Desert Climbing Camp
Lizard Head Cycling’s Desert Climbing Camp is a 5-day cycling event designed to provide base mileage for the cycling season to come. Each day serves up multiple ride options. Cyclists choose to ride as much or as little as they want. Our Desert Climbing Camp offers a choice selection of rides that include the Colorado National Monument, Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park.
What the Moab Desert Ride Camp is about…
The Moab Desert Ride Camp was created to explore the mind-altered geology of eastern Utah’s and western Colorado’s canyon country. This is rugged country with deep canyons bordered by high mountains. Elevations range from 4,500-feet to 10,800-feet. The tour aims to offer cyclists a jump on the competition 🙂 or simply an early season goal. Since this is an early season ride, cyclists generally arrive on this tour without many miles in their legs. The itinerary reflects this reality. Cyclists will be given the opportunity to both exhaust themselves fully and if needed, jump in the van when they have had enough. After one pours this Desert Ride Camp into their legs, it is a good bet they’ll reach a higher level of fitness in 2015.
The “weather will be beautiful unless it is not”. Seriously in early March highs will range from the 70’s with perfect bluebird skies down to the lower 50’s with cold and blustery winds. In the Spring the weather will determine how high in elevation cyclists will be able to ride on any given day. If the weather is blustery and cold, day 2’s Grand Mesa ride and day 5’s La Sal Mountain Loop rides are replaced with lower elevation alternatives. Depending on group preference & weather, one of these alternatives, the ride into the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park, may be chosen as the group’s preferred ride.
Desert Climbing Camp: Highlights
It is difficult to mention just a few because the redrock desert and canyon country of Southeastern Utah and Southwestern Colorado are full of highlights.
- Arches National Park is home to more than 2,000 natural sandstone arches including awe-inspiring pinnacles, massive fins and giant balancing rocks. Author Edward Abbey captured its beauty working as a seasonal park ranger in the 1950s in his 1968 memoir Desert Solitaire, a true classic read for Utah’s red rock desert and canyon country.
- The Devils Garden Trail in the furthest reach of Arches National Park boasts some of the park’s largest arches, or more scientifically speaking, largest series of rock fins broken from the earth through erosion. Strong red rock formations they are, but they are not immortal. The Wall Arch recently collapsed in 2008.
- Dead Horse Point State Park (Day 2) is named so for its history as corral grounds for wild mustangs roaming the high mesas where the mesa edges which drop to deep canyons made it feasible for cowboys to pen the animals. Dead Horse Point is one of the world’s most photographed panoramas.
- Grand Mesa, Colorado is the largest flat top mesa in the world, the Grand Mesa encompasses 500 square miles, stretches 40 miles long and climbs to more than 11,000 feet.
Desert Climbing Camp: Tour Dates
Desert Climbing Camp: Synopsis
How does Lizard Head Cycling’s Desert Climbing Camp differ from its all-inclusive tours?
Lizard Head Cycling’s Desert Climbing Camp are designed in a training camp format to build base-miles for the cycling season to come. The daily ride schedule offers multiple ride options. Depending on the route the daily rides can be guided or unguided. A support vehicle will offer 1 to 2 aid stations along the route. Cyclists should be self-sufficient on the bike by carrying food, clothing and basic tools (the ability to change a flat is required).
Following the daily rides cyclists spend the afternoon as they please. Evening meals are available for a few hours each evening so guests are free to choose which time suits them best. Lizard Head Cycling’s staff will insure that your bike is cleaned and is in working order.
- Overall our Desert Climbing Camp format offers fewer-frills then our all-inclusive tours while providing a less-expensive touring option for our guests.
Desert Climbing Camp: Overview
Tour Length: 5-Days | 4-Nights Lodging (Monday through Friday)
Meeting Town: Grand Junction, Colorado, Clarion Inn
Ending Town: Grand Junction, Colorado
Total Miles: Up to 320 Miles over 5 Days. (Can I keep up on this tour?)
Mileage Range: 25-110 Miles
Ability Level: 4 (Challenging)
Tour Cost: $1,700 per person (Desert Climbing Camp Format).
Group discount of 5% for groups of 4 or more.
Please see our Tour Discounts Policy.
- Alcoholic beverages are additional
- Single Rooms: $345- single supplement
Road Bike Rental: Lizard Head Cycling Guides is proud to rent Scott CR-1 Pro and Scott Solace carbon road bikes with full Shimano Ultegra components for only $250/week, or $150 for 3 or 4 day tours. Both the CR-1 and Solace models are sub- 17 lb comfortable, high performance bicycles geared for climbing hills. In addition we also have electric bikes available for rental at $375/week. And finally we have a selection of straight bar road bikes and kids bikes in our rental fleet. Just let us know what you need and we can probably find it.
Please also see this blog post for more information on bike rentals.
Electric Bike Rental: We now have a limited selection of SCOTT electric bikes that can be reserved for our tours. These are road bikes with straight bars that make the slowest rider the fastest rider in the group. Rental Price is $375/week.
Couples Bike Rental Discount: Sign up as a couple and receive one free bike high performance rental per couple ($250 value).
Tandems and Recumbents: Lizard Head Cycling Guides happily accommodates both tandem and recumbent bikes on its tours.
The Desert Climbing Camp Includes: 4-nights of lodging (Monday through Thursday night), daily packed lunch, daily breakfast at hotel, 2 nights of dinners, energy food, entrance fees, shuttles, water bottles and mechanical support.
Lodging: (double occupancy)
- Nights 1 & 2: Beautiful and bountiful Palisade, Colorado and the Wine Country Inn.
- Nights 3 & 4: Retreat to the urban desert dwelling of Moab, Utah and the famed Gonzo Inn.
Meals On Tour
Lizard Head Cycling sources our favorite restaurants in each town that we visit. Our guides focus on establishments that offer fresh and local ingredients. Guests choose whatever they desire to eat off the menu: including appetizer, salad, entree and of course dessert... yum! Also, while on tour if a guest wants to dine early before the group and go to bed, this is fine. We understand that on some days sleep is the most important post ride element.
Lunches on Tour: Lizard Head Cycling Guides prepares healthy lunches to keep you going. We will serve you fresh organic fruits and veggies, salads, hummus, sandwich fixings, nuts, gourmet cheeses and of course plenty of salty/sweet snacks such as chips and cookies. We pride ourselves on being able to cater to specific dietary requests, so rest assured that you will be able to get the nutrition that works for you during the week. Gluten Free, Dairy Free or a someone who loves it all – we will keep you well fed during the tour!
Desert Climbing Camp: Itinerary*
*Tour itineraries are subject to change and modification based on the group, available accommodations and other unforeseen circumstances including weather, wildfires, flooding, hurricanes, landslides and/or other acts of nature. Please view this itinerary as an outline as to what to expect on this tour.
Day 1: Colorado National Monument Loop
37 Miles with 2,400 feet of climbing
Day 1’s riding begins on Rim Rock Drive of the Colorado National Monument. The 23-mile drive follows the red rock rim nearly 2,000 feet above a series of canyons abutting the Rio Colorado. The entire road has been designated a historic district on the National Register of Historic Places and was named by National Geographic as one of the country’s Top 10 Under-Appreciated Parks. NOTE: Cyclists ride the 23-miles of the Monument unsupported.
The detailed design for the road was developed in 1932 by the National Park Service for maximum scenic impact, using the National Park Service Rustic style. The road was constructed with almost entirely manual labor by the Works Progress Administration and Civilian Conservation Corps, and represents one of the most significant Depression era public projects. Extensive drilling and blasting was required, and three tunnels were bored. Work was suspended by the Second World War from 1942 to 1948, and was finally completed in 1950. At its height, the project employed more than 800 men.
Rim Rock Drive could not be constructed in the 21st century, its expense and environmental consequences would be considered too high. During the 1980s, Rim Rock Drive was host to a classic mountain stage of the now defunct Coors Classic Stage Race. The stage itself was dubbed The Tour of the Moon. Bernard Hinault and Greg Lemond themselves battled it out on this scenic road.
The day begins at the far west side of the monument and loops along the Rim Rock Drive with a series of formidable lookout points that lend viewers canyon views of a once glaciated valley. Striking!
Beautiful and bountiful Palisade and the Wine Country Inn play host for our first evening of lodging in the heart of Colorado’s wine country (and peaches, too!). Descending into the valley from the steep drop offs and high vantage points of the Monument, we settle into an entirely different country: a lush, green, agricultural oasis at the base of the red rock Book Cliffs and Mount Garfield. Take in the valley and supplement your first ride with a second and a vineyard tour along the winery scenic byway of Palisade.
Day 2: The Grand Mesa
73 Miles with 7,100 feet of climbing
The largest flat top mesa in the world, the Grand Mesa encompasses 500 square miles, stretches 40 miles long and reaches to more than 11,000 feet in elevation. Towering above the aptly named Grand Valley, the mesa is home to old growth forest, aspen meadows, and over 400 lakes.
The climb of Grand Mesa is a 6,000-foot ascent along great pavement. Cyclists literally climb from a desert ecosystem to a mountain environment. Snowbanks will still line the sides of the road in May.
From the numerous vantage points along the Grand Mesa Scenic Byway, the Sneffels Mountain Range can be seen to south, and the iconic Bookcliffs and Mount Garfield to the north.
Day 2’s ride starts along the Gradn Mesa’s southern slopes in the quaint town of Cedaredge where orchards and groves of white ash abound. Bountiful apple cultivation lends itself to the town’s fall Applefest, one of Cedaredge’s signature events.
This evening, we’ll again retreat to the Wine Country Inn for local fare and sunset on the red cliffs.
Day 3: The Colorado River Road to Moab, Utah
47 Miles with 2,100 feet of climbing
The Desert Climbing Camp gears up with a striking entrance to the desert geography of Redrock Canyon Country.
On Day 3 cyclists follow the Colorado river on the “River Road” through a narrow canyon beneath the towering presence of 1,500-foot Redrock Canyon walls to Moab, Utah.
This is a day to spin the legs as the route offers minimal elevation gain-loss and moderate mileage for Day 3. Additional mileage options are available.
Tonight’s lodging is at the famed Gonzo Inn.
Day 4: Arches National Park & Dead Horse Point State Park
Up to 110 Miles with 6,200 feet of climbing
A National Parks tour day, Day 4 travels to Moab’s most stunning and globally alluring redrock canyon landscapes, Arches National Park and Dead Horse Point State Park.
From Moab’s town center, cyclists ride the town’s new wide bike path to Arches National Park. Arches National Park has more than 2,000 natural stone arches and hundreds of soaring pinnacles, massive fins and giant balanced rocks. The route through Arches provides cyclists rolling terrain with multiple climbs and descents.
Descending from Arches, cyclists continue climbing 1,500-feet to Dead Horse Point State Park’s world class rim viewpoint. Dead Horse Point sits 2,000 feet directly above the Colorado River and provides breathtaking views of the pinnacles and buttes of Canyonlands National Park.
We’ll spend a second evening in downtown Moab at the Gonzo Inn.
Day 5: La Sal Mountain Loop
67 Miles with 7,300 feet of climbing
The desert-canyon tour turns massif country, if just for one day.
The La Sal Mountain Loop tour starts from Moab and rides through Castle Valley. The La Sal Loop is the Moab Tour’s “mountain stage” with rolls, turns, twists, and sometimes hairpins. Elevations reach upwards of 8,000-feet.
The La Sal loop road descent is a 27-mile beauty with 100-mile views to the west. The La-Sal loop ride is another highlight ride of a tour jam packed with highlights.
Following Day 5’s ride, we’ll make a stop at the Moab Recreation & Aquatic Center for a refresher. Following a shower a shuttle is offered back to Grand Junction’s Clarion Inn. If an extended stay in Moab appeals to cyclists, cyclists have the option to extend their stay in Moab to partake in more adventures—whether mountain biking, hiking, sight seeing or soaking—in one of the world’s most majestic landscapes.
Daily shuttle services are available from Moab to Grand Junction.
Desert Climbing Camp: Logistics & FAQs
Lodging: The Desert Climbing Camp includes lodging from Monday night through Thursday night (4-nights). After the final day’s ride on Friday a shuttle is offered back to Grand Junction, Colorado.
Pre-Tour Lodging: Riders are responsible for their own lodging on the night prior & following the Desert Climbing Camp.
Bike Rental: For 2013 Lizard Head Cycling is proud to rent Scott CR-1 carbon road bikes with Shimano 105 included in the Moab tour cost. The Scott CR-1 is a lightweight high performance bike geared for climbing hills (lowest gear is 34×30).
Lizard Head Cycling recommends shipping with BikeFlights.com. Bikes can be shipped either to our partner bike shop in each meeting town for professional assembly or directly to the meeting hotel for self-assembly. Bike boxes can generally be left at the meeting hotel during the tour. Bikes shipped across the continental US should be shipped 8 days prior to your tour.
Tour Support: A 15-passenger van and trailer that carries luggage, food and equipment supports Lizard Head Cycling’s tours. Cyclists keep a day bag that is accessible within the support vehicle.
The vehicle will sag and then pass riders to set up aid stations every 20 to 25 miles. This allows cyclists to linger at the back and then take a ten-mile, fifteen-mile or whatever mile “bump” forward to catch-up or get ahead of the group. Energy food, drink mixes, and fresh fruit are available throughout each stage.
It is not uncommon for cyclists on Lizard Head Cycling’s tours to ride their first century with us. Many are surprised by their ability to pedal the majority of miles offered. We have all day to reach the destination. If you have any questions about your ability to ride with us, please contact us today (970.728.5891 or Info@LizardHeadCyclingGuides.com).
How the Shuttle Works: Our Desert Climbing Camp offers cyclists a challenge while at the same providing easily accessible mileage options for riders of varying fitness levels and desires. Lizard Head Cycling’s tour leaders offer advice and provide cyclists with profiles of each stage. Cyclists customize their experience by reducing overall mileage and choosing to avoid or focus on climbing the big hills of any given day.
The system works through a support vehicle that jumps ahead rather then sags to set up aid stations. This allows cyclists to linger at the back and then take a 10-mile, 15-mile or whatever mile “bump” forward to catch-up or get ahead of the group. Many cyclists on Lizard Head Cycling’s tours ride their first century with us and are surprised by their ability to pedal most of the miles offered.
If you have any questions about your ability to ride with us, please call us today (970.728.5891).
The Daily Schedule: Cyclists ride their own pace. Lizard Head Cycling does its best to support riders in their varying desires and efforts. Cyclists can either use our tours to simply support their tour experience or to engage in a guided experience along the route.
Q-sheets with directions, profiles and locations of aid stations are given out for each stage.
Weather and Desert Climbing Camp: The bike touring experience is really about one’s attitude. In 2010, three of the Redrock Canyons Tours were run in near record heat, near record cold and “perfect weather.” The tours that were run under extreme conditions ended up being exceptionally memorable and fun. It is the “war stories” that are told around the Thanksgiving table five years down the road. Bonding often occurs through adversity creating life long friendships. The weather will do what is does.
“There is no bad weather, just bad clothing.” ~~Old Norwegian saying
Spring Weather Synopsis: Spring in red rock and canyon country begins in earnest during the month of March with bright warm days and cool to cold nights. By April daytime highs reach the upper 70s with lows in the 40s and 50s. In May, temperatures reach the mid to upper 80s and by the end of the month even low 90s. As the summer solstice approaches in June long days translate into temperatures that are regularly in the upper 80s to mid 90s with nighttime lows in 60s. Early morning roll-outs in June make for memorable sunrises with early afternoon arrivals at the hotels. Through the middle of May spring snow storms can still effect the high mountains above Redrock Canyon Country. The mountains rise 7,000 feet above the desert and as a result the effect of late season storms on sensible weather down in the canyons usually results in 8 to 12 hours of unsettled weather such as wind and thunderstorms. Spring is generally a windier and drier season then fall in the desert.
Fall Weather Synopsis: Temperatures in early September are no longer as hot as mid-summer, but can still feel quite warm with afternoon highs reaching as high as the low to mid-90s. By the end of September temperatures are averaging in the mid to low 80s. By the end of October temperatures are usually in the upper 60s to low 70s. (Great weather for long rides). October sunlight is radiant as the slanted post autumnal equinox sun rays sustain brilliant light even at mid-day. In mid-October, the Cottonwood trees along the rivers burn yellow against the azure desert skies. As for the threat of fall rain, from mid-September through October, low pressure systems will occasionally spin through the high mountains 6,000 to 8,000 feet above canyon country dusting the high peaks with the first snows of the coming season. These weather systems translates into about 8 to 10 hours of unsettled weather down in Canyon Country. Weather events in the desert can best be described as brief and intense in nature.
General Tour & Cancellation Policies
Please take a moment to familiarize yourself with all of our tour and cancellation policies, which can be found by clicking here.
Lizard Head Cycling Guides teams up with Seven Corners for travel insurance. Seven Corners offers:
- Travel Medical
- Medical Evacuation
- 24/7 Assistance
- Trip Cancellation
Be sure to go to our custom Seven Corners portal by clicking this link or by clicking the the banner on the right after confirming your tour with us to get a quote on travel insurance.