Utah Mountains & National Parks
If you are going to ride one route across Utah in your lifetime, this is the one.
The Utah Mountains bike tour is a point-to-point bike tour across Utah featuring the rugged backbone of the state. Who knew there were so many mountains in a state known for its deserts and canyons? The route meanders through three National Parks (Capitol Reef, Bryce and Zion), two National Monuments and one state park. Over the course of the tour we ride all 124-miles of Utah’s incomparable Scenic By-Way 12 and two stretches of road that rank up there with the most scenic in North America: The Hogback on Scenic By-Way-12 and the descent into Zion National Park (this short list includes Glacier National Park’s Going-to-the-Sun-Road).
Although the Utah bike tour is well suited for Intermediate to Advanced cyclists, there is plenty of challenge with a 25-mile hors-categorie climb from Panguitch to Cedar Breaks that we rank near the top of our favorite ascents. We have concluded that the strange town name of Panguitch must mean that it is the climb of pain and anguish 🙂 All the while on the Utah bike tour we take time to explore Utah’s hidden waterfalls, slot canyons and secluded side roads.
In the summer this the Utah bike tour stays cool with a peak elevation of 10,500-feet (Cedar Breaks National Monument). There are a number of great swimming hole opportunities and for the finale the route descends nearly 10,000-feet to Zion National Park. The lodging and food on this tour are among our favorite locations.
Is it too Hot in Utah in the Summer?
Utah is hardly the flat desert many believe it to be, it has mountains and our Boulder, Bryce and Zion tour rides along at elevations from 6,500-feet up to 10,000-feet. With every 1,000-feet of elevation the temperature is 4 to 5 degrees cooler. So the heat is moderated (like it is in Colorado) due to Utah’s significant elevation. For example Moab sits at 4,500-feet and is usually 10 to 20 degrees warmer than the BBZ region.
Additionally in July and August this region of Utah receives afternoon rainfall on almost a daily basis. One would not expect this in a “desert”, but Utah topography creates cloud cover that is great for bike riding because it cools the atmosphere. And finally on warm weeks, we depart early in the morning to ride when it is still cool.
This country is beautiful and very uncrowded … It has been wonderful week and Steve has been a terrific guide. Thanks for organizing it all. – Diane
Utah Mountains & National Parks Bike Tour: Highlights
Thank you for a most enjoyable time on my just completed Utah Mountains Tour. Leslie and Dan provided excellent support, but the route was really the star, and quite wonderful; challenging, but not killer, beautiful, pretty safe, and unique. I will never forget descending into Zion (or the painful leg cramps I suffered on the second summit of Boulder Mountain!). Best Regards, Mark
Utah Mountains & National Parks Bike Tour: Tour Dates
Potential tour dates are listed below and not all tour dates will run. Lock in your preferred tour date early as unopened tour dates will be closed. Please see the Spring/Autumn Tour Calendar and the Summer Tour 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.
Please also consider our Zion to Taos (Z2T) tour starting on September 10, 2017.
2017 Utah Mountains & National Parks Tour Dates:
- May 28 to June 3, 2017 (Book Now!) – TOUR A GO!
- July 16 to 22, 2017 (Book Now!)
- July 30 to August 5, 2017 (Book Now!) – TOUR OPENED
- September 3 to 8, 2017 (Book Now!) – TOUR OPENED
- September 10 to 16, 2017 (Book Now!) – TOUR OPENED
- September 17 to 23, 2017 (Book Now!) – TOUR A GO!
The 6-DAY Boulder, Bryce & Zion tour format is almost the same as the 7-DAY Utah Mountains & National Parks tour; the difference is that the Boulder, Bryce & Zion tour is 1-DAY SHORTER.
2017 Boulder, Bryce & Zion Tour Dates:
Utah Mountains & National Parks Bike Tour: Overview
Starting & Ending Town: St. George, UT. Fly in and out of Las Vegas, NV. Shuttle service available through the St. George Shuttle.
Tour Length: 7 days, 6 nights
Total Miles: Standard distance 250-350 miles, E.F.I. distance 533 miles. (Can I keep up on this tour?)
Ability Level: 3/4 (Upper Intermediate to Advanced)
Group Size: 6 to 13 cyclists
Tour Cost: $2,850 per person. Group discount of $200 per person for groups of 4 or more.
Please see our Tour Discounts Policy.
Non-Riders: Non-cycling guests are very much welcomed on this tour as there are plenty of activities to be enjoyed other than riding a bike. The cost for a non-rider is the same as for a riding guest. See below for more information on non-riders.
Single Room Supplement: $595 for a private room each night of the tour. $300 if willing to share with a same sex rider and none available.
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.
Tour Includes: Bike rental, all meals, guide service, entrance fees, daily lunch en route, energy food, liquid refreshments, shuttles and mechanical support.
**Alcoholic beverages & massage are additional.
Lodging for 6 Nights (subject to change):
- Night 1: Red River Ranch, Torrey, UT
- Nights 2 & 3: Boulder Mountain Lodge, Boulder, UT
- Night 4: Ruby’s Inn, or Bryce Canyon Lodge, Bryce National Park, UT
- Nights 5 & 6: Flanigan’s Inn or Desert Pearl Inn, Springdale, UT
Additional Activities: Slot canyon hiking, swimming, waterfalls, massage, and yoga.
Overall Route Map
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!
Riding the Utah Mountains & National Parks Bike Tour
Ability Level: Upper-Intermediate to advanced cyclists.
The details: Following the example of the local Utah wildlife, our Utah Mountains & National Parks Tour moves to the cooler temperatures offered in Utah’s high country during the summer season. This cycling excursion completes the western exploration of Utah that started with our Redrocks Canyons (eastern Utah) and Whiterock Canyons Tour (central Utah).
The mountains of south central Utah provide all the challenge a cyclist could want. This tour delivers a combination of car free roads, jaw-dropping scenery and plenty of climbing and descending. Easily accessible mileage options allow you to decrease the challenge.
We’ll throw in some afternoon hikes too, such at to Calf Creek’s 126-foot high waterfall (shown above) and the Virgin River Narrows in Zion National Park (see picture on Day 7).
This comprehensive bike tour features a smorgasbord of natural resources including Capitol Reef, Grand Staircase – Escalante National Monument, Cedar Breaks National Monument, Bryce Canyon National Park and Zion National Park… the best Utah has to offer!
The weather: You’ll often hear people say, “It’s a dry heat” when describing the desert Southwest’s temperatures in the summer. It’s true, but don’t let that intimidate you when you come riding with us. In the summer highs range from the 70’s to lower 90’s. Afternoon clouds and rain are common in the summer and serve to cool things down quickly.
Why choose this tour? If you’ve longed to see Utah’s “greatest hits” of natural wonders, this is the tour for you. From the popular Bryce and Zion National Parks, to the less-known Cedar Breaks and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments and Capitol Reef National Park, you’ll see it all!
Ability Level: Can I Ride This Tour?
Do the Bump!
Daily mileage options allow cyclists of varying abilities to enjoy this tour. One of our favorite options is to give cyclists a “bump” via the support vehicle, or a 10 to 20 mile lift down the road representing an hour of pedal time. After the bump the rider is “off the front” and riding at his or her own pace without feeling they are being left behind the group. They’ll then have time to linger and take in the spectacular scenery. All cyclists come together in time for lunch. Afterwards, cyclists can take another bump and/or continue riding.
Seamless Mileage Options
Lizard Head Cycling Guides designs multiple mileage options for each tour – something we’re well known for in our business. Daily shuttle options allow cyclists of varying abilities to enjoy our tours through mileage customization.
Slow or Fast?
PLEASE don’t be scared away from this tour. Many cyclists who sign up for our tours have worried themselves silly about not being able to keep up, but then they’re surprised to find that all the worrying was about nothing. They do just fine! Slow and Fast only exist as relative terms to other people. Speed does not matter as long as you are moving on the bike.
Like we say to even the most reluctant cyclists: “You will be ready for a Lizard Head Cycling tour when you are finished with a Lizard Head Cycling tour”.
If you have questions about your ability to ride this tour, please contact our office via email or call us at 970.728.5891 - we'll more than happy to guide you!
Please also see this blog post for more information.
Is This Tour Good for Non-Riders?
Yes! Non-riders very much enjoy the Utah Mountains & National Parks tour when they are flexible, easy going and are up for some riding and hiking. We even have e-bikes (electrically assisted bicycles) available if a non-rider chooses to do some low effort riding.
Also, since the Utah Mountains & National Parks tour’s lodging is relatively close together, this reduces the time spent in transit between hotels for non-riders. Some Utah Mountains tours also have a second support vehicle and as a result, the amount of time spent transferring for non-riders will be reduced since the second support vehicle will be able to jump ahead.
Additionally, the Utah Mountains & National Parks tour spends two nights each in the same hotel for nights 2 & 3 and nights 5 & 6, thus non-riders do not have to transfer at all.
Plenty of world-class hiking options also exist for non-riders from the lodges on each day of the Utah Mountains tour. For example: On Day 3 guests hike 6-miles round trip to 120-foot Calf Creek desert waterfall and Day 5 has another truly amazing hike into Bryce Canyon National Park.
Utah Mountains & National Parks Bike 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: Scenic Byway 72 to Red River Ranch
Standard, 47 miles with up to 3,170 feet of climbing
E.F.I., 82 miles with up to 5,780 feet of climbing
Your Utah Mountains & National Parks Tour begins with a back country bike ride along the eastern rise of central Utah’s Fishlake Mountains. Riders are treated to a quiet scenic byway with little traffic. Numerous viewpoints provide expansive views of the desert 3,000-feet below. This ride is one of Utah’s hidden gems.
On this first day, take it easy and set your own pace. Lunch will be served at the top with panoramic 100-mile views of southern Utah. Next, be prepared for the optional stout climb to Fish Lake. You’ve just ascended 6,400-feet on day one.
From here, descend to tonight’s accommodations at the relaxing oasis, Red River Ranch. The Fremont River flows through the ranch, twelve bison live on site, giant cottonwood trees shade the buildings and the ranch sits beneath towering red rock cliffs.
Day 2: Torrey, Utah to Boulder, Utah
Standard, 41 miles with up to 3,930 feet of climbing
E.F.I., 95 miles with up to 7,505 feet of climbing
Today’s destination is Capitol Reef National Park. After touring its ancient pictographs and waterfalls, you’ll ascend Boulder Mountain. Brace yourself – it’s a monster 3,000-foot ascent from the desert to the mountains with a peak elevation of 9,000-feet. From the top of Boulder Mountain, fly down to the oasis of Boulder, Utah.
Are you itching for a massive challenge? Try a taxing 95-mile option with over 7,500 feet of total climbing.
Day 3: Long Canyon Loop & Calf Creek Waterfall
Long Canyon Out & Back, 37 miles with up to 3,330 feet of climbing
Calf Creek Out & Back, 25 miles with up to 2,385 feet of climbing
Choose from a variety of activities, including swimming, canyoneering, hiking and more bike riding. Or just hang out at the lodge and enjoy a quiet day reading, soaking in the hot tub or even a massage.
The planned ride for today is a 37 mile out and back to the intimate confines of Long Canyon, a desert gem. The 400-foot tall canyon walls wingate sandstone tower above you. You can also walk into a hidden slot canyon that’s just off the quiet road. Even though this route is relatively short, be prepared for nearly 3,400 feet of climbing.
After Long Canyon, ride 12.5 miles to the Calf Creek Recreation Area. Change into your hiking boots here. In this enchanting desert oasis with lush vegetation and beaver ponds, you will arrive at the year-round 126 foot cascading waterfall of Lower Calf Creek after a 2.5 mile walk. We will spend a few hours searching Indian ruins and petroglyphs, then observe birds, deer and (if we are lucky) perhaps a mountain lion. Enjoy lunch in the shade beneath the waterfall.
After the 5 mile walking round-trip to the Calf Creek waterfall, you can call it a day or challenge yourself with the 12.5 mile return ride back up Boulder. Upon returning to the resort, take a walk around the adjacent bird sanctuary or enjoy a nap under a large cottonwood tree. We simply love the Boulder Mountain Lodge!
Tonight once again dine at Hell’s Backbone Grill. The gracious owners, Jenn and Blake, are wonderful hosts and their restaurant has received numerous praise, including the New York Times Story.
Day 4: Boulder, Utah to Bryce National Park
40 to 73 miles with between 2,750 and 5,760 feet of climbing
Today the Utah Mountains & National Parks Tour continues west on Utah State Highway 12. This is arguably one of the best cycling roads in the state, maybe the country. It twists and turns and climbs and dives across rough desert and high plateau topography. Today’s ride to Bryce National Park offers 73 miles & 5,760-feet of climbing that will likely turn your legs to mush.
The highlight of Highway 12 is the ridge of Hell’s Backbone – an exposed piece of highway dropping hundreds of feet on either side. Highway 12 traces the northern edge of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, a 1.9 million acre spectacle of multi-hued cliffs and terraces, with distances that defy human perspective. Highway 12 is sure to please.
Tonight’s lodging is outside Bryce Canyon National Park and later on, we will take an exhilarating night hike under the stars inside the park.
Day 5: Bryce Canyon National Park to Cedar Breaks National Monument to Zion National Park
Standard, 53 to 107 miles with between 5,170 to 7,505 feet of climbing
E.F.I., 130 miles with up to 8,165 feet of climbing
This day’s ride offers yet another challenge and with a route riding from the desert to the mountains and back to the desert, the ecological diversity of today’s ride is simply off the charts. After departing Bryce Canyon National Park in the morning, you’ll head west for a ride that brings you to the 10,000-foot high elevation mark at Cedar Breaks National Monument. From here, it’s a 6,300′ descent for the next 50+ miles to Mt. Carmel Junction – gravity will be your friend today! We then head due west and upon entering Zion National Park, you will be enthralled by 2,500-foot high sandstone cliffs as we make our way through the park to the small town of Springdale, Utah.
Lower mileage options exist for those looking for less climbing and/or miles by shuttling ahead on the climbs or along longer stretches of open road.
Day 6: Layover in Springdale, Utah
Hiking Options in Zion National Park
Optional Ride, Kolob Canyon Out & Back, 75 miles with up to 6,500 feet of climbing
With a layover day in Springdale, optional on-your-own unguided hiking in Zion National Park certainly beckons and we highly recommend you take advantage of it as Zion offers some of the most scenic hiking of all the national parks. Take the free Zion Canyon Shuttle from Springdale into the park for hiking and then back again when you are finished. The shuttle runs every 10-15 minutes throughout the day, so you will have plenty of time to enjoy your hike.
An optional on-your-own out and back 75 mile route from Springdale to Kolob Canyon and back can also be ridden. This route offers tremendous views of Zion from above through a diverse landscape.
Day 7: Springdale, Utah to Virgin River Narrows
Zion Sunrise Ride, 16 miles with up to 1090 feet of climbing
On our final day of the tour, we breakfast early and then embark on an early morning sunrise ride into Zion National Park.
First we will ride a flat 7 miles on a park road closed to private vehicles as bikes rule here. Upon entering Zion, the riding experience is sublime with canyon walls towering over 2,000-feet above the road and early morning sunlight dancing along the tops of the white rock peaks… it is gorgeous! Upon reaching the end of the ride, there will be more options to hike around Zion canyon. Another option instead of the riding or hiking is to relax in the quaint downtown of Springdale.
In the mid-afternoon (Saturday), you can take the shuttle back to our meeting hotel in St. George. Choose to spend a night in St. George, or take the shuttle back to Las Vegas.
If you would like to extend your stay in Zion National Park, you are welcome to do so, but all reservations are on-your-own to make in advance. We will even transport your bike back to the shop and have it shipped for you, if you brought your own wheels.
Utah Mountains & National Parks Bike Tour: Logistics & FAQs
Lodging on the Utah Mountains & National Parks Bike Tour: The Utah-Mountains & National Park Bike Tour includes lodging from Sunday night through Friday night (6 nights).
Pre & Post Tour Lodging: Riders are responsible for their own lodging on the night prior to and post tour. Lizard Head Cycling’s meeting hotel is in St. George, Utah. Contact us for details.
Bike Rental: Lizard Head Cycling rents Scott CR-1 carbon road bikes equipped with Shimano 105 components and geared for mountain climbing (the lowest rear gear is 32 tooth). 49cm, 52cm, 54cm 56cm, 58cm & 61cm bikes are available. Bike rental cost is $275- for the length of a tour.
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.
Meals on Tour: All meals from lunch on the tour’s first day (Sunday) through lunch on departure day (Saturday) aside from dinner on Day 5.
Breakfasts and dinners are in restaurants where clients either order off the menu or choose from a buffet. Our fresh lunches include salads, local fruit, vegetables and meats are served in roadside parks by the Lizard Head Cycling Guides. Any dietary preferences or allergies should be noted on the registration form.
Each of Lizard Head Cycling’s lunches contain gluten free options.
If on any given night a guest is tired or not feeling particularly social, they can choose to eat early and retire. Lizard Head Cycling enjoys hosting its guests for meals each evening, but understands some of us may just need to lie down after a day in the saddle. A meal should not feel like marathon after a big day on the bike.
How the Shuttle Works – 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. On trips with more then 13 riders a second support vehicle may be employed.
The vehicle will sag and then pass riders to set up aid stations every 15 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).
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.
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.