Kokopelli’s trail begins near Fruita, Colorado and ends near Maob, Utah. The official trail length is 142 miles, most of it on roads, some paved. I am uncertain what the “recommended” time is for the ride, but 5 days seems reasonable. I make it a point to avoid learning too much about any ride, hike, or float and enjoy the process of discovery along the way. I used Porcupine Shuttle for my ride to the trailhead. The owner, Bryan, is licensed to travel into Colorado and has flat rates for the vanload to destinations such as Green River, Grand Junction, Telluride, and Durango and per person rates around Moab. Call him at 435-260-0896 to schedule shuttle.
On day one I began riding in the evening at about 6.30 pm, and rode for about 3 hours through the single track at Loma. On days two and three I rode for 4 to 5 hours each morning and 1 to 2 hours again in the evening after it cooled down. Both of these days I spent the mid-day drinking water, reading, and cooling off in the Colorado River, first at Westwater and the next day at Dewey Bridge. Day four was a day full of pedaling, with very little rest. That was the longest, toughest day, with about 13 hours of pedaling over the La Sals and into and out of Castle Valley. There were plenty of options for camping and water along the way, and this long day could have been cut in half easily. The final day, day five, was a 12 mile downhill into Moab from high up on Sand Flats road amounting to about an hour on the bike.
My final calculation was about 31 1/2 hours of riding about 155 miles. The ride could have been done in fewer days, perhaps combining the few hours of day one with day two. The same could have been done on the final day, making it a very long day, with close to a 65 mile ride.
The critical element in calculating daily distances, rest stops, and camp sites is the availability of water. The first definite water source is the Westwater Ranger Station, where the is a hydrant. The next is along the Colorado River- this could be Cisco take out, Fish Ford take out, various points along the single track before reaching Highway 128, and finally at Dewey Bridge. These are all very obvious from just looking at the map. After Dewey Bridge I found at least 10 solid, semi-permanent water sources. I call them semi-permanent because you can never be quite sure with water in the west. I personally would trust that each of them will be there next year, and the year after that. I won’t go into locations- if someone is interested feel free to email and I will give details.
I was never with less than about 4 liters of water. The most I carried was about 12 liters- 24 pounds- at the beginning of the ride, again leaving Westwater, and leaving Dewey Bridge. In hindsight, it was really an excessive amount, but taking chances in the desert, with the temperature reaching about 105 every day, is not a smart option. I say carry it, and drink it. Don’t hoard. Follow the adage that water is better stored in your stomach, not in your canteen.
Food and Gear
I took 5 days worth of my own dehydrated backpack meals, along with an abundance of the usual snacks- peanut butter, Clif shots and bars, and so on. Although my food bag was on the heavy side with all the quick energy foods at near 9 pounds, I could have used more Clif shots, a few more bars, and more packets of Justin’s peanut butter. I ended the ride with a few snacks and a couple of small reserve meals. For more on making your own meals and meal planning visit the Desert Explorer Backpack Foods pages.
I used the Jandd Mountain Panniers and they performed flawlessly. Although a bit on the heavy side, they are strong, easy to attach, and have endless options for compressing and securing gear so there is absolutely no bounce. I slept in my homemade mosquito shelter each night. At about 9 ounces, it was a perfect fit in my 2000 cubic inch panniers. I have discussed the shelter on the Desert Explorer Homemade Gear pages. The only issue I had with the shelter was the lack of a pole, and the lack of any method for stringing up the shelter on one night. Some sort of micro pole would solve the problem, of course it would also add weight. I improvised on that particular occasion by flipping the bike over and stringing the shelter over it. For a complete packing list see the Desert Explorer Bikepacking Pages.
Matrimony Spring is still closed, although the pipes routing the water under the road have been vadalised once or twice. There is still a lot of discussion about what to do with it. Public sentiment is high for finding a way to treat the water and re-open the spring. But it sounds like the county does not want the liability involved in trying to keep the spring safe to drink from. In the mean time, Lyons Park remains closed because of the ongoing bridge work so water is still not available there. Your best bet for fresh water is Gearheads, just south of City Market. They have filtered water- as much as you can haul- for free. And if there is a piece of gear you’ve forgotten to bring along, you should be able to find it there.