FATMAP difficulty grade
If you’re visiting Fruita, Colorado for the first time, there is no question that you should begin by riding the classics: 18 Road, the various Kokopelli Loops, as well as the Lunch Loops, Ribbon, and Palisade Rim in Grand Junction.
But in a destination as oft-visited and well-ridden as Fruita, at some point, you’ll look around and ask, “is this all there is?” And the answer, quite thankfully, is “NO!” If you’re looking for something new to ride near Fruita, check out Zion Curtain. Technically located just across the Utah state line from Fruita, and immediately off of I-70, the Zion Curtain trail actually spends some time traversing right along the barbed wire fence that delineates the state border, providing a unique ride location.
And despite being located right off the interstate, as you drop into the basin and traverse the rim, you will suddenly feel like you are actually in the middle of absolutely freaking nowhere...
which is an entirely accurate analysis. Zion Curtain is one of those rides that rewards the well-rounded mountain biker.
With roughly 2,300 feet of climbing in 18 miles (depending on where exactly you start), with some of the steep climbs unrideable on a non-motorized bike, and other portions of the route running through very soft sand, you’ll need to be reasonably fit to complete this ride and not get stranded. Once you make it onto the rim, the views are simply breathtaking and require you to stop and stare for a moment.
Down below you, you’ll see the road and trails that run to the Western Rim—another decent ride in this area, even if the caliber of the trail doesn’t compare with that of the singletrack you’re presently riding. Continuing along the rim, the trail tread gets progressively more technical, with rocky climbing required to reach the high point.
When the track turns downhill, drop the saddle and open up your suspension because the ride is about to get raucous in a hurry! Downhill rippled slickrock combines with brutal rock gardens, ledge drops, and one of the steepest fall line singletrack chutes that you may ever ride.
The moto nature of the trail is evident in places, and you may find yourself wishing for ever more suspension, and even meatier tires. The descent is over all too quickly, with a little up-and-down singletrack before getting back on the dirt road and grinding back up the mesa to your car. Make no bones about it: Zion Curtain is a demanding, brutal ride, but for those who are up to the task of climbing the steep ascents and bombing the techy downs, Zion Curtain will leave a lasting impression!