In Canyonlands, fall is high season for mountain biking (and for just about every other activity, as well.) The number of visitors in town on any day in September or October can rival the busiest days of April or May.
There are many reasons for this, though the most obvious is that the triple digit temps of summer are safely past. Daytime highs can still get very warm but nights tend to cool off significantly and mornings can sometimes get downright crisp. There’s even an increased chance of rainfall (no small thing in such a dry place as Moab,) with October having the highest average precipitation of any month of the year.
Another reason is color: high up on the slopes of the nearby La Sal and Abajo Mountains, oaks turn orange and red, while entire groves of aspen change to the color of flax, lemon and amber, each on their own separate schedule. Cottonwoods, in the canyons below, glow golden in the October sun. Also, in the high desert ecozone around Moab, many flowers bloom during the fall: globemallow, aster, prince’s plume, cliffrose, rabbitbrush, sunflower.
If you’re mountain biking in Moab this fall, here are some tips:
- Even though some days can be cooler, the air is still very dry, so don’t forget to carry plenty of extra water.
- Be aware of the sunrise and sunset times. Days are getting shorter. Sunset is 7:01 PM on October 1 but by the end of the month it is 6:19 PM.
- Watch out for flashfloods. Keep an eye on the weather forecast regarding the possibility of thunderstorms and always be aware of where you are in relation to the nearest dry wash or drainage.
- Though not as well-known as the Moab-area trails, there are several excellent mountain bike trails located 50 miles to the south of Moab around the town of Monticello. Stop in at the local bike shop, Roam Industry, for all the best beta.
- Consider a guided mountain bike tour in order to make the most of your visit.