Castles & Swells to Goblin Valley MTB Tour - Lizard Head Cycling Guides
107 Aurum St, Box 855, Ophir, CO 81426 970.728.5891

Castles & Swells to Goblin Valley MTB Tour

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The San Rafael Swell Expedition

From Castle Valley to Goblin Valley, this back country trip packs unique world class scenery. Another point-to-point mountain bike trip in Utah, this is the best of some lesser known gems that the canyon country has to offer. A part of the Colorado Plateau, the San Rafael Swell is a special section of folded, or anticline, sandstone, leading to some of the most diverse landscapes. In some sections, it is a sweeping country with towering mesas, buttes, and pinnacles rising from flat desert floors. In other areas, it boasts rolling pasture lands populated with pronghorn, antelope, and wild horses. Then it becomes an incredibly wild, broken land with streams cutting through slot canyons that open up to panoramic vistas. The landscape is not the only thing to explore. Littered within, abandoned mines, petroglyphs, and pictographs are a glimpse into the past.

Castles & Swells to Goblin Valley MTB Tour: Highlights

Descending into Reds Canyon

Riding along the red sandstone cliffs of Reds Canyon

Fortress of Rock

Behind the Swell Trail

Head of Sinbad Petroglyph

Goblin Valley

Castles & Swells to Goblin Valley MTB 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

*** No tours are scheduled at this time. ***

Castles & Swells to Goblin Valley MTB Tour: Overview

Reptile Rewards

Arrival Town/Airport: Grand Junction, Colorado (Grand Junction Regional Airport – GJT)

Departing Town/Airport: Grand Junction, Colorado (Grand Junction Regional Airport – GJT)

Tour Length: 6-Days Cycling/5-Nights Camping

Total Miles: 170 miles (additional mileage options available)

Mileage Range: 15-44 miles

Ability Level: Upper Intermediate (3) , Advanced (3/4)

Tour Cost: $1,595 per person. Group discount of 5% for groups of 4 or more.
Please see our Tour Discounts Policy.

Non-Riding Spouses & Partners on Tour: If a non-riding spouse or partner would like to join you on tour and they have their own transportation, they can stay in your room for the cost of the tour's single room supplement. Non-Riding spouses and partners can join a tour's meal plan of three meals a day for $85 per day.

Early Bird 2021 Special: Sign-up for a 2021 tour by October 31, 2020 and receive a $150 discount! (NOTE: New reservations only. Not stackable with other discounts)

Tour Includes: Guide service, monster F-350 support truck, all delicious meals, energy food, liquid refreshments, shuttles, a special cycling gift, and mechanical support. Alcoholic beverages and bike rentals are additional.

MTB Bike Rental

Lizard Head Cycling Guides is proud to rent 2020 Scott Genius 930 mountain bikes. The Scott Genius is a 29-inch wheeled bike with 2.8 inch tires. This bike rolls with ease over most everything: rocks, dirt and pavement. The mid-fat tires stopping and cornering give the rider confidence. The bike's full suspension can be locked fully or partially out with a level on the handle bars. Sizing includes Small, Medium, Large and XL. MTB bike rental is $250/week ($400/2-weeks). Rentals come equipped with tubeless tires, pump, tube, tire iron and saddle bag.

NOTE: Bike rental can be limited so please reserve in advance.

Castles & Swells to Goblin Valley MTB 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: Huntington, Utah to Wedge Camp
27 miles with up to 1,200 feet of climbing, 900 feet of descending

Pedaling out of civilization, Day 1 is a flatter stage that greets us with a large and wide open desert landscape bordered by red and yellow cliffs. Keep a wide eye for antelope grazing on patches of scrub. Following a rough & remote doubletrack the route gently climbs into high brushland, leading to a spectacular cliff camp on The Wedge overlooking the Rio San Rafael. The Wedge is a geologic feature rising out of the desert above the Rio San Rafael.


Elevation Profile: 27 miles +1200 feet / -900 feet

Day 2: Wedge Camp to Rio San Rafael Camp
34 miles with up to 1,100 feet of climbing, 2,250 feet of descending

After sunrise, coffee and a savory breakfast with big views, Day 2 offers a mostly descending route to Buckhorn Wash. to start the day there is a 14-mile stretch of flat and non-technical, fun and flowy single track along the Little Grand Canyon rim trail. Afterwards, the route descends off the Wedge to head down a canyon carved by Buckhorn Wash.

The hauntingly remote landscape of the Castles and Goblins tour has been lived in for thousands of years. In the Buckhorn Wash canyon there are two walls of Native American rock art to see. One of petroglyphs (carved in rock), and the other is a pictograph (painted on rock) dating over 2,000 years. Tonight’s camp is beneath the Cottonwood Trees along the Rio San Rafael and at the base of the Mexican Mountains.


Elevation Profile: 34 miles +1100 feet / -2250 feet

Day 3: Rio San Rafael Camp to Dutchman Arch Camp
26 miles with up to 2,610 feet of climbing, 650 feet of descending
E.F.I. Additionnal 17 miles and 1,660 feet of climbing, 1,660 feet of descending

Today, the route leaves the river valley and pedals upward past outcroppings of pinnacles such as Bottleneck Peak. Beyond, the land continues to rise and then flatten for a grand vista of the past two days of riding. En route to camp the doubletrack trail weaves into a wash and through cliff bands leading to the notable Sinbad Petroglyph. Just around the bend from the Sinbaid Petroglyph is the Dutchman Arch formation! Once in camp, for those keen for more, there is an additional E.F.I. optional technical slick rock route called The Devil’s Race Track.


Elevation Profile: 26 miles +2610 feet / -650 feet

E.F.I. Elevation Profile: 17 miles +1660 feet / -1660 feet

Day 4: Dutchman Arch to Hidden Splendor Camp
44 miles with up to 2,250 feet of climbing, 4,610 feet of descending

Day 4 is another spectacular highlight of the Castles & Goblins tour. The day is split with two main sections with a descent to Reds Canyon, a climb out of Red’s Canyon and then a climactic descent into Muddy creek and the Hidden Splendor Camp. Day 4 commences in an unassuming ranch land, where wild mustangs can be found, then heads south past several buttes such as Family Butte (actually 5 buttes clumped together) and San Rafael Knob butte (an impressive 8,000-feet in elevation).

The first descent is into the truly awesome red sandstone cliffs of Reds Canyon. In Reds canyon there are so many rock features to feast upon, that during reconnaissance for this tour our guides stopped and stared at these rocks for hours. After stopping for lunch ensconced within Reds Canyon, we climb out and are rewarded with our first glimpses of San Rafael Swell inself. The Swell is a 75-mile long and 40-mile wide geologic anticline of folded and raised sandstone that juts out of the Utah desert, it is almost indescribable. To end the day, we descend a rolling doubletrack to a camp near the Muddy Creek. Nearby to camp, there are some abandoned mines to check out in the evening.


Elevation Profile: 44 miles +2250 feet / -4610 feet

Day 5: Hidden Splendor to Goblin Valley State Park
32 miles with up to 3,900 feet of climbing, 3,720 feet of descending

Day 5 is a rolling day and a tough ride through jaw dropping natural beauty. Tackling the rocky escarpment behind the San Rafael Swell, riders will be challenged with steep trails that roll up and down. There are some great sections of whoop-dee-doo doubletrack.From camp we start up a 4.5-mile climb, then 1.5-mile descent, then a 2-mile climb, then a short descent, then a 1-mile climb, well you get the picture. After 22-miles, the hardest stuff is behind us and we have the opportunity to stroll inside one of the many slot canyons carved into the San Rafael Swell. Thankfully, the final 9-miles of today’s route exits the Swell onto trails running along the front of the stunning rock formation. Tonight’s camp is within Goblin Valley State Park; home of thousands of hoodoos, referred to locally as goblins, which are formations of mushroom-shaped rock pinnacles, some as tall as several meters.


Elevation Profile: 32 miles +3900 feet / -3720 feet

Day 6: Exploring Goblin Valley State Park
7 to 10 miles of lightly rolling single track loops and hiking option

On this final day we explore the otherworldly landscape of Goblin Valley State Park. Take a stroll in early morning light through the peculiar spires and hoodoos that dot the valley. Then ride singletrack loops on the moon-like terrain. All good things come to an end and In the mid-afternoon we will shuttle back to Grand Junction, Colorado. Well Done!


Elevation Profile: 7 miles +460 ft / -460 ft

Castles & Swells to Goblin Valley MTB Tour: Logistics & FAQs

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 TripAssure. 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.
  • For information on Coronavirus, please click here.

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