We drove out to Kaibab Bike Rentals to get our rental bikes and to meet up with our shuttle driver. The folks at the shop were great and has us ready in no time. We drove our car to a parking area off of the main road, and boarded the shuttle to the top of the bike ride in Canyonlands.
The driver's dog took a real liking to me and sat on my lap as soon as we sat down The shuttle driver was a biker himself and had a lot of interesting information for us. He told us of a place to park our bikes and lay on our stomachs and look over the ridge. It sounded pretty scary to me.
The ride we selected was the Gemini Bridge Trail. How can you go wrong with a 14 mile trail that is mostly down hill? The trail started on an obvious red dirt road. The view of the La Sal mountains, which remained in view for most of the trail, was beautiful.
We stopped at the Gemini Bridges for lunch. This was the place that the shuttle bus driver had told us to park our bikes and lay on our stomachs and look over the edge. Bill bravely did as suggested, and we realized that we had parked our bikes and were standing on a shelf that went about 70 feet back! Though this structure seemed scary, it seems to have held a lot of people over the years.
So as not to try fate, we walked back to the outskirts and got ready for lunch. Since this was to be along and leisurely day, we brought our camping gas stove and a can of New England clam chowder. We hung out in the area for a while and looked at the two natural bridges and down into the canyon below. It was an incredible place to stop!
After enough exploring, we got on our bikes again and continued downhill. The trail had sections of rock and sections of dirt, but it was never too hard to find your way. The trail came to a ridge with a steep descent into a valley. The valley below was spotted with green growth and an obvious brown trail that branched in several directions. One part of the trail headed towards a notch in a rock wall at the other side of the valley. We decided that looked like the most interesting route, so we decided to explore that direction when we got down there.
The decent was a bit steep, so we were careful not to tumble off the edge to our left. The dirt was soft and dusty and felt different than our moist dirt in New England. When we got to the valley floor. There was a lot of exploring that we wanted to do.
We noticed that there were broken pieces of rock with a wavy pattern, as if it were fossilized sand from the bottom of the ocean. Higher quality samples of this type of rock can be purchased at the rock and fossil shop for about $5. It is probably worth it to get neat rocks at the shop, rather than carry out five extra pounds of rock in your day pack.
After intense exploration of the area by the many branching trails, we decided that the path that lead through the notch in the rock wall was definitely our trail. I figured once we made it through the notch, the trail would probably be flat for the rest of the ride. I was sorely mistaken. Though the trail is reputed for an "all down hill" coast, the last section of the trail makes a rather steep ascent along red cliffs before it descends again to the end of the trail.
I was not in the best of shape at the time. While Bill merrily peddled up the hill carrying his day pack and half of the contents of mine, plus a few pretty rocks I collected, I walked my bike through most of the step sections. The scenery behind us was spectacular. When looking behind us, we saw our trail and the red cliffs on the right, arches in the near distance and the La Sal mountains in the far distance.
Once the trail peaked, I was ready to ride again. We needed to be cautious on the cost down because we were on the edge of a gravel slope most of the time. Make sure your breaks work before this final descent!
At the bottom of the hill, it is easy to follow parallel with the road to find the car. We were glad we went with Kaibab to rent our bikes and arrange shuttle service. Everything worked out perfect
We were actually able to get both bikes into the trunk of the rental car so we could drive back to civilization to return them. We both loved cruising through the red rock desert and exploring the area.
There are other more difficult trails in the area, like the Slickrock Trail, for those who want a wild challenge. There are also moderate trails like Hurrah Pass which we unfortunately were not able to get to last time we were out there. The next time we go out to Moab, we will definitely rent bikes.
There are now several airlines that fly into the Canyonlands area from Las Vegas, and do not charge extra for bringing a bike. Though it is more convenient to get to Moab (there is even a car rental counter at the airport), we will have to share the outdoors with planes taking off and landing. I was glad to get the ride in at Gemini Bridges when we did.
National Geographic Trails Illustrated #501 map for mountain biking trails in the area