Wheels, Whiskers, and Wide Open Spaces: Adventure Through the American West in a RV
While the dark days of winter quickly approached here in Canada, I was feeling a little bit gloomy about spending another nine months draped under a blanket of rain. But instead of moping around waiting for spring to arrive, I decided to extend the fall by planning an adventure. So myself and my partner, along with our two cats, packed up into my truck and a 17foot travel trailer and headed South to get one last taste of outdoor freedom before winter settled in.
Over the next 4 weeks we travelled around parts of the US hitting up some prime mountain bike locations having an amazing adventure and creating many new memories along the way. Last time we did a similar trip it was with a Roof Top Tent, and after having now experienced both options I know which one I'll be picking in the future!
After packing up our truck and trailer, my partner and I set off on a Thursday evening, eager to make it across the border and into the United States. However, when we arrived at the border, we were surprised to learn that the rules had changed, and I needed an ESTA to enter the country. We had to spend an unexpected night on the Canadian side of the border, waiting for approval. Fortunately, the next morning we were given the green light to enter the US and start our adventure. It was at this point we decided to make the drive directly to Hurricane rather than having a day stop over in Park City and trying to squeeze a ride in there too.
Our first stop was Hurricane, Utah, where we spent three days hitting up some of the best mountain bike trails in the area. We just missed the famous Rampage competition, so we had the trails mostly to ourselves. No stop in Hurricane is complete without checking out Gooseberry Mesa, The trail is a cross country extravaganza with epic views across the dessert and challenging technical ups and downs.
We managed to also sneak in a quick trip out to St George to check out Barrel trail. Which was fun and fast with a few hits and drops along the way.
Favorite Trails: Gooseberry Mesa, Grafton DH
Touristy Must Do's: Zion National Park
RV Park: Zion River Resort 10/10
After our mountain biking adventure in Hurricane, Utah, we headed to Moab, Utah, where we spent a week exploring the world-renowned slickrock trails and enjoying the breathtaking red rock landscapes. During our time in Moab, we took a break from mountain biking to hike to Delicate Arch and explore the Arches National Park, which is just a short drive away from the town. The park is home to over 2,000 natural sandstone arches, making it a must-see destination for any nature lover.
But of course, we couldn't resist hitting up some of the famous Moab mountain biking trails. Our favorites included Captain Ahab, Rockstacker, and Porcupine Rim, all of which offered exhilarating rides through stunning landscapes. Yes we went and rode Portal too, yes, it's as exposed as you are lead to believe.
Favorite Trails: Captain Ahab, Rockstacker, Porcupine Rim
Touristy Must Do's: Arches National Park, UTV Tour (self-drive) on Hell's Revenge
RV Park: Sun Outdoors Arches 9/10
After a week of exploring Moab, we reluctantly packed up our RV and hit the road, eager to explore more of the stunning American Southwest. Our next destination was Sedona, Arizona, but we couldn't resist the opportunity to take a detour through Monument Valley. As we drove through this iconic landscape, we marveled at the towering rock formations and sweeping vistas that surrounded us.
Along the way, we stumbled upon a sketchy single-lane road that led us to a bendy river, which we just had to check out. Despite the treacherous road, we pushed on, eager to see what awaited us at the end of the trail. And we were not disappointed – the views of the river and the surrounding landscape were simply breathtaking.
After leaving Monument Valley, we made an overnight stop in Flagstaff, Arizona, before heading to Sedona. Flagstaff is a charming town nestled in the Coconino National Forest, and is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts thanks to its stunning hiking trails and outdoor recreational opportunities. We took the opportunity to get a quick ride in while we were there as this was the first time going through Flagstaff that the trails we're under snow.
Favorite Trails: Private Reserve
Touristy Must Do's: Monument Valley, Grand Canyon National Park
RV Park: Flagstaff KOA 6/10
Sedona, Arizona is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful places in the American Southwest, and one of my personal favorite places to ride in the world. After leaving Flagstaff, we were eager to spend a week exploring the incredible network of trails that Sedona has to offer.
Over the course of the next week, we rode all of the iconic trails that Sedona is known for, including Hiline, Hangover, and many others. These trails offered a range of technical challenges, including steep drops and challenging climbs, all set against the stunning backdrop of Sedona's famous red rock formations.
Favorite Trails: Hiline, Hangover, Hogs Loop & Ledge-n-airy
Touristy Must Do's: Jerome Ghost Town, Slide Rock State Park, Cathedral Rock Hike
RV Park: Rancho Sedona RV Park 10/10
Las Vegas, Nevada
Unfortunately, our stay in Las Vegas was marked by some unexpectedly windy days, which made riding a bit more challenging. But we didn't let that stop us. We still managed to enjoy our time in Las Vegas. The area's mountain biking trails were challenging and rewarding, and the city itself offered a unique blend of outdoor adventure and urban entertainment.
We also took a day trip to the nearby Hoover Dam, which was an engineering marvel that was not to be missed. However, we were shocked to see the low water levels caused by the ongoing drought in the region. It was a stark reminder of the importance of water conservation and the need to protect our natural resources.
Favorite Trails: Reaper, Diva, Ginger, Kibbles-n-bits, Bone Shaker
Touristy Must Do's: Hoover Dam, The Strip, Grand Canyon
RV Park: Koa at Sam's Town 8/10
Santa Cruz, California
Finally, we headed west to Santa Cruz, California. The towering redwood forests and steep loamy terrain were still as impressive as we remembered, and we were eager to spend several days immersing ourselves in the epic riding that Santa Cruz had to offer.
Between rides, we took some time to explore the charming coastal town of Santa Cruz, with its lively boardwalk and vibrant downtown area. We sampled the local cuisine and took in some of the area's cultural attractions.
Favorite Trails: USC Trails (iykyk)
Touristy Must Do's: Santa Cruz Board Walk & Warf, Explore the Redwood Forest
RV Park: Cotillion Gardens 9/10
San Francisco, California
After our time in Santa Cruz, we made our way up to the Bay Area to catch up with a good friend of ours. While my partner had some work to attend to, I had the opportunity to explore the area and take in some of the local attractions.
While my partner was busy with work, I had the opportunity to hit the local biking trails and catch up with my good friend Mel. We spent our days exploring some of the best trails in the area, from fast and flowy singletrack to challenging technical terrain. In between our rides, we made sure to refuel at some of the local food haunts.
Favorite Trails: Mile, Boy Scout Trail
Touristy Must Do's: Alcaraz Island, Fisherman's Wharf
RV Park: San Francisco RV Resort 8/10
Reflections on a Transformative Bike Journey
As the weather started to turn colder and the first snowflakes began to fall back in Canada, we knew it was time to head back home. We drove through a cold and sleeting weather system, but we were still feeling the warmth and joy of the amazing adventure we had just experienced.
Looking back on our trip, we couldn't help but feel grateful for the opportunity to explore so many incredible places on our bikes. From the red rock deserts of Utah and Arizona to the lush forests of Northern California, we had seen and experienced so much beauty and wonder.
As we drove back home, we knew that the memories and experiences from our trip would stay with us for a lifetime. And while we were sad to see the journey come to an end, we felt energized and inspired to continue exploring new places and meeting new people on our bikes.
For us, this trip wasn't just about the riding, but about the connections we made and the sense of adventure and freedom we felt every day. And we couldn't wait to plan our next big bike trip and see where the road would take us next.