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ADV Rides5 Must-Do Adventure Motorcycle Rides in Moab

5 Must-Do Adventure Motorcycle Rides in Moab

There are no bad ADV Rides in Moab, but these are ones not to be missed!

Published on 08.09.2018

Moab, Utah is known as the Mecca of off-road recreation with seemingly endless possibilities for adventure. It is centrally located near several popular National Parks and adorned with some of the most unique motorcycle riding North America has to offer. Favorable weather, an outdoor-oriented community and a heaping helping of small-town charm only sweeten the pot.

Diversity in terrain and riding that ranges from mild to wild in difficulty, all packed into one epicenter, make Moab a place everyone with love for motorsports should experience. However, with so many options for riding in this vast playground, it can be overwhelming to choose the most constructive way to spend your time. With that in mind, we compiled this list of five must-do adventure motorcycle rides in Moab, so you don’t have to worry about missing out.

1. Top of the World

Riding Top of the World rides in Moab on an Adventure Motorcycle

This twenty-mile out and back trail leads to arguably the most epic viewpoint in Moab and is not to be missed. It is located just south of the Dewey Bridge crossing of the Colorado River, conveniently near several other routes. Although categorized as a moderate trail, extensive traffic and weather erosion in recent years has contributed to increased difficulty. Rock shelves, loose rock and waterfall style climbs are constant, save for a few miles of sandy switchbacks near the beginning/end of the trail.


Full-sized adventure bikes should be well equipped and operated by experienced riders ready for a workout. Although challenging, once you do reach the top of Waring Mesa views of Fisher Valley, Onion Creek, and the La Sal Mountains are enough to leave you awestruck. Be sure to allow enough time for slow moving technical sections and plenty of pictures at the overlook.

2. White Rim Road

Riding Top of the World rides in Moab on an Dual Sport

Constructed in the 1950’s to enable access to uranium mines in the region, this fairytale road is considered one of the quintessential adventure motorcycle rides in Moab. Classified as moderately difficult, the only stand out challenges for an adventure bike are a few sections of deep sand and a handful of steep climbs/descents. Although, precipitation can make the road all but impassable due to landslides and mud so check conditions before you go.

At 100 miles (depending on deviations) this ride is a full day commitment especially when factoring in all of the fantastic vistas. Entry fee to Canyonlands National Park along with a day use permit (free) are required to travel White Rim making impromptu attempts impossible. Even with these hoops to jump through, it’s worth it; “Buy the ticket, take the ride!”

Day-use permits can be acquired online up to 24 hours before your trip. To apply for a day-use permit online, visit: Remaining permits are issued at the visitor center daily up until one hour before closing.

3. Lockhart Basin

Lockhart Basin: Rides in Moab on a Dual Sport Motorcycle

Lockhart Basin is one of the classic Moab Jeep routes and a standout among its contemporaries based on remoteness, difficulty and unique scenery. Considered difficult, most of Lockhart is essentially an incredibly scenic two-track road. However, the route is smattered with a few very challenging obstacles.

Depending on the direction of travel, you will either be going down or up some very tricky rock waterfalls and tight slot canyons. It’s not unwise to have enough supplies and fuel in case you are forced to double back the way you came instead of riding through. Exciting roadside attractions include a plane crash, RV wreckage, and dislodged drivelines! This is another full-day route with several options for side trips like Chicken Corners on the north end and Newspaper Rock in the South.

Lockhart Basin is an “Expert Only” section of the Utah Backcountry Discovery Route but for the real “Expert Only” experience we suggest running it north to south. Starting at Hurrah Pass and working south towards Needles Outpost ensures riding up most of the challenging obstacles instead of down them.

4. Slickrock Trail

Slickrock trail; Motorcycle rides in Moab

Perhaps one of the most technical adventure motorcycle rides in Moab, and certainly one of its most well known, we couldn’t leave Slickrock off this list. Created in 1969 for Honda Trail 90’s by a visionary named Richard R. Wilson, it now sees over 100,000 guests annually. Don’t let that fool you, Slickrock is not to be taken lightly on an adventure bike and is not recommended for anyone with less than advanced riding abilities. Mistakes on this trail can result in an expensive helicopter ride or worse yet DEATH. Interestingly enough the first recorded fatality on Slickrock was a motorcyclist in 1975 who fell over 600 feet to his death.

Despite the risks, this twelve-mile trail can be the experience of a lifetime for adventure riders. Why else would people travel from all over the world to ride these petrified dunes and eroded remnants of an ancient seabed? Managed by Sand Flats Recreation Area in conjunction with Grand County and Bureau of Land Management, there is a modest entrance fee that allows access to a plethora of world-renowned riding.

Honorable mention: Hell’s Revenge Trail that intersects Slickrock in several places is just as epic in its own right but less well known.

Sand Flats Recreation Area Information:

5. Kokopelli Trail

Kokopelli Trail Dual Sport Motorcycle rides in Moab

Stretching 142 miles from Moab to Loma, Colorado with elevations varying from 4,000 to 8,500 feet, it’s a beautiful trek custom fit for adventure riding. One of the most accessible trails in this lineup consisting primarily of Jeep roads, short sections of single-track and some pavement, this would be a great warm-up or wind-down ride while visiting the area. Named after the Native American symbol of fertility, Kokopelli; you will see some of the rawest beauty Utah and Colorado have to offer. Camping is available at a few BLM sites along the trail, making it an excellent overnight candidate, but there is no water so plan accordingly.

It is important to remember that there are no wrong choices when it comes to choosing adventure motorcycle rides in Moab. More importantly, if you do miss something epic, it’s a great excuse to go back and ride in the future. Feel free to share your favorite Moab rides in the comments below!

Photos: Spencer Hill

Author: Spencer Hill

“The Gear Dude” has been fueling his motorcycle addiction with adventure since first swinging his leg over a bike in 2010. Whether he’s exploring his own backyard in the Pacific Northwest or crisscrossing the United States, Spencer is always in search of scenic off-road routes, epic camping locations and the best gear possible. He began writing shortly after taking up two-wheel travel to share his experiences and offer insight with his extensive backpacking, camping and overland background.

Author: Spencer Hill

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16 thoughts on “5 Must-Do Adventure Motorcycle Rides in Moab

  1. If you attempt Lockhart Basin North to South stop in at Basecamp Lodge down below Harrah Pass and let Tom know you’re going to try it. Unless you can ride your bike like a trials bike you won’t make it. Tom will come and drag you and your battered machine back out. One genius on a GS 1200 claimed that he could climb anything. 5 hours later Tom hauled him and his bike out. He hadn’t even gotten to the big steps!!
    No shame in riding it south to north. Stop in at the lodge and Tom might give you a beer.

    • @J.Braun,

      Do you really mean trials bike or was that hyperbole for someone considering this on a larger adv bike? I ride a 270lbs enduro and would like to try this North to South. I’m a middle/intermediate rider. Is it that bad?

    • Group of us on adv bikes did it North South without issues. Two Africa Twins, two 1090Rs, a couple 701s and a 950 SE. Just because it’s not doable for some doesn’t mean it’s not doable at all.

  2. Great summary! Rode a few of these and have to suggest that the really big bikes (I rode a KTM 1190 Adventure R) may not be the best choice for some of these trails…I’d suggest parking the beast and renting a smaller, more nimble bike in town….an amazing place to ride!

  3. You didn’t mention “Rose Garden Hill” on the Kokopelli Trail. That would be next to impossible to climb on a big bike.

  4. Pingback: DIRT ORCAS CO / UT ADVENTURE RIDE 2019 - Dirt Orcas

  5. Pingback: CONTINENTAL TKC-80: AN ODE TO A TITAN - Dirt Orcas

  6. Be aware that #5 the Kokopelli Trail incorporates Rose Garden Hill [Jeep trail] which is a short (1/4 mile or so) but VERY steep and loose decent if heading south towards Moab, and an almost impossible climb on a loaded ADV bike if heading north.

    It connects to the Onion Creek road/trail at the southern end, so a by-pass option is to head south from Dewey Bridge on hwy128 for about 6 miles, and take Onion Creek the whole way through to rejoin the Kokopelli trail at the bottom of rose Garden Hill. Onion Creek itself is a nice scenic ride through the bottom of the valley and starts with a deep canyon with numerous creek crossings – more suited to larger ADV bikes.

  7. Valley of the Gods and Moki Dugway to Muley point are great excursions for large ADV bikes and riders looking for something beautiful but fairly light duty.

    Anyone thinking of Top of the World really needs to know what they are getting themselves into. IMO that is an extreme trail for a large adv bike.

  8. the Rim Rocker Trail from Moab to Doloras River is fun- big bike friendly as well. Can make a loop out of it by goring north to Gateway and up John Brown Canyon to Castle Valley and up around north section on La Sals to Moab

  9. Best way to ride the White Rim Trail is to descend on the Shaefer Trail and camp overnight along the way.
    The side trail to Zeus and Moses is interesting but very sandy.
    Lockhart north to south on an adventure bike is only for the truly stupid. South to north is doable if you ride with someone and keep your ego in check, as in get off and wrestle the bike down some of the drop offs.


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