Tuesday, August 9, 2016


  Southern Utah is a vast landscape of eroded rock with a few green spaces enhanced by industrious pioneer Mormons or an infrequent stream. It's a hot, arid environment. There are several national parks enticing visits. I can't visit all of them. I ride through and hike within:
  • Mesa Verde NP (southwest Colorado, but thrown in here with other close-by high desert areas)
  • Natural Bridges NP
  • Glen Canyou, Lake Powell
  • Capital Reef NP
  • Boulder Mountain
  • Escalante NMonument
  • Bryce NP
  • Cedar Breaks NMonument
  • Zion NP
Mesa Verde cliff houses
One way in
Sleeping Mountain of Ute legend
Natural Bridge NP
    Riding in southern Utah when temperatures reach over 100 degrees by 4:00 in the afternoon takes extra thought.
  • Where is the next camp site down the road? I don't want to stealth camp without water supplies.
  • How far can I ride before the heat builds up?
  • If I will be in lower, really hot communities at the end of the day are there motels available for air conditioning?
  • Do I need to have extra food with me or will there be restaurants available for lunch, dinner, and/or breakfast?
  • Are the restaurants and grocery stores still open? Or have they closed during the past recessions?
  • Will I have enough water for the day's ride?
  • There are two major climbs reaching over 10,000' elevation. Can I place my camp location so to split the climb between late one day and early the following day?
  This takes a lot of juggling. So far it has worked well. I have been leaving camp by 5:00 AM when the morning temperatures are sometimes a cold 65 degrees. After an hour of riding with a head light to see the road, the morning light becomes strong enough to see. I have the road to myself. Cruising through a series of canyons as the rising sun plays on the upper heights I pass in and out of the shadows. Towering rocks makes for intriguing riding.  The greatest presence of the Utah heat was on day two after entering Utah, on the shores of Lake Powell, and the lowest elevation I would be in Utah of approximately 4,000'. I arrived early, before noon, and the temperature in the shade was 104 degrees. Fortunately there is a BLM supported store and way station with air conditioning where I can find refuge from the over-bearing heat. Outside, there is no escaping the heat...no trees, no breeze unless it is convection heat. There are rental manufactured homes, air conditioned, where I can take a shower. The way station is manned by a young couple with their 18 month old daughter...this is a dire summer job! The woman lets me know she will leave the rental unit open so I may use the restroom during the night. Upon retiring to my tent that night, lying on earth that has been cooking all day and still hot, sweating from the cool down to 85 temperature, it suddenly occurs to me that there is an empty, open, air conditioned house just nearby...I sleep on the couch!
Early morning shadow rider
Crest rider
Leaving Lake Powell
Slot canyon
Morning canyon ride
Weather colors
Ms Collared Lizard
  On the morning that I followed the Fremont River into Capital Reef National Park was especially notable. The river tempered the surrounding air. It was cool on the road and whenever it dipped to lower levels or crossed the river the coolness became more noticeable. I was riding in 65 degrees for the first morning hours. By 4:00 the temperature had risen to 106 degrees. Along the route once inside the national park, it was permissible to pick tree ripened peaches originally planted by Mormon settlers in late 1800s in the preserved community of Fruita. The Mormons were intent on making a paradise in the desert.
Picking peaches in Capital Reef NP
Pictographs in Capital Reef NP
Just in case you thought it was flat here
Calf Creek, I camped nearby
Calf Creek pool
  By far the most dramatic erosive rock is Bryce National Park. This is a small park with many trails that drop down steeply into the canyons surrounded by amazing formations. The late summer monsoon rains were just commencing. Dry drainage gullies would soon be flowing after heavy afternoon storms. Not a good time to hike narrow canyons.
Bryce NP
Bryce NP
Bryce NP
Bryce NP
Bryce NP, hoodoos
Bryce NP
Bryce NP
Bryce NP
Bryce NP, Windows
Bryce NP, hoodoos 
Bryce NP, window
Bryce NP
Bryce NP, slot canyon
      There have been encounters with others on route, including my brother Allen and his wife Susan who met me in Mesa Verde on their return from a west coast trip.
Three men and a Susan (and a Lacie)
Four men and a bike from three years ago, prior to my Dad's passing
Shane and son Solomon of Perth, AU
Meeting Shane and Solomon
Great thanks go out to Joe Gregory of Cedar City, UT. Joe is an exceptional WarmShowers host. I stayed with him in this southwestern Utah city three nights resting from the taxing heat of the days prior. Joe even loaned me his car so I could venture down to Zion NP to see the northern canyon and distant plain that drains into the Zion canyons, such as The Narrows that my friend Spike, wife Marilyn, and I hiked three years ago. Cedar City is a great town to take a rest day...good bike shop,wonderful local food, local theater scene, grand view of surrounding mountains.
Joe, epitome of kindness
Farewell at Joe's
Zion NP, north rim of Grand Canyon can be seen in far distance; these rocks are 1,500' high from base
   534 miles @ 9 ride days @ 59.3 miles per day, 44 saddle hours @ 12.2 mph @ 31,529' elevation climb
2,743 miles @ 45 ride days @61.0 miles per day, 227.5 saddle hours @ 12.1 mph @ 121,122' accumulive climb


  1. Hey Robbie! It was great to meet you @ Grand Teton NP, I really enjoyed our conversation. I'll be living vicariously through your travels for the next 5 weeks. Wishing you kind winds and fair weather, Neal

  2. Hi Robbie! WHile trying to get to work on a cartoon portrait (DEADLINE APPROACHING!!) I chose to clean up bits and pieces of paper on the floor instead (PROCRASTINATE! PROCRASTINATE!)... and there was your little calling card. I enjoyed our brief early-morning chat in the campground in Torrey, UT... it was sunrise and you were packing up to ride, and we were prepping for what turned into a challenging 10 hour day of slot-canyoneering...emerging cut, bruised, and out of water (a leaky water bladder :-( ) ...but enough rappelling, climbing, swimming through pools in the canyon, to psyche us up for a retun trip in October, when it won't be 100º! I had a quick look here (great photos and commentary!) and look forward to a longer visit (after my deadline). I hope hte rest of the trip went well! ~Gene Mater (Bethlehem, PA mwtertoons@rcn.com )

    1. I'm sitting in San Francisco airport waiting to return home at completion of journey. Thanks for your comments.


Leave a comment...