Bartlett Slickrock

Rating: 
Round Trip Distance: 5 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
MTB Skill level:
Elevation: 4597 - 4967 feet
Cellphone: 0-3 bars
Time: 2 hrs.
Trailhead: Bartlett Wash Campground
Fee: none
Attractions: Free ride area




Bartlett Slickrock is locate in the Bartlett Wash area north of Moab, Utah. The area covers a vast expanse of slickrock that is designated as a free-ride area for mountain bikes. With no designated routes to follow mountain bikers are able to take advantage of the slickrocks natural features to come up with a ride that matches their own personal technical abilities.


To get to the trailhead drive about 15 miles north of Moab on Highway 191 and turn west onto the Blue Hills Road. The turnoff comes up before reaching the airport. Once on the Blue Hills Road follow the Bartlett signs. Measuring from the highway drive 2.4 miles and turn left. Stay to the left after another 0.8 miles and 0.8 miles after that stay to the right. Continue for a little less than a mile to the campground where there is a parking area on the left. The total distance from Highway 191 is about 4.5 miles. Passenger vehicles with moderate clearance can usually make it to the trailhead when the road is dry and in good shape.


Follow the road up the wash and take the right fork near the quarter mile point. The wash normally has a small amount of water trickling down it.


Within a hundred feet or so there is a sign that marks the point where the trail leaves the wash.


An unavoidable challenge is getting up on the slickrock to get started.


After the initial difficulty the grade levels off and various routes become obvious.


The ribbon of slickrock stretches off into the distance following the contours of the mountain with a gradual uphill slope to it.


There are two main levels to choose from at first. For this post we rode out on the lower level and came back on the next level up. Eventually the lower level becomes the middle level.


A stretch of loose sand that interrupts the ribbon of slickrock is the only exception to the stay on the rock rule.


Parts of the slickrock are like a sidewalk.


The slickrock gets wider on the west end which opens up a few other routes. We stayed on the same level on the ride out but dropped down to a white layer that made a nice path for the return trip.


The west end of the slickrock drops off into a canyon where a nice scenic loop can be made around the dome of slickrock above it.


While taking a break we watched a side-by-side that was running the wash on the 3D trail in the canyon below role over on its side. It took the occupants, apparently unscathed, a few minutes to get unbuckled and get out and roll it back over.


This picture is on the lower level heading back. There are a couple of spots that are a little narrow but the rock was dry so there were no worries.


The upper area back toward the beginning of the trail is a little rougher. Rather than a smooth transition from one layer to the next it has steps that form little shelves. It is all fun to explore and goof off on.


There are other features of the Bartlett Slickrock besides the nice long ribbons of trail. Some of the slickrock bowls are fun as well as hopping down shelves sideways. There are a few places to watch out for where ledges turn into steep slopes or drop offs. If you plan on camping don't forget to bring your own porta-potty. They are required at all primitive camping areas around Moab where there aren't any toilets. As far as the Bartlett Slickrock goes, if you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is grab your bike or 'Take a hike'.