San Rafael Swell to Capitol Reef NP

Snaking its way through central Utah – this trip is easily one of the most remote desert regions you will visit in the lower 48 states.

Mountain Biking Easy

Distance
298 km
Ascent
3.5 km
Descent
3.3 km
Low Point
1.3 km
High Point
2.2 km
Gradient
VIEW ON MAP
San Rafael Swell to Capitol Reef NP Map

Description

We’re still in shock we’re the first to pioneer this route as a mountain bike tour. Snaking its way through central Utah – this trip is easily one of the most remote desert regions you will visit in the lower 48 states. Over 5 days and about 150 miles we take an up close view of the San Rafael Swell, the Wedge Overlook, skirt Sid’s Mountain Wilderness Study Area (WSA), dive into Devil’s Canyon WSA, spill out into Cathedral Valley scenic area and end in one of our most beautiful National Parks: Capitol Reef NP. By the end of this trip you’ll have trouble believing everything you saw.

We created this trip for those who don’t want a guide, don’t want to be supported during the week and generally just want their own self-serve adventure with a bit of logistical assistance. Each day we relocate a very deluxe camp setup (provided by Ready Camp) of (2) 10×10 canopies, full kitchen, dry firewood, camp chairs, fresh water, coolers of food and beverages (you purchase prior to trip) and all your personal gear like tents, bags and clothing. You can go as cheap or deluxe as you want on food, beverages and amenities!!

Day One:

We immediately ride through the rock monocline that is San Rafael Reef by way of Black Dragon Canyon. After a traverse of the Jackass Benches we make a long descent to the San Rafael River and our camp walled in by 500-foot sandstone cliff faces.

Day Two:

We visit the famous Buckhorn Wash Pictograph Wall and then onto lunch at the Wedge, commonly referred to as the Little Grand Canyon. Our ride in the afternoon takes us along the edge of Sid’s Mountain WSA and its labyrinth of sandstone honeycomb formations and our camp in a remote desert wash.

Day Three:

We roll along a fun lunar landscape of up and down “whoops” before dropping into the dense sandstone maze of Devils Canyon WSA. The end of our day is pleasant cruise across a wide desert valley of red earth and a gorgeous campsite under a red rock ridge.

Day Four:

Continuing down into Devil’s Canyon first thing you’ll start to feel the walls sort of close in a bit. Our exit from Devils Canyon is something out of Star Wars movie – a serpentine wash that seems to “S” endlessly

Day Five:

We enter the northern reaches of Cathedral Valley including an incredible descent through a steep canyon. Later in the day we enter Capitol Reef National park and it’s stunning version of Cathedral Valley before reaching camp high on a cliff for a sunset overlook of this same valley.

Day Six:

Not far from our camp we’ll spend time at two incredible desert lookouts: one of Cathedral Valley and the other of the Southern Desert. Both are jaw-dropping. As we near our finish we’ll get a chance to view the other end of the Southern Desert; a viewpoint that must be seen to be believed.

For more information and to book a tour, visit http://hermosatours.net/utah-mountain-bike-tours/sanrafaelswellmountain-bike-tours.html

Difficulty

Easy

Mostly smooth and non-technical singletrack with unavoidable obstacles 2in/5cm tall or less. Avoidable obstacles may be present. Ideal for beginner riders.

Medium Exposure

2 out of 4

The trail contains some obstacles such as outcroppings and rock which could cause injury.

Remoteness

4 out of 4

In the high mountains or remote conditions, all individuals must be completely autonomous in every situation.

Best time to visit

March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November

Equipment required