Utah Mountains & National Parks Bike Tour with Lizard Head
101 Bobtail or Box 855, Ophir, CO 81426 Phone: 970.728.5891
Email: info@LizardHeadCyclingGuides.com

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

Calf Creek Falls, Utah

Calf Creek Waterfall

Utah's Highway 12

The Curvaceous Curves of Utah’s Highway 12

Southern Utah’s Canyon Country

Southern Utah’s Canyon Country

Capitol Reef National Park

Capitol Reef National Park

Bryce Canyon National Park

Zion National Park

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: 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

2018 Utah Mountains & National Parks Tour Dates:

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.

2018 Boulder, Bryce & Zion Tour Dates:

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Utah Mountains & National Parks Bike Tour: Overview

Reptile Rewards

Tour Length: 7-Days Cycling/6-Nights Lodging

Starting & Ending Town: St. George, UT. Fly in and out of Las Vegas, NV. Shuttle service available through the St. George Shuttle.

Total Miles: Standard distance 250-350 miles, E.F.I. distance 533 miles. (Can I keep up on this tour?)

Ability Level: 2/4 (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.
Free bike rental is included with this bike tour.
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: Add $595 to the Tour Cost for a private room each night of the tour (6 nights). Add $295 if willing to share with a same sex rider and none are available. PLEASE NOTE: The first three nights of the Utah Mountains tour stays at two of our favorite lodges, the Boulder Mtn Lodge and Red River Ranch, of over the 100 properties we visit. On very limited occurrences at these first two lodges single room supplement guests will have a private room with separate entrance, but may have to share a bath with one other guest. This infrequent arrangement is due to the room variations at these boutique lodges. Although we could stay in standard hotels that offer basic private rooms and private baths for everyone, we feel the lodging experience at both these highly regarded lodges offers an overall improvement to our tour experience. 🙂

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.

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.

Please also see this blog post for more information on bike rentals.

Tandems and Recumbents: Lizard Head Cycling Guides happily accommodates both tandem and recumbent bikes on its tours.

Utah Bike Tours Includes: Lodging, bike rental, all meals, guide service, entrance fees, daily lunch en route, energy food, liquid refreshments, shuttles and mechanical support.

**Alcoholic beverages  & massage therapy are additional.

Lodging for 6 Nights (subject to change):

Additional Activities: Slot canyon hiking, swimming, waterfalls, massage, and yoga.

Overall Route Map

Meals On Tour

Lunches: 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!

Dinners: 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.

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?

How Fit do I Have to Be?
If one month prior to the tour, you can ride 2 to 3 times a week equalling a total of 75 or more miles a week, you'll do just fine. We like to jokingly say that "one is ready for a Lizard Head Cycling Tour when they are finished with tour" and this is true! The only way to simulate a week long bike tour is to go on a week long tour.

Our average rider age is 55 years. These are bike tours, not races so we take our time to stop, take pictures and see the sights. We have all day to reach our destination and most riders take "bumps" at some points. We offer reduced mileage options for each day. Of course if someone wants to ride E.F.I. (Every Freaking Inch), we love to show them all the extra climbs, loops and hidden canyons that can be included!

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. This technique is similar to heliskiing in that one does not ski everything, they ski the best. :-)

Slow or Fast?
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 relative to other cyclists. Speed does not matter as long as one is moving on the bike. As long as one is moving, they are truly going fast enough.

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.

Red River Ranch hot tub

Relax… you deserve it.

Red River Ranch great room

Red River Ranch great room

Standard, 47 miles – Elevation Profile: +3170 ft / -3425 ft

E.F.I., 82 miles – Elevation PProfile: +5780 ft / -6040 ft

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.

Settle in tonight for a two-night’s stay at the incomparable Boulder Mtn Lodge while enjoying meals at a personal favorite of the Lizard Head staff, Hell’s Backbone Grill.

Utah Mountains. Cycling up Boulder Mountain, Utah

Climbing Boulder Mountain

Standard, 41 miles – Elevation Profile: +3930 ft / -4240 ft

E.F.I. 95 miles – Elevation Profile: +7505 ft / -7815 ft

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

On this day you will explore the extraordinary backcountry of the Grand-Staircase Escalante National Monument from our base camp at the Boulder Mtn Lodge.

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.

Utah Mountains, Long Canyon, Utah

The Confines of Long Canyon

Lower Calf Creek Falls

Long Canyon Out & Back, 37 Miles – Elevation Profile: +3330 ft / -3330 ft

Calf Creek Out & Back, 25 Miles – Elevation Profile: +2385 ft / -2385 ft

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.

Cycling on Utah's Highway 12

Riding along Utah’s world-class Highway 12

Elevation Profile: +5760 ft / -4790 ft

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.

View of Bryce National Park

Bryce National Park

Red Canyon bike path just outside Bryce Canyon

Cedar Breaks National Monument

E.F.I., 130 Miles – Elevation Profile: +8165 ft / -11870 ft

Bryce Canyon to Tod’s Store, 83 Miles – Elevation Profile: +6110 ft / -6255 ft

Carmel Junction to Zion, 25 Miles – Elevation Profile: +1395 ft / -2690 ft

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.

Some of the trails we recommend in Zion National Park are Angel’s Landing, The Narrows through the Virgin River and Weeping Rock… among many others!

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.

High above Zion National Park

Angels Landing Trail

Challenging near the top, but worth the view!

Kolob Terrace Road

Kolob Canyon Out & Back, 75 miles – Elevation Profile: +6500 ft / -6500 ft

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.

Well Done!

Riding in Zion Canyon

Hiking in Zion National Park

Zion National Park

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.

Bike Shipping

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.

Travel Insurance

Lizard Head Cycling Guides highly recommends clients purchase Travel Insurance through MH Ross Travel Insurance. A policy can be purchased individually through the sales link below or Lizard Head Cycling Guides can also set-up a policy for its clients.

The estimated cost for a 50-year old buying insurance for a $2,500 tour ranges from $100 (standard plan) to about $200 (cancel for any reason plan).

Lizard Head Cycling Guides Custom Sales Portal Link is:


  • The best options for our clients are either the Asset or Bridge plans.
  • The Asset-Plus & Complete plans both include a Cancel-For-Any-Reason option.
    • As a result these plans cost more.
    • The Cancel-for-Any-Reason option is only available when insurance is purchased within two weeks of initial deposit.