The Kokopelli Trail connects the Grand Junction area to Moab, Utah. The route consists of mostly dirt roads, double track, some singletrack and pavement. The route (from east to west) follows the Colorado River to Dewey Bridge, roughly the half way point. It then heads up to the desert mesa and eventually the La Sal Mountains before descending down into the mountain bike mecca of Moab. The route makes up 1/3 of the Grand Loop.

KoKopelli (stats)1kokopelli_map

What to Know?

Start: There are two options for start locations on this point to point trail, Loma, Colorado or Moab, Utah. Starting at the Kokopelli Trailhead in Loma, you will take exit 15 off of I-70, follow the signs to the Kokopelli Trailhead. You will arrive at a large parking lot with bathroom. Over night parking is permitted, and the trail starts up the graded road. The designated start location in Moab is the Slickrock Trailhead, although many start from town. If you enter this way, and depending on the time of day you may have to pay a $2 entrance fee, or 5$ vehicle fee. You will be looking for East Mill Creek Drive which turns into Sand Flats Rd The Trail: The Kokopelli Trail is part of the Grand loop, a bikepacking route that combines the Kokopelli Trail, Paradox Trail and Tabegauche Trail. The loop connects Grand Junction, Moab (not directly) and Montrose. The Kokopelli Trail was built for OHV so for the most part, the trail is relatively easy to moderate, with stretches of difficult sections. The trail is very easy to navigate with brown post signs that have Kokopelli’s Trail stickers leading you on your way. Starting from Loma, you will be greeted with 12 miles of singletrack, and one of the more challenging sections toped off by a difficult hike-a-bike. After you parallel I-70 for a bit you will pop in and out of canyons overlooking the beautiful Colorado River, before descending down towards Westwater ranger station. Here you can detour off route for 2 miles and fill up on clean water from a spigot (make sure it’s on) next to the ranger station garage. A combination of singletrack, two track, dirt roads and pavement will get you to Dewey Bridge, roughly the half way point. The majority of climbing takes place in the 2nd half as the route heads away from the Colorado River and towards the La Sal Mountains. The famous yet extremely difficult Rose Garden Hill will bring you into the Fisher Valley. You then will take on a long climb out of Fisher Valley and into the Mountains, where temperatures are much cooler. Once you have climbed out of Fisher and Castle Valleys, you will reach a high point and eventually start descending down Sand Flats Road all the way into Moab. A few detours to consider Directly off route near Rabbit Valley is a trail called the Western Rim. It is a singletrack route overlooking the Colorado river. Consider dropping in and enjoying the singletrack ride on the rim. A road will will lead you back to the Kokopelli Trail. The Yellow Jacket Canyon section is extremely sandy and at times hot, the option to take Hwy 128 is always present if you are in a time crunch. If have some remaining energy you can take the Porcupine Rim Trail down from the top of the La Sal Mountain Rd. Instead of taking Sand Flats Rd, stay on the UPS trail and head towards LPS… follow the signs to the Porcupine Rim. Camping: There are plenty of camping options along the way whether it be undeveloped or established campgrounds. There are two areas however that prohibit camping in non established campgrounds; McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area (Loma, Co to Utah basically) and Sand Flats Recreation Area.  There are some established opportunities within these grounds however. A few popular camp spots along the way are Bitter Creek, Westwater, Dewey Bridge/Entrada Bluffs, Hideout Campground, and Castle Valley Campground. Depending on the amount of days you plan to be out, there are no shortage of camping options along the way. For more camping details see the map above. Weather: It’s extremely important to understand the variable conditions in this type of environment. This trail is in high desert landscape as well as high alpine, where snow, rain and cold conditions can ruin your trip quickly. Many sections of the trail are impassable when wet. Make sure to look ahead at the forecast for the area and plan accordingly. Spring and fall are the best times to ride the route because of the summer heat and the winter freeze. It will get very cold in the winter months especially in the higher elevations in the La Sal’s. It’s a good bet that camping near or after Halloween can prove to be very chilly at night. It is important to check the weather on this route as there are a lot of variables. Some consider late spring to be a perfect time, the snow melts off in the La Sals and provides water at Fisher Creek. Resupply: Water is the biggest problem on the Kokopelli’s Trail. Many of creeks can very well be dried up, so DON’T rely on them unless you are certain. Although you parallel the Colorado River, the amount of silt in the water will clog your filter quickly. Many people rely on water drops along the way, if you do so a few good location are, Dewey Bridge, and Fisher or Castle Valleys. The Westwater Ranger Station spigot has been a good bet the past few years, but make sure it’s on before hand. Call the BLM – Moab River Office to ensure it is on. Note: Their are no convenience stores along the way or off route, pack what you need.

Resources:

Kokopelli’s Trail: A complete Guide Bureau Of Land Management – Kokopelli’s Trail Sand Flats Recreation Area National Weather Service – Grand Junction BLM – Westwater Canyon

3 Comments

  1. Pingback: Photo Journal: Rabbit Valley Bikepack - Bikepackers Magazine

  2. Thanks for this article and great video. I’m planning my first Kokopelli ride.

  3. Super stoked to ride this challenging trail – all that climbing at the end, my god. Wonder if you guys think it’s practical to pack enough water to make it the whole way without dropping along the way in advance? Would probably pack a 6L Dromedary and 5 bottles x 1L. Heavy, but running out of water is something I fear more than any critter.

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