Moab is a must

Lisa Taggart

The southeastern Utah town of Moab is the place to get hooked on mountain biking. The region's slickrock, sandstone from long-gone seabeds, is a moonscape of crinkles and undulations that make for exhilarating riding.

The Slickrock Bike Trail is Moab's most famous ride ― but it's an expert-level route, not something to try when you're starting out. Even the 2 1/4-mile practice loop is hard. For newcomers, the best way to experience Moab's trails is on a guided ride with one of the town's many outfitters. A guide can steer you to trails suitable for your skill level, keep you on the route (it can be hard to find trail markers), and make sure you don't wander off-trail and damage the desert ecosystem.

ESSENTIALS

Moab lies 235 miles southeast of Salt Lake City and 350 miles west of Denver. Nearest air service is through Grand Junction, Colorado, 110 miles to the east.

For area information, contact the Moab Information Center (Center and Main Streets; 800/635-6622 or www.discovermoab.com).

BIKE RENTALS AND OUTFITTERS

Dreamride. (See also Mountain bike schools.) Guided rides from $395 for three days. Full-suspension bike rentals from $75 a day. 59 E. Center St.; (435) 259-6419 or www.dreamride.com.

Moab Cyclery & Kaibab Outfitters. Van support available. Front-suspension bikes from $35 a day; full-suspension from $40. Guided rides from $75 for a half-day. 391 S. Main St.; (435) 259-7423 or www.moabcyclery.com.

Poison Spider Bikes. Rentals from $32 a day for front-suspension and $38 a day for full-suspension. 497 N. Main; (800) 635-1792.

Rim Tours. Guided rides from $60 a day. 1233 S. Hwy. 191; (800) 626-7335 or www.rimtours.com.

Western Spirit Cycling. Guided rides around Moab and other parts of Utah, as well as in other states. 478 Mill Creek Dr.; (800) 845-2453 or www.westernspirit.com.

DINING

Center Cafe. Elegant but casual. 60 North 100 West; (435) 259-4295.

Desert Bistro. Innovative fare, including pasta and wild game. 92 E. Center; (435) 259-0756.

EklectiCafé. Casual breakfast and lunch; vegetarian options. 352 N. Main; (435) 259-6896.

Jailhouse Cafe. Breakfast only, including ginger pancakes, on the site of Moab's former jailhouse. 101 N. Main; (435) 259-3900.

LODGING

Gonzo Inn. Large rooms in downtown Moab; caters to bikers. From $125. 100 West 200 South; (800) 791-4044.

Sorrel River Ranch Resort. Luxury cabins with great views on the Colorado River; horse rentals. From $199. 17 miles northeast of Moab off State 128; (877) 359-2715 or www.sorrelriver.com.