You have to try mountain biking when you visit Southwest Utah! If you go to Hawaii, you give surfing a try. If you go to Costa Rica, you try zip lining through the jungle. So why do you have to give mountain biking a try when staying in St. George, Utah? Well, just like those other examples, this desert terrain is perfect for learning and enjoying that specific sport.
The Landscape Was Built for It
There is so much raw, empty space in the St. George area. You can see how the natural layers of the earth have twisted and buckled to cause giant ridges and jutting plateaus in every direction. It’s like Mother Earth said she wanted a jungle gym built for enjoying outdoor sports like mountain biking and decided Southwest Utah was the perfect spot for it.
There are literally hundreds of miles of single-track and slick-rock trails laid out in Washington County, which surrounds the beautiful city of St. George. You can go down in rolling valleys, rip along cliff edges, and descend down the steep backside of a bluff. You can climb technical sandstone formations or cruise along gravel roads through majestic Snow Canyon State Park. There are so many options!
The Infrastructure is Great
You can really make a mountain bike trip out here any way you want. From campsites right by the trail system to group-size yurts to cushy hotel rooms that welcome you and a bike into the room … there’s not a right or wrong way, but having all the options is great.
The trail systems are a labor of love by many of the local clubs; it’s not just trail after trail for the sake of making more. They are really passionate about the sport and it shows in the level of creativity and the fun factor each trail offers. Plus, the public land managers, like the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management work closely and cooperatively with these clubs to continue to grow our trail system. That’s not something you can say about all biking destinations.
Some of the most popular mountain biking trails in the region are Gooseberry Mesa, The Zen Trail, Bearclaw Poppy Trail, Barrel Roll, Jem Trail, Green Valley Loop, Little Creek, and you can find 40+ other mountain biking trails that will capture your attention and offer remarkable scenic views along the way.
It’s not just trails that make this an ideal learning destination. In November, a new 60-acre skills park opens. It has bike jumps, a single-track trail, flow trail, skills area, jump track, a gravity trail and more, along with clearly defined sections for all of this in the beginner, intermediate and advanced skill levels. And the park connects to the city’s 155 miles of paved trails too, of course.
The Local Bike Shops
St. George has several local bike shops that are experts on the area and what its trails have to offer. They do offer rental bikes and gear, but also sell great new bikes. And, yes, they are exceptional at repairing any damage to your personal bike. Beyond being the ideal place to learn and fall in love with mountain biking, these shops are full of passionate local riders who can recommend the perfect trails for you and your needs. They not only recommend the right trails, but they also prep you for those trails, and help you be prepared for the challenges you’ll face.
If you need more than just good advice and you want someone knowledgeable out there on the trail with you, then you’re in luck because there are also some amazing guides that will teach you the skills and techniques as you go and explore the trails with them. This is a great way to get a quick handle on the sport. It’s an especially good idea to go the guided route if you want to bring your kids. That way they learn the right way to ride these trails and enjoy them safely by your side. It’s really rewarding to see your kids try something that’s new and a little scary to them. Their growing confidence and excitement will benefit them for years to come.
Plan Your Trip around Race or Festival
The St. George area has some of the biggest, craziest, and longest mountain biking events you can find! If you want to see Olympic-level stunts, then plan your trip in October to see the Red Bull Rampage. Or if you want to experience hardcore mountain bikers with a sense of humor about it, then come see the 25 Hours in Frog Hollow race. All of the teams race a loop, relay style, on the day our clocks fall backwards, resulting in the longest single-day race of 25 hours. The riders also dress up in wild costumes, which gives the whole thing a laugh-out-loud atmosphere. If you really just want to learn more about riding, skills, and talk to representitives from all the big bike companies then the Hurricane Mountain Biking Festival is for you. It happens in March with food trucks, shuttles taking people up to awesome trails, and new bikes and gear available for testing.
It’s a Year-Round Destination
This extreme southwestern section of Utah boasts clear skies upwards of 300+ days annually. Outdoor temperatures are only a passing problem for a couple months each summer. Most of the year, high temperatures range from the mid-50s to low-80s. Higher summer temperatures can be avoided by starting your mountain biking tour early in the morning and getting off the trail before noon.
Off the bike, there are many other adventure-driven activities to explore. Consider hiking, climbing, canyoneering, horseback riding, ATV tours, motorcross or even water sports.
Or simply lounge by the pool or take in some of the area’s theater, history and art options. Or, if the bike still calls, spend the rest of the day riding some mountain biking trails found in Pine Valley, located above St. George, at a slightly higher altitude and temperature.
You’ll Have a Blast
The trail systems in Washington County are diverse and plentiful. Just like surfing in Hawaii is totally new to most people, there are a lot of first-timers out here. The more experienced riders don’t typically do the same trails as those who are just starting, but when they do, they are understanding and it’s a pretty judgment-free sport. If you are smart about it and get the right gear, some helpful instruction, and the right level of trail, you’re guaranteed to have a great time and possibly fall in love with this crazy sport.