Join Date: May 2005
Location: Flagstaff, AZ
Bikes: Marin Pt. Reyes, Gary Fisher HiFi Pro, Easy Racers Gold Rush recumbent, Cannondale F600
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I haven't ridden this road but I drove it a couple of years ago, north to south, in April. IIRC it's 43 miles between Cannonville, UT and the jct. with SR89 at the south end. It's paved between Cannonville and the turnoff to Kodachrome Basin (about 10 or 12 miles); the remainder is graded gravel, often with washboards and ruts, with a couple of creek crossings. It gets a fair amount of vehicle traffic since a lot of people use it as a shortcut from northern Arizona into southern Utah. The countryside varies from plateaus with pinyon/juniper forests on the north, to drier grasslands and sagebrush with neat rock formations in the south. There are some hilly sections, but no big summits to pass over and large stretches of the route are pretty flat.
It's definitely scenic, especially though the "Coxcomb" valley near the southern end, where it passes through jagged upturned rock beds on either side- like touring inside the lower jaws of some prehistoric monster. Kodachrome Basin is a short side trip of a few miles and definitely worth it, there are some great rock obelisks there, a nice campground, and as far as I know, the only reliable water along the entire route in the summer. Take a camera!
There are no services along the road other than water at the Kodachrome Basin campground. You have to carry food for 55 miles or so, as the closest services to the SR89/Cottonwood Road junction in northern AZ are at Big Water, about 10 miles east on SR89. There were none at the junction, at least as of a couple of years ago.
In dry conditions you could do it in a road bike with wide tires, but an MTB would be better. I would think that spring or fall is the best time to ride it, I could see it being a pretty dusty ride with summertime traffic. As with any unpaved road in that part of the country its condition varies widely with the seasons, so be sure to get an update from Grand Staircase/Escalante National Monument before you go.