Bryce Canyon & Capitol Reef Gravel Riding

Trip Length 7 Days
Group Size 4-10
Difficulty
Starting from
$2,449 for REI Members
$2,674 for non-members
Departures May 2020-Oct 2020

Spend 7 days exploring jaw-dropping Bryce Canyon and Capitol Reef National Parks by gravel or mountain bike.

Welcome to two of the great parks of Utah. You?ll say "wow" a lot. Also the occasional "how the bleep did that form?" Bryce Canyon and Capitol Reef National Parks bring grade-A geological game and rides to match. This trip samples the best of both. We?ll explore prehistoric-seeming desert plateau country on bikes. Canyons and cliffs, monoliths and monoclines. Our expert guides will lead you through it safely, dropping experience-enhancing nature and history knowledge along the way. They?re killer cooks, too, and they handle all the meals. Your standards for camp cuisine will never be the same. At night, we stay in comfy tents and gaze at a super-starry sky. Maybe even the Milky Way! Capitol Reef is designated a "Gold Tier" International Dark Sky Park.

We'll ride a top-ten list of trails and backroads, including the Aquarius Plateau, Escalante Petrified Forest, Waterpocket Fold and Burr Trail. And many more. We?ll also ride Hell?s Backbone, a road that seems to wind into the sky. Here?s to red rocks and big views.

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Trip Highlights

  • See "wow"-inducing geologic wonders in Bryce Canyon and Capitol Reef National Parks by gravel or mountain bike
  • Ride a Utah bucket list of backroads and trails like the Aquarius Plateau, the Waterpocket Fold and the notorious Burr Trail
  • Explore prehistoric-looking desert plateau terrain of canyons, rock bridges and monoliths
  • Sleep under gazillions of stars at our campsite in a "Gold Tier" International Dark Sky Park
  • Ride the hold-your-breath beautiful Hell?s Backbone Road, carved in the 1930s out of solid desert slickrock

Activities

This trip is rated Vigorous [4]. Trip members should be comfortable riding on dirt/gravel for approximately 3?7 hours per day for seven consecutive days. Rides range from 15?40 miles, some including 5000? cumulative elevation gain at an altitude of approximately 8,000'.

  • Gravel Riding
  • Cycling

What's Included

Salsa Cutthroat gravel bike or Specialized hard tail bike; 2 professional guides; round trip ground transportation from St. George, Utah; all park fees and permits; tent; sleeping pad; group cooking and camping gear; group first aid kit; all meals as noted in itinerary; snacks, beverages; water, soft drinks, electrolyte mix; saddle bag with emergency tool kit.

Accommodations

Front country campground, 3 nights; Primitive camping 3 nights

Your wheels for the journey

Every great tour begins with a great bike, and our top-flight fleet has been carefully curated for your cycling adventure.

Want to bring your own bike?  You can do that too.

Your Adventure Itinerary

Day 1

Heart of Bryce Canyon

The red-rock landscape surrounds us as we leave St. George behind and make our way deeper into Canyon Country. We finish our scenic drive at Red Canyon for a tasty lunch, but our adventure has yet to begin- after lunch, we will continue our day with a 25-mile ride on the Red Canyon Bicycle Trail through a ponderosa pine forest right into the heart of Bryce Canyon National Park. After spending some time enjoying the sights, we will ride back to our campsite for a delicious guide prepared dinner before we retire to our tents for the night. Lunch and Dinner included.

Cycling: 25 miles; Elevation gain/loss: 1412'/767'; Van transfer: 4 hours; Surface: Paved bike path

Day 2

Aquarius Plateau & Petrified Forest

We wake up early in eager anticipation of today?s ride. A hot breakfast hits the spot in the cool morning air as the sun rises over the horizon. After packing up our camp, we hit the trail, setting out for awe inspiring views. We stop for lunch at a spot overlooking the Aquarius Plateau, the highest timbered plateau in North America. We conclude our ride at Escalante Petrified Forest State Park, another beautiful campground to call home for the night. All meals included.

Cycling: 43 miles; Elevation gain/loss: 2152'/3959'; Surface: 47% paved, 53% dirt

Day 3

Climbing Hell?s Backbone

Enjoy breakfast in camp before we begin riding the evocatively named Hell?s Backbone Road. Embrace the challenge of this rugged road carved out of desert slickrock by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the Great Depression era. Take in the breathtaking views as you navigate the mountain contours. We stop for lunch on the trail before crossing the historic Hell?s Backbone Bridge, taking time to gaze over the expansive Box-Death Hollow Wilderness area. We end our day with a hearty and well-deserved dinner while camping amongst the lush pine and aspen forest. All meals included.

Cycling: 32 miles; Elevation gain/loss: 4968'/2560'; Surface: 16% paved, 84% dirt

Day 4

Boulder Town & Burr Trail

Wake up, stretch, and congratulate yourself; you survived Hell?s Backbone! We rise today and have breakfast before a leisurely downhill ride into the eclectic mountain town of Boulder, Utah. After lunch at Burr Trail Grill, we jump back in the saddle for another 24 miles on our restaurant?s namesake- the Burr Trail. In the 1880s, John Atlantic Burr built this trail to move cattle from the Aquarius Plateau to Bullfrog Basin near the Colorado River. Today we enjoy the trail that history has left for us as we marvel at the geologic wonders that surround us. A final climb onto a ?step? of the Grand Staircase leads us to our campsite for the night. All meals included.

Cycling: 37 miles; Elevation gain/loss: 2712'/4508'; Surface: 89% rough pavement, 11% dirt

Day 5

Switchbacks, Strike Valley & Capitol Reef Canyons

Shake the red dust off your tent after a hot breakfast in the open air. Climb back on your bike to continue along the ever-amazing Burr Trail. A downhill route alongside sheer canyon walls gives us time to take in our surroundings. We?ll make lasting memories of the sweeping views from Strike Valley Overlook before tackling the infamous Burr Trail switchbacks. Just past those hairpin turns, we find ourselves along the monocline that forms the Waterpocket Fold. Take in the panorama of scrubby juniper and pinyon pines as we make our way through the southern portion of Capitol Reef National Park, finally ending our day at Spring Canyon. All meals included.

Cycling: 32 miles; Elevation gain/loss: 1673'/2807'; Surface: 100% dirt

Day 6

Ride Where Mountains Moved

Today we continue up the scenic backway of Notom-Bullfrog road, our views interspersed with narrow canyons and endless blue sky. You will see the sandstone strata of the Waterpocket Fold on your left, a result of the Laramide Orogeny event over 50 million years ago. We stop for a trailside lunch at Orientation Pullout, then cycle on into historic Fruita, Utah just inside Capitol Reef National Park. We?ll stretch our legs off the bikes on some short hikes around our campsite for the night, or just relax in camp. A celebratory dinner concludes our day as we prepare our final ride tomorrow. All meals included.

Cycling: 29 miles; Elevation gain/loss: 1563'/1449'; Surface: 60% paved, 40% dirt

Day 7

Through Capitol Reef Canyons

Our last day begins with a quick breakfast so we can get an early start on our last ride. We tackle the aptly named Scenic Drive of Capitol Reef National Park. We traverse 18 colorful miles surrounded on both sides by towering canyon walls. A farewell lunch in Torrey is the perfect conclusion to our adventure before we head back to St. George to say farewell to our new friends and look back upon the memories we?ve made. Breakfast and lunch included.

Cycling: 18 miles; Elevation gain/loss: 1372'/ 1372'; Van transfer: 3 hours; Surface: 60% paved, 40% dirt

Gear List

This gear list has been created to help you choose the best equipment for the trip. Try to bring only what is necessary, as this will help you and the field staff. The weather and other conditions at the time of your arrival will dictate what clothing and equipment you will be required to use each day and what (if anything) can be left behind. It may be a necessary precaution that you bring certain items on the list, even if it is uncertain whether or not they will be needed.

Collection of selected R E I Co-op cycling merchandise and snacks laid out to pack for a bike tour

What to pack

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Travel documents

  • Airline Tickets (Confirmation and Itinerary)
  • Final Bulletin (emailed prior to departure date)

Contact Us

Feel free to give us a call at 800-622-2236 should you have any questions regarding the gear list. The staff at our stores and Direct Sales (800-426-4840) will also be happy to help you with gear questions. Or check out REI Expert Advice , which has great information to help you prepare for your trip.