Redrock Canyons Self-Guided Tour - Lizard Head Cycling Guides
   
107 Aurum St, Box 855, Ophir, CO 81426 970.728.5891 info@LizardHeadCyclingGuides.com

Redrock Canyons Self-Guided Tour

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

Redrock Canyons Self-Guided Tour: Highlights

4-Corners on Two Wheels!

View from Rim Rock Drive in Colorado National Monument

Unaweep Canyon near Gateway

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.”

☛ New York Times: “Four Corners, Two Wheels – A Bicycle Tour Through Remote Southwest Canyon Country”

The Redrock Canyons was Lizard Head Cycling’s original tour and became our most popular itinerary after it was featured in the New York Times in 2010. This was when people still read the hardcopy paper! The pictures were huge and the story was compelling. Since then the Redrocks tour has been our flagship guided tour.

Lizard Head Cycling now offers a self-guided/self-supported version in which riders can ride lodge-to-lodge and a van moves one’s luggage. The route 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, we believe this is the one to experience.

The Redrock Canyon tour is a adventurous tour for cyclists with abilities ranging from upper intermediate to E.F.I. (every freaking inch) riders. The mileage segments are determined by the distance between lodges in this remote landscape.

The Fabulous Dolores River Canyon

Day 1: Unaweep Canyon!

Redrock Canyons Self-Guided 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

To easily register for a particular tour, please click the Book Now! link after the tour date listed below. This will select the tour name and the appropriate date on the registration form.

2023 Tour Dates

  • May 7 to 13, 2023 (Book Now!) – TOUR A GO!
  • May 14 to 20, 2023 (Book Now!) – TOUR A GO!

Tour Status Notes: NO STATUS = Date Set, no riders have signed up. TOUR OPENED = Tour Opened, rider minimums not met. TOUR A GO! = Tour is Go, rider minimums met. SOLD OUT = Tour Full, rider maximums met.

Redrock Canyons Self-Guided Tour: Overview

Reptile Rewards

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

Meeting/Ending Town: Grand Junction, Colorado. Grand Junction Regional Airport (GJT)

Total Miles: 320 to 415 miles (additional mileage options available)

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

Tour Cost: 7-Day Tour @ $1,275 per person. Please note that tour discounts do not apply to self-guided tours.

Recommended Lodging for 6 Nights: (subject to availability)

Meeting Hotel and Ending Hotel reservations and costs are NOT included unless specified otherwise. Guests are on-their-own to make reservations at the Meeting Hotel or Ending Hotel, or other nearby hotels.

What Is A Self-Guided/Self-Supported Tour?

On these tours guests ride self-guided between the hotels on their own. A van moves your luggage.

  • On the Redrock Canyons Self-Guided tour, Lizard Head Cycling includes a Day 1 shuttle and a Day 7 end of tour shuttle.
  • Although Lizard Head Cycling does not sag guests on its self-supported/guided tours, when we see clients on the road between hotels, we do check in with them and in the case of emergency we come the rescue– we are out there for our guests. 🙂

What is Included on the Redrock Canyons Self-Guided/Supported Tours?

A Day 1 shuttle from the meeting hotel to the tour start location at the Colorado National Monument, a 2nd Day 1 shuttle from the Colorado National Monument to Unaweep Canyon and a Day 7 morning shuttle at the end of the tour back to the meeting hotel in Grand Junction, daily luggage movement between hotels, basic mechanical support at the hotels (floor pump, basic tools, mechanical advice). GPX files of the routes and a list of self-supported water and food locations for each stage.

What should the self-guided client carry?

Full rain gear, pump, tubes, tire irons, multi-tool, food, water, snacks, & sunscreen.

Is there food and water along the way?

The answer is Yes and No… it depends on the stage. We provide clients with a list of self-supported options for each stage.

What about road bike rental?

Road bike rental is $250 per person and includes a water bottle plus a pack with a tube, tire irons, mechanical support and multi-tool. Minimum private group size is 6 riders or paid equivalent. If your group is smaller than 6 riders, we can work to have other riders join your chosen week. Deposit amount is $500 per person.

Ability Level: Can I Ride This Tour?

Definition of Ability Levels

= Intermediate (2/3) Rides and/or takes spin classes 1 to 3 times a week for a total of 50 or more miles.
= Upper Intermediate (3) Rides and/or takes spin classes 2 to 4 times a week for a total of 75 or more miles.
= Advanced (3/4) Rides and/or takes spin classes 3 to 5 times a week for a total of 100 or more miles. Has ridden multi-day tours and done a century ride.
= Expert (4) Rides 4 or more times per week totaling 150 or more miles. Rides E.F.I. with regularity. Has done numerous multi-day tours, century rides and races.

How Fit do I Have to Be? If one month prior to the tour, you can ride 2 to 3 times a week equaling 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.

Overall Route Map

Below is an example of the daily routes for this tour and are subject to change based on season, available accommodations, road closures, and other factors. The actual routes will be made available to registered participants before their tour, so please view these routes as a general outline as to what to expect.

Redrock Canyons Self-Guided Tour: Itinerary*

*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.

Day 1: Colorado National Monument and Unaweep Canyon
Morning Ride:
Colorado National Monument: 27 miles with up to 2,750 feet of climbing
NOTE: If they are up for it, cyclists can ride from the Monument to Unaweep Canyon (15-miles) & onward to Gateway Canyons.

Afternoon Ride Options:
#1 Unaweep Canyon to Gateway (Standard): 18 miles with 2,400 feet of descending!
#2 Unaweep Canyon to Gateway (Every Freaking Inch (EFI): 43 miles with up to 2,775 feet of climbing

On Day 1 of the Redrock Canyons Self-Guided Tour riders are provided a morning shuttle to reach the Colorado National Monument and an afternoon shuttle to reach Unaweep canyon.

Day One’s riding begins on Rim Rock Drive of the Colorado National Monument. The 23-mile drive follows the Rimock Drive 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.

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.

On the afternoon of Day 1, cyclists head into the stunning confines of Unaweep Canyon. 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. This is mine expanding geology!

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.


 

Colorado National Monument – Elevation Profile: 27 miles +2,750 feet / -2,510 feet

Unaweep Canyon to Gateway (Standard) – Elevation Profile: 18 miles +210 feet / -2,400 feet

Unaweep Canyon to Gateway (EFI) – Elevation Profile: 43 miles +2,775 feet / -2,855 feet

Day 2: Dolores River Canyon: Gateway to CampV
Gateway to CampV (Standard): 49 miles with up to 2,335 feet of climbing
Gateway to CampV (EFI): 57 miles with up to 2,845 feet of climbing

We consider the first 25-miles of Day 3’s ride in the Dolores River Canyon to be one of the most beautiful section of road on all of our tours. The Dolores River Canyon is  possibly the most spectacular road ride in Colorado, it is also one of the least known roads in the state. The route follows the dazzling scenery of Highway 141 southward. The first 25-miles from Gateway Canyons resort are beneath 1,000-foot Redrock Canyon walls and alongside the Rio Dolores. Many of our guests have felt this section was 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 awestruck 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 is high above the Dolores River and tight against vertical sandstone walls, it is stunning. We finish our ride near Naturita, Colorado. Cyclists check into their lodging at Camp V.


 

Gateway to CampV (Standard) – Elevation Profile: 49 miles +2,335 feet / -1,505 feet

Gateway to CampV (EFI) – Elevation Profile: 57 miles +2,845 feet / -2,020 feet

Day 3: Paradox Valley Out and Back or the Confluence Loop
Paradox Valley: 55 miles with up to 3,115 feet of climbing (100% paved)
Confluence Loop: 48 miles with up to 1,995 feet of climbing (72% paved/28% gravel)

On Day 3, a layover day at CampV, cyclists have the option of two beautiful stages.

Option #1: The Paradox Valley out and back is a road ride through the Paradox Valley. This is a quiet and safe road deep in Colorado’s canyon Country. Heading west from one’s lodging, cyclists pedal into a remarkable valley with the La Sal Mountains at the far end. In the middle of the Paradox Valley riders cross the Rio Dolores and climb to big views at Paradox Pass.

Option #2: The Confluence Loop is a road and gravel option that delivers cyclists to the stunning confluence of the San Miguel and Dolores Rivers. Take the opportunity for wild swimming here! Continuing onward cyclists return to pavement in Bedrock, Colorado and return to their lodging back at CampV.


 

Paradox Valley – Elevation Profile:55 miles +3,115 feet / -3,115 feet

Confluence Loop – Elevation Profile: 48 miles +1,995 feet / -1,995 feet

Day 4: CampV to Dove Creek
64 miles with up to 4,440 feet of climbing

Departing from CampV the route heads east through the town of Naturita and then turns south following Highway 141 south through the rural and empty west end of San Miguel County, Colorado. The region is so remote and empty enough that wild horses inhabit the surrounding country-side.

The route descends into the sandstone cliff lined Gypsum Valley and then drops further into the Disappointment Valley and then yet further down into the deep river canyon of the Rio Dolores. From the depths of Rio Dolores canyon (5,400 feet elevation) the largest climb of the tour (Slickrock Hill) awaits: 9 miles and 2,000 feet with grades reaching 8% to 9%. From the top of this climb on Tin Cup Mesa cyclists marvel at 150 mile views into Utah, New Mexico, and Arizona.

In the final miles cyclists pedal through the farming community of Egnar (Ranch spelled backwards), Colorado before arriving at their destination, the rural county seat of Dolores County, Dove Creek, Colorado.


 

Elevation Profile: 64 miles +4,640 feet / -3,170 feet

Day 5: Dove Creek to Bluff
84 miles with 5,350-feet of descending and 2,675-feet of climbing

Day 5’s route offers over 5,000-feet of descending! Rolling out of Dove Creek riders enjoy the broad shoulders of Highway 666. The road was given this name because at one time it was the sixth route off from the famous Route 66. In 2005 devote citizens were successful in renaming this road to Route 491 because they felt it was inappropriate to have the road named after “the devil.” Despite this dubious reason to spend tens of thousands of dollars replacing road signs, this is a safe road for cyclists. After 15 miles of Route 666, the route enters Pleasant View, Colorado and head southwest onto a series of rural paved ranching roads to Hovenweep National Monument.

This is a region of lonely and raw beauty. It is big sky country with the Abajo Mountains to the west, the San Juan Mountains to the east, the La Sal Mountains to the north, and the Chuska mountains of the Navajo nation to the south.

After riding into Hovenweep National Monument, cyclists continue following rural ranching roads across the unmarked border into Utah while gradually descending to Bluff, Utah and the San Juan River.


 

Elevation Profile: 86 miles +2,875 feet / -5,390 feet

Day 6: Bluff to the Valley of the Gods to Mexican Hat
43 miles with up to 3,540 feet of climbing

From Bluff, roll out in the soft early morning light southwest to the remarkable Valley of the Gods. Along the way the route pedals over the southern end of Comb Ridge, a 40-mile long monocline of special geological interest.

After the Valley of the Gods, cyclists can climb the Moki Dugway: a 1,100 foot climb in 2.8 miles of packed dirt (with paved corners). There are about 8 switchbacks up the Dugway’s 5% to 10% grade. From the top of the Dugway, enjoy the sublime views feature the Goosenecks of the Rio San Juan.

From the top of the Moki Dugway, cyclists can linger before descending to Mexican Hat, Utah along the San Juan river for their final night of lodging.


 

Elevation Profile: 43 miles +3533 feet / -3774 feet

Day 7: Early Morning Shuttle

Early on this day cyclists are shuttled from Mexican Hat, Utah to Moab, Utah and then onto Grand Junction, Colorado.

Redrock Canyons Self-Guided 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

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

 
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