Utah skiing and biking--in the same week

May 5, 2004
Outside Magazine
Week of January 30-February 5, 1997
Through-hiking the Appalachian Trail
Hiking and rafting in Northern California
Late-season skiing at Colorado resorts
Making the most of five days in the Adirondacks
Utah skiing and biking--in the same week

Utah skiing and biking--in the same week
Question: I'm going to be released from the military on February 1, 1997. I will be taking a new job as an accountant in Seattle on June 1, 1997. I have been waiting to have the freedom to travel for years and now I have four months to truly experience that much-awaited freedom. Because my future as an accountant will likely be fairly mellow compared to my current position in the army, I'm looking for some type of adventure travel. I have already decided to take a bike trip across the southern U.S. from March 25 to June 1. From February 9 to 18, I will be skiing in Utah. So from late February to early March, I need something to do. Please help me, adventure lady. I have around $1,500 to spend. I would like a rather strenuous adventure that would last about a week. Again adventure lady, please help me. I don't know what to do.

Andy Wilcox
Black River, NY
[email protected]

Early March in Utah lets
you choose your fun

Adventure Adviser: Since you'll already be in Utah, I'd consider spending an extra week or two in the Four Corners region. Divide your time between a five-day hut-to-hut ski trip in the San Juan Mountains and a week-long romp through southern Utah's canyonlands. Although the San Juan Hut System in the Mount Sneffels Wilderness Area is designed to accommodate all levels of skiers, you'll want to be familiar with changing mountain weather and have a solid understanding of the ins and outs of avalanche safety if you plan on going solo.

A better bet might be to sign on with guide Joe Ryan, who'll lead you along intermediate backcountry ski trails and forest service roads from Telluride to Ouray, with stops at the five spartan huts along the way. You'll need to bring your own sleeping bag, food, and gear; the huts come equipped with padded bunks, a propane cook stove, wood stove, firewood, and all crucial kitchen equipment. Depending on your skill level, you can use the huts as base camps and spend days skiing the expert powder terrain above the huts. Whichever route you take, a bunk will cost you $22 per night and Joe's expert guide service $150 per day. For more details, call Joe at 970-728-6935.

From there, head due west to the Moab area, where--weather permitting--you might get in some early-season mountain biking. You'll certainly beat the hordes of spring-breakers who flock to Utah's fat-tire mecca in mid-March. For bike rentals and route suggestions, stop in at Rim Cyclery on West 1st North Street (801-259-5333). Aside from the perennial favorites--the Slickrock Trail (watch for ice in winter) and Gemini Bridges--they'll be able to direct you to a handful of great late-winter rides. While you're in the neighborhood, plan on spending a few days exploring nearby Canyonlands National Parks, although be prepared for snow cover in higher elevations.

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