Desert Climbing Camp
107 Aurum St, Box 855, Ophir, CO 81426 970.728.5891

Moab Desert Climbing Tour

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

Moab Desert Climbing Tour: Highlights

Lizard Head Cycling’s Moab’s Desert Climbing Tour is a 4 or 5-day cycling event designed to provide base mileage for the cycling season to come. Each day serves up multiple ride options. Cyclists choose to ride as much or as little as they want. Our Moab Desert Climbing Tour offers a choice selection of rides that include the Colorado National Monument, Grand Mesa (weather depending), and Canyonlands National Park. NOTE: Clients can also choose to ride an optional route into Arches National Park.

What the Moab’s Desert Climbing Tour is About…

The Moab Desert Climbing Tour was created to explore on two wheels the mind-bending  geology of eastern Utah’s and western Colorado’s canyon country. This is rugged country with deep canyons bordered by high mountains. Elevations range from 4,500-feet to 10,800-feet. The tour aims to offer cyclists a jump on the competition 🙂 or simply an early season goal. Since this is an early season ride, cyclists generally arrive on this tour without many miles in their legs. The itinerary reflects this reality. Cyclists will be given the opportunity to both exhaust themselves fully and if needed, jump in the van when they have had enough. After one pours Moab’s Desert Ride Camp into their legs, it is a good bet they’ll reach a higher level of fitness for the coming season.

Lizard Head Cycling Guides is a proud member of the Grand Staircase-Escalante Partners in support of their commitment to education, stewardship and restoration of the full National Monument.

The Weather

The “weather will be beautiful unless it is not”. Spring in Canyon Country offers highs ranging from the 60’s and 70’s. When the skies are bluebird the lows range in the upper 40’s and lower 50’s. In the early-spring (March) the weather determines how high in elevation cyclists will be able to ride on any given day. If the weather is blustery and cold, the Grand Mesa ride and La Sal Mountain Loop rides are replaced with lower elevation alternatives.

Desert Sunrise near Moab

It is difficult to mention just a few because the redrock desert and canyon country of Southeastern Utah and Southwestern Colorado are full of highlights.

  • Arches National Park is home to more than 2,000 natural sandstone arches including awe-inspiring pinnacles, massive fins and giant balancing rocks. Author Edward Abbey captured its beauty working as a seasonal park ranger in the 1950s in his 1968 memoir Desert Solitaire, a true classic read for Utah’s red rock desert and canyon country.
  • Dead Horse Point State Park is named so for its history as corral grounds for wild mustangs roaming the high mesas where the mesa edges which drop to deep canyons made it feasible for cowboys to pen the animals. Dead Horse Point is one of the world’s most photographed panoramas.
  • Grand Mesa, Colorado is the largest flat top mesa in the world, the Grand Mesa encompasses 500 square miles, stretches 40 miles long and climbs to more than 11,000 feet.

Moab Desert Climbing 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

This tour runs from Monday to Friday unless noted otherwise.

Moab Desert Climbing Tour: Synopsis

How does Lizard Head Cycling’s Moab’s Desert Climbing Tour differ from other tours we offer?

Lizard Head Cycling’s Moab Desert Climbing Tour is designed as a no frills format to build base-miles for the cycling season to come. The daily ride schedule offers multiple ride options. Cyclists pack a lunch each day and head off.  A support vehicle offer 1 aid stations along the route. Cyclists should be self-sufficient on the bike by carrying food, clothing and basic tools (the ability to change a flat is required).

Following the daily rides cyclists spend the afternoon as they please.

  • Our Moab Desert Climbing Tour format offers fewer-frills then our all-inclusive tours to provide a less-expensive touring option for our guests. The Moab Desert Climbing Camp includes excellent lodging, 1 tour leader and guests are generally on their own for dinners. 

Moab Desert Climbing Tour: Overview

Reptile Rewards

Tour Length: 4 Days/3 Nights or 5 Days/4 Nights

Meeting & amp; Ending Town: Grand Junction, Colorado

Total Miles: 250 to 320 Miles  (Can I keep up on this tour?)

Potential Mileage Range: 25-110-miles

Ability Level: Advanced (3/4)

5-Day Tour Cost: $2,125 per person with shared accommodations. Add $290 per person to this Tour Cost for a private room each night of the tour (4-Nights). Group discount of 5% for groups of 4 or more.
Please see our Tour Discounts Policy.

4-Day Tour Cost: $1,700 per person with shared accommodations. Add $185 per person to this Tour Cost for a private room each night of the tour (3-Nights).

October Early Bird Pricing: Take $150 off the cost of 4-Day tours booked by October 31st.

Tour Includes: 3 or 4-nights of lodging (varies w/4 or 5-day tour length), 2 or 3 breakfasts (varies w/4 or 5-day tour length), 1 dinner, 1 tour leader, daily packed lunch, energy food, in-tour shuttles, and mechanical support. Alcoholic beverages, bike rental, and massage (if available) are additional.

Lodging: (subject to change)

  • Night 1: Red Cliffs Inn, Moab, Utah (elevation 4,100 feet)
  • Nights: 2 & 3: Best Western Canyonlands, Moab, Utah (elevation 4,100 feet)
  • Night: 4 (5-day tour): Wine Country Inn, Palisade, Colorado (elevation 4,730 feet)
  • OPTIONAL Add-On Night 5 for Custom Tours: Gateway Canyons Resort, Gateway, Colorado (ask for Details)

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.

Road Bike Rentals

NOTE: The make, model, and specifications of rental bikes may differ from what is described below. Please contact us if you have any specific needs for a rental bike or have any questions about rental bikes.

Lizard Head Cycling Guides is proud to rent Scott Bikes. The Scott Addict 10 Disc was designed from the ground up with those longer days in mind. With geometry that is less focused on racing and more on enduring, the Addict 10 will be your go to when you’re looking to put the miles in.

The Scott Addict 10 Disc features: Carbon Frame and Fork, Shimano Ultegra 2x11 Drivetrain, 34x32 Compact Gearing, 30mm Tires, and Hydraulic Disc Brakes. Approx. Weight: 16.89 lbs / 7.66 kg (without pedals)

Learn More: Click Here to learn more about our Road Bike Rentals including pricing.

Road E-Bike Rentals: Click Here for more information on our Road E-Bike Rentals including pricing. Please note that E-Bikes are not available for certain tours including those that involve camping. Please contact us for more information before registering for a tour. NOTE: E-Bikes are great, but our tours are designed to be ridden without motorized assistance. We offer "bumps" along the road so that everyone can stay together.

Couples Bike Rental Discount: Sign up as a couple and receive a $125 discount on the second bike rental for a one week tour. (Standard road bikes only. E-Bikes and east coast based tours excluded.)

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

If you have any further questions, please read more on our Rental Bikes FAQ page. You can also email us at or call us at 970.728.5891

Meals On Tour

Lizard Head Cycling Guides provides most meals on all tours (unless otherwise noted) including breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Guides will prepare a daily lunch en route for nearly every tour, both road and off-road, as well as provide nutritious snacks at periodic aid stations during the day.

Most of our road tours utilize local restaurants for all meals and occasionally guides may prepare a dinner or two during a tour. Due to the nature of being "off the grid", most of our off-road tours feature guide prepared meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. FUN NOTE: When guides prepare a meal in camp and the guests sit around and watch, this is called "Guide TV". :)

We also pride ourselves on being able to cater to specific dietary requests and needs, so rest assured that you will be able to get the nutrition that works best for you during your tour. Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Vegan, or a someone who loves it all – we will keep you well fed during the 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.

Dinners: On our road tours, Lizard Head Cycling sources our favorite restaurants in each town that we visit. Our guides focus on establishments that offer fresh and local ingredients and guests choose whatever they desire to eat off the menu including: appetizer, salad, entrée, 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.

Spring Training in the Desert

Moab Desert Climbing 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: The Colorado River Road to Moab, Utah
Standard: 40 miles with up to 2,200 feet of climbing
E.F.I.: 60 miles with up to 5,200 feet of climbing

The Moab Desert Climbing Tour gears up with a striking entrance to the desert geography of Redrock Canyon Country.

On the river road day cyclists follow the Colorado river through narrow canyon beneath the towering presence of 1,500-foot Redrock Canyon walls to Moab, Utah.

Initially this is a day to spin the legs as the route offers minimal elevation gain-loss and moderate mileage for the first 40-miles along the Colorado River.  At the ride’s end a climbing option is available on this day offering 20-miles with 3,000-feet of climbing to actual Dinosaur Footprints!

Elevation Profile: +2065 ft / -2410 ft

Day 3: The Colorado River Road

A bird’s eye view of Moab, Utah

Day 2: Dead Horse Point State Park: Red Cliffs Lodge to Moab
Standard: 60 miles with up to 4,000 feet of climbing
E.F.I.: 110 miles with up to 5,800 feet of climbing

A National Parks tour day, today travels to Moab’s most stunning and globally alluring redrock canyon landscapes and Dead Horse Point State Park.

From the Red Cliff’s Lodge cyclists ride along the Colorado River and then onto a new bike path along the Colorado Rover.  The bike path continues for 30-miles through redrocks as it gains elevation towards. Leaving the path cyclists climb the “Island in the Sky”  2,000-feet to Dead Horse Point State Park. The view from Dead Horse is possibly the best of all of Utah. Dead Horse Point sits 2,000 feet directly above the Colorado River and provides breathtaking views of the pinnacles and buttes of Canyonlands National Park.

Colorado River view from Dead Horse Point State Park

Day 3: La Sal Mountain Loop Road and Kane Creek Canyon Road
60 miles with up to 5,100 feet of climbing

The desert-canyon tour turns massif country, if just for one day.

The La Sal Mountain Loop tour starts from Moab and rides the Spanish Valley before ascending the La Sal Mountains. The La Sal Loop is the Moab Tour’s “mountain stage” with rolls, turns, twists, and sometimes hairpins. Elevations reach upwards of 8,000-feet. The La Sal loop road is a beauty with views at the top stretching 100-mile to the west.

Castle Valley from La Sal Loop Road

La Sal Loop: 67 miles
Elevation Profile: +7230 ft / -7230 ft

Day 4: Colorado National Monument Loop
Standard: 47 miles with approximately 3,500 feet of climbing
E.F.I.: 67 miles with up to 4,000 feet of climbing

The Colorado National Monument is a Colorado Classic ride. It begins on Rim Rock Drive and follows a 23-mile circuitous route on a red rock rim nearly 2,000 feet above a series of canyons abutting 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. NOTE: Cyclists ride the 23-miles of the Monument unsupported.

Colorado National Monument

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.

Colorado National Monument & Rim Rock Drive

Elevation Profile: +2335 ft / -2,335 ft

The day begins at the far west side of the monument and loops along the Rim Rock Drive with a series of formidable lookout points that lend viewers canyon views of a once glaciated valley. Striking!

Beautiful and bountiful Palisade and the Wine Country Inn plays host for our lodging this evening in the heart of Colorado’s wine country (and peaches, too!). Descending into the valley from the steep drop offs and high vantage points of the Monument, we settle into an entirely different country: a lush, green, agricultural oasis at the base of the red rock Book Cliffs and Mount Garfield. Take in the valley and supplement your first ride with a second and a vineyard tour along the winery scenic byway of Palisade.

Palisade peaches, perfect.

NOT a climbing machine

Road through Colorado National Monument

Day 5: The Grand Mesa
40 miles with up to 5,300 feet of climbing

The Grand Mesa rises 6,000-feet above the Grand Valley of western Colorado and is the largest flat top mesa in the world, encompassing 500 square miles, stretching 40-miles long and reaching to more than 11,000 feet in elevation. Towering above the aptly named Grand Valley, the mesa is home to old growth forest, aspen meadows, and over 400 lakes!

Our climb of Grand Mesa is a 5,000-foot ascent along great pavement. Cyclists literally climb from a desert ecosystem to a mountain environment. Snowbanks will still line the sides of the road well into early June.

From the numerous vantage points along the Grand Mesa Scenic Byway, the Sneffels Mountain Range can be seen to south, and the iconic Bookcliffs and Mount Garfield to the north.

After this ride the tour ends back at the meeting hotel in Grand Junction.  Well Done!

Elevation Profile: +7050 ft / -8420 ft

Roadside attraction of edibles near Palisade & Cedaredge

One of many lakes on the Grand Mesa

Day 5 (alternate bad weather option): Unaweep Canyon
39 miles with up to 2,700 feet of climbing

If cold or wet weather are present in the mountains on Day 5, we will set our sights on the stunning confines of Unaweep Canyon. Unaweep is a local Ute Indian word for “canyon with two mouths”. Unaweep Canyon is a spectacular road ride in Colorado, it is also one of the least known roads in the state. 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.

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.

Thimble Rock, Unaweep Canyon, Colorado

Elevation Profile: +2900 ft / -2800 ft

Moab Desert Climbing Tour: Logistics & FAQs

Pre-Tour Lodging: Riders are responsible for their own lodging on the night prior & following the Moab Desert Climbing Tour.

Bike Rental:  Lizard Head Cycling is proud to rent Scott CR-1 and Solace carbon road bikes with full Shimano Ultegra components. Both the Scott CR-1 and Solace are lightweight high performance bike geared for climbing hills (lowest gear is 34×30).

Bike Shipping

Lizard Head Cycling recommends shipping with 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.

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.

The vehicle will sag and then pass riders to set up aid stations every 20 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

How the Shuttle Works: Our Moab Desert Climbing 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 10-mile, 15-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).

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.

Weather and Moab Desert Climbing Tour: The bike touring experience is really about one’s attitude. Over the years our bike tours have been run in record heat, near record cold and “perfect weather.” The tours that were run under extreme conditions ended up being exceptionally memorable and fun. It is the “war stories” that are told around the Thanksgiving table five years down the road. Bonding often occurs through adversity creating life long friendships. The weather will do what is does.

“There is no bad weather, just bad clothing.” ~~Old Norwegian saying

Spring Weather Synopsis: Spring in red rock and canyon country begins in earnest during the month of March with bright warm days and cool to cold nights. By April daytime highs reach the upper 70s with lows in the 40s and 50s. In May, temperatures reach the mid to upper 80s and by the end of the month even low 90s. As the summer solstice approaches in June long days translate into temperatures that are regularly in the upper 80s to mid 90s with nighttime lows in 60s. Early morning roll-outs in June make for memorable sunrises with early afternoon arrivals at the hotels. Through the middle of May spring snow storms can still effect the high mountains above Redrock Canyon Country. The mountains rise 7,000 feet above the desert and as a result the effect of late season storms on sensible weather down in the canyons usually results in 8 to 12 hours of unsettled weather such as wind and thunderstorms. Spring is generally a windier and drier season then fall in the desert.

Fall Weather Synopsis: Temperatures in early September are no longer as hot as mid-summer, but can still feel quite warm with afternoon highs reaching as high as the low to mid-90s. By the end of September temperatures are averaging in the mid to low 80s. By the end of October temperatures are usually in the upper 60s to low 70s. (Great weather for long rides). October sunlight is radiant as the slanted post autumnal equinox sun rays sustain brilliant light even at mid-day. In mid-October, the Cottonwood trees along the rivers burn yellow against the azure desert skies. As for the threat of fall rain, from mid-September through October, low pressure systems will occasionally spin through the high mountains 6,000 to 8,000 feet above canyon country dusting the high peaks with the first snows of the coming season. These weather systems translates into about 8 to 10 hours of unsettled weather down in Canyon Country. Weather events in the desert can best be described as brief and intense in nature.

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:

  • 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:

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