The Pack Creek Road and Gravel Cycling Route in Moab, Utah is one the most enjoyable road or gravel cycling routes in the area. For this version of the route, we left directly from Moab Adventure Condo vacation rental on Spanish Valley Road. If you wanted to extend your ride, you could start from downtown and include the Mill Creek Bike Path. The ride is due south through the wide Spanish Valley just south of Moab and to the base of the La Sal Mountains.
On your right, you will have the towering walls of the Moab Rim. On the left, you will have views of the Sands Flats Recreation area with the La Sal Mountains in the background. If you are lucky enough to do a spring ride the La Sals Mountains will be snow-capped. When most people think of Utah mountains they think of ski resorts near Salt Lake City but the La Sal Mountains are actually Utah's second-highest range, with several peaks over 12,000 feet. One home along Spanish Valley Drive had a huge ant infestation.
Most people who visit Moab only like to go to National Parks, if they only knew what they were missing! Moab is a cyclist's hidden gem once you leave the parks. Places like the ride to Pack Creek are mostly car-free. Once you ride a few miles south of town you will feel as if you have the entire road to yourself. This ride is an especially pleasant ride in the spring when there are few activities available in the La Sal Mountain, which means almost no vehicle traffic in the area.
The route has a gradual climb that never really deviates. If you drive the route in a car you never really realize you are climbing. Even though the climb is over 1000 feet, it can be deceiving even while on the bike. If you are taking in the scenery and not paying attention to your speed, chances are you will not notice the climb. The route to Pack Creek actually has several different options. If you are looking for some serious climbing all you have to do is continue on La Sal Loop Road, just past this sign the road turns straight up onto a climb known as Big Nasty. However, we turned right and headed to the small community of Pack Creek.
The community of Pack Creek consists of a few dozen small homes nestled around an irrigated area. The place really is an oasis in the desert.
The area was once the home of Desert Abby, the author of Desert Solitude, the most famous book about the American Southwest. The book follows Abby's adventures as a park ranger, explorer, and cowboy in the Moab area. Many of the streets here reference his books. Luckily the homes were spared from damage during the Pack Creek Forest Fire.
Just past the small community, you will reach the end of the pavement and the end of your adventure if you are on a road bike. However, if you are on a gravel bike the gentil grade continues for about 2 more miles. This is my favorite part of the ride as you ride through large cottonwood trees along Pack Creek Stream. I would recommend turning around at the Pack Creek Picnic area. Unfortunately, this area was the ignition point of the Pack Creek Fire and sustained a lot of damage.
Now for the best part of the ride, if you have someone to draft from you can literally coast all the way back to Moab Adventure Condo. You might even coast most of the way back to Moab if you wanted to.
If are looking for a super challenge you can continue to climb. Once past the picnic area, the road changes its name to La Sal Pass. This road is very technical and steep. I doubt you could get very far on a gravel bike but with a mountain bike, you could easily continue all the way to La Sal Pass at approximately 10,150 feet.
If climbing is your thing, you may want to check out the 7500-foot M.O.A.B. Climb.
If Links to the Pack Creek route on Strava Extreme head wind 💨 | Ride | Strava
Big Nasty Road Climb Big Nasty to Geyser Pass Turn Off | Ride | Strava
If you are considering a Moab bike adventure we would recommend checking out the townhomes at Moab Adventure Condo. We stayed with them and it was so nice to have room to relax and not be stuck in a cramped hotel room. They also had large double garages so we could securely store our bikes at night out of our bedroom. Most of their condos have bike repair stands and tools to keep your bike in working order while on your trip.