Routes for the Roadies
- Posted On
- Apr 10, 2018
- Northern Utah
Utah’s incredible scenery is about as diverse as it gets. From the lush, high-alpine scenery of Northern Utah to the stunning red-rock formations and desert vistas of Southern Utah, there’s no shortage of unique scenery to immerse yourself in – and there’s no better way to do it than on a bicycle. Fortunately, Utah is loaded with thousands of miles of scenic byways to explore on a bike. From multi-day tours to afternoon cruises, the riding options are endless. Following are some of our favorite road rides from across the state.
Highway 12 Scenic Byway: Options for up to 124 miles one way
If you could choose only one bucket-list riding experience in Utah, this would be it. Highway 12 packs more diverse, jaw-dropping scenery into 124 miles than perhaps any other road on the planet. Traveling west to east and starting in Panguitch, this stunning stretch of pavement passes through the iconic hoodoos of Red Canyon and Bryce Canyon National Park, through the striking vistas and sandstone formations of Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, through the charming town of Boulder, up and over the lush aspen and fir forests of Boulder Mountain, and finally terminates at the gates of Capitol Reef National Park in Torrey. This is truly some of the most magical road riding in the world, and it’s equally pleasing in either direction. This could be the most scenic ride of your life, so plan well and do it right. Take a few days to get this one done, and as a bonus, add on the 30-or-so miles for a scenic tour through Capitol Reef. You won’t regret those extra miles!
St. George to Zion: options for up to 64 miles one way
Tucked in the southwest corner of Utah, St. George is a cycling haven with over 30 miles of paved bike paths and views galore. But the marquis road tour here is to pedal from St. George to nearby Zion National Park. The route will take you along miles of pristine, red-rock desert scenery, passing through the towns of Hurricane, Toquerville, Virgin, and Rockville before ending in Springdale at the gates of Zion National Park, where cyclists are rewarded with breathtaking views of the tallest sandstone cliffs in the world. As a bonus, the incredibly beautiful 15 miles of Zion Canyon inside the park are closed to cars between Easter and Thanksgiving, making it ideal for cyclists to travel through the canyon safely and impossible to pass up. Your legs may be tired, but the little bit of extra mileage is so worth the effort.
Canyonlands to Moab on State Road 313: options for up to 61 miles one way
Moab is world-famous for epic mountain biking trails, but the road riding here is equally spectacular. One of the finest options in the Moab area is to shuttle out to the end of State Road 313, which takes you to Grand View Point, the highest overlooking point in breathtaking Canyonlands National Park. Spend some time soaking up the enormous views of Canyonlands and the spectacular La Sal Mountains before you get in a hurry to throw a leg over your bike – you’ll be glad you did. When you are about 19 miles into your ride, don’t miss the short spur out to Dead Horse Point State Park, which offers outstanding views of the area from a slightly different perspective. Enjoy this gently descending route, and be sure to stop at the many scenic viewpoints along the way. When you reach the junction with U.S. 191 to head back to town, leave that busy highway for the cars and instead ride the fantastic paved bike trail that takes you straight back to town.
Scenic Byway 150 (Mirror Lake Highway): options for up to 56 miles one way
Stretching from the Utah/Wyoming border to the charming town of Kamas, this this Scenic Byway meanders through the majestic scenery of the Uinta Mountains (Utah’s highest). Enjoy the thick aroma of pine trees as you pass stunning 13,000-foot peaks, lush, wildflower-filled meadows, and dozens of crystal-clear high-alpine lakes.
Mount Nebo National Scenic Byway: 32 miles one way
Mount Nebo is the southernmost and highest peak in the Wasatch, reaching 11,928 feet. This outstanding ride is challenging with some stout climbing, but extremely rewarding with some of the finest alpine scenery in the state. Starting in the town of Payson and ending in Nephi, this gorgeous route weaves through thick stands of pine and aspen as it skirts the flanks of massive Mount Nebo. Autumn colors are absolutely brilliant along this route, making Fall the best time to ride.