Motorcycle Adventure Rides in the Southwest

Posing with the bike in front of cliffs

White Rim Trail with the Island in the Sky behind.

I believe that every country, every continent has something special and unique to offer to a visitor. In the North America that would, without doubt, be public lands - from national parks to national forests and BLM land. While whole of North America is littered with natural beauty, from tropical beaches of Florida to the glacier covered peaks of Alaska, from northern prairies to deserts of the southwest, Colorado Plateau is in a category of its own. I've been visiting the area for almost 30 years and I still get excited every time I visit it.

There is something for anyone who enjoys great outdoors, but this page is about enduro and adventure motorcycle riding. I list my favorite roads and trails to ride below. Pure enduro rides can be found here. and adventure rides from other parts of the world are listed here.

Moab - Adventure rider's wet dream

Moab is the Mecca for off-road activities - jeeping, mountain biking and dirt motorcycle riding. People come here from all over the world to test their off-road skills. I spend at least a week every year riding trails around Moab - White Rim Trail, La Sal Loop, Top of the World, Lockheart Basin, Kane Creek, Slickrock, just to name a few.

White Rim Trail

The White Rim trail goes around the Island in the Sky section of the Canyonlands National Park for more than 100 miles. Most vehicles take several days to complete the loop. Motorcycles can do it in a day easily. Day users used not to need a permit. But the ever-more imposing bureaucracy introduced permits even for day users. Luckily, there are tons of other beautiful trails waiting to be ridden freely.

Posing with fellow riders below cliffs

With friends on the White Rim Trail.

Motorcycle in front of towering cliffs

White Rim Trail below the Island in the Sky.

Riding near the edge of the cliff

The edge of the White Rim Trail is white, hence the name.

Mushroom shaped rock formations

Bizarre rock formations along the White Rim Trail.

Motorcycle parked on slickrock

Slick rock along Shafer trail.

Chicken Corners and Lockhart Basin

Another, not-to-be-missed ride is Chicken Corners. It is understandably super popular because of the lack of technical challenges and hard to beat scenery. Chicken Corners trail dead ends at a dramatic viewpoint. But a side trail continues into the Lockheart basin and eventually connects with the Needles road.

rider standing in front of a motorcycle with red vertical cliffs behind

Vertical walls line canyons.

Motorcycle next to a cliff edge high above Colorado river

Dramatic view of the Colorado river at the end of the Chicken Corners Trail.

Motorcycle parked next to sandstone cliffs

On the way to Hurrah pass.

View of mountains and canyons

High above Colorado river.

motorcycle next to an edge of a canyon

Behind the Rocks area is bordered by the Kane creek on one side.

motorcycle parked near the edge of a cliff with colorado river flowing below

Heaven for solitude seekers.

Posing with motorcycle in a narrow canyon

The easy but very scenic Onion Creek Canyon.

Posing with fellow rider and motorcycles on a slickrock trail

Slick rock.

Roost from riding bike through sand

White wash sand dunes between Moab and Green River.

Monitor and Merrimac area

There are quite a few jeep trails NW of Moab - Seven Mile Rim trail, Bartlet Wash and 3D, Gemini Bridges, Poison Spider, etc. Dispersed camping is still allowed here, but probably not for much longer. Enjoy it while you still can.

Posing with bike in front of vertical rocks

Seven Mile Rim trail.

Motorcycle rider on a slickrock

Monitor and Merrimac rock formations.

La Sal Mountain

La Sal mountain looms high above Moab to the SE. La Sal loop road goes through the spectacular Castle Valley and connects with a road going to Gateway - a scenic road to take if going traveling between Moab and Colorado. A challenging 4x4 track leads up to the Top of the World, one of the most dramatic places to take a photo of your bike at the edge of a vertical cliff.

Sitting on an overhanging rock with motorcycle parked

La Sal loop with the Top of the World in the distance behind.

Sitting at the edge of a high cliff with motorcycle parked behind

Top of the World.

Riding down boulder strawn trail

Jeep trails are what Moab is famous for among off-roaders.

motorcycle parked next to a river

A canyong carved by the Colorado river outside Moab.

motorcycle parked next to standtone rock formations

Rocks straigh out of the Roadrunner cartoon.

San Rafael Swell - A Giant Scar in Earth's Crust

View of san rafael river and the swell

Wedge overlook of the San Rafael river cutting through the swell.

Not far from Moab is Green River. It is a convenient base for exploring San Rafael Swell. Black Dragon Canyon is only few miles away from the town. It's a grand gateway to amazing rides of the San Rafael Swell.

This area has rocky trails, sandy washes, narrow single tracks and mud on offer. Unlike Moab area, there are relatively few visitors. We had most of the trails to ourselves even on weekends.

Riders ready to ride

Getting ready to explore San Rafael Swell.

Rusted abandoned car by the side of a dirt road

Traces of mining activities are still present.

Water spewing out of a geyser

Rideable active geyser just outside Green River.

Riding motorcycle through a creek

Even though it's a desert, there are some creek crossings.

Motorcycle rider on a high mountains enjoying views of surrounding mountains with snow on them

Late afternoon in San Rafael swell.

two riders posing with their motorcycles with a green valley and snow covered peaks behind

On the way to the river.

motorcycle parked on a recently plowed road with high line of snow on both sides

Inside the canyon.

motorcycle parked on a recently plowed road with high line of snow on both sides

Towering cliffs above the river.

motorcycle parked on a recently plowed road with high line of snow on both sides

Campground by San Rafael river.

Lake Powell - A rare place of untouched nature and solitude

Motorcycle on a dirt road with towering mesa behind

The really fun riding starts after Page - Grand Staircase Escalante.

motorcycle parked near a cliff high above a lake with mesas in the distance

Mesa Romana - my favorite camping spot, unfortunately, overrun with people lately.

motorcycle parked on a dirt road with eroded hills behind

The road to Mesa Romana is spectacular in itself.

Standing next to a motorcycle with mittens behind

Quintessential American West.

Lake Powell is an artificial lake made by flooding of the Glen Canyon, named so by the great explorer John Wesley Powell himself. I did not see many photos of the canyon before flooding, but it was supposedly incredibly beautiful

The water might have covered amazing canyons, but is also adds another dimension to the area. It's really a boater's paradise with numerous beaches and small canyons reachable by boat only. There area few spots where a rough road reaches the lake shore. Rarely, if ever, I saw another soul on these roads.

Motorcycle and a tent perched on a cliffside with first rays of raising sun peaking over
                 remote peaks

Sunrise on a cliff above San Juan river.

Posing with a motorcycle in front of a vertical rock outcrop

Valley of the Gods near Monument Valley.

Motorcycle parked on a mountain with Lake Powell in the distance

On a plateau high above the lake Powell - Smoky mountain road.

Motorcycle parked on a dirt road running at the bottom or cliffs

Dirt road running along the Comb ridge.

motorcycle and tent perched at the edge of a cliff

Camping high above San Juan river.

Motorcycle parked on a dirt road running around gray hills

Bizarre scenery near the Lake Powell.

Standing on rocks with sweeping view of the Monument valley behind

The classic view of the Mittens, Monument Valley.

Riding motorcycle with vertical rocks in the distance

Early morning ride outside the Monument Valley.

Sitting on a motorcycle with a narrow vertical rock behind

Valley of the Gods.

Motorcycle parked on a dirt road with desert cliffs behind

Cottonwood canyon road.

Motorcycle parked at the edge of a mesa with desert valley behind

Edge of a mesa high above the Smoky Mountain road - nobody's been here for months.

Motorcycle parked on a dirt road with bright yellow cliffs behind

Exploring dirt roads of the Grand Staircase Escalante.

Sitting on a motorcycle looking over the Navajo land and Lake Powell

Clearing storm above Lake Powell.

Sitting on a motorcycle looking over the Navajo land and Lake Powell

Sunrise at Toroweap point.

Standing by a tent and saoking up first rays of the raising sun

Not a soul for miles and miles around - between Capitol Reef NP and Lake Powell.

riding motorcycle through a dry wash at the bottom of a canyon with yellow-rock walls

Follow dry creek washes for miles Grand Staircase Escalante.

rider going through a canyon

One of unofficial wash roads in Grand Staircase Escalante.

sitting next to a motorcycle at the edge of a cliff

Just happy to be there.

Riding motorcycle with doll-looking rocks behind

Dollhouse area of the Canyonlands NP is rather hard to reach.

Standing in front of a totem-pole looking rock

A spire on the way to the Dollhouse.

Leaning against a motorcycle with towering cliffs and fluffy clouds in the background

Blue sky, fluffy clouds, red towers and nobody around - this is what the Lake Powell is all about.

motorcycle parked at the edge of a mesa high above the lake

Lake afternoon on a mesa by Lake Powell.

motorcycle parked on a dirt road with lake in the distance

Riding through Grand Staircase Escalante towards Lake Powell.

Overloaded motorcycle parked on a dirt road with large rock hills in front

One of the approach roads to the Lake Powell.

Motorcycle parked on a dirt road running along the reef

Capitol Reef NP.

two motorcycle parked at the edge of a cliff

Muley point.

motorcycle parked at the edge of a mesa

Moki dugway is a cafe-racer's adventure ride.

motorcycle high above a canyong

Capitol Reef NP.

motorcycle parked inside a canyon

A wash just south of town of Escalante and it climbs up to the plateau.

motorcycle speeding on a dusty desert road

Beginning climb up Smoky Mountain Road.

posing next to a bike with desert behind and below

Higher up Smoky Mountain Road.

two motorcycles parked next to an interesting rock

Bizarre rock in a wash outside Big Water, Utah.

A short video of riding in GS Escalante NP.

San Juan Mountains - Alps of America

two riders posing with their motorcycles with a green valley and snow covered peaks behind

Beautiful alpine scenery near Telluride.

San Juan mountains are home to some of the best alpine jeep trails in the USA. This area has rich mining history and rough roads going up to dizzying heights (over 13,000 feet) are just one of many reasons to ride here.

The most famous ride is the Alpine loop, but there are many other passes to be enjoyed. Silverton and Ouray are both charming wetern towns providing a glimpse into how people lived a hundred years ago.

Motorcycle rider on a high mountains enjoying views of surrounding mountains with snow on them

There is still snow in San Juan mountains even in July.

motorcycle parked on a recently plowed road with high line of snow on both sides

Just opened section of a road in San Juan mountains.

two riders high up on a mountain

Alpine loop in early summer.

motorcycle parked on a dirt road above timberline

Riding up towards Bear pass in early summer.

motorcycle parked next to a lake with snow-covered mountains behind

High alpine lakes between Ophir and Telluride.

motorcycle parked with snow-covered mountains behind

Spring in San Juan mountains.

motorcycle parked on a dirt road through the pine forest

A dead end road near the Trout lake.

My other adventure rides: