Looking to start bikepacking? The Kokopelli Trail is a good first test.
I rode the Kokopelli Trail as my first multi-day bikepacking trip.  The experience was humbling and quite challenging.  But it also took some planning so it went off without a hitch.  If you’re like me and have a passion for riding your bike, then read on.

This Kokopelli Trail Guide was put together for people like you, in hopes it would make taking that first step of planning easier and get you on the trail faster. This page is divide up in simple sections to give you information in easily digestible bites.

Where do you start?  This Kokopelli Trail Guide will give you everything you need to know.  It’s a condensed version of my bigger bikepacking guides, which include the Arizona Trail, Tour Divide and Colorado Trail. Happy planning!

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Stats

DISTANCE

139.2 Miles (224km)

DIFFICULTY (1-10)

6-7

Elevation Gain

15,200 Feet (4643m)

HIGHEST POINT

8585 Feet (2617m)

TIME REQUIRED

1—5 Days

% SINGLETRACK

25%

% UNPAVED

85%

Time of Year

Mar/April to Oct.

Race Date

N/A

Closest Towns to Start/Finish

Fruita, CO and Moab, UT

Race Records

Kurt Refsnider (2019) 11:52

Rebecca Rusch (2013) 13:32

Overview

The Kokopelli Trail is an 139.2 mile multi use recreational trail that goes from Fruita, CO to Moab, UT. Since it was first designed the Porcupine Rim Trail has been built which means you have the option of making it 158 miles.

The Kokopelli Trail is part of the larger Grand Loop. The trail starts in Loma, CO within the McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area, at the Mary’s Loop Trails.  From the parking lot for the Mary’s Loop trail system the Kokopelli winds its way southwest over improved roads, four-wheel-drive roads, pavement, and single-track. After crossing Salt Creek the trail passes through Rabbit Valley, then grinds through the Yellow Jacket area, tackles Rose Garden Hill, circle around Fisher Valley, and  eventually making its way to the La Sal Mountains and Moab. The trail is posted with the flat brown flexible fiberglass posts and marked with blue and white Kokopelli stickers.

The best time to thru-bike the trail is from March/April to the end of October. The summer months can be extremely hot so plan to tackle it during the shoulder months for a more enjoyable trip.

Highlights – Mary’s Loop Trail System, Rabbit Valley, Yellow Jacket area (Dome Plateau) Robert’s Bottom and Rose Garden Hill in Cottonwood Canyon, Blue Chief Mesa, views of the Fisher and Castle Valleys, and Manti-La Sal NF.

Like any adventure, the Kokopelli Trail is not a trail to trifle which. Do your own research, know the route, options, and use proper judgement when out there. Help could be hours or days away!

Kokopelli Trail Bikepacking - kokopelli trail guide bikepacking

Route

PLANNING / RESUPPLY

WATER

There are very few water options available along the Kokopelli Trail.  One should consider caching water along the route.  I personally cached water at Rabbit Valley, Colorado River and at the bathrooms at the Fisher Valley Overlook. There was some water between miles 105-110 during my attempt the end of April 2016.  Fisher Creek was flowing at mile 119 as well.

Sources

Mile 20 – Salt Creek – NOT suitable for drinking

Mile 48 – Westwater Ranger Station – NOT suitable for drinking (get water from Colorado River)

Mile 70 – Colorado River (strain and filter)

Mile 83 – Buck Spring

Mile 85 – Colorado River (stain and filter)

Mile 126 – Castle Creek

Fruita, CO – RESUPPLY

Bike Shops

Over The Edge

Colorado Backcountry Biker

Food

City Market

Family Dollar

TRANSPORTATION

Airports

The closes airports to fly into would be Moab (CNY) itself, but the cost would be extremely high. The next closest would be Grand Junction or Salt Lake City (SLC). If you’re not from the area and want to see the Rocky Mountains you can fly into Denver International Airport (DIA), and rent a car.

Moab (Canyonlands Field)

CNY is closest airport but also the most expensive and with the most limited options. There is one option for airlines and two car rental:

Grand Junction

GJT is the closest airport that has a reasonable cost and minimal logistics .  The full list of serves includes:

Airlines

  • SkyWest Airlines (United Airlines) offers daily flights between CNY and Denver, CO on CRJ-200 commuter jets (50-seat jets)

Car Rental

Car Rental

Shuttle

Salt Lake City

SLC is an international airport so there are a few options.  With hubs at the airport, United and Southwest will have the most flight options. The full list includes:

Denver

DIA is the largest of the options but is also the furthest away. As mentioned above it does allow one to sight see along the way.

Shuttles and Other Options

On the DiscoverMoab.com website there is a list of companies offering shuttle service to Grand Junction. You may try and see if one would drop you back off in Fruita.

Another option is to check Craigslist’s ride share page for various cities where you think someone might be travel to or from Moab.

If you finished on a weekend you could try and hitch but finding a ride with an open rack and empty seat could prove difficult.

You could plan to finish on a day a friend was driving back from Moab. This works only if you don’t have any issues and show up on time.

Lastly, you could use two cars but this option means a lot of driving and extra time.

Checkout the Colorado Trail Transportation Guide for train options if you want to fly into Denver and take the train to Grand Junction.

PARKING

Fruita, CO

Over the Edge bike shop suggests people park behind Suds Brothers Brewery at 127 E Aspen Ave, Fruita, CO 81521.

During my thru-bike I left my car at the Loma trailhead parking lot for Mary’s Loop Trails. There is some concern with possible theft but it worked out fine for me.

Moab, UT

Despite reports you can leave a car at the Moab Information Center, you CAN NOT. They did say you can leave your car at Moab Motorsports located at 25 E Center St, Moab, UT 84532. Moab Motorsports does ask that you let them know you’re leaving your car with them ahead of time.

RACE

For some time now the Kokopelli was without an official race on the calendar. In 2017 that changed. Kokopelli Racing LLC put on a mountain bike and running ultra marathon race on the classic Kokopelli Trail.

The race includes the following categories:

Kokopelli 100 Ultra Marathon Individual – 104 miles with 11k of climbing

Kokopelli 100 Ultra Marathon Relay – same course as the individual but with 2 to 4 people. Aid stations rough every 8 miles

Kokopelli 140 MTB Individual – 144 miles, full course, alone!

Kokopelli  140 MTB Two-day Stage Event (Individual) – The 144 miles spilt into two days of racing, instead of one.

Kokopelli 140 MTB Relay – A choice your own adventure. You and your friends, split the course into 2 to 6 segments.

Kokopelli 100 MTB Individual – Same as the 140 but doesn’t include the first 40 miles. Starts at the Westwater Airstrip.

Kokopelli 100 MTB Relay – Same as the 140 but doesn’t include the first 40 miles. Starts at the Westwater Airstrip. Also only split up in 2-4 segments.

For more information see their website.

MUST KNOW

  • Mary’s Loops Trail System
  • Rose Garden Hill
  • The desert views you’ll experience along the route are to notch.
  • In terms of ride-a-bility the Kokopelli offers plenty of it and very little HAB.
  • At times the Kokopelli Trail can serve up demanding single track and steep climbs, making it a trail not to be underestimated.
  • The desert environment can be unforgiving.  Do not underestimate the weather or the flora/fauna, as the results can be dangerous.
  • Keep your gear set up, and keep it as light as possible, so you can better enjoy the riding.
  • Expect the route to take the average person 3-5 days, with many strenuous sections.
  • Lack of clean water will be one of your biggest hurdles.
  • The Kokopelli has very few water sources along the route.  Know your body and how much water you require and plan carefully.  Water can be found at miles 48, 70, 83, and 126.
  • Water at BLM ranger station at mile 48 is not fit to drink, filter from river.
  • Food resupply on the Kokopelli doesn’t exist.  With that said, you can find food at either end.
  • Camping along the Kokopelli is easy to find. There are plenty of primitive and a few developed options for camping or one can usually sleep along the trail side but please use LNT practices when doing so.

DANGERS & PITFALLS 

  • Heat
  • Poisonous animals
  • Plants
  • Lack of water and resupply options
  • Strenuous terrain
  • Exposure
  • Remoteness of trail

PHOTOS OF THE KOKOPELLI TRAIL

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