The Redrock Canyons bike tour is a supported lodge to lodge road cycling tour that follows a Seldom Seen route through the Redrock Canyon Country of western Colorado and eastern Utah. This iconic region boasts striking geologic features, numerous prehistoric cultural sites and encompasses some of the “greatest unexplored wilderness in the country”. If one was to ride just one tour in the American West, this is the one to experience.
The Redrock Canyons is Lizard Head Cycling’s original tour and became our most popular itinerary after it was featured in the New York Times in 2010. It a superb tour for upper-intermediate to E.F.I. (every freaking inch) riders. Although the Redrock Canyons tour appears to be a big mileage tour, the mileage segments are determined by the distance between lodges in this remote landscape, as such we cater each day so that intermediate level riders enjoy themselves immensely. Lizard Head Cycling guarantees your satisfaction.
Read the Sunday New York Times Feature Story on the Redrock Canyons Tour
Leading paragraph from the NY Times story: “We had awakened before dawn to get a jump on the desert heat and rolled out under a headlight moon, pedaling fast in the cool morning of the Dolores River Canyon. There were no cars, not out here. There was only the sound of bike tires on asphalt, the river’s murmur, the cascading song of a canyon wren and that beginning-of-the-world smell of river mud in the blue morning.”
- View the New York Times Slideshow with audio
- View client article about tour.
- View client photos of tour.
YouTube – Celebrate Bears Ears: Welcome to our New National Monument!
YouTube – Canyonlands HD Scenic Flight
Redrock Canyons Tour: Highlights
YouTube – Lizard Head Cycling Guides: Redrock Canyons Tour
On each night of the Redrock Canyons cyclists relax in comfortable accommodations while enjoying delicious meals in the heart of Redrock Canyon Country. Highlights include: the 1980’s Coor’s Bicycle Classic “Tour of the Moon” stage through the Colorado National Monument, the stunning geology of Unaweep Canyon, world famous Monument Valley, terrain from Edward Abbey’s classic novel The Monkey Wrench Gang and the sandstone cliff encircled beauty of Lake Powell. These attractions are viewed while riding beneath the stunning peaks of the San Juan, Abajo, La Sal, and Henry mountains. The tour route meanders alongside and intersects many of desert southwest’s major rivers canyons including the Rio Gunnison, Rio Colorado, Rio Dolores, and Rio San Juan.
Although the Redrock Canyons Tour is best for fit cyclists who have some longer-distance cycling experience, intermediate riders love this tour. Days range from 48 to 112 miles in the saddle. Cyclists have the option to shorten each day by taking a “bump” in the support vehicle, this is a common practice on the Redrocks Tour. Cyclists who have ridden multi-day tours such as Cycle Oregon, Ride The Rockies or RAGBRAI will do fine on the Redrocks Tour. Many cyclists experience riding their first century on the Redrocks Tour.
PLEASE NOTE: Daily shuttle options between aid stations allow cyclists of varying abilities to enjoy the Redrock Canyons Tour. See How the Shuttle Works in Tour Beta below. Most cyclists worry they will not be able to “keep up” and end up doing fine on this tour. Click here to view a small map of the region.
Redrock Canyons Tour: Tour Dates
Potential tour dates are listed below. Please see the spring/fall calendar or the summer calendar for confirmed departures. Any unopened date can be a Custom Week (9 riders required). Please contact us via email or call 970.728.5891.
2017 Spring Tour Dates:
- May 7 to 12, 2017 (Book Now!)
- May 22 to 27, 2017 – TOUR FULL
2017 Autumn Tour Dates:
- September 24 to 29, 2017 (Book Now!)
- October 8 to 13, 2017 (Book Now!) – TOUR A GO! 7 spots remain
- October 15 to 20, 2017 (Book Now!)
Redrock Canyons Tour: Overview
6 Days (5 days riding w/ 1 rest day): 7am Sunday through 9pm Friday
Meeting & Ending Town: Grand Junction, Colorado
Total Miles: 300-420 miles, additional mileage options available. (Can I keep up on this tour?)
Average Daily Mileage: 60 or 72-miles (E.F.I.)
Difficulty Level: 3/4 (Upper-Intermediate to Advanced)
Tour Cost: $2,700 per person. Group discount of $200 per person for groups of 4 or more. Please see our Tour Discounts Policy.
Single Room Supplement: $575 – for a private room each night of the tour. If cyclist is willing to share a room with a same sex cyclist and there are none available, add $350.
Tour Includes: Five nights of lodging, all meals, taxes, entrance fees, lunch on the route, energy food, liquid refreshments, shuttles, guide service and mechanical support. Alcoholic beverages, massage, bike rental are additional. NOTE: Add $265 – if one desires to take the scenic flight.
Lodging (subject to availability):
- Days 1 & 2: Gateway Canyons Resort: Gateway, Colorado (located on the Dolores river).
- Day 3: La Sal Mtn Guest Ranch: LaSal, Utah
- Day 4: Desert Rose Inn & Cabins: Bluff, Utah
- Day 5: The View Hotel or Gouldings Lodge in Monument Valley, Arizona
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!
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.
Ability Level: Intermediate to Advanced cyclists. A combination of quiet, car-free roads, easily assessable mileage options and plenty of climbing makes the Redrocks Tour well suited for intermediate to advanced cyclists. Intermediate riders have done the Redrocks tour since its inception and love it. There are additional mileage options for E.F.I riders and overall it should be noted that the Redrocks is not as hard as the NY Times story makes it sound! Since the NY Times story was published we have added a day to the tour and adjusted the itinerary to make the Redrock Canyons bike tour more forgiving.
Non-Riding Activities on the Redrock Canyons Tour: If you have non-riding spouse who would like to join this tour, follow this link.
Do the Bump! Lizard Head Cycling provides daily mileage options that allow cyclists of varying abilities to enjoy our tours. One of our favorite options is to give cyclists a “bump” via the support vehicle. A bump is a 10 to 20 mile lift down the road representing an hour of pedal time. After the bump the rider is now “off the front” and riding at his or her own pace without feeling they are being left behind the group. It allows riders to linger and take in the spectacular scenery. When the support vehicle arrives cyclists take another bump or continue riding.
Slow or Fast? (What Level Cyclist are You?)
- PLEASE don’t be scared away from this tour. The Redrocks Tour is not as hard as it sounds.
- Slow and Fast only exist as relative terms to other people. Speed does not matter as long as one is moving on the bike.
- Please Note: “One is ready for a Lizard Head Cycling tour, when they finish a Lizard Head tour”.
- If you have questions about your ability to ride this tour, please contact our office (info@LizardHeadCyclingGuides.com or 970.728.5891).
- Our guest’s median age is in the mid-fifties.
Overall Route Map
Redrock Canyons Tour: 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: Grand Junction to Gateway Canyons Resort
23-Miles w/2,750′ of climbing
Followed by an optional ride of 20 to 30-miles w/ 850′ of climbing
Day One’s riding begins on Rim Rock Drive of the Colorado National Monument. The 23-mile drive follows the redrock rim nearly 2,000 feet up a series of canyons above 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 park’s 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.
Day One Continued…
After Day One’s morning tour through the Colorado National Monument cyclists head into the stunning confines of Unaweep Canyon. Unaweep Canyon is quite possibly most spectacular road ride in Colorado, it is also one of the least known roads in the state. Geologically speaking Unaweep was at one time a river channel of the Colorado River before the massive uplift of the Uncompahgre Plateau diverted the river’s course.
Today cyclists enjoy riding the road where the river once traveled. Although smaller in scale, the experience is akin to riding a bike through the Grand Canyon. The splendid resort of Gateway Canyons (opened in 2005 on the Dolores River) in Gateway, Colorado awaits us for dinner and lodging this evening. The beauty of Gateway Canyons Resort must be seen to be believed.
Day 2: Unaweep Canyon Out & Back
Optional 30-mile ride w/ 2,400′ of climbing
With a layover day at the Gateway Canyons Resort, pedal 30-miles round-trip up and down Highway-141 through magnificent Unaweep Canyon to Gateway Canyon Resort’s Stables. In the spring and after rain storms there are multiple waterfalls on the west side of the canyon. Look for a waterfall near milepost 122 and then again near milepost 132 at Fall Creek. Riders will also have the option to Reach the Summit by riding a few miles past the stables to route’s high point at the Unaweep Divide. After the ride, guests can luxuriate in the Gateway Canyons pool, take in a spa, tour the magnificent auto museum or simply relax. There is so much to do, or not do, at the resort!
Day 3: Gateway to La Sal, Utah
E.F.I. 90 miles w/ 6,100′ of climbing
Standard Option: 50-miles
The riding on this day continues following the dazzling scenery of scenic byway Highway 141 southward. The first 30-miles of riding from Gateway Canyons resort are beneath 1,500-foot Redrock Canyon walls. Many of our guests have called this section the “most beautiful ride” they have ever enjoyed.
YouTube – Lizard Head Cycling Guides: Dolores River Canyon (PT 1)
Views of the Hanging Flume are visible from Highway 141. The flume is an engineering feat of over 100 years ago and also one of the world’s most extraordinary monuments to human greed and folly. Its purpose was to deliver water to a placer gold mine. Construction started in 1889 and a million board feet of lumber was used. The mine went bankrupt in the early 1890s. Today travelers are awe struck at the lengths gone into the creation of this means to convey water.
YouTube – Lizard Head Cycling Guides: Dolores River Canyon (PT 2)
The road riding on the first 50-mile section of day two’s tour is high above the Dolores River and tight against vertical sandstone walls. It is quite simply one of the most stunning roads in the country. After reaching the confluence of the Rio Dolores and the Rio San Miguel the route heads west through Paradox Valley, over Paradox Pass, into Utah and eventually to the La Sal Mountain Guest House, our accommodations for the evening.
Day 4: La Sal to Monticello, Utah
E.F.I. Option: 70-miles w/ 5,600′ of climbing
Standard Option: 50-miles
Today’s route departs from La Sal Mountain Guest Ranch and soon spins through Lisbon Valley. After a short 5 miles on Highway 191, we head west towards the Needles District along the way visiting historic Newspaper Rock, a rock panel carved with one of the largest known collections of petroglyphs and not to be missed!
After a turnaround within Needles, we return along Utah-211 East and then make a turn right for the most daunting climb of the tour – an audacious leg burning beyond category (HC) 12-mile climb up into the foothills of the Abajo Peaks! The sag vehicle will climb along with the riders offering supplies and to pick-up shattered riders. From the summit, it’s then a fast 7-mile descent to the finish in Monticello, Utah to complete the ride. After dinner in Monticello, we’ll take a short 45 minute shuttle to Bluff, Utah, the starting point of Day 5.
Day 5: Bluff, Utah to Monument Valley, Arizona
E.F.I. Option: 57-miles w/ 4,600′ of climbing
Standard Option: 40-miles
From Bluff, we’ll roll out in the soft early morning light southwest towards Monument Valley along US Scenic 163. Ten miles into the day we’ll ride up and over the southern end of Comb Ridge, a 40 mile long geological feature of special interest. If you have been to Monument Valley before or this is your first time, the landscape is captivating. The mood of the red rock in this harsh landscape varies with the light to reveal both subtle and striking beauty.
Day 6: Monument Valley to (Lake Powell)
E.F.I. Option: 107 miles w/ 8,000′ of Descending
Standard Option: 75-miles w/ 7,500′ of Descending
Our final day of riding will be without a doubt memorable and much easier then anticipated. Since the ride looses 4,000-feet at a 1% to 2% grade over the final 50 miles, this will be the easiest 100-miles you have ever ridden. From Monument Valley cyclists roll back into Utah and re-cross the Rio San Juan at Mexican Hat where the route turns north following Route 261. Ten miles north of Mexican Hat Route 261 runs into headwall of the Mokee Dugway. The Dugway is a 1,100 foot climb in 2.8 miles of packed earth road. There are multiple switchbacks up the Dugway’s 10% grade. From the top of the Dugway on Muley Point the sublime views featuring the Goosenecks of the Rio San Juan, Monument Valley and the Valley of the Gods may be the very best in all of Utah.
Day 6 Continued…
Heading north and trending upward from the Mokee Dugway on Route 261, the Abajo Mountains dominate the northern skyline while the Henry Mountains rise to the west. Intersecting Route 95 our route turns west. In writer Edward Abbey’s The Monkey Wrench Gang this is the road where the outlaw George Washington Hayduke walked for three days pulling survey stakes before the road was constructed. It is indeed hard to understand why this road was built since it does not lead to anything in particular. But since the road now exists and the drop dead gorgeous scenery, what better way to explore this region than on a bike? Abbey would probably approve.
Day 6 Continued…
The region around Route 95 is chock full of water springs and accompanying Anasazi Indian ruins such as Fry Canyon and Mule Canyon. We pass near the nation’s first National Monument, Colossal Bridges, designated by Teddy Roosevelt in the early 1900’s. Colossal Bridges was renamed Natural Bridges, but Colossal better describes these bridges and the indomitable figure of Teddy Roosevelt.
Day 6 Continued…
Edward Abbey’s Hayduke was fantasizing about blowing up Glen Canyon Dam while pulling survey stakes as he walked towards Glen Canyon Reservoir. If anyone in our group of cyclists upon reaching Glen Canyon Reservoir seeks to blow up the dam, they’ll be at the wrong end of the 186 mile long reservoir with nearly 2,000 miles of shoreline. Arriving at the north end of Glen Canyon Reservoir cyclists cross three impressive bridges over the Rio San Juan, Rio Colorado, and the Dirty Devil River. To end the tour a refreshing jump into the lake is highly recommended.
Optional Low-Level Scenic Flight: A spectacular low-level scenic flight across Canyonlands National Park to end the Redrocks tour is available. After the flight, cyclists arrive back in Grand Junction at approximately 6pm Friday evening, cost $275-. The standard plan is a 3-hour shuttle (with dinner at a cowboy bar) back to Grand Junction.
Note: If your group has a private plane, the Hanksville, Utah airport allows pickup directly from the end of the Redrock Canyons tour.
Redrock Canyons Tour: Logistics & FAQs
Meeting Location: On Day 1 cyclists meet the guides and support vehicle at 8:00am at the Courtyard Marriott next to the airport in Grand Junction, Colorado. The Marriott has an airport shuttle and full hot breakfast.
Ending Location: The tour ends at the Marriott on Horizon Drive in Grand Junction, Colorado after Day 6’s stage to Lake Powell. Cyclists are shuttled from Lake Powell back to Grand Junction.
Pre- and Post-Tour Lodging: Riders are responsible for their own lodging for night preceding and following the tour.
Tour Size: 6 to 18 riders
2014 Lodging: The Redrocks tour is priced for double room occupancy.
- The single-supplement option (single-room occupancy) $400 includes five nights lodging.
- If a solo cyclist is willing to share a room, Lizard Head Cycling will attempt to match the cyclist with a same-sex roommate.
- If a roommate is unavailable, the solo cyclist on the Redrocks Tour receives a $200- discount off the cost of single-supplement/single-room occupancy.
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.
Bike Gearing: A low gear of 34×27 is sufficient on most days. Riders will find a lower gear of 34×28 or even 34×30 useful on “Slickrock Hill”, a Hors Categorie 9-mile climb at the end of Day 2 and on the “Moki Dugway” climb on the morning of Day 6.
Tour Months: The Redrock Canyons Tour is offered during the months of May, June, September and October.
Weather and the Redrock Canyons Tour: The bike touring experience is 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 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 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 16 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. (good weather for long rides). October sunlight is radiant as the slanted post autumnal equinox 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. These storms dust the high peaks with the first snows of the coming season. These weather systems translates into about 8 to 16 hours of unsettled weather down in Canyon Country. Weather events in the desert can best be described as brief and intense in nature.
Dining: Cyclists dine each evening and morning at uniquely local establishments chosen by Lizard Head Cycling. All meals are included with the costs of the tour.
Ride Difficulty: The Redrocks Tour is designed for “Intermediate to Advanced Cyclists. The tour is similar to riding Ride the Rockies or Cycle Oregon. The pace is considered moderate to difficult.
Tour Support: The tour is supported by a van and trailer which carries all luggage and equipment. The support vehicle, a 15-passenger van and trailer, provides a shuttle option from aid stations along the route.
The Daily Schedule: Cyclists ride at their own pace. Tour riders depart each morning as early as they choose and can use the support vehicle when they desire. The tour is designed to provide mileage options depending on cyclist’s fitness level and desire.
How the Shuttle and Mileage Options Work: The Redrock Canyons Tour is designed to offer cyclists a significant challenge while at the same time providing easily accessible mileage options for cyclists of varying fitness levels. This system works with a support vehicle that jumps ahead rather then “sags” to set up aid stations along the route. Cyclists customize their experience by choosing either to start each day’s ride from the hotel, at the stage’s first aid station or from the top of the day’s big hill. Cyclists can choose to linger at lunch and explore one of the National Monuments such as Hovenweep of Day 3 of the tour.
This custom system works well for our guests. In the big picture very few people will ever have the pleasure of visiting these spectacularly remote areas of the American West. Of those that do, 99.9% of them do so in a vehicle. So if one pedals 300 of the 420-mile Redrocks Tour, they are in such a small minority that they should really celebrate! On average only about 50% of the Redrock Canyon guests pedal every mile of the tour.
Daily Support Schedule:
- 20-mile mark: liquids, energy food & fruit
- 40 to 50-mile mark: lunch on the trail includes fresh sandwiches, fruit, salad, smoothies & soft drinks
- 75 mile mark: liquids, energy food & fruit
Flying to Grand Junction:
- United connects through Denver
- Delta connects through Salt Lake City
- Allegiant Air flies directly to Grand Junction from Los Angeles & Las Vegas for $159- roundtrip.
- American flies directly from Dallas/Fort Worth on a seasonal basis.
- US Airways connects through Phoenix directly to Grand Junction
Daily Mileage and Evening Towns:
- Day 1: 50 miles to Gateway, Colorado
- Day 2: 32 miles roundtrip back to Gateway, Colorado
- Day 3: 90 miles to La Sal, Utah (60 mile Lower Mileage Option)
- Day 4: 80 miles to Monticello, Utah
- Day 5: 57 miles to Monument Valley, Arizona (28 mile Lower Mileage Option)
- Day 6: 110 miles to Hite, Utah (over 5,000 feet of descending!) (75 miles is the Lower Mileage Option)
Redrock Canyon Tour Facts:
- Standard Mileage Option: 420 miles
- Lower Mileage Option: 299 miles
- The 15-passenger van that supports the tour allows for cyclists with varying fitness levels to enjoy the same tour. The van is available for shuttling each day from the aid stations.
- Elevations range from 4,100′ to 7,100′
- There is little traffic on these roads.
- Please contact us with your questions.
- The San Juan Canyonlands Proposed Wilderness Act
- Classic Road Rides in National Parks (the Colorado National Monument)
- Article by David Brower on restoring Glen Canyon
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.