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Get ready for a wild ride through San Rafael Swell’s history! No time machine needed—just your bike or e-bike. Shaped over 50 million years ago, this geological wonder is tucked away and often overshadowed by its more famous neighbors, like Arches and Canyonlands. The ‘behind the reef’ roads are rich with secrets,  prehistoric rock art, and winding slot canyons. Cycle between towering buttes and mesas, and learn about the heritage of diverse Native American peoples. Beyond the rides, this 5-day adventure promises top-tier camping, including delicious al fresco meals and fireside tales beneath the star-studded sky. Ready for the beauty and solitude of South Utah’s high desert?

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  • Geological Spectacle

    Ride the best trails in San Rafael Swell, a stunning geologic landmark that stretches 71 miles in length and 40 miles in width.

  • Native American Heritage

    Learn about the rich legacy of diverse Native American peoples, including the Fremont, Ute, and Paiute.

  • Starry Skies & Fireside Tales

    Set camps under the starry Utah sky and savor freshly-cooked meals as a perfect way to end daily rides.


Explore the geological time capsule of Southern Utah's San Rafael Swell on this 5-day biking adventure. Explore winding slot canyons, towering buttes, and mesas, all while delving into the heritage of Native American cultures. As you pedal through remarkable trails, camp in remote locations, fully immersed in the dreamy and scenic high desert landscapes. Starting and ending in Moab, this tour includes an experienced Utah MTB guide, all the required permits, reliable support vehicle, and delectable freshly cooked meals and drinks.

  • Meet your guide and fellow adventurers at 7.30am in Moab and go through an extensive gear check. After a short transfer, kick-off your Swell adventure below Temple Mountain, the highest peak in the area, rising up to 1,200 feet (365 m) above the desert floor. This sandstone giant boasts a history of uranium mining dating back to the 1920s and features ancient Fremont culture pictograph panels over 700 years old. Your ride along Behind the Reef Road offers a fantastic introduction to the unique Swell landscape. Set up a camp past the Ding Dang Dome and get to know your group over dinner, before retreating to your tent.

    Meals: Lunch and dinner
    Riding: 27 miles (43 km)
    Camp location: Campsite near the Ding Dang Dome

    Temple mountain in Utah.
  • Enjoy a hearty breakfast and hop on your bike! As you depart from camp, your morning ride leads westward, heading toward Tomsich Butte and Hondu Arch, nestled along the scenic Muddy Creek. Tomsich Butte, rich in uranium-mining history from the 1950s, showcases the vibrant Chinle Formation rock outcroppings. After a well-deserved lunch, you’ll commence a climb through the valley towards Swasey Cabin, constructed in 1921 by the early settlers, the Swasey brothers, who played a role in naming many of the Swell’s landmarks. Enjoy another peaceful evening at your camp, before getting a good night’s sleep.

    Meals: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner
    Riding: 33 miles (53 km)
    Camp location: Campsite near the Swasey Cabin

    A mountain biker enjoying vast desert landscapes beneath them in San Rafael Swell, Utah.
  • Your ride for the day involves a gentle descent with fascinating stops along the way. Beginning right from camp, you’ll visit Dutchman Arch and view intriguing pictographs. The Swell boasts a remarkable concentration of Barrier Canyon-style panels, open to interpretation, sparking your curiosity. After admiring the rock art at Locomotive Point, you’ll pedal towards the San Rafael River, where you’ll set up camp next to the Swinging Bridge, preparing for an exciting out-and-back ride tomorrow.

    Meals: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner
    Riding: 30 miles (48 km)
    Camp location: Campsite near the Swinging Bridge

    An ancient pictogram on a sandstone slab, found in San Rafael Swell, Utah.
  • Get reenergized with a delicious breakfast and head for another adventure. Today the trail takes you past the captivating canyons of the San Rafael River en route to Mexican Mountain. You’ll be surrounded by brightly colored cliffs, buttes, ridges, alcoves, and pinnacles. The elevation varies from 4,700 feet (1,433 m) in the southeast to 6,900 feet (2,103 m) on Mexican Mountain. After a satisfying lunch stop at the road’s end, you’ll embark on foot to catch a glimpse of the Swell’s own Delicate Arch. Set up a camp, and enjoy your final evening in the wilderness.

    Meals: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner
    Riding: 31 miles (50 km)
    Camp location: Campsite near San Rafael Swell’s Delicate Arch

    A sandstone arch, similar to the Delicate Arch, in San Rafael Swell, Utah.
  • The grand finale of your Swell adventure unfolds in the deepest canyon of the San Rafael River, often referred to as the ‘Little Grand Canyon.’ Offering breathtaking views 1,000 feet (304 m) below, this hidden gem will leave you marveling at its beauty. To wrap up your journey, enjoy a few miles of exhilarating, twisty singletrack, providing the perfect way to soak in the awe-inspiring scenery below. In the early afternoon, your group will head back to Moab, returning around 4pm. Once in Moab, say goodbye to your San Rafael Swell mountain biking guide and fellow riders (or go for a drink in town to celebrate your achievements!) Return to your accommodation or head straight to the airport. Tomorrow or this evening, say goodbye to Utah—or continue touring on your own.

    Meals: Breakfast and lunch
    Riding: 16 miles (26 km)

    A large canyon similar to the Grand Canyon, one of the most famous features of San Rafael Swell.
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Meet your guides

Will Conner
Will Conner
Coming from Forest, VA, Will finds inspiration in spreading the pure joy of biking. For him, nothing beats the excitement of pedaling, and he's on a mission to let others in on the secret. His pack is always stocked with fruit snacks for a quick energy boost, essential tools to handle any situation, hydration in the form of water, rain gear for unpredictable weather, and even a travel chess set for some strategic fun. When it comes to the most memorable two-wheeled adventure, it was undoubtedly the ride along the McKenzie River Trail.
Natalie Flower
Natalie Flower
Natalie Flowers hails from Prescott, Arizona, and her inspiration for leading bike vacations is simple yet profound: the sheer exhilaration of riding a bicycle. Sharing this joy with others is her passion. In her trusty pack, you'll always find an assortment of snacks, sunscreen for outdoor protection, essential tools for unforeseen adventures, a mini Coke for refreshment, and her ever-reliable windbreaker for changing weather conditions. Her most exciting cycling experience involved a journey from Portland to San Diego.
Western Spirit Cycling
Western Spirit Cycling
Western Spirit Cycling
Since 1990, Western Spirit Cycling has passionately pursued a simple goal: encouraging people to embrace the outdoors. While renowned for their cycling trips, their true mission lies in reconnecting people with nature. Whether they're crafting new adventures, supporting trail initiatives, or advocating for recreation economies, Western Spirit Cycling knows that spending time in nature is essential for well-being. Their 4 and 5-day journeys across America's public lands offer the perfect prescription, providing multiple days of riding, exploration, relaxation, and al fresco dining. Founded on the principle that nature is vital to human health, Western Spirit Cycling is committed to preserving and advocating for access to public lands and trails.
5.00 (6 reviews)
Tony McShane (source: Google Reviews)

Western Spirit is the Gold Standard. Very well organized. Very well planned. The guides are great company, extraordinary cooks, and have an encyclopedic knowledge of the trails. After five trips, I’ve come to look forward to meeting new riders, many of whom I’ve kept up with and gone on other trips with. Plus, they know the best trails! If you just want to ride, have a blast and meet good people, WS is it.

Terry Willis (source: Google Reviews)

I have gone on two Western Spirit tours and loved them both. They take great care of you and all you have to do is ride, hike and set up your tent. Food is fabulous and they adjust to all food issues and allergies. The guides are so encouraging even when you are bringing up the back of the pack

Hugh Ayles (source: Google Reviews)

I took my first Western Spirit trip exactly 20 years ago. I just got off the trail today on my latest trip. With all the variables (guides, trails, food, etc) you would think it would be hard to pull off a consistent experience. Somehow Western Spirit pulls it off. Trip number 7 is in the books and I still have no reason to look at any other guide services. You guys do an incredible job!

Chelsea Krueger (source: Google Reviews)

Western Spirit is top notch! I have done two trips with them, the guides are absolutely AMAZING, the trips are thoughtfully planned and the food is healthy and delicious. I will definitely be doing another trip in the near future.

Phil Kalin (source: Google Reviews)

Just finished my 5th trip with Western Spirit and once again it was top notch. The trips are well-planned and the guides are always professional, fun and great cooks. Highly recommend.

David Jaynes (source: Google Reviews)

Just got back from my second Western Spirit trip. They’re so good at this, I’m looking at their website right now – trying to choose my next one! The guides have perfect balance between professionalism and personalism. What a great way to ride and camp!

Things to know

  • What you get on this adventure:

      • An experienced MTB guide with extensive local knowledge of the area
      • Transportation from Moab to San Rafael Swell area and back
      • Support vehicle for the duration of the tour
      • All camping permits and entry fees for public lands
      • All meals during for the duration of the tour, including snacks, water, electrolyte drinks, and non-alcoholic drinks
      • 2 Large cycling water bottles
      • Sunscreen and bug spray
      • Bike stand, lube, and tools for repairing bikes
      • Some group camping equipment: solar showers, all kitchen and dining ware, camping chairs, first-aid kit

    Mountain bike and helmet rentals are available for an added fee of $350 (or $650 if you opt for an e-bike). Personal camping equipment (2-person tent, sleeping bag, and sleeping pad) is available for a combined added fee of $90.

    What’s not included:

      • Transportation to Moab
      • Accommodations before and after the tour
      • Bike and helmet — can be rented
      • Personal camping equipment — can be rented
      • Alcoholic beverages
      • Travel and medical insurance — highly recommended
      • Guide gratuities (10-20% is recommended)
  • For this guided mountain biking trip around San Rafael Swell, you need to be in great physical shape. Expect to cover between 16 and 33 miles (26-53 km) each day, pedaling for up to six hours daily. This journey calls for enthusiasts who regularly tackle mountain trails and are no strangers to other demanding physical activities. Keep in mind that you can bring or rent an e-bike to aid your ride, if you’re worried about the distances.

    Before embarking on this adventure, ensure you’re well-prepared both physically and mentally. Engage in regular mountain biking and fitness routines to build stamina. Mental resilience is equally crucial; a positive attitude and a thirst for adventure are your allies.

    Rest assured that your guide will always be there to motivate, evaluate your endurance, and make route adjustments if it gets too strenuous for your group or because of challenging weather conditions. Your safety and well-being always remain the top priority.

  • To participate in this guided San Rafael Swell mountain biking tour, you must have previous MTB experience. The trails’ overall rating belongs in the intermediate category, mostly offering terrain comprising jeep roads, packed sediment, sand, and slickrock.

    While you will cover pretty long daily distances, note that riding is generally not that technically difficult, albeit with steep climbs and some rocky sections. Altitude gains can vary from 4,000 to 6,000 feet (1,220-1,830 m). Keep in mind that you can bring or rent an e-bike to aid your ride, if you’re worried about the altitudes.

    Given the nature of this tour, it’s best suited for riders with prior mountain biking experience and a solid level of fitness. If you’re new to mountain biking, we’d recommend gaining more experience and confidence on trails that match your skill level before considering this particular adventure. Additionally, focusing on your technical skills (rocky trails) and endurance (steep climbs) will be beneficial if you aim to take on such an exhilarating expedition in the future.

  • The following equipment can either be brought or rented:

      • Bike or e-bike (rented bikes come with flat pedals)
      • Helmet (included in the bike rental)
      • Tent
      • Sleeping bag
      • Sleeping pad

    Here’s a list of cycling clothing you need to bring:

      • Cycling shoes
      • Cycling shorts (3-5 pairs)
      • Cycling shirts (3-5 pairs)
      • Long-sleeve cycling shirt
      • Long-sleeve cotton shirt or solar sleeves
      • Cycling socks
      • Windbreaker
      • Tights or leg warmers
      • Cycling gloves (1 pair full length for warmth and 1 regular pair)
      • Rain jacket (Gore-Tex or similar)
      • Rain pants (Gore-Tex or similar)
      • Warm layer (lightweight synthetic puffy jacket or long-sleeve fleece shirt)
      • Sunglasses

    Here’s a list of camp clothing you need to bring:

      • Camp shorts and shirts
      • Warm socks
      • Long underwear, top and bottom (wicking layer, not cotton)
      • Warm long pants (2 pairs)
      • Long-sleeve fleece or sweater
      • Down jacket (insulating layer)
      • Brimmed hat or visor
      • Bathing suit (for solar showers on the trip) and towel
      • Hiking shoes and sandals
      • PVC rain gear (to wear in camp)

    Here’s a list of personal items you need to bring:

      • Medication (daily and emergency)
      • Toiletries, including biodegradable soap and wet-wipes
      • Flashlight or headlamp (with extra batteries)
      • Day pack
      • Stuff sacks or reusable grocery bags (or separate compartments for your dry bag)
      • Camera and extra batteries (optional)
      • Binoculars (optional)
      • Alcoholic or any of your favorite beverages (optional)
      • Books or maps (optional)
      • Portable USB charger with 1-2 charges for your devices (optional)

    Packing notes: The bulk of your gear and clothing will be stowed in the support vehicle, preferably in a large duffle bag, and will only be accessible during the evenings. For this trip, you’ll always be carrying a riding pack with medication (daily and emergency), 2-3 liters of water, rain gear, additional warm clothing, and day-long food supplies. Your riding pack can be a hydration pack but should have the capacity to carry all of the above.

    An optional small day bag can be used to store items you’d rather not carry while riding but want to have on hand during the day. This day pack will stay with the support vehicle and may not be accessible, depending on the day’s activities.

    Please ensure you bring all items from this list, which has been thoughtfully crafted to guarantee your comfort throughout the tour, regardless of weather conditions. We strongly recommend adhering to the layering system, comprising a wicking or long underwear layer, an insulating layer, and a weather barrier to shield against wind. Expect cool spring temperatures with daytime highs averaging around 70°F (21°C) and cooler mornings at about 40°F (4°C). Precipitation is not common in spring. Wind patterns tend to be relatively mild, although the desert environment can occasionally bring unexpected weather variations.

  • Camping during the San Rafael Swell MTB adventure offers the chance to go off the grid and immerse yourself in the beautiful forest environment. You can also enjoy the night sky without the light pollution, relax by the campfire, and embark on side hikes and additional adventures to explore the natural beauty of the area. Solo travelers are more than welcome. It’s a great opportunity to meet like-minded people, and make lasting friendships.

    The right camping gear ensures a cozy and comfortable experience throughout the journey.
    Participants have the option to bring their own camping gear, including a tent, sleeping bag, and sleeping pad. Your guide will supply all other necessary camping equipment, including camp chairs. If you prefer not to bring your own camping gear, you can rent a tent, sleeping bag, and sleeping pad for an additional fee.

    Regarding shower facilities, the tour provides solar showers for rinsing off, but these are not suitable for a full-fledged shower. They are not private, so participants should bring a swimsuit and their own towel. Additionally, wet wipes are recommended for freshening up.

    When it comes to bathroom facilities, it is ensured that participants have access to sanitary options. In designated campsites, pit toilets are available. In the backcountry, the tour follows a “pack-it-in, pack-it-out” rule and provides a portable toilet in a private location with scenic views. A hand wash system is provided for cleanliness.

  • On the guided San Rafael Swell MTB tour, you can expect delicious, healthy, and abundant meals that are a real treat after a day of riding. The adventure is fully catered from the first day’s lunch to the last day’s lunch. Plus, you’ll have access to plenty of snacks, ensuring you stay energized during your rides. Your skilled guides, with a knack for backcountry cooking, will prepare a variety of mouthwatering dishes, including appetizers, Dutch oven dinners, fresh salads, and delectable desserts.

    The beverages are also covered, offering water, coffee, teas, electrolyte drinks, and assorted soft drinks throughout the journey. While alcohol is not provided, you’re welcome to bring your favorite drinks, which will be stored at the perfect temperature.

    The guides are more than capable of accommodating dietary restrictions, which they frequently encounter. Just leave specific requirements in a note when booking, such as being a vegetarian with particular protein preferences (e.g., tempeh over tofu). This information will help your guides in meal planning, ensuring you have a satisfying culinary experience.

  • Group sizes and prices:

      • The maximum group size for this group tour is 13.
      • The maximum guest-to-guide ratio is 6:1. If more than 6 people join, 2 guides will be following them.
      • The cost does not decrease as the group grows.

    Mountain biking in San Rafael Swell can be arranged for bigger and for private groups. Contact us prior to booking.

    Min. age requirements:

      • If you are older than 18, you’re good to go.
      • Children between 14 and 17 years of age are able to go on trips with a legal guardian, but only if they are strong enough to handle sustained climbs (either riding or walking their bike) of hundreds of feet, and MTB terrain of intermediate difficulty.

    If your group has riders under the age of 18, contact us prior to booking to make arrangements.

  • To get to Moab, the starting point of the tour, most people fly into Salt Lake City International Airport, which is 4 hours away. From here, you can rent a car or take a shuttle to Moab. If you’re arriving by car, parking will be provided at the guide’s office in Moab.

    You will meet your guide and fellow riders at 7:30 AM MST at Aarchway Inn, 1551 North Riverview Drive, Moab, Utah. Your guide can also pick you up at your lodging place.

    It is expected that you arrive the day before (we also suggest you stay one day after) and spend the night in Moab. Suggested accommodation options include Aarchway Inn (10% off for guests of this tour—arranged once the tour is booked), Red Stone Inn, Radcliffe Moab, and Up the Creek Campground.

  • We highly recommend that you cover all your bases with both emergency medical and travel insurance. With medical insurance, if you have an accident or medical emergency on or off the trails, you’ll avoid paying out of pocket for costly expenses. This covers everything from hospital treatments to emergency air transportation and more.

    Travel insurance covers canceled flights, natural disasters and other scenarios that may interrupt your travel plans.

    We also expect you to respect local regulations and take measures to protect yourselves, your guides, and the communities you’re traveling to.

    If you need assistance selecting the right insurance for your group, let us know and we will be happy to help!

  • A $400 deposit to secure your place is due upon booking. The remaining amount is paid 2 months (60 days) prior to departure. Once the trip is confirmed by the guide, the cancellation policy stated below applies.

      • If Client cancels the Booking anytime prior to sixty (60) calendar days in advance of the trip contemplated by the booking, Client is entitled to a refund of their deposit minus a $50 processing fee.
      • For cancellations thirty-one (31) to sixty (60) calendar days in advance, Client is entitled to a refund in the amount of fifty percent (50%) of the total trip cost. .
      • After that deadline, Client is not entitled to any refund. Any reimbursable expenses arising out of the Booking incurred by Guide prior to the date of cancellation (including but not limited to plane tickets, car rental payments, and lodging or transportation fees) are non-refundable as soon as they are incurred by the Guide.

    Please note that your guiding company cannot cancel trips, offer credits or adjust dates due to weather, road conditions and other factors beyond their control. Your trip runs in all weather conditions, with the itinerary subject to change due to weather, road conditions, rider safety and other factors which may affect the logistics of the adventure.

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