The Sell: A 100-mile mountain bike ride through the heart of Canyonlands National Park.
The Grit: Skip Moab, Utah and the rush to ride the world-famous, expert-level Porcupine Rim Trail. The best off-the-beaten-path endurance mountain bike ride loops 100 miles around Canyonlands National Park’s Island in the Sky mesa, high above the Colorado and Green rivers. One hour southwest of Moab, the White Rim Road, the granddaddy of multi-day canyon rides, kicks off with a hair-raising descent down the Shafer Trail Switchbacks, once a cattle trail, and then heads toward Musselman Arch. Bring friends and a full suspension bike; this ride is best done ahead of a high-clearance 4WD support vehicle to carry the trip’s water, food, camping, and emergency repair supplies. Continue south to White Crack, where you’ll make the turn back north, downshifting for the climb up Murphy’s Hogback, one of White Rim’s steepest sections. The ride can be done in three or four days. To join an organized trip, consider Holiday River Expeditions’ $770 four-day adventure. The outfitter rents bikes and camping equipment. Whether you’re with your friends or on the group trip, take a moment near mile 66 to hike to the roughly 1,000-year-old early Puebloan remnants of Fort Bottom Ruin. A $30 backcountry permit is required and group sizes are limited to 15 people. Be sure to reserve your campsites in advance as they fill up fast.
The Verdict: Mountain bike enthusiasts should add this trip to their bucket list.