Whitewater rafting is a thrilling, fun, and unique way to get outside and connect with friends and loved ones. When we think of rafting, I think most of us picture big rapids and major adrenaline rushes. While there are plenty of ways to up-level your rafting experience, there are also plenty of opportunities for guided beginner rafting experiences. Whether you’re looking for an idea for a week-long family vacation, a shorter retreat for coworkers, or a reunion for old friends, rafting is a great safe and team-oriented way to bring your group together.
Where to Go
Rafting outfitters take trips all over the country. The Grand Canyon is probably the most popular rafting destination in the United States, but there are great rivers to run in Washington, Oregon, California, Colorado, West Virginia, Maine, North Carolina, and lots of other places in between.
When to Raft
Rafting season is generally in the summer. Rocky Mountain rafting outfits typically operate from about May to September, but conditions definitely vary based upon how much snow fell over the winter. Particularly snowy winters result in higher water levels in the rivers, meaning the water flows faster and can require varying skill levels to navigate.
How Do I Know How Difficult a Trip Will Be?
For your first handful of trips I definitely recommend choosing an experienced rafting outfitter. Our favorite Moab outfit is Canyon Voyages Adventure Co. These experienced guides can help you select the perfect trip for your group. Rapids are rated on a Roman numeral system, ranging from Class I to Class VI. Class I rapids are mellow and easy, with clear passages and small waves. Class VI rapids are turbulent waterfalls that even experienced rafters should stay away from. As you get a couple of trips under your belt, you’ll get a feel for what Class I—Class III rapids are like.
Guides provide all the instruction you need to get started. Once you’re in the boat, your whole group will work together to maneuver and steer the boat down the river. It’s a great way to practice clear communication and teamwork, and any reputable guiding company will take care of all the safety concerns. So decide where, when, and who, and then connect with an outfit in your area to start planning your adventure. Have fun! And if you plan to come to Moab, be sure to stop by our office and say hi!
I have seen bike love in many forms. When I was 27, I became the president of a small company called Merlin. I’d just graduated from business school and put everything I learned to work. I had to order titanium in the same quantities as Boeing, six months in advance. To do this I had to raise private capital and create a board of directors who were committed to cycling.
At the time, Merlin made arguably the best bikes int he world and for about five years we simply could not keep up with the orders. People sent us photos of the Merlin logo tattooed on various parts of their bodies. While I was flattered by their devotion, I have to admit the photos were kind of frightening.
I briefly dated a professional tennis player. We were at a party once and two men in their fifties found out I was the president of Merlin. They walked over, got down on their knees and bowed before me. My date was not impressed – what was I thinking, dating a tennis player?
After half a decade at Merlin I was ready for a new challenge, and Saucony, the shoe company, offered to buy the company. Hoping I had left it in good hands, I moved to Moab to run Western Spirit Cycling. My focus was no longer the bike itself, but where to ride it.
We run multi-day trips in the national park and forests. Many riders return year after year and so the pressure is on us to always find new places to explore. The trips range from fun and cruisey to five days above 10,000ft, and we have a very wide range of people, from core cyclists who have all the skills and fitness to those who really only ride once a year with us.
About half bring their own bikes. Sometimes when they arrive before a trip, the mechanic shakes his head. These bikes have been loved too much. We do worry that the bike won’t make it through the week, but we don’t want to tell the customer. So we just throw another spare on the support truck and hope for the best. The price of the bike has nothing to do with how much a person loves their ride.
When riders arrive they are usually a bit pale and nervous, wondering what they have got themselves into. When they return, they are glowing and it is not just the dirt or the sunburn. The trip has given them at the chance to reconnect with themselves, the planet and the bike.
And then we came up with the idea of Outerbike, a demo event for consumers. The bike manufacturers all build their new models for the autumn trade show in Las Vegas, but the public are not allowed to attend, and while you occasionally find a demo truck at a trailhead ro at big races, there really isn’t anywhere you can test out bikes on real trails. So when the Bar M trails were built in Moab – a classic stacked loop system with 10 to 15 miles of beginner, intermediate and expert trails, all from one starting point – we knew it was perfect for Outerbike.
At the first Outerbike in 2010, several hundred people showed up. At the second this autumn, it was over the top. It was 40°C and raining but by 7:30am there was a line to get into the demo area, which didn’t open util 9am. I was a bit worried that folks would be grumpy about waiting but when we opened the gates, they ran to the booths hooting and hollering. It was bike love in the form of 800 people charging through the desert in the rain.
There are very few established mountain bike routes that are as well known as the White Rim. For good reason, this iconic ride has been in the hearts and minds of mountain bikers for decades. But why? What draws riders here season after season? Here is a quick history to put this biking legacy into context.
The National Park system has been one of the keystone aspects of land conservation in the United States. The White Rim is nestled within the heart of Canyonlands National Park and crosses a 190 square mile piece of conservation history. To be able to ride through this place is truly unique. Around each canyon bend, up and down every wash the rider will wonder, “Has anyone ever stepped foot here?” The remote nature of this place is at the forefront of each visitors mind.
“Not only is the mere beauty of the landscape something to savor, but the geologic history is something to ponder”
Anyone who steps foot on the White Rim cannot help but wonder how the canyons have developed. Not only is the mere beauty of the landscape something to savor, but the geologic history is something to ponder. Layers and layers of rock have been carved and shaped by water and wind over the millennia. Bikers are given a front-row seat to this story because their tires are rolling across the most prominent piece of this history: the White Rim layer of sandstone. This layer of stone is much harder than other layers and therefore erosion of this rock happens at a much slower pace. Some moments can feel almost effortless and others are quite slow going, but every biker can appreciate the experience of riding across this unique surface.
Here is a VISUAL AID for the layers of sandstone found in the Canyonlands National Park
“The undeniably rugged nature of the trail holds years of history and travelers cannot help but tap into that history while passing through.”
Evidence of the humans that inhabited these canyons for centuries can be witnessed along the trail. Ancestral Puebloan rock art and dwellings are scattered among the cliffs and canyons. As Westerners came to the region this area was used for winter cattle grazing before it was designated a national park. Riders will notice that many of the names come from those early ranching days and bear the names of the families that grazed their cattle in the canyons and mesas of the region. However, the White Rim Trail wasn’t created by ranchers. It was blasted and carved out of the canyons by uranium miners during the 1950s when the nuclear arms race was in full swing. The undeniably rugged nature of the trail holds years of history and travelers cannot help but tap into that history while passing through.
“Outfitters like Western Spirit have been guiding people around the White Rim since the early days of mountain biking.”
Outfitters like Western Spirit have been guiding people around the White Rim since the early days of mountain biking. Year after year people continue to pursue this adventure. Endurance cyclists circumnavigate the 80-mile trail in as fast as 1 day, but most riders choose to ride in 4 days to allow for ample time to experience the awe and wonder of this place. Each campsite has something unique to offer such as side hikes, new vistas, and places to explore. The wildness and remote nature of this place quickly draws you out of everyday life and into something very new and different. Many of our guests who rode the White Rim back in the 1990s have returned with their children, spouses or friends to share the cherished adventure.
Every bike ride has the potential to be great, but by reaching out for new experiences and adventures we can re-inspire our lives. The White Rim offers this type of adventure and for this reason it will continue to inspire more and more bikers throughout history.
Telluride and Moab are two of the most charming destinations in the West. Destinations for adventurers, historians, and families alike, you’ve likely heard of them. Western Spirit’s ride from Telluride to Moab is one of our favorites. Here are five things to know before you go.
This is the perfect first off-road adventure
This ride is challenging, but not too technical, making it ideal for the road cycling enthusiast who is ready to try some dirt-road riding. If you’ve never ridden on fat tires and dirt before, prepare for an exhilarating experience, away from cars and the noise of other people as you roll through the beautiful landscape between these two adventure hotspots.
The terrain is challenging but accessible
Short climbs are intense, but allow time for recovery. This trip is awesome for pushing yourself with plenty of support from your guides and your fellow cyclists. The days are long, and altitude is a factor, so we recommend plenty of cardiovascular training before the trip. Just keep in mind that you won’t need technically advanced mountain biking skills.
The weather is predictably variable
The weather is typically sunny and dry, but the temperature can change quickly, and when storms come in they come with a vengeance. Packable layers are a must for this ride that spans from aspen forests to sagebrush deserts. When the sun goes down in the desert, it gets chilly! So bring warm layers for night time, and plenty of breathable, sweat-wicking clothes for daytime riding. Here’s a list of our recommended gear for desert riding.
Bring a camera
Okay. This one is obvious, but we mean it. The scenery on this ride is unparalleled and will make you look like a pro photographer—even if you’re just using the camera on your iPhone. The trip begins in the Colorado Rockies and crosses the Uncompahgre Plateau. Telluride’s wildflowers are incredible in the early summer and the yellow Aspens will take your breath away in the fall. As you ride down from the mountains into the desert, panoramic views will follow you the whole way. Plateaus give way to canyons as you get closer to Moab, completing the eclectic sample of western landscape.
There’s nothing like it
Have I mentioned that this is one of our favorite trips? That it is the best way to see the American West? That it’s a great way to bond with family and old friends, or to make a great group of new friends? If you’re on the fence about a mountain bike adventure, give us a call and we’ll answer any lingering questions. I have no doubt that you’ll have the time of your life.
Full details about this trip and many more are available at westernspirit.com or call us to talk cycling at 435-201-6310. Check out some stories and testimonials from riders past, and then get out there and start training!
Happy 2018 and welcome to a new year! We’re entering our 28th year in business based out of the mountain bike mecca of Moab, UT and have some great new things to share with you.
To start with we’d like to welcome two new employees to our office team. Many of you remember Eric Donley one of our senior guides from a few years back. Eric and his fiance moved down to Moab this fall and he will be helping to spearhead our sales and marketing team while doing a bit of guest guiding. If he happens to pick up the phone when you call you’ll be immediately at ease with his calm demeanor and friendly voice. Not to mention his keen knowledge of all our trips from his years in the backcountry.
Our amazing Operations Director Don Wiseman retired this December making room for Scott Greiner to fill his shoes. Scott moved here from Reno, NV and brings with him a wealth of experience from both guiding and organizational work in the adventure travel industry. We couldn’t be happier with our crew, but that’s not all. We’re also in the midst of a website refresh so in the next month be on the lookout for a fresh look and some exciting new online offerings.
On the physical side, we’re proud to continue our long-running partnership with Specialized bikes for the 17th season and will be upgrading our fleet to the 2018 Camber Comp for all mountain bike rentals. Just like some of the pro peloton, we’ll be running disk brakes on our all carbon Specialized Roubaixs this year as well. The Roubaix provides you with the tools you need to explore the road less traveled and we’re confident you’re going to love them.
On the vehicle side, we’re adding two more 15 passenger Ford Transit E350s to our growing fleet. After investing in two a few years back, we’re convinced they’re more comfortable, safer, easier to drive and with the twin turbo Ecoboost motor, even more powerful than our old V-10’s (thinking of a fully loaded trip climbing 7,000′ up to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon). For our guests that just means you get to the trails in more comfort and more safely than ever before. We’ve been with Ford now for over 25 years and they like us so much they even featured us in a commercial last year!
Enough bragging for now, but you’ll be hearing more from us rest assured:) While there’s snow on the ground in Moab right now, it will all be melted before you know it and we’ll be gearing up for spring trips down south. Hope to ride with you this year and share some time around the campfire.
With Spring Outerbike right around the corner we thought we’d share a little Outerbike history.Outerbike is a consumer demo event dedicated to helping riders pick their next bike. It was founded by Western Spirit owners Ashely Korenblat & Mark Sevenoff of Moab, Utah. With changes in sales channels and continual improvements in design and technology, todays cyclists want to try new products and test ride bikes on real trails before they purchase.
For the first several years Outerbike took place each October at the MOAB Brands Trailhead. A few years later a spring event was added and then a summer venue in Whistler, BC followed by Crested Butte, Colorado.
In 2018 Western Spirit will be partnering with the OZ Trails to bring Outerbike to Bentonville.“The riding in Northwest Arkansas is truly world class and the OZ trails are a perfect place to test your dream bike” says Mark Sevenoff.
“Outerbike is focused on one thing: providing world class demo opportunities for riders. We are working to give riders across the country a chance to get in on the action, and the amazing OZ Trails in Bentonville will be a great compliment to Outerbike in Crested Butte and Moab.” said Ashley Korenblat, CEO, Western Spirit Cycling. “By adding new dates and locations, more cyclists will have the chance to try before they buy and meet the companies directly.”
Outerbike events so far have attracted riders from all 50 states and 8 foreign countries. Cyclists start lining up at 7amfor the 9am Le Mans-style start into the exhibit area, and while the morning dash to the bikes is thrilling—before the weekend is over, everyone will have had a chance to try a wide variety of models. Several trails right from the Outerbike venues give riders a chance to compare bikes back to back on the same trails, while additional rides on nearby purpose built singletrack take place each day via shuttles.In Crested Butte the chairlift starts spinning at 9am taking riders to the top to access the Evolution Bike Park and trails beyond.Lunch is served to exhibitors and attendees under the big tent from Outerbike chef Ken Moody. Friday and Saturday’s beer garden is brought to you by our friends at the Moab Brewery ,Upslope Brewery& Bike Rack Brewing.
Scot Nicol, of Ibis Cycles said, “Ibis has participated in every Outerbike since its inception. Outerbike is the perfect storm for manufacturers who want riders to try their bikes in real-world conditions that are essential to evaluating a bike’s capabilities. Held in world renown cycling destinations, Outerbike is not only fun, it provides an easy upgrade path for riders to determine which dream bike is going to be next for them. The format allows for test rides that are long enough and with enough varied terrain for a legitimate test. Customers frequently validate our participation by telling us ‘I bought my Ibis after test riding it at Outerbike’.”
“I know a great event and vibe when I see it. From the beginning Outerbike has manage to keep it all about riders who want to demo bikes. Outerbike is the best. There are other great independent events but few/none of them are as consistent year over year,” said Jordan Huckee from Orbea.
“The location!! Outerbike always does a great job of organization and the Crested Butte venue was icing on the cake!” said Tristan Brandt, Demo Coordinator, Pivot Cycles.
“We love the Outerbike events. They stand alone as a way for us to work directly with consumers. Outerbike is our favorite event,” says Ken Miner, Director of Sales Haibike USA.
For more information, or to speak with Mark Sevenoff Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org, 435-259-8732 .
Western Spirit Cyclingis headquartered in Moab, UT, and runs multi-day bicycle tours and outdoor events on beautiful public lands throughout the country. Our trips cover a life-time of bucket list destinations whether you’re a first time beginner or a hard core expert. “If you don’t do it this year, you’ll be one year older when you do!”