Oh happy day.
|START||Duck Creek Village, UT|
|END||Zion National Park, UT|
|06:30 AM||wakeup grab snacks|
|08:30 AM||start riding|
|12:00 PM||lunch off the side of the road|
|03:00 PM||enter Zion National Park boundary|
|03:30 PM||arrive at the Zion-Mt. Carmel Tunnel entrance|
|04:30 PM||arrive at South Campground in Zion National Park|
We had so much leftovers from the last day we ate it for both breakfast and lunch, we had dinner just a short walk from the campground at Thai Sapa (yay for food variety!).
We booked the South Campground in Zion before our trip. Reservations open up two weeks ahead so I would recommend booking as soon as that window opens. There were no open sites the day of and there was a long line of people who were hoping there would be cancellations. Even when we booked we couldn’t get a site for two nights, so we had to do the tent shuffle after the first night. The Watchman Campground opens up 6 months in advance and was totally booked when we planned the ride. There are a bunch of hotels and lodges in Springdale which is very close to Zion if you can’t book a campground.
The rangers make it very clear that you cannot ride through the Zion-Mt. Carmel tunnel and must find a ride through. We spent a total of about 30minutes looking for a truck that could take us and our bikes. In the end it was pretty painless but it does require patience and optimism! This tunnel has absolutely no shoulder and is almost completely dark so I can see why they don’t allow bikes but it would be nice to implement some sort of infrastructure for bikes in the future.
We stopped by Loose Wheels in Duck Creek Village in the morning to pickup some snacks and drinks for the ride. Loose Wheels looks like an ATV shop but it is also a well stocked convenience store.
The morning was 26*F when we left so I wore my down jacket, leg warmers, and rain pants until noon.
On one of the dirt roads, a truck came by and asked if we could pull over and stop as there was a semi-truck behind him. And he was right, a huge semi carrying sheep was making it’s way up the curvy dirt roads. Good driver.
Most of the ride today was on dirt roads. My body seemed to change by the minute–sometimes I felt really strong and sometimes I was sucking air hard.
There were two 700ft climbs in the middle of the day and we felt that the second climb was longer than the ACA map seemed to show. Part of the section is also steep and sandy and I tipped over. Luckily, sand is soft so I didn’t hurt myself.
After about 30miles of dirt riding, we finally got back on the main paved roads and it felt like butter. One downside to gravel is there’s not as much time to coast. Even the downhills require concentration. Overall, I found the 50/50 dirt and road route for this trip was a perfect blend.
We finally entered Zion National Park and it felt like the home stretch. This will be my third time visiting and I absolutely adore Zion. We stopped at alllll the viewpoints to soak it all in.
We finally made it to the one-mile long Zion-Mt. Carmel tunnel which doesn’t allow bikes. We knew ahead of time that we were going to have to hitchhike through but other riders that had done it said it wasn’t difficult finding a truck passing by for a ride. Even still, I had been anxious about this step for the whole trip because I’m afraid of tunnels as much as I am of asking strangers for help.
On the way to the tunnel, there are two pullout/parking areas nearby so we first checked those to see if there were any truck owners. There was one truck with an empty bed but the owner nowhere in site. So then we had to rely on watching for trucks driving by and hailing them. Luckily for us, the tunnel switches between one-way traffic. So when there was a red light and cars were starting to form a line, a truck just happened to stop right in front of us. Robert and I pushed our bikes towards them and asked the couple inside if we could get a ride. They said YES! We quickly hauled all our gear in the truck and got inside.
What a relief. All in all the process took us about 30min which wasn’t too bad. HUGE thank you to the couple, Blair and Sally, who were on their way from Bryce Canyon to the Costco in St. George. They were initially surprised that there was an official ban on bikes through the tunnel but said they could see why as it is almost completely dark and there’s no shoulder. After thanking them for their help, they dropped us off at the closest parking area and we were rollin’!
After checking into our campsite at the South Campground in Zion, we planned to ride our bikes into Springdale for dinner but saw Robert had another flat. Those damn thorns! So we walked instead just outside the park entrance for Thai food.