Two mountain bikers on the Good Water Rim trail overlooking the San Rafael Swell

Utah One-day Desert Trips

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Let’s get serious—we’re in for a long spring. At the time of writing this blog, Utah sits at an average snowpack of 161% of normal. Alta surpassed 700 inches of snowfall this season, and Deer Valley broke the 500″ mark. It’s been a winter for the books and probably the best in the last ten years. But it’s also winding down. Mid March means sales on gear, sunny skies, warm temps, and corn skiing. Plus, clown day is coming up! Soon the resorts will be shutting down—although not all of them for a while. But as the tourist traffic falls off, you’ll see reduced options for lift-access skiing. Sorry to be a downer, but spring has sprung; and for many of us, it’s time to think ahead to running, climbing, and mountain biking!

About this time, many of us commence the annual spring migration to the likes of St. George, Virgin, and Moab. But because there’s still good skiing to be had, we thought it would be worth highlighting how to get a quick, one-day desert trip in for a bike ride or hike and some much-needed vitamin D. Utah is rad because you have so many great environments within a one-day drive—deserts included. So how do you do the desert in a day?

Ritchfield, UT – Pahvant Trail Network

Ritchfield is only 2 hours and 45 minutes from Park City and is an incredibly easy drive on I-15 south to I-70 the whole way. None of that pesky U.S. 6, right? There is camping to make it an overnight, but you can leave early in the morning, cruise down, and still get in a long ride in classic Utah desert terrain before heading back north to ski the next day. The Pahvant Trail System boast 57 miles of singletrack for all levels of riders, and that includes one of the most fun descents in Utah—Spinal Tap.

Map of the Pahvant trail system near Ritchfield, UT
Map of the Pahvant trail system near Ritchfield, UT. Courtesy of Trailforks.

San Rafael Swell – Good Water Rim

The Good Water Rim trail skirts the edge of the Good Water Gorge and is only 3 hours and 15 minutes from Park City. The gorge itself is like a mini-Grand Canyon with plenty of majestic views of the canyon and San Rafael river below. Plus, the Good Water Rim trail is an intermediate desert ride that’s mostly flat with less of the punchy desert moves you might find in Moab or Gooseberry Mesa. If you do make it an overnight, then there’s plenty of camping to be had.

Map of the Good Water Rim trail in southern UT
Map of the Good Water Rim trail. Courtesy of Trailforks.

Alright, so we outlined two of the spots that are easy drives, scenic, and include some killer riding and hiking. There are others too like Vernal and Red Fleet State Park, but that area may take a little longer to fully dry out. So, skip the tent, and pack the cooler with your favorite cold beverages and snacks. Grab your riding gear, bikes, shoes, and helmet—dust it all off—and have it ready alongside your ski gear in the garage. Skiing through April and into May is going to be great! But for some much-needed sun and warmth, head south for the spring too!

By Paul Boyle, Ecommerce Manager,

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Additional Links

Top Five Southern Utah Bike Rides

A Guide to Spring Skiing in Park City

Tuning Your Skis for Spring Skiing