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  1. #1
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    vacation: a week in Utah, where to go ?

    hey guys, I'm looking for vacation advice. My wife and I may be doing a Utah road trip this year mid September from Southern CA. would like to do a week long tour of Utah.

    I'm hoping to drive up and do a loop, but don't have a route planned out yet. maybe north on 89 to Park city, then come back maybe southeast on 40 or 6? I hope to go as far north as Park City. Would like to drive through as many parks as well like Zion and Arches. So far the only thing on my must -do mtb trail list is Gooseberry Mesa.

    I'm trying to mix some sight seeing and some nice XC rides in. For trails, we prefer XC loops or out-backs over Downhill trails. Looking for scenery and some sweet flowing single track.

    Any suggestions are appreciated: driving routes, must do trails, places to stay camping or hotels. our hope is to find trails that can be done close to major highways so we can do a trail in the morning, then drive 4-8 hours to the next spot.

  2. #2
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    Some ideas for a start. Gooseberry Mesa and Little Creek. Drive through Zion and then up 89. Ride thunder mountain and see Bryce Canyon. Maybe hit Casto and Losee Canyon if you want while you are there.

    Continue up 89 or go through Bear Valley to I-15. Merge into I-70 and head down to Moab. That is a good solid week of parks and riding.

  3. #3
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    If I were coming from CA, I'd hit Zion NP first, then go east to Hwy 89, then go north to Hwy 12 and east to Bryce Canyon NP. I'd maybe stay at Ruby's Inn, just outside of Bryce Canyon. Then continue on Hwy 12 to Escalante, then Boulder, (a super-scenic route) and on to Torrey, then take Hwy 24 east through Capitol Reef NP, to Hanskville. Then, north on 24 (stopping off at Goblin Valley maybe), to I-70. Then east through Green River, then south on 191 to Arches NP and Moab.

    You'll need to backtrack a bit, to get to Park City. There isn't really a direct route between Moab and PC. Once you're there, you can drive south past Sundance, and get back to CA on I-15. You could do the whole thing in reverse, but I usually prefer to do the freeway driving at the end, when I'm worn out from the rural twisty roads.

    I don't have any specific trail recommendations in those areas, but you should check out The Skid Map
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  4. #4
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    Make sure you bring some gear for colder stuff, park city high elevation trails can get pretty chilly that time of year.

  5. #5
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    Less Miles.

    If it were me I would plan on having a base camp somewhere and driving to a few places and then returning. One week is not very much time to cover so much ground. I always like to try to get a 1 to 1 ratio f ride time to drive time on road trips. If you came to SW to ride gooseberry I would just stay in the area and make some day trips. Zion really cannot be seen in one day. I would do something like this.

    Day 1. Ride Gooseberry and go zion and ride the shuttle bus to the top stopping for a hike or 2

    Day 2. Ride Jem/Hurricane rim and Hike Angels Landing.

    Day 3. Narrows in Zion.

    Day 4. Brianhead/ Bryce canyon. If its hot Brianhead will be lovely Ride Dark hollow scout camp, lot of trail in BH, or Thunder as suggested.

    Day 5. St george. Ride Zen, Barrell Roll, BCP, Paradise, Church rocks, etc etc etc. Lots of trails to choose from. I actually really enjoy a nice easy pedal along the bike paths in St George as well. Go see snow canyon and take in a hike.

    Day 6. Canyoneer in zion. Google it.
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  6. #6
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    We just got back from an 11 day trip. We did 7 days in Park City and (4) more in Duck Creek which was a base area to ride Bryce and Brian Head. Long story short and MY opinion only, I wouldn't try and ride all that the area around St George/Gooseberry has to offer (Goose, Little Creek, JEM Trail and more) and then try and also get to Park City. At the most, I would move on to the Bryce/Brian Head area for the rest of the week.

    But if you insist...at PC, I'd do the Mid-Mtn trail and all it has to offer with trails going all over the place off of that. Depending on how much you want to ride, that could kill several days. Flying Dog is another IMBA favorite. We are XC types as well but did a day of riding the lifts at Deer Valley and I couldn't begin to tell you what a blast it was. Yeah, you're going downhill but most of the runs/trails would be considered fast,flowy XC trails and not DH.

    We rode Thunder Mtn and while it was fun, it was nothing that any of us expected. Based on youtube videos I've seen, I though it was going to be an endless roller coaster ride with epic views. There were (5) of us on our ride and nobody walked away ultra impressed. A couple of us then went over and did Casto Valley. That was different and a huge workout...11 of the 14 miles were on ATV double track. What single track there was was very cool but there wasn't enough of it for me to go back.

    We did a day split between shuttling Dark Hollow and riding on Brian Head. The 1st 6.5 miles of Dark Hollow was awesome but then it turned into a dirt road for MILES!! Riding the lifts at Brian Head was a huge disappointment compared to riding at Deer Valley and Park City. The funnest thing we did up that way was an 11 mile loop around Navajo Lake. Many will think it's note "core" enough but it was 100% single track and rolled thru the trees 90% of the time. If I lived up in that area, I'd ride it all the time.

    Keep in mind that the altitude at Park City, Bryce and Brian Head will wreak havoc on your lung capacity. I even had trouble sleeping at Duck Creek which is at 8400 ft.

  7. #7
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    Utah tour

    Quote Originally Posted by CarlS View Post
    hey guys, I'm looking for vacation advice. My wife and I may be doing a Utah road trip this year mid September from Southern CA. would like to do a week long tour of Utah.

    I'm hoping to drive up and do a loop, but don't have a route planned out yet. maybe north on 89 to Park city, then come back maybe southeast on 40 or 6? I hope to go as far north as Park City. Would like to drive through as many parks as well like Zion and Arches. So far the only thing on my must -do mtb trail list is Gooseberry Mesa.

    I'm trying to mix some sight seeing and some nice XC rides in. For trails, we prefer XC loops or out-backs over Downhill trails. Looking for scenery and some sweet flowing single track.

    Any suggestions are appreciated: driving routes, must do trails, places to stay camping or hotels. our hope is to find trails that can be done close to major highways so we can do a trail in the morning, then drive 4-8 hours to the next spot.
    Coming from Lake Tahoe, CA., I have been going to Utah in the fall every year for the last 19 years, specifically Moab with a number of added stops to Park City and Brian Head.
    This fall will be another thrip of the same, but for the first time with the wife along as she just started mountain biking 1 year ago.
    I will start with a stop in Salt Lake/Park City and get the wife on Wasatch Crest Trail one day, followed by some Park City riding the next day, I highly recommend the Crest Trail (even # days only). Then head to Moab for maybe 4-5 days and ride Moonlight Meadows, Sovereign, Slickrock, maybe Klondike, Whole Enchilada for me for sure, then head to Bryce-Thunder Mountain, and finish in Brian Head area on Virgin Rim, and Bunker Creek.
    From the sounds of it, you will be looking for very similar riding that I will taking my wife on. Your going about the same time we are, just check into the rides I describe to see If it is what you are looking for.
    Must do trails: the Crest, Mid Mountain, Virgin Rim, Bunker, Porc or Slickrock Trail, Thunder mtn.

    Camping, I like the La Sals for getting away from it, along the river keeps you closer to the hub-Moab.
    In Brian head camping around Navajo Lake or just outside the city limits is excellent in the fall. I only hit Gooseberry for a quick overnight, and morning ride. The camping at Gooseberry is good, but don't spend a lot of time riding there If you want a good sampling of Utah riding in other places like Moab and Park City.
    If you have a full 7+ days to ride, you can do Park City.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails vacation: a week in Utah, where to go ?-004-copy-22.jpg  

    OUCH...!!!!!!

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    I would echo what others have said. I would do the south in one week and the north in another if possible but if not
    Day one - Goose and visit Zions
    Day two - Thunder and visit Bryce
    Day three/four - Moab
    Drive at night 3.5 hours to Park City
    5/6/7? Mid mtn and extensions as mentioned, Crest, Deer Valley take a car ride to Uintas around Mirror Lake Highway

  9. #9
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    You can ride the Crest every day, you just can't do the Mill Creek Canyon section. If you ride north bound from Guardsman, when you get to the fork where you'd go left to Mill C, just bear right down to Robs/Collins to avoid the closed section on odd days. You can even head north on the mid mountain and end up at the Pinebrook area. That first 400 feet of climbing up Puke Hill is hideous. After only one year of riding, your wife must be very strong!


    Quote Originally Posted by DGC View Post
    Coming from Lake Tahoe, CA., I have been going to Utah in the fall every year for the last 19 years, specifically Moab with a number of added stops to Park City and Brian Head.
    This fall will be another thrip of the same, but for the first time with the wife along as she just started mountain biking 1 year ago.
    I will start with a stop in Salt Lake/Park City and get the wife on Wasatch Crest Trail one day, followed by some Park City riding the next day, I highly recommend the Crest Trail (even # days only). Then head to Moab for maybe 4-5 days and ride Moonlight Meadows, Sovereign, Slickrock, maybe Klondike, Whole Enchilada for me for sure, then head to Bryce-Thunder Mountain, and finish in Brian Head area on Virgin Rim, and Bunker Creek.
    From the sounds of it, you will be looking for very similar riding that I will taking my wife on. Your going about the same time we are, just check into the rides I describe to see If it is what you are looking for.
    Must do trails: the Crest, Mid Mountain, Virgin Rim, Bunker, Porc or Slickrock Trail, Thunder mtn.

    Camping, I like the La Sals for getting away from it, along the river keeps you closer to the hub-Moab.
    In Brian head camping around Navajo Lake or just outside the city limits is excellent in the fall. I only hit Gooseberry for a quick overnight, and morning ride. The camping at Gooseberry is good, but don't spend a lot of time riding there If you want a good sampling of Utah riding in other places like Moab and Park City.
    If you have a full 7+ days to ride, you can do Park City.

  10. #10
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    Endurance bikers love endurance driving

    St George to Moab is about 5 hours driving.
    Moab to Park city is about 5 hours of driving.

    I like to relax inbetween rides when I take trips so the idea of 3-4 hour ride followed by 5 hour drives repeated every other day just sounds like too much.

    I would pick one area. Park City/SLC. St George/Hurricane, Moab/Fruita. There is pleanty of riding in all 3 areas to keep you on new trails every day for a week. I was assuming 2 days of your week would be driving to and from home.
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pedalfaraway View Post
    I would pick one area. Park City/SLC. St George/Hurricane, Moab/Fruita. There is pleanty of riding in all 3 areas to keep you on new trails every day for a week. I was assuming 2 days of your week would be driving to and from home.
    Agreed. Unless you just want to get a few key trails off your 'bucket list,' I would pick an area and just spend the whole week there. Considering some of the remarkable hiking and scenery, you might as well take it all in.

    Moab area -- Porc/TWE is a must-do, and Slickrock is one of the most unique trails there is (even if not my favorite ride). Lots of other riding options there and in Fruita. Plus, if you haven't been there, you should spend a day or 2 off the bike and check out Arches (Delicate Arch hike, others), Canyonlands (the overlook hike at the end of the road is one of the most spectacular views I've ever seen -- better than Grand Canyon IMO), Dead Horse, Gemini Bridges, tons of other formations to see.

    St. George/Zion -- disclaimer: I've never ridden my mtb down there, but I have done lots of hiking and packing in the area. Zion NP is one of the most beautiful places there is. Only comparison is Bryce Canyon, which is also amazing. I'd spend a few days riding Hurricane area trails, spend at least a day in Zion (Angels Landing and/or Narrows, or take a second day and do the Subway hike -- best hike/easy canyoneering around). You could drive up to Bryce (Navajo, Fairyland, Queens Garden - just amazing hikes), ride Thunder Mountain and/or Brianhead area.

    Park City -- honestly, not as spectacular as the other 2 -- if you haven't been here, and are coming in Sept (perfect time of year for Moab or SW Utah), I would go to Moab, Bryce/Brianhead, or St. George/Zion. That said, plenty of great riding. Wasatch Crest is one of my favorite trails anywhere. Lots of other riding options in Park City, it's all close together (you wont spend as much time in the car if you come to PC), shuttles available for the long rides, etc. Spend a day or 2 riding the lifts at Deer Valley, Sundance, and/or Canyons -- variety of trails, but first 2 have some very nice XC'ish trails, while the bike park at Canyons is tons of fun, even if you aren't a hard-core bike park type. Amazing hikes and scenery up in the Unitas (Bald Mountain, Mirror Lake, Trial Lake), as well as in the Cottonwood Canyons on the SLC side (Lake Blanche, Cecret Lake, Catherine's Pass, others in Albion Basin near Alta). Trees will be turning, and it will be absolutely beautiful.

    Good luck!
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  12. #12
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    Be careful on Gooseberry Mesa. Took my entry level mtb wife on the southern rim trail and it nearly ended my marriage.

  13. #13
    DGC
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    crest+her

    Quote Originally Posted by MSU Alum View Post
    You can ride the Crest every day, you just can't do the Mill Creek Canyon section. If you ride north bound from Guardsman, when you get to the fork where you'd go left to Mill C, just bear right down to Robs/Collins to avoid the closed section on odd days. You can even head north on the mid mountain and end up at the Pinebrook area. That first 400 feet of climbing up Puke Hill is hideous. After only one year of riding, your wife must be very strong!
    She does pretty good. Used to do a women's workout group all the time, helped her a lot. She loves going downhill, but needs more saddle time to know when to go for it, and when to use caution.
    Good to know the Crest is actually open all the time, I just thought since the shuttle does not run up to Guardsman on odd days it was all off limits odd days. One could do an out and back for that matter..
    OUCH...!!!!!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by DGC View Post
    She does pretty good. Used to do a women's workout group all the time, helped her a lot. She loves going downhill, but needs more saddle time to know when to go for it, and when to use caution.
    Good to know the Crest is actually open all the time, I just thought since the shuttle does not run up to Guardsman on odd days it was all off limits odd days. One could do an out and back for that matter..
    I'm not an authority on the subject (but I've ridden it many times!), but I think when people talk about the traditional "Wasatch Crest" route, they mean starting at Guardsman Pass at the top of Big Cottonwood canyon, down Scotts (I think it is called), up Puke Hill, and along the trail down to where it forks into Mill Creek Canyon. That is the route that the pro shuttles plan on you taking. It is only Mill Creek Canyon that is closed on odd days (which is just after the Spine, where the trail goes off to the right. If you take a 'left' after the spine, you will get onto the Mill D trail, go by Desolation Lake and come out still in Big Cottonwood. I call this the Guardsmans to Mill D route.

    There are actually some advantages to the Mill D route. If you are self shuttling, it is much, much shorter -- the shuttle from the bottom of Mill Creek is a good 45+ minutes each way, where it is only 15-20 minutes from the bottom of Mill D trail. I don't know if any pro shuttles are actually shuttling this route regularly, though.

    I actually think that the Mill D segment is a little more fun, albeit shorter -- a little rougher in some spots, a few logs across the trail that have filled in behind them to make nice little drops, etc. And you don't have to ride down Pipeline to get to the bottom of Mill Creek cyn, which is an ok trail in an of itself, but kind of anticlimactic after the Crest and once you've been riding for 20 miles. But either way (Mill Creek side or Mill D), it is an incredible ride, definitely in my top 10 trails ever.
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  15. #15
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    Not sure why you would even want to ride here in Southern Utah. Nothing but sand and desert.









    Gooseberry. Yawn.

  16. #16
    DGC
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    Mill D

    Quote Originally Posted by Tystevens View Post
    I'm not an authority on the subject (but I've ridden it many times!), but I think when people talk about the traditional "Wasatch Crest" route, they mean starting at Guardsman Pass at the top of Big Cottonwood canyon, down Scotts (I think it is called), up Puke Hill, and along the trail down to where it forks into Mill Creek Canyon. That is the route that the pro shuttles plan on you taking. It is only Mill Creek Canyon that is closed on odd days (which is just after the Spine, where the trail goes off to the right. If you take a 'left' after the spine, you will get onto the Mill D trail, go by Desolation Lake and come out still in Big Cottonwood. I call this the Guardsmans to Mill D route.

    There are actually some advantages to the Mill D route. If you are self shuttling, it is much, much shorter -- the shuttle from the bottom of Mill Creek is a good 45+ minutes each way, where it is only 15-20 minutes from the bottom of Mill D trail. I don't know if any pro shuttles are actually shuttling this route regularly, though.

    I actually think that the Mill D segment is a little more fun, albeit shorter -- a little rougher in some spots, a few logs across the trail that have filled in behind them to make nice little drops, etc. And you don't have to ride down Pipeline to get to the bottom of Mill Creek cyn, which is an ok trail in an of itself, but kind of anticlimactic after the Crest and once you've been riding for 20 miles. But either way (Mill Creek side or Mill D), it is an incredible ride, definitely in my top 10 trails ever.
    I saw the Mill D option on a map, seems like it comes out on Big Cottowood Cyn. Just below Spruces campground, right? What is the mileage from Guardsman to and down Mill D? More technical would suite me fine.
    OUCH...!!!!!!

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    Stay high

    Stay high. Virgin River Rim trail above Cedar City, from Najavo Lake to Woods Ranch, avoid the section from najavo to Strawberry point. Park City - take your pick.

  18. #18
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    Park City from the end of September, years past:

    Gravedigger


    Pinebrook


    Flying Dog


    Moose Hollow/Avenues
    Last edited by MSU Alum; 08-08-2012 at 11:36 AM.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by DGC View Post
    I saw the Mill D option on a map, seems like it comes out on Big Cottowood Cyn. Just below Spruces campground, right? What is the mileage from Guardsman to and down Mill D? More technical would suite me fine.
    Yes, it comes out right below the Spruces in Big Cottonwood.

    I'm not a real mileage geek - I don't even have a computer on my bike (on the mtb, at least), but I'm thinking 10-12 miles.
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  20. #20
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    Just to Echo MSU pics. Mid september is a great time of year to ride Park city/SLC. Still going to be warm/hot in St george. Plan a trip in Early Nov to southwest utah.
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