The desert terrain of Utah offers a scenic and unique alternative to the usual forested singletrack so often enjoyed by mountain bikers. Moab is unquestionably the countrys über-mountain biking destination, its popular Slickrock Trail luring so many riders that it's off-limits to organized tours. However, with 150 trails to choose from, Moab has more than its share of terrain for riders who make the pilgrimmage: take your pick from sandstone (also known as slickrock), sand, gravel, rock, ledge, doubletrack, and mountain trails. Independent riders will find all they need in the town of Moab to set them up for their trip, from campsites and bicycle repair shops to carbo-loaded eateries and microbreweries for that pre- and post-ride pig-out. Outfitted trips include single- and multi-day tours that will have you grinding up intense steeps and whooping through many a backcountry canyon. While novice mountain bikers are welcome, first-time riders are discouraged on these trips as some of Moabs terrain is particularly challenging.
(www.amtrak.com/holiday.html for full details)
ROUTE: Chicago, IL to Grand Junction, CO
LINE: California Zephyr
DURATION: 28 hours (departs Chicago at 2:15 p.m. daily)
PRICE: $138 to $245
SCEMERY: Rocky Mountains
ARRIVAL TRANSPORTATION: Pick up a Hertz Rental Car (1-800-654-3131) at the airport. Discount offered to Amtrak passengers.
OUTFITTER: Dream Ride Mountain Bike Tours: 1-888-MOAB-UTAH; www.moab-utah.com/dream/rides.html
WHAT TO BRING: Rain gear, bike and equipment (if you don't want to rent), padded cycling shorts, helmet, and hydration system with plenty of water
DURATION: 3 days, 4 nights
PRICE: $395 (more expensive with accommodation and bike rental)
DIFFICULTY RATING: Moderate to expert
WHEN TO GO: Spring or fall
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication