Planning my 37 days in Southern Utah (on bike)

Hubert Poul

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Joined
Apr 20, 2015
Messages
10
Hi guys,
I will be visiting United States for a third time this September and I am planning to go for a bike trip there for wondrous 37 days. I've travelled through Southern utah before by car and tried some hikes there, however I would really like to take advantage of my extensive time abilities this time and not just barely visit the country, but really experience and live the desert through for the most of my stay if possible.

I will be travelling in pair with my friend for the safety reasons - anything can happen in wilderness (yet it have crossed my mind to have the real adventure in isolation only on my own). We really like our bikes and regularly travel long distances (about 100 miles per day fully loaded), hence we are bringing them with us. No car, just bikes. Also, we are quite used to travel really on low buget - just for the cost of food and water.

Long story short, the idea is use our bikes as transportation and ride through as much scenic roads as possible and also include some hiking in backcountry. Hence, should anyone here have some ideas or suggestions, advices, forewarnings etc. we would really appreciate to hear it...

Please feel free to look at the map of our trip:

...and our proposed draft of our day by day schedule:
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1kP2TseZLy7SB32xqVEKBain6e5jYTctLIaDs7IxKPC0/edit?usp=sharing

If anyone has the mood to give us any kind od advice, we would greatly value it (since I think that here is the extensive community of utah based ooutdoor lovers). All comments are welcomed.

Thanks for reading my post this far.
Cheers!
 

Vegan.Hiker

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Jul 5, 2014
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2,094
Sorry I can't offer any advice but I just checked out your spreadsheet and I'm totally jelly of this trip! I googled to convert 1671 km to miles and it's over 1,000 miles!!! I'm impressed, envious, and wish you guys the best of luck.
 

Nick

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Aug 9, 2007
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Wow! That is quite the bike ride! I can't even comprehend putting down days like that through all that varied terrain. I'm no help with that part, but if you have questions on specific hikes, feel free to ask. You're definitely hitting some really great stuff.
 

HomerJ

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Jan 19, 2012
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Just thought I'd make sure that you know you need a backcountry permit to camp in the Paria Canyon (different than the day use permit). These are limited so hurry and get yours if you don't already.

When you go to White Pocket, make sure you have a good map. The roads aren't marked and they go all over the place up there. You can probably ride a lot of the way on your bikes, but there is a bunch of sand along the road, especially on the 2nd half of the route. I'm assuming you're riding bikes with tires for dirt roads as a lot of your trip is on dirt roads...
 

Hubert Poul

Member
Joined
Apr 20, 2015
Messages
10
Thank you folks for your comments! It is greatly appreciated. I really look forward to visiting Utah! Ugh, my work prevented me to reply sooner…

Thanks also for the tip regarding backcountry overnight permit to Paria Canyon. Luckily, I've just managed to get one of those, so we are free to go...

If I may, I have some questions regarding Vermillion Cliffs, should be here anyone familiar with the area. I am not sure if it's possible to go overnight to White Pocket and camp somewhere nearby so we could enjoy sunrise as well as sunset in this place? Are there any restrictions regarding that?

Also, we count on finding a place at the Stateline campground. Do you think it's possible at this part of the year? I can imagine that there will be lots of people trying to go to The Wave (unfortunately we weren't lucky enough in lottery).

I am also curious about your experience with south-western portion of Grand Staircase-Escalante as well, as I haven't found much information about it on the web (contrary to much more frequently visited north-eastern part of the Monument around Hole in the Rock Rd, which we have on our schedule after that). We plan to ride the Smoky Mountain Rd from south (Big Water to Escalante), however I am not sure whether two days is enough. If there are any interesting places alongside the road, I can imagine reserving more days for it. But there is really so little information about it on the web... (Which is perhaps better: one can truly explore it on his own and be amazed of something unexpected). But any advice is welcomed here.

One question also about the bike and highways. Most of our trip is on unpaved or just small paved roads like Highway 12. However in order to get from Goblin Valley to Moab, we have to ride some portion of our journey on U.S. Route 191, which I believe have quite heavy traffic. However I am worried if we are even allowed to ride there – we can beat traffic by travelling early/late, but we wouldn’t like to commit some offence.

And lastly, a question about safety. We are considering the idea to have only a tart and not a tent with us, as it would seize quite a portion of our baggage on bike (we will have to brink lots of water with us, usually for two days at least, hence every ounce saved will do the difference I think). However I have read many stories about the danger of sleeping outside, especially in regards of rattlesnakes. What is your opinion on that? Is it too dangerous? We are no sissies, yet we of course want to survive and prevent any health/life inconveniences that could happen.

I am also happy to say that we decided to travel in old school way. Without GPS and mobiles, just maps and compass. Only spot gen 3 will be there, just in case… :)
 

Nick

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If I may, I have some questions regarding Vermillion Cliffs, should be here anyone familiar with the area. I am not sure if it's possible to go overnight to White Pocket and camp somewhere nearby so we could enjoy sunrise as well as sunset in this place? Are there any restrictions regarding that?

White Pocket is not regulated (yet) like the Coyote Buttes areas. It's just BLM land that you can camp on freely.

We plan to ride the Smoky Mountain Rd from south (Big Water to Escalante), however I am not sure whether two days is enough. If there are any interesting places alongside the road, I can imagine reserving more days for it. But there is really so little information about it on the web... (Which is perhaps better: one can truly explore it on his own and be amazed of something unexpected). But any advice is welcomed here.

I drove it once. That hill coming up from Big Water is BIG! You can go find the subterranean coal fires up on top of the plateau, and there is a ncie overlook of Glen Canyon/Lake Powell at Ahlstrom Point. There are some other little goodies hiding around up there, but those are the big attractions.

And lastly, a question about safety. We are considering the idea to have only a tart and not a tent with us, as it would seize quite a portion of our baggage on bike (we will have to brink lots of water with us, usually for two days at least, hence every ounce saved will do the difference I think). However I have read many stories about the danger of sleeping outside, especially in regards of rattlesnakes. What is your opinion on that? Is it too dangerous? We are no sissies, yet we of course want to survive and prevent any health/life inconveniences that could happen.

I've never had a snake want to curl up with me, and I hardly ever see rattlesnakes out on the plateau. Scorpions do tend to want to take shelter under a tent or sleeping pad though. I really like sleeping without a tent, but during the warmer seasons (May/June-Sept), I find the creepy-crawly factor is often a bit higher than I like. Sometimes I end up with little tiny bites that don't show up for a day or two, and once I had a real problem with biting tiny flies all night. So basically, if it were me, I'd pack a tent, but you'll most likely be fine without one. Just make sure whatever tarp shelter you have can hold up to strong winds and storms.
 

Hubert Poul

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Apr 20, 2015
Messages
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Thanks, Nick! I'll make sure that I include Ahlstrom Point at the Smoky Mnt Rd! Also I am excited that it is possible to sleep around White Pocket, that will be a blast! And thanks for your other suggestions as well...

I'll make sure to take my camera with me so I can report it here afterwards:)
 

uintahiker

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Jan 20, 2012
Messages
719
Biting flies are definitely a reason to take a tent.

You've got some serious miles on your itinerary, many of which are on dirt roads. Make sure your bikes are durable enough to take the beating, because they will get one!

It might be worth looking into a few smaller sites along the way as well, for example the Crystal Geyser and the Copper Mtn Dinosaur Tracks.
 

Hubert Poul

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Joined
Apr 20, 2015
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Interestingly enough, this news article just popped up, and could direct you to a few places to look for dino prints.
Thank you for the tips - the dinosaur tracks sounds really exciting!

As for the bikes, it will be quite a rough test for the machines... Hence we plan to be prepared for some minor repairs during the trip (chain replacement etc.). But hopefully nothing big will happen.
 

HomerJ

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Jan 19, 2012
Messages
1,199
If I may, I have some questions regarding Vermillion Cliffs, should be here anyone familiar with the area. I am not sure if it's possible to go overnight to White Pocket and camp somewhere nearby so we could enjoy sunrise as well as sunset in this place? Are there any restrictions regarding that?

Also, we count on finding a place at the Stateline campground. Do you think it's possible at this part of the year? I can imagine that there will be lots of people trying to go to The Wave (unfortunately we weren't lucky enough in lottery).

Lots of places to camp near white pocket. When I was there a few years ago there was people camped out at the trailhead/parking lot.

I doubt you'll have any trouble finding a spot open at the Stateline CG, but I've never been there in September so I don't know for sure. I wouldn't worry as there's plenty of places along House Rock Road to camp. I've probably camped in 4-5 different spots along that road over the years.
 

Nick

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I doubt you'll have any trouble finding a spot open at the Stateline CG, but I've never been there in September so I don't know for sure. I wouldn't worry as there's plenty of places along House Rock Road to camp. I've probably camped in 4-5 different spots along that road over the years.

I'd bet a spot at Stateline in September could be tricky.

Given that you're on bikes, not in an automobile, it might be worth scouting sites on Google Earth and dropping pins on your GPS. There are a handful of sites on House Rock but really not that many, IMO. But if you're just pitching tents and sleeping, that is probably easier to find than a big spot with a fire ring.
 

Hubert Poul

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Joined
Apr 20, 2015
Messages
10
I doubt you'll have any trouble finding a spot open at the Stateline CG, but I've never been there in September so I don't know for sure. I wouldn't worry as there's plenty of places along House Rock Road to camp. I've probably camped in 4-5 different spots along that road over the years.

Given that you're on bikes, not in an automobile, it might be worth scouting sites on Google Earth and dropping pins on your GPS. There are a handful of sites on House Rock but really not that many, IMO. But if you're just pitching tents and sleeping, that is probably easier to find than a big spot with a fire ring.

Thank you for the suggestions. To be honest, I was a little bit worried about camping out of designated areas as I was under the impression that it would be prohibited. However if it isn't the case here, we will welcome the opportunity to break a camp/tent somewhere alongside the House Rock Valley Rd for sure. We'll have only a small stove, so no fire place will be needed. Thanks again!
 
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