Biking | Moon Travel Guides https://moon.com Trip Ideas, Itineraries, Maps & Area Experts Thu, 18 Jan 2018 23:21:58 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.2 https://deathstar-650a.kxcdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/cropped-moon_logo_M-32x32.jpg Biking | Moon Travel Guides https://moon.com 32 32 125073523 5 Outdoor Adventures for a Vancouver Vacation https://moon.com/2018/01/5-outdoor-adventures-vancouver-vacation/ https://moon.com/2018/01/5-outdoor-adventures-vancouver-vacation/#respond Sun, 07 Jan 2018 00:48:58 +0000 https://moon.com/?p=62055 We’ve rounded up ideas for five great adventures that you can add to your Vancouver visit. Pack your explorer’s spirit and start planning your next trip.

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You don’t have to go far from Vancouver to find plenty of outdoor adventure. You can explore the rainforest in the city’s Stanley Park, paddle a kayak within sight of the downtown skyline, or hike through the North Shore mountains less than 30 minutes from the city center.

But Vancouver is also the starting point for a wide range of cool experiences around British Columbia, from surfing on Vancouver Island to hiking—by helicopter—in the province’s spectacular eastern mountains.

We’ve rounded up ideas for five great adventures that you can add to your Vancouver visit. Pack your explorer’s spirit and start planning your next trip.

hiker standing near a lake in the Bugaboos of British Columbia

On a CMH heli-hiking trip, a hiker checks out the views of the Bugaboo Spires. Photo © Carolyn B. Heller

Heli-hiking in Eastern British Columbia

Imagine flying by helicopter to remote hiking trails, along snow-topped Canadian mountains high in the clouds. If you’re looking for an epic summer adventure to add to a West Coast trip, look no further. If you’ve heard of heli-skiing—where a helicopter drops you at the top of a mountain of untracked powder—you’ve got the general idea of its summertime cousin. On a heli-hiking trip, a helicopter takes you to remote mountain locations that would be difficult, or impossible, to reach on foot.

CMH Heli-Skiing & Summer Adventures is western Canada’s most established heli-ski and heli-hike operator, offering trips based at three of their eastern B.C. lodges. New in 2018 are three-day heli-hiking trips in B.C.’s Cariboo Mountains, within sight of Mt. Robson, the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies. You’ll hike past craggy glaciers and along remote mountain ridges, with the helicopter ready to shuttle you to the next trailhead.

Trips include accommodations at comfortable fly-in mountain lodges, all meals and snacks, and daily guided hiking adventures. CMH staff can help you arrange transportation from Vancouver (or Calgary), or you can add on a heli-hiking holiday to a Canadian Rockies road trip.

boats in Tofino harbor

The funky seaside town of Tofino is great for surfing. Photo © Carolyn B. Heller.

Surfing in Tofino

If you don’t think that Canada is a surfing destination, think again. The west coast of Vancouver Island, particularly the funky seaside town of Tofino, draws surfers to its waves year-round.

Novices take to the water in the summer when the ocean is somewhat warmer and the surf gentler. Looking for bigger waves? Don a thick wetsuit and surf Tofino during the “storm-watching” season, when large breakers roll in throughout the winter months.

Several surf schools, including Surf Sister, Pacific Surf School, or The Surf Club at Long Beach Resort, can help get you out into the waves. And Tofino has a surprising number of excellent eateries and fun pubs where you can share stories of your surf adventures.

cyclists riding bikes along kettle valley railway with views of British Columbia

Cycling the Kettle Valley Railway. Photo © Carolyn B. Heller.

Wine-touring in the Okanagan

As you drive east from Vancouver over the Coast Mountain range, the climate changes from the coastal rainforest to a drier, temperate valley. This fertile, lake-filled area known as the Okanagan not only produces much of the Vancouver-area’s fresh fruits and vegetables, but is also western Canada’s largest wine region.

More than 200 wineries line the hills and sunny lakeshores of this “Napa of the North,” which is about a four-hour drive east of Vancouver. For an active adventure among the vines, plan to do your wine touring by bicycle. You can bring your own bike or rent one in the major wine hubs: Kelowna, Penticton, or Osoyoos, or book a guided bike tour. Kelowna-based Monashee Adventure Tours runs several different half-, full-, or multi-day sip-and-cycle tours, and Heatstroke Cycle and Sport organizes cycling tours to the wineries along the Black Sage Bench and the Golden Mile in the South Okanagan’s Oliver-Osoyoos area.

Would you rather wine-tour on your own two feet? Sign up for the springtime Half-Corked Marathon, an annual fun run organized by the Oliver Osoyoos Winery Association, with a dozen food and wine stops along the way.

You have to plan ahead if you want to run, jog, or walk the 18-kilometer (11-mile) course. Participants in the popular “half-corked” event are chosen by lottery in the fall and the 2018 race is already full. Dinners and other events during the marathon weekend are still open to the public, though, so check the website for details—and mark your calendar to sign up for next year.

two climbers atop via Ferrata in snowy Whistler

Rest stop on the Via Ferrata in Whistler, BC. Photo © Carolyn B. Heller.

Climbing a Via Ferrata at Whistler

Do you want to try rock climbing but don’t have any experience? Then follow the scenic Sea-to-Sky Highway two hours north of Vancouver to Whistler and book a half day on Whistler’s Via Ferrata.

This guided climbing route uses iron rungs built into the mountain to provide handgrips and footholds as you ascend the rock face. It’s a workout, but it’s open to anyone who’s reasonably fit (and not afraid of heights). Your guide can help you through any challenging sections of the course, and the views from your vantage points high over the mountains are spectacular.

You can find several other Via Ferratas in western Canada, including one just an hour’s drive from Vancouver at the Sea-to-Sky Gondola in Squamish, one at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort near Golden in eastern British Columbia, and one in the Canadian Rockies, at Banff’s Mt. Norquay.

two snorkelers in the water near a seal in Nanaimo British Columbia

Snorkeling with the seals near Nanaimo, British Columbia. Photo courtesy of Tourism Nanaimo/Ted Kuzemski.

Snorkeling with the Seals in Nanaimo

For a unique wildlife experience, head for the city of Nanaimo on Vancouver Island’s east coast, a quick ferry trip from Vancouver. A colony of harbor seals lives around tiny Snake Island, a rocky outcropping just 15 minutes by boat from Nanaimo harbor. Sundown Diving operates half-day tours to the island, where you can snorkel with the seals.

The tour starts at the company’s downtown shop, where you’re outfitted with a wetsuit, hood, booties, gloves, and snorkeling gear. Then at the harbor you board a motorboat for the short ride to Snake Island. You jump into the water to swim alongside these large marine creatures, which are surprisingly graceful as they glide through the sea. And even though you’ll feel miles away, you can be back in Vancouver for dinner.


Looking for some fun in British Columbia? Whether you want to take a leisurely bike ride through Canadian wine country or try your hand at mountain climbing for the first time, these ideas for excursions from Vancouver offer plenty of adventure.

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Atlantic Canada’s Cycling Scene https://moon.com/2017/07/atlantic-canadas-cycling-scene/ https://moon.com/2017/07/atlantic-canadas-cycling-scene/#respond Mon, 03 Jul 2017 15:21:38 +0000 http://moon.com/?p=42566 Reasonably good roads and gorgeous scenery make Atlantic Canada excellent road biking territory, while mountain biking has caught on among the adventurous as a way to explore more remote areas of the region. Except on main arteries, particularly the TransCanada Highway, car traffic is generally light. Cyclists, nonetheless, should remain vigilant: Narrow lanes and shoulders […]

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Reasonably good roads and gorgeous scenery make Atlantic Canada excellent road biking territory, while mountain biking has caught on among the adventurous as a way to explore more remote areas of the region. Except on main arteries, particularly the TransCanada Highway, car traffic is generally light. Cyclists, nonetheless, should remain vigilant: Narrow lanes and shoulders are common, and in some areas, drivers may be unaccustomed to sharing the road with bicycles.

Narrow lanes and shoulders are common, and in some areas, drivers may be unaccustomed to sharing the road with bicycles.Touring opportunities through a variety of terrain are numerous in Nova Scotia; probably the ultimate trip is the 5-6-day trek around Cape Breton Island’s Cabot Trail. In New Brunswick, following the Saint John River valley and the complex of lakes north of Saint John makes for pleasant touring. The narrow roads that slice through Prince Edward Island’s gentle countryside are sublime avenues for biking, while the Confederation Trail, extending from one end of the island to the other, is specifically designed for biking; Smooth Cycle (330 University Ave., Charlottetown, 902/569-5690) is a good source of trail information. The shop also rents bikes decked out with panniers and provides drop-offs to points along the trail.

A car traverses the windy coastal Cabot Trail highway in Cape Breton Highlands National Park.

The scenic Cabot Trail winds along the coast in Cape Breton Highlands National Park. Photo © Andrew Hempstead.

Many shops rent decent- to good-quality road and mountain bikes, but if you plan to do some serious riding, you’ll probably want to bring your own. An outstanding information resource is Atlantic Canada Cycling (902/423-2453). The organization publishes extensive information on cycling routes (including descriptions and ratings of highways and byways throughout Atlantic Canada), tours, races, clubs, and equipment, while its website has links to local operators and a message board.

Guided Cycling Tours

Nova Scotia-based Freewheeling Adventures (902/857-3600 or 800/672-0775) leads agreeable guided trips in small groups, each accompanied by a support van to carry the luggage and, if necessary, the weary biker. Owners Cathy and Philip Guest plan everything—snacks, picnics, and meals at restaurants en route, as well as overnights at country inns. Expect to pay around $300-400 per person per day for the all-inclusive tour. The trips pass through some of Atlantic Canada’s prettiest countryside, including the Cabot Trail and South Shore, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland’s Northern Peninsula.


Excerpted from the Eighth Edition of Moon Atlantic Canada.

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Cycling Tucson in Winter https://moon.com/2017/01/winter-cycling-in-tucson/ https://moon.com/2017/01/winter-cycling-in-tucson/#respond Fri, 27 Jan 2017 22:30:18 +0000 https://moon.com/?p=51778 While professional and elite cyclists flock to Tucson for the mild temps and mostly cloudless blue skies when it’s freezing elsewhere, they also come for the pain and the anguish. This rugged Sonoran Desert valley, hemmed in by towering mountains and jagged hills, is an ideal proving-ground for those looking to show off their roadworthiness.

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It’s wintertime in the desert, and the fashion here in Tucson is all about form-fitting lycra shorts and bike helmets. Everywhere you look there’s a serious gang of roadies kitted out and gliding across the desert on bikes that cost more than your first car.

A cyclist riding in Tucson Mountain Park. Photo © Tim Hull.

A cyclist riding in Tucson Mountain Park. Photo © Tim Hull.

While professional and elite cyclists flock to Tucson for the mild temps and mostly cloudless blue skies when it’s freezing elsewhere, they also come for the pain and the anguish. This rugged Sonoran Desert valley, hemmed in by towering mountains and jagged hills, is an ideal proving-ground for those looking to show off their roadworthiness.

Tucson is home to a renowned group-ride called the “The Shoot Out.” According to a profile in Bicycling, you might find yourself riding next to a well-known pro—at least for a few seconds. Organized by Fairwheel Bikes, the sixty-mile ride makes a loop of Tucson’s desert edges every Saturday morning (check the website for current start times), passing by the world-famous Mission San Xavier del Bac and through the copper mining districts south of the city. But this is no leisurely tour of the region’s popular sights. The succinct warning on Fairwheel’s website says it all: “Expect a very large group, 100+ riders and very fast pace.” For those not yet prepared for pro-level intensity, a slower group leaves 15 minutes before the main pack.

If you’re more comfortable riding in small groups than you are jostling in the peloton, the Greater Arizona Bicycling Association organizes rides for cyclists of all levels and even hosts overnight cycling trips around southern Arizona. And of course you can always ride on your own, a lone road warrior, fighting the urge to stop and kick back in the winter sunshine.

Regardless of your riding preferences, make sure you try at least one of these popular winter rides through Tucson’s beautiful and unique desert landscape.

West of the City

The paved roads of Tucson Mountain Park (8451 West McCain Loop, 520/724-5000) pass by rocky mountains studded with tall and many-armed saguaros. Rides here usually end with a punishing climb up over Gates Pass, but the sweeping view of the desert at the top makes up for the pain in your legs. With a bit of repetition, it’s easy to put together a 50+ mile ride here.

Tucson’s Eastern Edge

Saguaro National Park Rincon Mountain District (3693 S Old Spanish Rd., 520/733-5153, $5 weekly pass for cyclists) features the popular Cactus Forest Loop Drive, an eight-mile paved loop through an enchanting saguaro forest with plenty of inclines.

The Loop

With more than a 100 miles completed, Tucson’s ambitious bike route known as The Loop is the place to be for cyclists of all stripes. The path leads around the greater city, touching its furthest neighborhoods, and is generally smooth and easy. The route connects many of the city’s parks and follows the valley’s mostly dry rivers and washes.

Mount Lemmon

While the relatively warm weather brings serious cyclists to Tucson in the winter months, they come in the summer for Mount Lemmon. Mount Lemmon’s peak looks over Tucson from about 10,000 feet above it all, and a twisting paved road winds all the way from the desert to the tall pines and the ski run at the top. It’s about 56 miles round trip, with a fairly steady grade, and turns into a roller-coaster ride on the way down. The mountain’s upper regions are about 20 to 30 degrees cooler than the desert floor, making this training ride more popular during the summer. Though it can get a bit nippy at times, if it’s not covered in snow the road to Mount Lemmon makes a great winter ride as well. Visit the Greater Arizona Bicycling Association website for group ride information.

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Laid-Back Amsterdam: 7 Tips for a Relaxing Trip https://moon.com/2016/12/laid-back-amsterdam-tips-for-a-relaxing-trip/ https://moon.com/2016/12/laid-back-amsterdam-tips-for-a-relaxing-trip/#respond Thu, 01 Dec 2016 22:04:56 +0000 http://moon.com/?p=49442 Anna and her partner Courtney traveled to Amsterdam with Andy Steves’ Europe as their guide. Discovering a city with two very different faces, they set out to find an Amsterdam inviting rest, relaxation, and a chance to soak up the quieter side of the city's culture.

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Amsterdam is a city with a complex personality. The quirky houseboats and skinny gabled houses that line the canals cultivate a quaint, fairytale atmosphere. But when the sun sets and the red lights flicker on, Amsterdam can begin to feel like the Las Vegas of Europe—cannabis clouds, late night raves, psychedelic “smart shops,” and general revelry abound.

For those who are looking for an unforgettable trip without tripping out, here are seven suggestions for a low-key Amsterdam adventure.

1. Biking for Beginners in Vondelpark

Cycling in Amsterdam can be intimidating to say the least. When pedaling with locals, it can feel like you’re in the middle of Le Tour de France on a tricycle. For a less harrowing experience, skip the bike lane of the Damrak and head straight for Vondelpark.

Arguably the most famous park in the Netherlands, Vondelpark is home to a stunning expanse of green lawns, gardens, fountains, and statues. Even better, Vondelpark has wide, tarmac roads for both pedestrians and cyclists. That means no cars, trams, or mopeds to watch out for! Pack a picnic, take in the storybook scenery, and (gently) put the pedal to the metal.

Enjoy biking in Amsterdam. Photo © Anna Gallagher.

Enjoy biking in Amsterdam. Photo © Anna Gallagher.

2. Go Van Gogh!

Museums can be a wonderful sightseeing option for folks who want to take it easy. Thankfully, Amsterdam has one of the best in the world. The Van Gogh Museum is small enough to see it all in a couple of hours, but popular enough that you’ll want to plan ahead to avoid the long lines and overwhelming crowds. Buy your tickets online to skip the queue and arrive extra early (9 a.m.) or extra late (5 p.m.) to miss the midday rush.

The museum features an impressive array of Van Gogh’s works, arranged chronologically. From floor to floor, the collection follows the artist’s tumultuous life and revolutionary works, from his early drawings and watercolors to his ecstatic flowers and darkening landscapes. Ready yourself for a sensory overload (no magic truffles required).

3. You’ve got Some Museumplein-in’ to do

Yes, you’ll look like a tourist, but it’s a rite of passage to snap a selfie with the I Amsterdam sculpture in Museumplein. This vast public square is home to many of the city’s famous museums and is a prime locale for picnicking, people watching, and (in the wintertime) ice-skating. After hitting up the food carts serving traditional Dutch snacks, take your treats over to watch the skaters in the Museumplein skate park.

Museumplein. Photo © Anna Gallagher.

Museumplein. Photo © Anna Gallagher.

4. Goofing Off in Keukenhof

If you’re visiting Amsterdam in the spring (mid-March through mid-May), take a day trip to Lisse to explore Holland’s famous technicolor tulips. You can either buy a combination ticket that includes the bus ride to and from Schiphol Airport and the entrance fee to Keukenhof (~€24), or just buy the bus ticket separately (~€8), rent a bike (~€10) outside the Keukenhof gates, and take a self-guided tour of the flower fields in the surrounding area. For travelers who prefer to save a couple bucks and avoid crowds, the latter option is your best bet.

Located in the Keukenhof parking lot, Rent-A-Bike Van Dam has free maps with several suggested routes ranging from 4-35 km along dedicated cycling paths and roads. This is the perfect opportunity to “choose your own adventure” and see the blooms of Lisse on your own terms.

P.S. If pedaling through the petals has you hankering for a snack, stop by Como & Co. on the shores of beautiful Lake Como for a snack (their pumpkin soup is delicious!) and a local brew.

Explore Holland’s famous technicolor tulips with a trip to Lisse. Photo © Anna Gallagher.

Explore Holland’s famous technicolor tulips with a trip to Lisse. Photo © Anna Gallagher.

5. Choose Your Cruise

What could be more laid-back than spending an hour or two drifting through the winding canals of Amsterdam? Hopping on board a canal cruise is a fantastic way to see the city, especially when you can select the tour that appeals most to you. Whether you opt for an all-day hop-on-hop-off excursion, a night tour, a romantic cruise for two, or a one-hour ride, there is a canal cruise tailored to your sensibilities.

For an almost guaranteed stress-free experience, take a stroll down Damrak, compare prices and departure times (all clearly listed next to the docks), and pick one out on the spot!

Cruise the winding canals of Amsterdam. Photo © Anna Gallagher.

Cruise the winding canals of Amsterdam. Photo © Anna Gallagher.

6. Stroll the Streets of the Jordaan

The Jordaan neighborhood of Amsterdam provides a respite from the shoppers on Kalverstraat, the bustling Red Light District, and the hordes of commuters on the Damrak. Charming and tranquil, the streets of the Jordaan are easy to explore on foot and are mainly traveled by native Amsterdammers on their way home from work or heading out to the market. Wander around the small streets and narrow alleyways and you’ll come across plenty of boutiques, cafes, restaurants, and art studios scattered throughout.

For a delectable Dutch experience visit Café ‘t Smalle, a cozy, historical eatery bordering the Jordaan district. If it’s warm outside, grab a seat on the front patio bordering the canal with an order of smoked raw sausage called Ossenworst (if you dare!) or a plate of melt-in-your-mouth poffertjes—mini pancakes dusted with powdered sugar. Yum!

7. Don’t Get Lost

Bring a guide book! We’re partial to Andy Steves’ Europe because it’s updated, accessible, and it pays special attention to a modern traveler’s mindset and budget. In Amsterdam, it can be pricey and inconvenient to access the internet, so having a physical back-up of travel tips, maps, and suggested destinations is super helpful in a pinch. Happy traveling!

Anna with Andy Steves Europe

Anna with a copy of Andy Steves’ Europe: City-Hopping on a Budget. Photo © Anna Gallagher.

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Four-Day Trek on the Inca Jungle Trail https://moon.com/2016/11/four-day-trek-inca-jungle-trail/ https://moon.com/2016/11/four-day-trek-inca-jungle-trail/#comments Wed, 02 Nov 2016 19:00:31 +0000 http://moon.com/?p=9937 The latest route to Machu Picchu is locally known as the Inca Jungle Trail. Author Ryan Dubé shares an itinerary for making this four-day trek that includes biking, hiking, and trains.

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Inca Trail carved into the mountainside. Photo © Matyas Rehak/123rf.

Inca Trail carved into the mountainside. Photo © Matyas Rehak/123rf.

The latest route to Machu Picchu is locally known as the Inca Jungle Trail. This is a four-day trip that includes biking, hiking, and trains. The advantage of this route is the comparatively lower altitude. It is a completely different experience, with the emphasis on cloud forest scenery, plus a welcome dip in thermal baths. Unlike on the other trails, archaeology is scarcely visible before arriving at Machu Picchu.

Day One

The Abra Malaga Pass. Photo © Matyas Rehak/123rf.

The Abra Málaga Pass. Photo © Matyas Rehak/123rf.

After 10 years, a decent road to Quillabamba has finally been constructed. A bus ride of about three hours passes Urubamba and Ollantaytambo to the new road, which leads to the Abra Málaga (4,300 meters), a high pass into the jungle. Most tours bike 80 kilometers down this road to the town of Santa María, which is a vertical drop of 3,000 meters. Be very careful since this road is very busy with speeding minibuses and trucks.

The Abra Málaga is one of Peru’s spectacular mountain-to-jungle descents.

Day Two

This day is a six- to seven-hour trek through cloud forest. An old Inca trail has been discovered here and is currently being restored. The walk itself takes you through coffee plantations, coca fields, and fruit farms. This walk is a hiker’s favorite because it leads directly to the Cocalmayo hot springs in Santa Teresa. Floods in January 2010 washed the baths out completely; they have since been restored, although they are more modest now.

Day Three

Part of the Santa Teresa hydroelectric project in the Urubamba Valley. Photo © Matys Rehak/123rf.

Part of the Santa Teresa hydroelectric project in the Urubamba Valley. Photo © Matys Rehak/123rf.

This is another day of trekking; the geography is very similar to that of the previous day. After a morning of trekking, you will finally arrive at the hydroelectric plant, where a train takes you to Aguas Calientes.

Day 4

Early in the morning, you head by bus to Machu Picchu to do the normal day tour.

Color travel map of Machu Picchu Hikes and Treks in Peru

Machu Picchu Hikes and Treks


Excerpted from the Third Edition of Moon Machu Picchu.

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Block Island Bicycle Tour https://moon.com/2016/08/block-island-bicycle-tour/ https://moon.com/2016/08/block-island-bicycle-tour/#respond Thu, 18 Aug 2016 12:52:28 +0000 http://moon.com/?p=43130 Perhaps the most fun and convenient way to experience Block Island’s beaches, bluffs, and bird sanctuaries is by bicycle, an eco-friendly and widely accepted mode of transportation for island visitors and locals alike.

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Few places in the Northeast are more ideally suited to bicycling than Block Island, where curving country lanes pass rugged bluffs and magnificent vistas alongside sweeping pastures and meadows. There are about 40 miles of road, most with mild grades as no point on the island is higher than 250 feet; there are a handful of reasonably challenging hills and bluffs, however. There really aren’t specific bike trails per se, but all of the island’s roads are appropriate for cycling. The self-guided Block Island Bicycle Tour, which hits many of the island’s highlights, is particularly fun. Bringing a bike over on the ferry is easy and inexpensive, and there are several businesses on the island that rent bicycles by the day, week, or the hour.

Mohegan Bluffs along the coast of Block Island, Rhode Island.

Mohegan Bluffs along the coast of Block Island, Rhode Island. Photo © Todd Arena/123rf.

The Block Island Bicycle Tour

Perhaps the most fun and convenient way to experience Block Island’s beaches, bluffs, and bird sanctuaries is by bicycle, an eco-friendly and widely accepted mode of transportation for island visitors and locals alike. In 2014, the Block Island Tourism Council teamed up with so-new.org (a Southern New England tourism group) to create the Block Island Bicycle Tour, a self-guided, 7.5-mile loop that includes nine stops at island landmarks and attractions at the southern end of the island, with an option to extend the tour by 8.5 miles with three stops on the north end.

Each tour stop is marked with a station signpost; look for a blue and yellow bull’s-eye marker with a QR code at the center. Cyclists can use their cell phones to scan the QR code, allowing them to access a short informational video about each stop on the route along with a tour map directing them to their next destination.

The tour includes many of the island’s highlights, beginning at the Visitor’s Center directly adjacent to the ferry landing, (where you can also pick up a paper map of the tour route if you’d rather not use your phone), and continuing on to Abrams Animal Farm and the historic Springhouse Hotel, where American icons from Mark Twain to the Kennedy family have enjoyed the view from the enormous veranda. From there the route continues on to the Southeast Lighthouse, the spectacular Mohegan Bluffs, and Painted Rock, an island tradition that began in the 1960s and continues to this day. This first leg of the tour will take you on to Rodman’s Hollow nature preserve, and concludes at Dead Eye Dick’s, a former piano bar with great seafood and one of the best sunset views on the island.

More ambitious cyclists will want to follow the route to its end by continuing on to marker number 9 at Fred Benson Town Beach, then on to Great Salt Pond, a popular spot for kayaking and paddleboarding (several marinas here offer rentals), or simply enjoying the plant and animal habitat of the marshes. From here, continue another two miles north on Corn Neck Road to check out North Lighthouse, the northernmost point on the island. The area behind the lighthouse is a National Wildlife Refuge, with sandy paths and amazing ocean views.

The tour ends at marker number 12 in Old Harbor, where you’ll likely want to reward yourself with a treat from one of the many restaurants and shops on Water Street.


Excerpted from the Fourth Edition of Moon Rhode Island.

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Things to Do in Grindavík, Iceland https://moon.com/2016/08/things-to-do-grindavik-iceland/ https://moon.com/2016/08/things-to-do-grindavik-iceland/#respond Mon, 08 Aug 2016 13:42:16 +0000 http://moon.com/?p=41865 There's plenty to do in Grindavík, from exploring the town's fish trade history, taking a dip in the giant manmade geothermal Blue Lagoon, to outdoor fun.

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There’s plenty to do in Grindavík, a placid fishing town steeped in fish trade history. Many of the same families have been trolling these waters for generations, and visitors can see fishers hauling their daily bounty of cod out of the harbor by day and dine on the local catch at night. But the Grindavík area’s greatest claim to fame is the giant manmade geothermal expanse of the Blue Lagoon.

A trip to the Blue Lagoon in the winter is eerie and wonderful.

A trip to the Blue Lagoon in the winter is eerie and wonderful. Photo © Robert Rozbora/123rf.

Sights in Grindavík

Bláa Lónið (Blue Lagoon)

Located 23 kilometers south of Keflavík International Airport, the Blue Lagoon (Svartsengi, tel. 354/420-8800, 7:30am-9pm daily June-Aug., 10am-8pm daily Sept.-May) draws visitors from around the world, to soak in the glorious, healing waters amid a dreamlike atmosphere.

Watching as snow falls from the jet-black December sky, or as northern lights dance across it, while soaking in the heated water is sublime.A trip to the Blue Lagoon in the winter is eerie and wonderful. Watching as snow falls from the jet-black December sky, or as northern lights dance across it, while soaking in the heated water is sublime. But the heated water, which ranges 37-39°C (98-102°F), is heavenly during any time of year. The milky waters and the misty air during the summer are lovely, especially on sunny days.

The water is not deep, less than five feet, and the bottom is covered with white silica mud, the result of a natural process of re-condensation. It’s common to see visitors cover their faces with the mud, as it’s very good for your skin. The gift shop sells Blue Lagoon skin products that have ingredients ranging from silica mud to algae found in other parts of Iceland.

A rejuvenating soak at the Blue Lagoon is a great way to kick off your trip or end it on a relaxing note.

A rejuvenating soak at the Blue Lagoon is a great way to kick off your trip or end it on a relaxing note. Photo © Ivanguart/Dreamstime.

For those not interested in taking a soak, there are two steam baths on the property, as well as a dry sauna and massage area. Spa treatments are also available.

Many tours feature a visit to the Blue Lagoon, but if you’re traveling independently, it makes sense to visit right after you fly in or before you head home, as it’s very close to Keflavík airport. A rejuvenating soak is a great way to kick off your trip or end it on a relaxing note.

The entrance fee is 6,000ISK for adults, 3,000ISK for teenagers, 3,000ISK for senior citizens, and children under the age of 13 are admitted free. Because of the increase in tourism over the past few years, the Blue Lagoon now requires that you book a time slot ahead of your arrival. Thousands of people visit the site every day, and it could be quite crowded during summer months. If you don’t bring your own towel, you can rent one at the front desk, along with swimsuits and bathing caps.

Fishing boats in Grindavík

Fishing boats in Grindavík. Photo © zuc123, Flickr/CC-BY.

Saltfisksetur (Saltfish Museum)

The Saltfish Museum (Hafnargata 12A, tel. 354/420-1190, 9am-6pm daily, entrance 500ISK) is a museum that tells you exactly what Iceland’s fish trade was like from 1770 to 1965, when saltfish ceased to be Iceland’s top export. Photos, fishing equipment, and even a full-size fishing boat from the early 20th century are on display, explaining the importance of saltfish to Iceland, economically and culturally. If you’re curious about the region, would like to learn more about processing saltfish in the olden days, or would like to get a look at an old-school fishing boat, be sure to stop by.

Fishermen Memorial

A sad part of Iceland’s fishing history is the stories of men that went out to sea to never return. There’s a moving memorial in downtown Grindavík, in the main garden near the Saltfish Museum, showing a mother with her son and daughter waiting for their fisherman husband/father to return home from sea. It’s a reminder that the fish used for consumption and trade has come at a high price for many families over the years. The memorial was created by sculptor Ragnar Kjartansson.

Sports and Recreation in Grindavík

Biking

Reykjanes has several well-maintained trails perfect for cycling. Arctic Adventures (tel. 354/562-7000) operates a popular mountain biking tour that departs from Reykjavík by bus. Biking begins at the Blue Lagoon. The easy bike ride takes tourists on trails that run along volcanic craters, rugged lava fields, and bubbling hot springs throughout the peninsula. The tour runs mid-May-mid-September for 33,000ISK and ends with a dip in the soothing, geothermally heated water at the Blue Lagoon.

Camping

Tourists can camp from mid-May to mid-September at Grindavík’s Campsite (Austurvegur 26, tel. 354/660-7323, 1,200ISK) by the harbor. A popular campsite, Grindavík’s location offers laundry facilities, a common eating area, and a playground for children that has swings and a spider net for climbing. The campsite accommodates tents, RVs, and campers, with access to hookups. The grassy field is an open space with beautiful views of mountains. There’s also a paved entrance to the campsite and a large parking area. Close by is an area to empty camper port-a-potties.

Golf

Just four kilometers southwest from the Blue Lagoon, Húsatóftir Golf Course (Húsatóftum, tel. 354/426-8720, 5,000ISK) is an 18-hole golf course where visitors can golf from late May to early September, depending on the weather. The course sits on a scenic part of the southern part of the country with picturesque views of the landscape. However, the course can be busy with locals during the high season of June-July. Be sure to call ahead for a tee time.

Swimming

Grindavík is home to one of the best pools in South Iceland. The Grindavík Swimming Pool (Austurvegur 1, tel. 354/426-7555, 7am-8pm Mon.-Fri., 10am-5pm Sat.-Sun. June-Aug., 400ISK) has a 25-meter pool, hot tubs, tanning beds, a water slide, children’s pool, and fitness center.

Travel map of Reykjanes Peninsula

Reykjanes Peninsula


Excerpted from the First Edition of Moon Iceland.

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Summer Sports and Recreation in Halifax, Nova Scotia https://moon.com/2016/07/summer-sports-recreation-halifax/ https://moon.com/2016/07/summer-sports-recreation-halifax/#respond Sun, 24 Jul 2016 15:49:19 +0000 http://moon.com/?p=43590 A busy, metropolitan city, Halifax is nevertheless fully engaged in enjoying the great outdoors. Here's a look at locals' favorite summer recreation in Halifax.

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A busy, metropolitan city, Halifax is nevertheless fully engaged in enjoying the great outdoors. While locals make the best of harsh Atlantic winters with skiing, skating, and other snow sports, they’re looking forward to sun and sand the second the last snowflake melts.

Walking and Hiking in Halifax

Even if you’re not feeling overly energetic, plan to take a stroll along the downtown waterfront. A seawall promenade winds past docks filled with all manner of boats (tall ships, tugboats, and visiting yachts), harbor-front restaurants, the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, Historic Properties, and south to Pier 21. While it’s possible to do all your downtown sightseeing on foot, an easier option is to catch a cab to Citadel Hill, from which it’s downhill all the way back to the harbor. At Citadel Hill, take the time not only to visit the fort but also to walk around the perimeter, and then cross Sackville Street to the Public Gardens, a delightful place for a flower-filled stroll.

McNabs Island is a popular destination for day-tripping hikers.

Point Pleasant Park is laced with hiking and biking trails.

Point Pleasant Park is laced with hiking and biking trails. Photo © Vadim Petrov/123rf.

Point Pleasant Park, 2.5 kilometers south of downtown, off Young Avenue, is laced with hiking and biking trails. The obvious choice is to stick to the water, along a two-kilometer (one-way) trail that hugs the shoreline, passing Point Pleasant itself before winding around to the Northwest Arm. Other trails lead inland to historic fortifications and through the remains of forests devastated by Hurricane Juan in 2003.

Across the Northwest Arm from downtown, Sir Sandford Fleming Park flanks the water in an upscale neighborhood. Again, it’s the seawall walk that is most popular, but another pleasant trail leads up through the forest to Frog Lake.

Take the Bedford Highway north from downtown and then one kilometer north of the Kearney Lake Road junction and watch for Kent Avenue (to the left), which leads into a dense old-growth forest protected as Hemlock Ravine Park. From the pond and picnic area, a world away from surrounding development, five trails branch off into the forest. Some are short and perfect for younger and older walkers, while others, including the trail to the hemlock-filled ravine, are steeper and can be slippery after rain.

Bicycling in Halifax

The local municipality, with its many lakes and harbor-side coves, has put considerable effort into making the city as bike-friendly as possible. The Halifax Regional Municipality website has a PDF bike map, or pick one up at the information center. A centrally located source for rentals and advice is Ideal Bikes (1678 Barrington St., 902/444-7433). Standard bikes cost from $25 for two hours or $50 for a full day.

Freewheeling Adventures (902/857-3600 or 800/672-0775) is a local tour company that runs recommended guided bike trips along the South Shore, starting from Hubbards, just south of the city. Guests ride for up to six hours per day, stay in cottages or B&Bs, and have all meals included. Rates start at $2,300 per person.

Sunset at Crystal Crescent Beach.

Sunset at Crystal Crescent Beach—the locals’ favorite Atlantic beach. Photo © Vadim Petrov/123rf.

Water Sports in Halifax

Swimming and Sunbathing

Municipal swimming pools include Northcliffe Pool (111 Clayton Park Dr., 902/490-4690) and Needham Pool (3372 Devonshire Ave., 902/490-4633).

Crystal Crescent Beach Provincial Park lies a half-hour south of Halifax, off Highway 349, and is the locals’ favorite Atlantic beach. Its sand is fine, and the sea is usually cold, but summer crowds heat up the action. Nature lovers will enjoy the 10-kilometer trail to remote Pennant Point, while naturists will want to gravitate to the farthest of the park’s three beaches—one of Canada’s few official nude beaches.

If you’re visiting Fisherman’s Cove, head east for eight kilometers along Cow Bay Road to reach Rainbow Haven Provincial Park. The park protects wetlands at the mouth of Cole Harbour and an ocean-facing beach. The beach is often windy (it’s not uncommon to see people sunbathing back in the dunes), but on calm days it’s a delightful place to soak up some rays and maybe, if you’re brave, take a dip in the water. At the end of the park access road are changing rooms and a concession selling beachy food (ice cream and hot dogs).

Canoeing and Kayaking

Based on the Northwest Arm, Saint Mary’s Boat Club (1641 Fairfield Rd., 902/490-4688) rents canoes at no cost on a limited basis through summer. Canoes are available June-September (Sat.-Sun. 11am-7pm).

Golfing in Halifax

Halifax and the surrounding area are home to more than a dozen courses, varying from 9-hole public courses to exclusive 18-holers. The Nova Scotia Golf Association website has links to all provincial courses.

The Courses

Host of the 2012 TELUS World Skins, Glen Arbour Golf Course (Glen Arbour Way, off Hammonds Plains Rd., 1 km west of Bedford, 902/835-4653) is one of Canada’s finest links. Choose from five sets of tees, to a maximum of 6,800 yards. The course has abundant water hazards, 90 bunkers, and fairways lined by hardwood forests. Greens fees top out at $105 in midsummer, dropping as low as $60 for twilight golf in October.

Lost Creek Golf Club (310 Kinsac Rd., 902/865-4653) enjoys the same forested environment as Glen Arbour, but without the valet parking and high greens fees (golfing is just $46). To get there, take Exit 2 from Highway 101 and follow Beaverbank Road north for 10 kilometers; turn right on Kinsac Road and then left on William Nelson Drive.

One of the region’s most enjoyable layouts is Granite Springs (25 km west of downtown, off Hwy. 333 at 4441 Prospect Rd., Bayside, 902/852-4653). This challenging course winds through 120 hectares of mature forest, with distant ocean views. Greens fees are $58 ($38 twilight).

Travel map of Halifax, Nova Scotia

Halifax


Excerpted from the Seventh Edition of Moon Atlantic Canada.

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Bicycling Going-to-the-Sun Road, Glacier National Park https://moon.com/2016/07/bicycling-going-sun-road-glacier-national-park/ https://moon.com/2016/07/bicycling-going-sun-road-glacier-national-park/#respond Tue, 19 Jul 2016 12:59:40 +0000 http://moon.com/?p=44659 Information on rentals, seasonal restrictions, full moon rides, and general tips on bicycling Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park.

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Glacier’s Going-to-the-Sun Road ranks high on bucket lists of most cyclists. The ride dishes up a challenge along with a heavy dose of big scenery. Biking offers a way to intimately savor all of the detail that created the country’s only road that is a National Historic Landmark and National Civil Engineering Landmark. Arches and tunnels access natural wonders of waterfalls, wildlife, and glacier-carved peaks.

In summer, early or late daylight hours offer riding with fewer cars on the road.

In summer, early or late daylight hours offer riding with fewer cars on the road. Photo © Becky Lomax.

Riding the Sun Road requires stamina. Depending on launch points, it demands 16-32 miles of pedaling to reach Logan Pass. The western climb from Avalanche packs in 3,273 feet in elevation. The eastern ascent from St. Mary is less demanding at 2,185 feet. But either direction crams most of the uphill pedaling into 12 miles at a steady six-percent grade. It’s relentless enough to make the incline a contender with some of the Tour de France climbs.

To compound the difficulty, the road throws obstacles at riders: grates, debris, wildlife, water, and sometimes ice. Vehicles can also be a threat as most drivers are gawking at the scenery rather than watching for cyclists. Cars whiz by rider elbows with the shoulderless road affording no place to veer to the side.

The bicycle season launches mid-April when plows dig down to free the Sun Road of snow.

The bicycle season launches mid-April when plows dig down to free the Sun Road of snow. Photo © Becky Lomax.

Bicycling Going-to-the-Sun Road Through the Seasons

Spring

The bicycle season launches mid-April when plows dig down to free the Sun Road of snow. Locals throng up the road during the two-month or so season when the gate bars vehicles. As spring plowing progresses further into the alpine, riders push higher and higher each week. By late May or early June, cyclists can usually reach Logan Pass. In upper segments, intimidating stretches lack yet-to-be-installed seasonal guardrails. Snow bordering the road creates a refrigerator effect for a chilly descent.

Once the west vehicle closure bumps to Avalanche Creek, a shuttle helps parking congestion by carrying bikes and riders from Lake McDonald Lodge to Avalanche. Spring riding cranks up on weekends with Mother’s Day bringing out scads of families, parents pulling Burleys, and kids on trikes. To help with planning, find daily plowing reports and biking restrictions online at www.nps.gov/glac.

Biking along Glacier National Park's Weeping Wall.

Biking along Glacier National Park’s Weeping Wall. Photo © Becky Lomax.

Summer

In summer, cyclists and vehicles jockey for position on the Sun Road. The narrow roadway squeezes with cars mid-day, forcing a ban on bicycles on two west side sections. Between 11am and 4pm, July 1 to Labor Day, bikes cannot go either direction along Lake McDonald nor climb uphill from Logan Creek to Logan Pass. For that reason, most cyclists leave Lake McDonald Lodge by 6:30am to be able to grind up to the pass before the daily bike closure.

In summer, early or late daylight hours offer riding with fewer cars on the road. Cyclists can pedal from one side of the Sun Road to the other and return via shuttles that can haul bikes.

Fall

After Labor Day, bicycling restrictions disappear, and vehicle congestion diminishes. Cycling takes on the golden season with cottonwoods and aspens turning yellow. Riding continues until mid-October when the road closes again to vehicles. As long as snow permits, bikers can still push as far as possible.

Sunset along Going-to-the-Sun-Road.

Sunset along Going-to-the-Sun-Road. Photo by Tim Rains/National Park Service.

Full Moon Rides

A local tradition, riders head up the Sun Road on full moon nights. Bikes must be outfitted with lights, but surrounding mountains glow by moonlight. The ride requires caution; at least one fatality has occurred.

Bicycle Rentals and Services

In summer, several shops in Apgar and West Glacier rent bikes. In spring and fall, find rentals only in Whitefish, about 35 minutes west of the park. To use your own bike when flying into the area, ship it to Glacier Cyclery (2406/862-6446), where they will put it together for your arrival.

Travel map of Going-to-the-Sun Road

Going-to-the-Sun Road

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Biking in Moab: Tours, Tips and Etiquette https://moon.com/2016/04/biking-in-moab-tours-tips-etiquette/ https://moon.com/2016/04/biking-in-moab-tours-tips-etiquette/#respond Sat, 30 Apr 2016 18:06:24 +0000 http://moon.com/?p=40804 Moab is the West’s most noted mountain bike destination. Here's everything you need to know about setting out on the trails, from prepping for your trip and helping preserve the fragile desert to bike rentals, repairs, and cycling tours.

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The first mountain bikes came to Moab in 1982, when they were used to herd cattle. That didn’t work out so well, but within a decade or so, Moab had become the West’s most noted mountain bike destination.

In addition to riding the famed and challenging slickrock trails (slickrock is the exposed sandstone that composes much of the land’s surface here, and despite its name, bike tires grab it quite nicely) that wind through astonishing desert landscapes, cyclists can pedal through alpine meadows in the La Sal Mountains or take nearly abandoned 4WD tracks into the surrounding backcountry. Beware: The most famous trails—like the Slickrock Bike Trail—are not for beginners. Other trails are better matched to the skills of novices. A good online resource for trails and advice is the Moab Bike Patrol.

The Slickrock Bike Trail. Photo © Bill McRae.

The Slickrock Bike Trail. Photo © Bill McRae.

It’s a good idea to read up on Moab-area trails before planning a trip; heaps of books and pamphlets are available. You can also hire an outfitter to teach you about the special skills needed to mountain bike in slickrock country, or join a guided tour. The Moab Information Center’s website also has good information about bike trails.

Most people come to Moab to mountain bike mid-March-late May, and then again in the fall mid-September-end of October. Unless you are an early riser, summer is simply too hot for extended bike touring in these desert canyons. Be prepared for crowds, especially in mid-March during spring break. The Slickrock Trail alone has been known to attract more than 150,000 riders per year.

If you’ve never biked on slickrock or in the desert, here are a few basic guidelines. Take care if venturing off a trail—it’s a long way down some of the sheer cliff faces. A trail’s steep slopes and sharp turns can be tricky, so a helmet is a must. Knee pads and riding gloves also protect from scrapes and bruises. Fat bald tires work best on the rock; partially deflated knobby tires do almost as well. Carry plenty of water—one gallon in summer, half a gallon in cooler months. Tiny plant associations, which live in fragile cryptobiotic soil, don’t want you tearing through their homes; stay on the rock and avoid sandy areas.

Mountain Bike Etiquette

When mountain biking in the Moab area, don’t expect an instant wilderness experience. Because of the popularity of the routes, the fragile desert environment is under quite a bit of stress, and you’ll need to be considerate of the thousands of other people who share the trails. By keeping these rules in mind, you’ll help keep Moab from being loved to death.

  • Ride only on open roads and trails. Much of the desert consists of extremely fragile plant and animal ecosystems, and riding recklessly through cryptobiotic soils can destroy desert life and lead to erosion. If you pioneer a trail, chances are someone else will follow the tracks, leading to ever more destruction.
  • Protect and conserve scarce water sources. Don’t wash, swim, walk, or bike through potholes, and camp well away from isolated streams and water holes. The addition of your insect repellent, body oils, suntan lotion, or bike lubrication can destroy the thriving life of a pothole. Camping right next to a remote stream can deprive shy desert wildlife of life-giving water access.
  • Leave all Native American sites and artifacts as you find them. First, it’s against the law to disturb antiquities; second, it’s stupid. Enjoy looking at rock art, but don’t touch the images—body oils hasten their deterioration. Don’t even think about taking potsherds, arrowheads, or artifacts from where you find them. Leave them for others to enjoy or for archaeologists to interpret.
  • Dispose of solid human waste thoughtfully. The desert can’t easily absorb human fecal matter. Desert soils have few microorganisms to break down organic material, and, simply put, mummified turds can last for years. Be sure to bury solid waste at least 6-12 inches deep in sand and at least 200 feet away from streams and water sources. Pack out toilet paper in plastic bags.

Bike Tours

Most of the bicycle rental shops in Moab offer daylong mountain bike excursions, while outfitters offer multiday tours that vary in price depending on the difficulty of the trail and the degree of comfort involved. The charge for these trips is usually around $200-250 per day, including food and shuttles. Be sure to inquire whether rates include bike rental.

Rim Tours (1233 S. U.S. 191, 435/259-5223 or 800/626-7335) is a well-established local company offering several half-day (around $90 pp for 2-3 cyclists), full-day (around $125 pp for 2-3 cyclists), and multiday trips. Magpie Cycling (800/546-4245) is a small local business that runs day trips, which include instruction on mountain biking techniques, and overnight rides, mostly in Canyonlands, including a four-day tour of the White Rim Trail ($955).

Western Spirit Cycling (478 Mill Creek Dr., 435/259-8732 or 800/845-2453) offers mountain and road bike tours in the western United States, with about one-third of them in Utah. Moab-area trips include the White Rim, the Maze, and the Kokopelli’s Trail (5 days, $1,200). Another Moab-based company with tours all over the West is Escape Adventures (Moab Cyclery, 391 S. Main St., 435/259-7423 or 800/596-2953,), which leads multiday mountain bike trips, including one into the remote Maze section of Canyonlands National Park (5 days, $1,295); some of the tours combine cycling with rafting, climbing, and hiking.

Rentals and Repairs

Rim Cyclery (94 W. 100 N., 435/259-5333 or 888/304-8219, 9am-6pm daily) is Moab’s oldest bike and outdoor gear store, offering both road and mountain bike sales, rentals, and service. Mountain bike rentals are also available at Poison Spider Bicycles (497 N. Main St., 435/259-7882 or 800/635-1792, 8am-7pm daily spring and fall, 9am-6pm daily winter and summer) and Chile Pepper (702 S. Main St., 435/259-4688 or 888/677-4688, 8am-6pm daily Mar.-Nov., 9am-5pm daily Dec.-Feb.). Moab Cyclery (391 S. Main St., 435/259-7423 or 800/559-1978, 8am-6pm daily) offers rentals, tours, shuttles, and gear. Expect to pay about $45-80 per day to rent a mountain bike, a little less for a road bike.

Shuttle Services

Several of the Moab area’s best mountain bike trails are essentially one-way, and unless you want to cycle back the way you came, you’ll need to arrange a shuttle service to pick you up and bring you back to Moab or your vehicle. Also, if you don’t have a vehicle or a bike rack, you will need to use a shuttle service to get to more distant trailheads. Coyote Shuttle (435/260-2097) and Roadrunner Shuttle (435/260-2724) both operate shuttle services; depending on distance, the usual fare is $20-30 per person. Both companies also shuttle hikers to trailheads and pick up rafters.


Excerpted from the Sixth Edition of Moon Zion & Bryce.

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