Utah's Big 5 National Parks Road Bike Tour - Lizard Head Cycling Guides
   
107 Aurum St, Box 855, Ophir, CO 81426 970.728.5891 info@LizardHeadCyclingGuides.com

Utah’s Big 5 National Parks Road Bike Tour

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

Utah’s Big 5 National Parks Road Bike Tour: Highlights

The Utah Big 5 Road Bike Tour rides Utah’s top five famous National Parks.

Our special-edition Utah’s Big 5 National Parks Road Bike Tour links together the region’s most stunning locations, incorporating nearly car-free roads, jaw-dropping scenery, and plenty of time to stop and explore.

The mountains and high desert of southern Utah are a cycling and hiking mecca, with countless quiet roads meandering through stunning landscapes. The natural beauty of this place is well known; it’s not a coincidence that southern Utah is home to 5 National Parks and multiple National Monuments! 

This tour combines the highlights of our popular Boulder, Bryce, and Zion Road Bike Tour (including riding  Utah’s Highway 12, a “bucket list” cycling route that is not ridden on most Utah bikes tours!) with time in Moab to explore Arches and Canyonlands National Parks. It truly is the very best of Utah in a single trip!

Can I Ride This Tour?
This tour offers riders the opportunity to choose from among a wide range of mileage options. As a result, both intermediate and advanced riders can enjoy spectacular, pleasant days of riding through this magical landscape.

Highlights of the Utah’s Big 5 National Parks Road Bike Tour

Lizard Head Cycling Guide’s special-edition Utah’s Big 5 National Parks Road Bike Tour features the very best of southern Utah: visits to Arches, Capitol ReefBryce Canyon, and Zion National Parks, fantastic cycling that provide sweeping views of Canyonlands National Park, and a stunning day riding through the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

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.

IMG_4442

Highway 12’s Head of the Rocks Section, in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

Bryce Canyon

Bryce Canyon National Park

Zion National Park’s main attraction: Zion Canyon

Utah’s Big 5 National Parks Road 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

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.

2024 Tour Dates

  • October 12 to 20, 2024 (Book Now!) – TOUR OPENED 3 riders needed to make GO

2025 Tour Dates

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.

Why Should you Sign-Up Now and OPEN a Tour Date?
This is the proverbial chicken and the egg conundrum! We need our cyclists to first commit to the date that works for them so that we can commit to that date.

For starters, when you OPEN a date you get to pick your preferred departure date, and there is no penalty if the tour does not run. Once you pick your tour date, Lizard Head closes nearby dates and funnels all additional riders to your chosen date until the tour meets its 6 rider minimum.

BONUS: As an added bonus, we can also hold a spot for you on another tour date of your choosing. There is no fee to switch to another tour date.

In conclusion, if you want a tour to run, we need you to sign up and not wait for others to do the same! Waiting for others may mean that a tour date takes longer or does not confirm. Just Do It! Once a few riders jump into the proverbial waters, others will follow!

Utah’s Big 5 National Parks Road Bike Tour: Overview

Reptile Rewards

Tour Length: 9 Days Cycling/8 Nights Lodging

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

Ending Town: Saint George, Utah – Saint George Regional Airport (SGU) or Harry Reid International Airport in Las Vegas (LAS). See “Post Tour Logistics”, below.

Total Miles: Standard distance 250-300 miles, E.F.I. distance 462 miles. (Can I keep up on this tour?)

Ability Level: Intermediate (2/3) to Advanced (3/4)

Group Size: 6 to 15 riders

Tour Cost: $4,890 per person with shared accommodations. Add $795 per person to this Tour Cost for a private room each night of the tour (8-Nights).

Tour Discounts: Please see our Reptile Rewards & Tour Discounts page to learn more about Reptile Rewards, Tour Discounts, and Group Discounts. Tour discounts are not stackable with any other discounts or promotions – only the highest valued discount is provided. Please note that for discounts to apply the tour minimum must be met.

Tour Includes: Guide service, 8 Nights of lodging, 7 dinners, 9 lunches, 7 breakfast, entrance fees, energy food, liquid refreshments, in-tour shuttles, and mechanical support.  Alcoholic beverages, bike rental, and massage (when available) are additional.

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. Please note that non-riders cannot check into hotels prior to guide arrival as the guides need to manage the check-in process. Checking in a large group can be challenging and take longer than normal, so non-riders need to hang back and be patient. Non-riding spouses and partners are welcome to join the Lizard Head meal plan which includes breakfasts and dinners for $75 per day. Note: Lunches are not included for non-riders driving their own vehicles due to the inherent variability of both lunch timing and locations. It is best for non-riders to plan to explore each day.

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

Lodging for 8 Nights: (subject to change and availability)

PLEASE NOTE: The third, fourth, and fifth nights of this tour stays at two of our favorite lodges, the Red River Ranch and the Boulder Mountain Lodge. On very limited occurrences at these two lodges, private room supplement guests will have a private room with a separate entrance, but may have to share a bathroom 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.

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.

Post Tour Logistics: The tour ends in St. George, Utah on Day 9. Lizard Head Cycling coordinates a 12:30pm return shuttle from Zion National Park back to the St. George Shuttle base, Saint George Regional Airport (SGU), and/or guests’ hotels in St. George, Utah (1 hour). Cyclists wishing to continue onto Las Vegas (roughly 1.5 hrs from St. George) on Day 9 should make their own shuttle reservation with St. George Shuttle. A 2:30pm or later shuttle reservation from the St. George Shuttle base to Vegas is recommended.

NOTE #1: When shuttling to Vegas there is a time zone change where you gain an hour! So if one departs St. George at 3pm, one arrives in Las Vegas a bit after 3:30pm local time. As a result, same day return flight reservations out of Las Vegas can be made at 5pm or later.

NOTE #2: If cyclists wish to stay an extra day in Zion, we suggest they stay another night and take one of the regular, public shuttles between Zion and St. George the next day.

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.

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 about our Rental Bikes and Equipment

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.

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 info@lizardheadcyclingguides.com 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.

Utah’s Big 5 National Parks Road Bike Tour: Itinerary*

*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.

Day 1: Arrival in Grand Junction, CO & Arches National Park Ride
Standard and E.F.I (“Every Freaking Inch”): 33 miles with up to 2,600 feet of climbing

After a morning meeting at the meeting hotel in Grand Junction, CO and a quick shuttle shuttle ride across the border to Utah, we begin our trip with a bang, riding the Moab Canyon Pathway into Arches National Park. After some self-guided time in Arches, guests will cruise down out of the park, across the Colorado River, and into the town of Moab. There, the group will reconvene before the 5-minute drive to our accommodation and our first dinner together as a group.

Arches Day Ride – Elevation Profile: 33 miles +2600 feet / -3140 feet

Day 2: Canyonlands National Park
Standard: 34 miles with up to 2,800 feet of climbing
E.F.I.: 68 miles with with up to 3,900 feet of climbing

For our first full day of riding we’re headed towards Canyonlands National Park! We’ll leave Moab in the morning, to beat the heat (Moab gets hot, even in October!) and wind our way up to the high plateau above Canyonlands National Park. We’ll regather at Dead Horse Point, home to the best views of Canyonland’s magnitude and grandeur. We’ll then return to Moab via a quick shuttle ride (but, guests are welcome to cycle back to Moab if they prefer!).

Moab to Dead Horse Point – Elevation Profile: 34 miles +2800 feet / -880 feet

E.F.I Moab to Dead Horse Point – Elevation Profile: 68 miles +3855 feet / -3855 feet

Day 3: Capitol Reef National Park to Torrey, Utah
Standard and E.F.I.: 20 miles with up to 2,200 feet of climbing

From Moab we’ll drive west, traversing Utah’s desert to Capitol Reef National Park. In the afternoon, we’ll ride through the park, climbing steadily as we soak in the park’s ancient beauty. Our ride wraps up in the desert hamlet of Torrey (population 219 as of 2022!). Despite its small size, Torrey offers everything we need for tonight (comfortable beds and delicious food), plus dramatic views of distant geological features.

Capitol Reef to Torrey – Elevation Profile: 20 miles +2230 feet / -375 feet

Day 4: Boulder Mountain Ride – Torrey to Boulder, Utah
Standard and E.F.I.: 37 miles with up to 3,900 feet of climbing

The tour continues with a 36 mile ride from Torrey to Boulder, Utah. Today’s route climbs steadily to the Aquarius Plateau (a.k.a. Boulder Mountain) and offers spectacular views of Capitol Reef National Park, the Waterpocket Fold and the Henry Mountains. This is what Utah’s famed canyon country is all about! From the top of Boulder Mountain, we’ll fly down 15 miles to the oasis of Boulder, Utah. This is Lizard Head Cycling owner, John’s, favorite location in Utah.

Settle in tonight for a two-night’s stay in Boulder.

Torrey to Boulder – Elevation Profile: 37 miles +3880 feet / -4040 feet

Day 5: Burr Trail, Long Canyon and Calf Creek Falls
Standard: 35 or 46 miles miles with up to 3,000 feet of climbing
E.F.I.: 65 miles of riding with up to 4,700 feet of climbing
BONUS: 6-Mile world-class hike to Calf Creek Falls

Today, we’ll ride the Burr Trail! Along the way, we’ll pedal past the 400-foot tall Wingate sandstone walls of Long’s Canyon before reaching to a dazzling view across high desert canyons.

After experiencing Long Canyon, we’ll head over (either by bike or by shuttle!) to Calf Creek Falls where cycling shoes are exchanged for hiking shoes. It is a 3 mile hike to reach the 126′ tall desert oasis of Calf Creek Falls (an all-time best swimming hole)!

Following Calf Creek Falls, cyclists can pedal 11 glorious, downhill miles back to the Boulder Mountain Lodge or shuttle. For dinner, we’ll unwind and dine at the award-winning Hell’s Backbone Grill where gracious owners and wonderful hosts, Jenn and Blake, treat you to a truly delicious and eclectic offering of fine dining choices. Their restaurant has received praise from food critics, guests, and journalists, including this New York Times Story.

Burr Trail – Elevation Profile: 35 miles +2970 feet / -2970 feet

Calf Creek Falls to Boulder – Elevation Profile: 11 miles +500 feet / -1780 feet

Day 6: Boulder to Bryce Canyon National Park
Standard: Options for 35-45 miles
E.F.I.: 78 miles with up to 6,100 feet of climbing

Today we head southwest towards Bryce Canyon National Park along Utah State Highway 12 – arguably one of the best cycling roads in the Beehive state, and perhaps the country. It twists and turns and climbs and dives among the ridges, mesas, and valleys 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.

There are multiple mileage options available for today of between 30 to 78 miles from Boulder, Utah to Bryce Canyon National Park. Do multiple “bumps” in the support van and cherry pick the sections you wish to ride, or go the full distance and experience the entire route. No matter what mileage option you choose, the highlight of today’s ride is certainly Highway 12 along the ridge of Hell’s Backbone – an awe inspiring exposed piece of highway dropping hundreds of feet on either side.

Lodging tonight is at The Lodge at Bryce Canyon within Bryce Canyon National Park. After a group dinner in the dining room at The Lodge, prepare to take an exhilarating night hike under the stars inside the park.

Elevation Profile: +6090 ft / -4750 ft

Full Route – Elevation Profile: 78 miles +6090 feet / -4750 feet

Day 7: Bryce Canyon National Park to Zion National Park
Standard: Options for 47, 57, or 64 miles
E.F.I.: 73 miles with up to 5,000 feet of climbing

Segment #1: 32 or 48 miles
Segment #2:
15 or 25 miles

Today offers a two-segment ride from the high point of Bryce Canyon National Park through the spectacular Red Canyon and then into Zion National Park.

On Segment #1 we ride to Sunrise Point, the top of Bryce Canyon National Park, for a spectacular early morning view. From the top of the park we ride mostly down through the park and into Red Canyon. NOTE: This first segment’s mileage can be reduced by 16-miles with a shuttle to the top of the park.

From here we shuttle to Segment #2. NOTE: The shuttle to the start of Segment #2 lets us skip 22-miles long along a road that can be a bit busy. If riders wish to ride this section, they can do so.

Segment #2 offers 15 or 25-miles with 1,400-feet of climbing and 2,700-feet of descending. The ride starts from Mt. Caramel Junction and proceeds into the west entrance of Zion National Park. Jaw dropping sights await including: Checkerboard Mesa, 2,000-foot high sandstone walls, the Zion Tunnel, deep canyons and the switchbacks into the town of Springdale, Utah!

Segment 1 – Elevation Profile: 48 miles +2940 feet / -3730 feet

Segment 2 – Elevation Profile: 25 miles +1430 feet / -2720 feet

Day 8: Layover in Springdale, Utah
Hiking Options in Zion National Park
Optional E.F.I. Ride: Kolob Terrace Out & Back, 70 miles with up to 6,200 feet of climbing

With a layover day in Springdale, optional on-your-own, unguided hiking in Zion National Park beckons! We highly recommend you take advantage of it, as Zion offers some of the most scenic hiking of any National Park. Take the free Zion Canyon Shuttle from Springdale into the park for your hike, 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!

For guest who are feeling ambitious, we offer the option of riding an out and back from Springdale to Kolob Terrace. This 70 mile route offers tremendous views of Zion from high above, through a diverse landscape.

Kolob Terrace Out & Back – Elevation Profile: 70 miles +6200 feet / -6200 feet

Day 9: Springdale to Virgin River Narrows
Zion Sunrise Ride: 18 miles with up to 1,050 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, the group will shuttle back to St. George, UT (one hour from Zion). From Saint George, guests have the option to fly home from Saint George Regional Airport (SGU), book a shuttle to Las Vegas and fly from there, or stay the night in Saint George. See “Post Tour Logistics”, above.

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!

Zion Canyon Ride – Elevation Profile: 18 miles +1050 feet / -1050 feet

Utah’s Big 5 National Park Road Bike Tour: Logistics & FAQs

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.

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.

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.

Cue 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

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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