Best Winter Mountain Bike Destinations in the U.S.
Winter riding (or lack thereof) blues got you down?
Not all of us are fortunate enough to live in climes with year-round riding, so if the snow, mud and freezing temps are preventing you from satisfying your two-wheeled addiction or you just need to get away, we've compiled a list of a few of our favorite U.S. winter riding destinations.
By no means is this list exhaustive, so if we've missed something, be sure to let us know in the comments!
Without further adieu, and in no particular order, we present a few of our favorite winter riding destinations.
GRAND JUNCTION/FRUITA, CO
Nestled on the Western Slope of Colorado's Rocky Mountains not far from the Southern Utah border lie the cities of Grand Junction and Fruita. While they can be brutally hot in the summer, these desert locales typically offer great winter riding with only the occasional windows of snow and mud. Spring and fall are even better. Grand Junction is known for the desert tech of The Ribbon trail and Lunch Loops system, while Fruita is known for the buff flow of the 18 Road system north of town near the base of the book cliffs.
While Sedona's landscape looks similar to Moab at first glance, its trails have their own distinct style. Many trails here seem to magically combine flow with all the ledgy tech in a very unique way—maybe it's the vortex? Highline and Hangover are must-rides.
BOOTLEG CANYON, NV
Just outside Sin City lies the sleepy desert town of Boulder City. At its edge resides one of the most unique—and challenging—trail systems for winter riding. The passion project of the late, great trail-builder Brent Thomson, Bootleg Canyon features a dirt shuttle road that bisects what the locals refer to as the "XC" side (don't be fooled, it's still extremely technical) and the DH side. While both can be pedaled, a true downhill bike is not overkill on the latter and there are typically paid shuttles running on the weekends from fall through spring. Self shuttles are also an option, but be warned: the road is often in rough shape. Poop Chute and The Hourglass are two of the iconic lines here, and our favorite trails include Ginger, Kevorkian and Armageddon, but they're all worth riding, especially if vertical walls of razor rock are your thing.
LAGUNA BEACH, CA
There's a reason pros from the U.K. and other parts of the world choose Laguna for winter training: sunshine, steep descents and palm trees and the Pacific Ocean as a backdrop. While the riding in Laguna and Aliso Woods offer shuttle and pedal access to short buy gnarly descents, there's plenty of variety nearby to keep you entertained if you get bored with world-class enduro and DH trails stone's throw from a beach paradise.
This iconic desert destination likely needs no introduction, and with good reason. From mellow cross-country loops to all the relentless, rock-smashing descents you could ask for, Moab delivers. A few of our favorite rides include Blue Dot (Gold Bar) to Portal, Jackson Trail and of course the famous Whole Enchilada. The Whole Enchilada won't be rideable in winter since the upper sections see plenty of snow, but the final Porcupine Rim section is our favorite anyway and can be shuttled all winter long.
Windrock Bike Park offers world-class downhill that doesn't turn to ski slopes come the winter months. While there's no chairlift, shuttle trucks bring riders to the top with surprising efficiency to access a plethora of DH runs that rival the best lift-served options in the country. There's a good chance you'll be shoulder to shoulder with top-name pros on the ride up, but good luck keeping them in sight on the way down.
For those looking for a more family friendly vibe, Bentonville offers miles of singletrack for all abilities with enough built features thrown in to keep advanced riders entertained. While it doesn't have the vert of most of our other destinations, the amount of work that has gone into building trails here makes the most possible of the limited elevation. It's also a nice change if you're not a fan of the desert and most rides can be accessed directly from town without driving.
Last but most certainly not least. Home to the world-famous Red Bull Rampage, Virgin has plenty of freeride terrain for those looking to earn an invite, but also has some excellent runs for the advanced yet still mortal among us. Our favorites include Grafton Mesa, Flying Monkey and of course, the infamous King Kong.