A Different Spin
It may be known as a mountain biking mecca, but Moab has some of the best road cycling in the region.
Our first ride was inspired by the 1991 classic Thelma & Louise, in which the two renegade protagonists—played by Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis—launch their ’66 Thunderbird convertible over a cliff. The iconic scene was filmed at Dead Horse Point State Park, a dramatic rock promontory perched 2,000 feet above the Colorado River. We drove nine miles north of Moab on US-191 and parked in the small lot at the intersection of SR-313. Ahead of us loomed the challenging 22.5-mile, roughly-three-percent-grade climb up SR-313 to the legendary lookout point.
From the first pedal stroke, I was sold on the scenery. Immense sandstone walls—accentuated by an azure sky—lined the road. The combination of colors and textures was unlike anything I’d seen in Colorado. We set an easy pace, both to soak in the canyon country views and to negotiate the steep hairpin turns. After gaining about 1,000 feet of elevation in 10 miles, the road mellowed out. Around the 15-mile mark, we hung a left at the Dead Horse Point State Park sign and were treated to eight miles of gentle rollers the rest of the way to the visitors center. We knew the $2 entry fee ($10 for cars) would be worth it for the scenery, but it was nice to be able to use the facilities and refill our water bottles too.
We dismounted our bikes for the short walk to the vista—a view even more gratifying in real life than it appeared on the big screen. From high above the river, we could see for miles across the cosmic pinnacles and buttes of nearby Canyonlands National Park, a visually arresting landscape created by millions of years of sedimentary rock erosion. We took our time, snapping photos from cameras and smartphones that had been stashed in jersey pockets and enjoying the surreal setting. But the best part of the ride was yet to come—a white-knuckle-fast descent, without any car traffic.