erin Newman-Mitchell