Utah Cliffs Loop
Start: September 26, 2019
End: October 2, 2019
6 days on | 1 day off
Distance: 288 miles
Minimum Elevation: 2,560 ft
Maximum Elevation: 9,915 ft
50% paved | 50% dirt/gravel
stayed in a mix of campgrounds and lodges/motels
High: 95*F in St. George
Low: 20*F in Duck Creek Village
mostly dry and sunny | one night of rain
2013 Trek 520
older model that still uses rim brakes
50lbs (without food/water)
Robert carried our bike tools & cookware which was 5lbs
Front crankset: 48/36/26
Back cassette: 11-34, 9 speed
43mm tires with tubes
Things I would have appreciated but managed without
disc brakes, a suspension fork, tubeless tires
We drove our car from San Francisco, CA to St. George, UT with a couple days in Orange County, CA to see family. The day we arrived in St. George we stayed in a motel of which the owners kindly let us keep our car at for the week of the trip. We rode for 5 days straight, had one rest day in Zion, and finished the day after.
The gravel and dirt roads were mostly quiet with occasional cars and ATV’s. There were a couple of sections where it was too rocky or sandy and I had to get off to push the bike for a short section. The worst paved sections were Hwy 14 out of Cedar City (fast traffic, uphill, variable shoulders) and Hwy 59 into Hurricane (fast traffic, no shoulder).
The scenery is beautiful and Zion is worth taking extra time to stop in. The Zion-Mt. Carmel tunnel is not bike-able however and we had to hitchhike.
We only saw one or two other bike tourists on our trip.
Almost every night ended in a town so there was food and water at least once a day though options were limited. We brought a small water filter for emergencies but did not need to use it. The route crosses some rivers, streams, and reservoirs that could have been used if we needed. If you traveling in the Fall season like we did, I would recommend checking the campgrounds listed on the Adventure Cycling Map to see if they are open. Most of them are closed after labor day. There were a lot of beautiful primitive camping sites along Forest Service roads, but we did not opt to stay in them for our trip.
Chapstick saved my lips but my nose ended up pretty raw from the brisk dry Fall air. At the highest elevation it dipped to 25*F while the lower elevations were still in the 90’s. We did not have any days riding in rain but one day there were wind gusts up to 40mph.
We used a combination of our phone apps (Google Maps, Bicycle Route Navigator), Garmin, and physical Adventure Cycling Map for directions. It was probably overkill but we did miss a couple turns regardless.