Whiterock Canyons Bike Tour, Lizard Head Cycling Guides
107 Aurum St, Box 855, Ophir, CO 81426 970.728.5891 info@LizardHeadCyclingGuides.com

Whiterock Canyons

Please click here to jump to the Overview section with all tour details including pricing.

PLEASE NOTE: This tour is not regularly scheduled, but it can be configured as a Custom Tour for your group with a minimum of nine (9) riders. Please contact us via email or call 970.728.5891 for more information.

Ride through the weird and wild landscapes of south central Utah where deserts, deep canyons and mountains twisted by mammoth forces produce otherworldly landscape.

Challenging climbs, delightful descents, wonderful weather, spectacular scenery, gorgeous geology, fabulous food, lovely lodging, and a great group of fellow cyclists. Lizard Head Cycling Guides outdid themselves on this one. – Jeffery Fehr

Whiterocks Canyon Tour: Highlights

Whiterocks Canyon Tour

The Curvaceous Curves of Utah’s Highway 12

Southern Utah's Canyon Country

The Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

Cycling Nirvana

We really can’t say enough good things about our Whiterock Canyons Utah bike tour. It contains a region so spectacular that cyclists are within a State or National Park virtually the entire tour.

Highlights include Glen Canyon-Lake Powell National Recreation Area, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Escalante Petrified Forest State Park, Kodachrome State Park, Anasazi State Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, and “America’s Forgotten Park” Capitol Reef National Park.

Daily Mileage, Lodging and Evening Towns: (subject to availability)

Read reviews for this tour >>
Read about Highway 12& Hell’s Backbone Grill >>

Read a San Juan Skyway Visitors Guide story about Lizard Head Cycling Guides

San Juan Skyway Visitors Guide

Whiterocks Canyon Tour: Tour Dates

PLEASE NOTE: This tour is not regularly scheduled, but it can be configured as a Custom Tour for your group with a minimum of nine (9) riders. Please contact us via email or call 970.728.5891 for more information.

If you are looking for a summer tour to Utah’s National Parks, consider our Utah Mountains & National Parks (Zion & Bryce. The Utah Mountains & National Parks rides an audacious point-to-point route across Utah’s high country to Zion National Park.

Video of Day Two’s Descent of Hell’s Backbone to Calf Creek Falls

Whiterocks Canyon, Utah

Empty Roads beneath Towering Cliffs

Lizard Head Cycling Guides Support Van

Lizard Head Cycling Guides Support Van

Whiterocks Canyon Tour: Overview

“The Last Blank spot on the map and last uncharted terrain in the United States” – Circa the 1870’s Powell Expedition

Reptile Rewards

Tour Length: 6-Days/ 5 nights lodging

Meeting/Ending Town: Grand Junction, Colorado

Total Mileage Options: 250 to 375 miles

Mileage Range: 15 to 105 miles

Elevation Range: From 3,710′ (Lake Powell) up to 9,598′ (Byrce Canyon Park)

Ability Level: 3 (Advanced)

Tour Cost: *** Please Call for Custom Tour Pricing – 970.728.5891 ***

PLEASE NOTE: This tour is not regularly scheduled, but it can be configured as a Custom Tour for your group with a minimum of nine (9) riders. Please contact us via email or call 970.728.5891 for more information.

Scenic Flight Option: As an option ($250), the Whiterock Canyons Tour can conclude with a truly spectacular low-level return flight over Canyonlands National Park.

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.

“An Impractical Route of Epic Proportion”

The Mormon Church’s Hole in the Rock Expedition of 1879 attempted a crossing of this inhospitable terrain to settle Bluff, Utah in 1879. Although ultimately successful, the 60 young families struggled and suffered bitterly with wagons and beasts of burden for months across an unforgiving moonscape of rock and canyon. They had chosen an impractical route of epic proportions in their attempt to cross southern Utah. Today this is the route of our Whiterock Canyons Tour!

Riding in Capital Reef National Park

Riding in Capital Reef National Park: Day 6

The Burr Trail: One of America’s Most Unique & Challenging Rides

The Whiterocks Tour is not your typical road bike tour. For example, on Day 2 we explore the Burr Trail from the depths of Lake Powell to America’s “Forgotten National Park”, Capital Reef. Day 2’s Burr Trail ride is a 66-mile long road that crosses through a rough and tumble desert topography of wild beauty. We consider the Burr trail one of the most unique and challenging rides in the United States. It is a highlight of this Utah Bike Tour.

Fantastic Lodging

From the Defiance Lodge on Lake Powell to the remarkable hospitality of the Boulder Mountain Lodge and the Slot Canyons Inn Bed & Breakfast, the lodging and food on the Whiterocks Tour ranks as one of our favorites. We enjoy the staff and food at Hell’s Backbone Grill in Boulder, Utah to such a degree that we dine there for two nights.

The Burr Trail, Utah

The Burr Trail Through Waterpocket Fold: Day 2

Riding in Long Canyon, Utah

Riding in Long Canyon: Day 2

Ride Ability: Can I Ride this Tour?

The Whiterocks tour has less mileage, but more climbing then Lizard Head Cycling’s much loved Redrock Canyons Tour. As a result the challenge of the Whiterocks is comparable to the Redrocks Tour. If cyclists pedal all of Day 2’s climbs, there is over 7,000-feet of climbing available. Although the overall miles are less then the Redrock Canyons Tour, additional mileage options and the climbing available on the Whiterocks Tour make it a real challenge to pedal every mile.

  • The Whiterocks Tour is designed for intermediate to advanced cyclists. Both cyclists new to multi-day tours and advanced riders who pedal over 5,000 miles annually have enjoyed the Whiterock Canyons Tour. The tour is a similar challenge to rides such as Cycle Oregon, Ride the Rockies, or RAGBRAI.
  • We have discovered that many cyclists who worried themselves sick about not being able to keep up, are surprised to find that all the worrying was about nothing. They do just fine!

Do the Bump!

Daily mileage options 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. It takes an hour or more to reel-in a cyclist with a 15-mile head start; as a result off-the-front riders have time to linger and to take in the spectacular scenery. Cyclists come back together in time for lunch. Post lunch the cyclist can take another bump and/or continue riding. It is no big deal.

Slow or Fast:

  • PLEASE don’t be scared away from this tour. It is not as hard as it may sound.
  • Slow and Fast only exist as relative terms to other people. Speed does not matter as long as you are moving on the bike.
  • PLEASE NOTE: “You will be ready for a Lizard Head Cycling tour when you are finished with 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)
Whiterocks Canyon

“Welcome to the Whiterocks Tour”

Canyon Country, Utah

“The Road into Canyon Country”

Whiterocks Canyon Tour: Itinerary

Day 1: Hanksville, Utah to Lake Powell
55-miles with 35-mile option

Day 1’s route is a real gem! When we put this tour’s itinerary together we had not realized how compelling a ride Day 1’s tour through the Henry Mountains to Lake Powell would be. The road moves with the landscape as it dances between massive redrock boulders and mysterious canyons. There is a 800-foot climb onto the shoulders of the Henry Mountains followed by more ups, downs, twists and turns then one cares to count. The route even passes through the range of a free roaming Buffalo. In short Day 1’s ride is a blast.

To complete Day 1 cyclists are rewarded with a long descent into the Glen Canyon-Lake Powell National Recreation Area.

Tonight’s lodging and dinner is at the Defiance Lodge overlooking the deep-blue waters of Lake Powell and the mystical canyon walls that surround the reservoir. If Edward Abbey’s fictional character Hayduke were still alive, he would live somewhere hidden in this region.

Whiterock Canyons, Day 1 Elevation Profile

Day 1: Elevation Profile, Hanksville to Lake Powell
+4,764 feet / -4,268 feet

Henry Mountains to Lake Powell

Day 1: Riding through Henry Mountains to Lake Powell. Wow!

Houseboats Moored in Lake Powell

Houseboats Moored in Lake Powell

Lake Powell Canyon

Lake Powell Canyon View

Defiance House Lodge

View from Defiance House Lodge: Day 1

Day 2: Bullfrog, Utah to Boulder, Utah via the Burr Trail
71-miles with 55-mile option

Established in in 1876 as a cattle trail, the Burr Trail snakes through the rough and nearly impassable country around the Waterpocket Fold, Burr Canyon, and Muley Twist Canyon. In the 1990’s, and to the chagrin of some environmentalists, all but 16 of the 68 mile trail were paved. Still, the length, location, and remoteness of the route virtually guarantees a day of wonderment on the bike unlike any other.

A shuttle is available for the 16 unpaved miles of the Burr Trail or if cyclists enjoy the challenge of pavé they can elect to try and ride up the dirt section. After the pavement resumes cyclists exit the Burr Trail after riding within the narrow confines of Long Canyon’s 700-foot high walls.

Day 2 is the “Queen Stage” (the longest day with the most climbing) of the Whiterock Canyons Tour. If cyclists are able to pedal the entire 71 miles (including the 16 miles of dirt/pave’) they will have climbed over 7,000-feet in only 71 miles of pedaling!

This evening’s lodging is at the Boulder Mountain Lodge, a welcoming oasis of calm, comfort and luxury in an otherwise harsh environment. From it’s western-eclectic log, stucco and stone architecture to it’s refreshing eco-tourism personality this place just feels good. And with critically re-known Hell’s Backbone Grill on-site you’ll know why we visit the lodge not once, but twice this tour.

Whiterock Canyons, Day 2 Elevation Profile

Day 2: Elevation Profile, Bullfrog Village to Boulder via Burr Trail
+7,995 feet / -4,946 feet


Click here: Day 2 Route Flyover for a birds-eye view of the Day 2 Route in Google Earth. The link opens in another window. Click on “Download” or “Open”, then “Open” and the tour will start. Make sure speakers are on! If you don’t have Google Earth you can download it here: Download Google Earth

Burr Trail Road

Burr Trail Road

Muley Twist Overhang Near Burr Trail

Muley Twist Overhang Near Burr Trail

Burr Trail Switchbacks

Burr Trail Switchbacks

Brimhall Double Arch

Brimhall Double Arch Near Burr Trail

Riding in Long Canyon

Riding in Long Canyon near end of Day 2

Boulder Mountain Lodge & Hell's Backbone

Day 2 and Day 5’s Lodging & Dining

Day 3: Boulder, Utah to Escalante, Utah
32-miles with 6-mile hike

Today the Whiterocks Canyons Tour joins Utah State Highway 12. If ever there was a road built for cycling, this may be it. Highway 12 twists and turns and climbs and dives across rough desert topography. The road sees little traffic and is in a word, simply spectacular. From Boulder, Utah we follow Highway 12 across the ridge of Hell’s backbone; an exposed piece of highway which drops 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.

After 12 miles we arrive at Calf Creek Recreation Area where bike shoes are exchanged for hike shoes. Calf Creek is an enchanting desert oasis with lush vegetation, beaver ponds and after a 3 mile walk the year-round 126-foot cascading waterfall of Lower Calf Creek. In this desert paradise we spend a few hours in search of Indian ruins and petroglyphs while observing wildlife such as birds, deer and if very lucky, even mountain lion.

After the 6 mile roundtrip walk in Calf Creek cyclists can call it a day or challenge themselves with a 19-mile (including a 6-mile 1,000-foot climb) ride up and over to the Slot Canyons Inn Bed and Breakfast in Escalante, Utah.

Whiterock Canyons, Day 3 Elevation Profile

Day 3: Elevation Profile, Boulder to Escalante via Hell’s Backbone
+2,280 feet / -3,302 feet

View Larger Map

Descent of Highway 12, Utah

Day 3: A Fine Descent of Highway 12 to Calf Creek Falls

Cycling in Utah's Canyon Country

Canyon Country & Snow Covered Peaks

Highway 12 South of Boulder

Highway 12 South of Boulder

Boynton Overlook Grand Staircase National Monument

Boynton Overlook Grand Staircase National Monument

Curvaceous Cycling on Highway 12, Utah

Curvaceous Cycling

Lower Calf Creek Falls

Lower Calf Creek Falls: An all time best swimming hole!

Calf Creek Pictographs

Calf Creek Pictographs

Day 4: Escalante, Utah to Bryce Canyon National Park
103-miles or 51-ride plus a 3-mile hike

Although today is a rest day on the Whiterocks Tour where pedaling is not necessary, cyclists wishing to ride some or all of highway 12’s dazzling twists and turns (49 miles) back towards Escalante can choose to do so.

Tonight we return for a second night at the Slot Canyons Inn Bed & Breakfast to refresh the body, mind, and spirit.

Star-gazers will delight in one of the clearest and darkest skies in the U.S. visible from our lodging in Escalante, Utah.

Whiterock Canyons, Day 4 Elevation Profile

Day 4: Elevation Profile, Escalante to Bryce Canyon National Park
+4,733 feet / -2,364 feet


Click here: Day 4 Route Flyover for a birds-eye view of the Day 4 Route in Google Earth. The link opens in another window. Click on “Download” or “Open”, then “Open” and the tour will start. Make sure speakers are on! If you don’t have Google Earth you can download it here: Download Google Earth

View Larger Map

Lizard Head Cycling’s Fabulous Road Side Lunch Buffet

Lizard Head Cycling’s Fabulous Road Side Lunch Buffet

Bryce Canyon

Bryce Canyon

Hiking into Bryce Canyon

Day 4: Hiking into Bryce Canyon

Day 5: Escalante, Utah to Boulder, Utah

After departing the Kiva Coffee House cyclists put the caffeine to use over the final 15-miles of riding which includes an 1,800′ foot climb up Hell’s Backbone’s 10% grades. We’ll arrive at the Boulder Mountain Lodge by mid-afternoon to enjoy the adjacent bird sanctuary, the view from the “epic” hot tub and the beautifully landscaped grounds of the lodge.

Whiterock Canyons, Day 5 Elevation Profile

Day 5: Elevation Profile, Escalante to Boulder via Highway 12
+3,300 feet / -2,277 feet

Capital Reef and Henry Mountains

Capital Reef and Henry Mountains from Hwy 12

Kiva Koffee House

Kiva Koffee House

Day 6: Boulder, Utah to Capitol Reef National Park
102-miles or 71-mile option, Scenic Flight Option Available

In the fall colors rage on the mountain while fruit tree groves are ripe in the Fremont River Valley below. A whopping descent brings us back to canyon country before pedaling yet another spectacular road through the canyons of Capitol Reef National Park.

A fabulous end of tour option as the sun sets in the west on this epic tour, is a scenic return flight back to Grand Junction. The professionals at Gateway Canyon Air Tours and Redtail Aviation will fly cyclists on a low-level scenic route over Canyonlands National Park and Moab, Utah back to Grand Junction for one last breathtaking perspective of canyon country!

Well Done!

Whiterock Canyons, Day 6 Elevation Profile

Day 6: Elevation Profile, Boulder to Capitol Reef National Park
+5,305 feet / -6,434 feet

View Larger Map

Entering Capital Reef National Park

Capital Reef Scenic Road

Capital Reef Scenic Road


Capitol Reef Pictographs

Cessana Caravan

Cessana Caravan

Cessna Caravan Interior

Cessna Caravan Interior

Whiterocks Canyon Tour: Logistics & FAQs

2014 Meeting Location: The Courtyard Marriott on Horizon Drive in Grand Junction, Colorado is adjacent to the airport and provides an airport shuttles.

Ending Location: The tour ends at the Marriott after Day 6’s ride and return scenic flight.

Pre and Post Tour Lodging: Riders are responsible for their own lodging for nights preceding or following the tour as needed at any Grand Junction area facility of their liking. The Courtyard Marriott on Horizon Drive in Grand Junction, Colorado is LHCG’s preferred lodging provider for this tour and is our beginning and ending location. The Courtyard Marriott is adjacent to the airport and provides airport shuttles. Ask for the Lizard Head Cycling Guides preferred rate.

Tour Months: The tour is offered during the months of May, June, September and October.

Dining: Cyclists dine each evening at uniquely local dining establishments chosen by Lizard Head Cycling. All meals are included with the costs of the tour.

Tour Support: The tour is supported by a van and trailer which carries all luggage and equipment. Spare tubes, tires and bikes are carried on the support vehicle.

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.The support vehicle, a 15 passenger van & trailer, provides a shuttle option from aid stations along the route. Plan to depart early each morning to allow time for exploration, photography and siesta.

Daily Support Schedule: Every 15 to 20 miles an aid station is set up with liquids, energy food, & fruit. Lunch on the trail includes: fresh sandwiches, fruit, salads, & soft drinks.

How the Shuttle Works: The Whiterock Canyons Tour 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 ten-mile, fifteen-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).

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.

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

If you have not already, now would be a great time to consider adding travel insurance to your tour. You are welcome to use any travel insurance company you would like. We recommend Generali/Trip Mate.

Generally, if contracting COVID causes clients to cancel or interrupt their tour, trip insurance companies would treat it as any other illness as long as it is contracted after the insurance was purchased. Please check your individual plan documentation for details. Please note that quarantine is usually only covered if clients are actually sick with COVID. If a state requires quarantine upon arrival because of standardized state law, coverage is generally not covered. Again, check your individual plan documentation for details.

American Guests - use this link: http://www.generalitravelinsurance.com/get-a-quote.html?partner=LIZA0855

  • The Premium Plan is the only plan which offers Pre-Existing coverage so long as the plan is purchased prior to Final Payment.
  • The Premium Plan is the only plan that offers an optional Cancel For Any Reason - the policy must be purchased within 24 hours of initial trip deposit, the full trip cost must be insured, and if they cancel for Any Reason, it must be 48 hours prior to departure, and the reimbursement for an Any Reason claim is 60% of pre-paid, insured, non-refundable trip cost.
  • Customer Service can be reached at 1-800-874-2442 for coverage questions and policy modifications or to purchase by phone. Agency Code: LIZA0855

Canadian Guests - use this link: https://tripmate.catravelins.ca/?utm_source=lizardhead


*PLEASE NOTE: Tour itineraries are subject to change and modification based on the group, available accommodations, road construction, road closures, and other unforeseen circumstances including weather, wildfires, flooding, hurricanes, landslides and/or other acts of nature. Also, the distances and elevation profiles shown below may not reflect the actual distances and elevations while on tour as these are provided here to give an idea as to the anticipated mileage and terrain. Please view this itinerary, the distances, and elevation profiles as a general outline as to what to expect while on this tour.

Flying over Canyon Country, Utah

Flying over Canyon Country

White Erosion near Hanksville, Utah

White Erosion near Hanksville


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