A woman biker rides up a slope, with a pair of sheer cliffs as a backdrop

The Navajo Rocks Loop off Highway 313 takes riders on a ride of average technicality and difficulty (by Moab standards) and exciting flow. Carter Pape, licensed for exclusive use

I recently bought a new helmet because the one I bought two years ago with my bike was starting to fall apart, and it’s reminding me of how nice it is to have nice things.

My helmet started out white, but rather than fading into red or pink because of the sand as I hoped it might, it faded to gray because of the headlamp I had strapped onto it. It was an ugly sight by the end.

I had stretched the elastic headlamp straps around the whole helmet, and the thing held in place (poorly) by friction. I was constantly adjusting the light itself on the front of the helmet because bumps would cause it to move.

A landscape shot showing a deep valley bounded by rock overhangs and a tall mesa

The bike loop is in the vicinity of Dead Horse Point State Park and Canyonlands National Park. While the views are not as grand as the parks’s, second-rate in Moab is still very good. Carter Pape, licensed for exclusive use

It wasn’t a horrible system. I like having a head lamp for evening rides that straddle the sunset, if the alternative is having only a handlebar light. I find it to be more convenient to have a headlamp permanently installed on my helmet, even if most of my rides take place during the day.

That system improved tenfold once I got my new helmet. This one is black, matching the headlamp and the hook and loop straps that I now use to secure it to the helmet. It looks slick, but more so, it was fun to make, and it fully secures the light to the helmet. No more flopping.

This is mostly just a silly anecdote, but it has also made me think about how I can solve the other little problems I have with my bike.

Photo of a mountain bike, laid precariously above a rounded cliff's edge

While Navajo Rocks does not have what on other trails is considered “cliff exposure,” the trail comes plenty close to some sheer drop-offs worth a pause to appreciate. Carter Pape, licensed for exclusive use

One such problem I have already solved: My dad bought me padded compression shorts for my birthday, and they thoroughly alleviate seat soreness. Whereas before, I could usually only manage one bumpy bike ride per weekend, rides no longer give me any intolerable pain in the butt.

For example, this weekend, I rode Pipe Dream on Saturday and Navajo Rocks on Sunday. Pipe Dream isn’t the bumpiest ride in Moab, but I’m a lazy bum, so I like to sit down sometimes on downhill slopes if there is no immediate risk of being bucked off over the handlebars.

Navajo Rocks also is not all that bumpy. In parts, it is downright flowy. It rides over slickrock, sand, dirt, loose rock, roots, and more. The loop is a figure eight, giving you the option to bail halfway through the roughly 18-mile loop.

An off-road trail crosses the path of a cow wandering the area

A sign near the up-sloping curves on Highway 313 that take travelers to the top of the mesa warns of cows on the road. The probability of crashing with a cow on the trail is less than it is on the road, but it isn’t zero. Carter Pape, licensed for exclusive use

One time last year, I set out on Navajo Rocks with the intent of riding the full loop. I stopped halfway through back at my car to refuel, and I think I was mentally unprepared for how long the back half would take because it felt twice as long as the first half. In reality, the two are basically the same length.

That’s also the beauty of Navajo Rocks. It’s not the Moab Brands, where you can only get in a two-hour ride if you repeat or retrace your path. It’s not Porcupine Rim, which offers a long ride, at the expense of needing a shuttle. It’s not Klondike Bluffs, which has so many options it’s paralyzing.

Navajo Rocks is a closed loop with parking at the middle that offers the choice of a one- or two-hour ride, or longer if you want to pause to gawk at the landscape and cows.

A biker rides crossways over a steep Navajo Sandstone slope, next to a Navajo Sandstone cliff

Among the features on the Navajo Rocks loop is a stretch of the ride on a sharp grade of seemingly 30% in some spots. But the path crosses the grade rather than going up or down, leaving riders with a challenge of not falling sideways down the hill. Carter Pape, licensed for exclusive use

I saw quite a few people during my ride this weekend, and although I didn’t need to compete for a parking spot, the lot was close to capacity when I arrived midday. That is to say: It’s a pretty popular spot, in part because it is accessible. I see plenty of families with their kids on the ride.

But, if you don’t mind company and gorgeous views, the area is a great option for a fast-paced loop over quintessential Moab terrain. There are plenty of pull-off spots for a breather or a look around, and there are plenty of exciting runs up and down smoothed terrain.

Oh, and most importantly: There are lots of cows in the area. Go bike Navajo Rocks to see the cows.

A traffic jam of cows stares blankly at the head of the line, which inexplicably has stopped in its tracks

Cows have traffic jams, too. Carter Pape, licensed for exclusive use