The Best Southwestern Adventures: Ride

Henry Mountains, Utah

Aug 15, 2012
Outside Magazine
Kevin Dixon Moab Utah desert mountain biking slickrock sunset

The Henry Mountains, a clutch of inactive volcanoes in southeastern Utah, was the last range in the lower 48 to be mapped and explored. The ruddy landscape gave refuge to outlaws like Butch Cassidy. Nearly 120 years later, that feeling of newness and adventure is still available—if you’re willing to climb out of your rental and clip into some bike pedals. On Lizard Head Cycling Guides’ new six-day, van-supported road-biking tour ($2,595), you’ll ride through Utah’s most jaw-dropping landscapes along well-kept and lesser-traveled back roads where the only obstacles are rattling cattle guards. Starting in Hanksville, ride 50 miles toward the beautiful abomination of Lake Powell. The next morning, pedal north on blacktop so lonesome you’ll sometimes ride three abreast, cutting across Capitol Reef National Park and the 100-mile-long geologic doorstop of the Waterpocket Fold on the (mostly) paved, little-used Burr Trail. Heading west, the trail churns up to 8,000 feet toward the hoodoos at Bryce Canyon National Park before doubling back through ragged geography like Hell’s Backbone, in Grand Staircase–Escalante National Monument, on the return east. Think of it as a weeklong transect of the beautiful and broken West, parceled out in 30-to-70-mile segments, with thick steaks grilled over open wood fires at lodges like Escalante’s Slot Canyons Inn.