The Southern Rockies: Utah & Colorado
The American West—its history, its landscapes, its spirit—is the stuff of legend. If you really want to get a feel for what it’s like out here, Utah and Colorado are great places to start. Which is exactly what we did this past month. With bikes—moto and mountain—in tow, we hopped in the truck and traced our way from central Utah, onto the Colorado Plateau, and then east via I-70 to the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains.
In Utah, two of the state’s Mighty 5 National Parks are clustered around the small city of Moab, where people from all over the world come to climb, mountain bike, and paddle. Hundreds of miles of hiking and biking trails crisscross a landscape of red sandstone, snowy peaks on the horizon. To the north of town lies Arches National Park and to the south Canyonlands, both showcasing the power of nature to shape brittle stone. The West doesn't get much better than this. The rest of Utah’s National Parks—Capitol Reef, Bryce Canyon, and Zion—are all within reasonable striking distance, but turn east and you’re off to a new state and a new adventure.
The Rockies are the USA’s great mountain range, and you can think of Rocky Mountain National Park, just northwest of Denver, as their official welcome center. In addition to high peaks, pine forests, and frigid mountain lakes, the park is one of the best places in the country to observe wildlife—bighorn sheep, elk, moose, and black bears are just some of the species you'll see. There are 350 miles of trails running throughout the area, from day hikes to strenuous multi-day treks, giving plenty of options for exploration.
The West is big, in size and imagination, and you’d probably need a lifetime to see it all. But for a short-term visitor, Arches and Rocky Mountain National Parks will bring you up to speed in a hurry.