Bikepacking on the Kokopelli Trail – Joel Caldwell

Bikepacking on the Kokopelli Trail
Photos and words by Joel Caldwell

The Kokopelli Trail is a beautiful route winding from Fruita, Colorado to Moab, Utah. It combines a variety of primitive roads with surprisingly technical single track that kept us guessing around each bend. Scrubby and open in the east, the route becomes richer and the landscapes more Mars-like as we approached the canyon lands of the high Utah desert. Sand, dirt, gravel, slick rock, creek crossings, you name it. Two long climbs topping out at 8400′ tested our fitness and the final descent along Porcupine Rim blew our minds. This is the way to enter Moab!

Bikepacking on the Kokopelli Trail - Joel Caldwell

A bit about our bikes. Borealis in Colorado Springs set us up with two carbon fatbikes for the trip: A Yampa for me and an Echo with a Rockshox Bluto for my travel companion, expedition cyclist Joe Cruz. Just as I had underestimated the ripping descents and technical singletrack of the Kokopelli Trail, I was equally blown away by the rideability, handling, and general awesomeness of a fully loaded Yampa. Three days of food, 4.5 litres of water, shelter, bag, and pad all loaded on a FATBIKE means you’re in for a slog, right? Wrong. The Yampa climbed as if unencumbered and on the downhills the 3.8” tires had me forgetting I was on a rigid frame.

Bikepacking on the Kokopelli Trail - Joel Caldwell

As for the Echo:

“Intuitive race bike handling even with a full bikepacking load, coupled with the limitelss traction and comfort of a proper fatbike. The light weight and front suspension heaped a dollop of flat out fun onto backcountry adventuring” -Joe Cruz

In short, bikepacking on a Borealis is where it’s at; an extended, multi-day mountain bike ride, with the perks of camping.


Follow Joel on Instagram and at his Website.


  • adam_perin

    Woah! Pretty jealous Joel!

  • Logan

    Nice work Joel! Here’s our route with more pics and the GPS map:

  • Scott Cramer

    Sriracha socks!

  • Chris Andrews

    ‘All loaded’? Looks like they’re carrying little more than a change of clothes…

    • John Watson

      That’s the thing about bikepacking. The lighter you can go, the better, but you can’t skimp on essentials. Tents, sleeping pads, sleeping bags, food, cook wear can all fit in those bikepacking bags. The more space you have on your bike, the more likely you are to take shit you don’t need, but that doesn’t mean packing smart is not fully loaded.

    • Joe Cruz

      Well said, John. Chris, mountaineers and ultralight backpackers have been pursuing a fast and light style for years. Bikepacking is different things to different people, but my attitude is that the less that I carry, the further I’ll go and the less I’ll need. The stuff I brought for this trip isn’t much different from what I used for six months in South America or a year in Asia.


      ps. Ironically, a change of clothes isn’t so much on the packing list.

      • Chris Andrews

        Yeah I know, I was just intrigued by the ‘all loaded’ line considering how light they’re travelling – I do a bit of touring myself and took my CX bike around the bottom half of NZ earlier in the year using just a stuff sack and a handbar bag, 2 weeks with a pretty similar load.

  • ap

    looks like some epic sunglass tan

  • Abe Bergan

    Great snapshot commentary on beautiful area to wander overland on two wheels.

  • Jano

    Skyler looking so smitten with his enduro fanny pack in #15. That red dirt is something else.

  • ForrestCambron

    Porcupine rim on a fat bike sounds just too awesome. Such a fun trail. Well done!

  • gabriellelbishop

    $$%% check this out


  • scottmbobbitt
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  • Kent moos

    Do you have a gps file of this? Would love to do this!