There is many was to experience the Kokopelli, everything from comfy outfitters setting up support camps full of food and complete with massage therapists. To uber endurance athletes completing the trail in 12hrs straight. The Kokopelli Trail is really not a trail but more a well marked route on singe track, jeep roads, county roads and a bit of paved. The majority of the ride is rough jeep road that is fun to ride, but there is a good amount of wicked single-track and when the paved sections come up it’s a nice relief. I would say pavement was only about 10% of the route..
Leveraging my bikepacking experience from last year, me and my riding buddy Mike decided to do the Kokopelli self supported over 4 days. More accurately we did the ride in 4 ½ days to get an early start on the Fruita side of the trail. We invested a lot of time planning and picked the last week of April hoping to get a good balance of weather. I purchased the Lat 40 maps and the Bikerpelli guide book, made a meal plan, booked a shuttle from Moab back to Loma via Coyote Shuttle, (BTW they were super friendly and did great job) and did as much research as I could on water holes to filter water from and the route. Water was my biggest concern seeing how the ride was in the desert. As we found out it is possible to get water along the route but be prepared to have enough water to cover 30 – 40 miles between water spots. Also the Colorado River turned out not to be a good option to get water from. With the water being so silty it clogged our filters in minutes and completely shut down my Katadyn filter for the rest of the trip. The water got so hard to pump my handle broke off. Good thing we had both brought a filter as Mikes water filter had a clay cartridge that you could at least clean the silt off but was still very time consuming. The spots we ended up getting water from were Salt Creek. The spicket at Westwater ranger station. The Colorado River at Dewy bridge (took 3 hours to fill 2 camel backs). Hideout campground and a stream up on Beaver mesa. For food we purchased dehydrated dinners from REI and found them to be quite tasty and super easy to prepare on the trail using our Jetboil stoves. We also placed a cache to resupply food under the highway 128 bridge right next to the old burnt down Dewy Bridge.
I was the only one that broke down with 2 flats and 2 broken chains and pedal that the spindle was coming loose. Mikes bike had zero problems. Also my water filter broke lucky we brought two.
My favorite trail food was beef jerky and powdered Gatorade. The best freeze dried entrée would be Mountain House Chicken Breasts and Mash potatoes.
My favorite spot was a backcountry spot past the LaSalle National Forest Boundary. Westwater was would be the runner up just because of the water spicket.
The best day by far would be day 3 Westwater to Dewy Bridge. The weather was perfect and the trail was flat and fast. Yellow Jacket canyon was a lot of fun. Runner up would be the last day. Riding the Kokopelli connector UPS LPS and the Main Proc trail was as fun as ever. Even with our packs we were ripping it.
Day 4 Dewy bridge up into the La Sals. We got a 3 hour late start due to water filter problems and the entire day was up hill except for the short and rough downhill before Rose Garden Hill. I was starting to get monkey butt and my energy level was a bit low. Also we really had to conserve water this day.
Most memorable moment.
When we ran into a couple of motos on UPS. They asked us where we started from. I told them we started in Fruita and you could see the wheels turning in their head. They asked us when we started and I scratched my head and thought for a moment and said we started last Sunday. It was Thursday at this point. The moto guys thought we were crazy. Runner up. When I got up early to pump water out of the Colorado River at Dewy Bridge Campground, I was standing by the river and two calves came up to me and stared me down for a good 10 minutes and they gave me the WTF is this idiot doing look. Only if I had my camera.
Day One Loma to Salt Creek
The official Trail Head. We were super excited at this point and just got done driving from Colorado Springs and Taking a Shuttle from Moab back to Loma
Right away we start of with amazing views
And a flat. It was so windy I was swerving off the trail and must have hit a couple of goat heads.
Twisty singletrak with plenty of exposure to keep you on your toes
The Lions Section was tasty
Cool sign by the Salt Creek Bridge
Pictures of night 1 campsite right along side Salt Creek
Day Two Salt Creek to Westwater
A nasty hike a bike out of the Salt Creek canyon and the start of day 2
Here is the start of the county road that takes us into Rabbit Valley
Cruising into the Rabbit Valley area
Cool Rock that stood out in Rabbit Valley
Here is a good view from the top of Bitter Creek. You can see the Western Rim Trail below that we planned to ride but missed due to the poorly marked trails in Rabbit Valley. Also it was super windy this day and could only go a max of 10mph even down hill with the killer head wind we encountered. You can’t tell from the pics
On our way to Westwater we came upon a herd of sheep
Up and over, there were tons of rolling hills on the first half of the ride
Our night two campsite at Westwater
Mike enjoying his beans and rice for dinner after a tough and windy day two
Here is me getting ready to enjoy a cup of coffee at the morning of day three. Did I say I love my Jetboil stove?
Incase anybody is looking for their neoprene mask we found it in the bathroom at Westwater
Day Three Westwater to Dewy Bridge
Cruising by a bit of farmland as we leave Westwater
We hit a little slickrock patch one of many slickrock playgrounds along the Kokopelli
Day three was a piece of cake. Perfect weather no wind and mostly flat terrain this day went by fast.
Some cool looking rocks by Cisco Landing
One of the nicest things about the Kokopelli is how well marked it is. The frequent signs let you continue riding in your groove instead of stopping to check your map/guide at each intersection
Sweet! A nice long fast downhill on our way to McGraw Bottom
Another flat tire. This pic shows how big my pack was. Believe it or not the pack does not get in the way of your riding very much. Mike and I use the CamelBack Alpine Explorer
These are all pics of McGraw Bottom. To say the least this section of singletrack was sick!
This shot is on our way up to Yellow Jacket Canyon. It turned out to be a fun climb. You can see the La Sals off in the distance.
A little more slickrock up near the top of the climb to YJC
Yellow Jacket Canyon is easily bypassed by taking a 4 mile detour down Hy 128. There is some controversy if YJC is a good option because of how sandy this part of the Kokopelli. I say Do It! If you go South to North the major sandy sections are down hill and you can just sail through them. Also there is some wicked techy sections, one of them I went OTB with my pack on. Luckily I landed in soft sand.
One of my favorite shots from the trip near the end of YJC
Fear and Loathing Rocks
A gate crossing at the end of YJC. This picture is ironic, as the exact same picture is in the Bikerpelli guide book that Mike is checking out. You can see the burnt down Dewy Bridge in the background and Hy 128 Crossing the Colorado
Oh so sad. I was actually looking forward to crossing the Historic Bridge
What’s this? Cans of Old Chub and a stash of Food. Our one and only cache point was under the Hy 128 bridge
Night 3 Campsite at Dewy Bridge Campground
Day 4 Dewy Bridge to somewhere in the La Sal National forest
The next morning we went through all our of stuff and repacked for the remainder of the Kokopelli. This was the day we had water filter problems and I took 3 hours to fill 2 camel backs from the Colorado River. We got a late start this day
The long climb begins up Entrada Bluffs Road
Nipple Rock or that’s at least what I called It.
The climb gets steeper and rougher
Starting to gain some elevation
That’s Onion Creek down there. We just hit some gnarly down hill right before this point.
We ran into about 30 ATVs trying to get up the infamous Rose Garden Hill. This was the only guy we saw make it.
We are down in Fisher Valley at this point and just about out of water. The plan was to refill our water in Fisher Creek. Problem was Fisher Creek was completely dried up. We started to get nervous and was unsure where we would find water next. It was hot, windy and dry and we were starting to get a bit fatigued
We ended up finding water at Hideout Campground. Relieved we pressed on
The scenery is starting to change and we are climbing again into the La Sal National Forest
YES! The National Forest Boundary. It is late and at this point almost 7:30 pm. We are beat.
We finally arrive at our backcountry camping spot for our final night on the Kokopelli. Does Mike look a bit worn out?
It felt good to get some food in our system and rest. There was no water source near by so with careful rationing from the water we got at Hideout Campground we made it work.
Day 5 Final Day La Sal National Forest to Moab
So we pack up from our final night of camping eat breakfast, lube the chains, and got an early start on the final day. We still have a long way to go to make it to Moab
I still managed to take a minute to capture shots of some cacti macros. Did I mention how tranquil the desert is?
Wow talk about a change of climate. This area looked a lot like where I ride in Monument Colorado. We are truly in the mountains now and it is chilly. The La Sal Mountains that look so distant just a couple of days ago are now right there
Finally water! This stream is up on North Beaver Mesa and we got enough water to make it the rest of the way
Lots of snow up here but nothing that kept us from pressing on
Nice view of Fisher Valley
A different perspective on Castle Valley. You can see the Nuns and Priests formations in the background
The whole Porcupine Rim. I can’t wait to get there!
Many people should recognize this sign. The Kokopelli Connector, a common shuttle destination and a point of major reward. All the hard climbing is over. I felt rejuvinated and full of adrenaline, anxious to bomb some down hill. And bomb we did!
Shots along the Kokopelli Connector. You can take the Connector to Sand Flats Road back into Moab or take UPS, LPS, Porcupine Rim. For us this was a no brainer
UPS was unbelievable! I have ridden LPS before but UPS was a total blast. Lots of tech and slickrock. I know some say the trail is closed due to Raptor conservation but it looked pretty open to me and Mike.
All shots coming down the famous Porc Trail. We tore it up even after riding five days in a row with our packs on! It felt good and sad at the same time knowing the trip was almost over.
And we are done! What an amazing adventure! The toughest ride for both of us to date. Total Mileage 152!
We went straight to Fiesta Mexicana restaurant in Downtown Moab for the best dinner and margarita I have ever had in my whole life. I hope you enjoyed the post. A lot of time and planning went into this trip.