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Old 01-23-11, 03:55 PM   #1
atrain85
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Touring Southern Utah in Mid March, First Self-Supported Trip

Hi everyone,

I'm planning to make this Spring Break from the University of Utah my first solo self-supported bike tour. I have from March 18-27, so that's 10 days to make a good trip. I have an older Novara Randonee bike that has Jandd racks, Vaude panniers and 700 x 35 Schwalbe Marathons so think I should be well equipped.

I was thinking about either the loop from St. George to Cedar City, through to Bryce Canyon Park, down around to Zion National Park and back to St. George. I've also heard good things about touring the length of Route 12 starting from Bryce Canyon and looping around Rt. 24, 62, and finally down Rt. 89 back to Bryce.

Is mid-late March in Southern Utah too cold to do a self supported trip with extensive camping? I want to try to camp and cook myself as much as possible- this trip is satisfy a trip I have to take as part of a Wilderness Nutrition course at the U of U.

Also where would a good resource be for planning the maps/cue sheets as well as planning places to camp?

Thanks everyone, this forum has been a great resource and I hope there some more seasoned tourers willing to lend some tips.
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Old 01-23-11, 05:35 PM   #2
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The ACA has a mapped loop thru that area and it covers all the points you want to visit. The is available for download dirctly from their web site. I believe the loop is around 300 miles, so easily doable in your timeframe.
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Old 01-23-11, 07:55 PM   #3
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March?
March??
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Old 01-23-11, 08:09 PM   #4
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The ACA has a mapped loop thru that area and it covers all the points you want to visit. The is available for download dirctly from their web site. I believe the loop is around 300 miles, so easily doable in your timeframe.
That route is a bit extreme.

I think the loop would be great.
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Old 01-24-11, 07:18 AM   #5
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I have toured a number of times in Southern Utah. Your proposed loop is a good one, well tested. Only issues in March is that indeed it might be pretty cold in the higher elevations. Leaving Cedar City, heading up to Bryce, you climb to elevations around 9,000'. Cedar Breaks is around 10,000', Bryce 8500'. Might still be a lot of snow in those areas in March. I've done it in September -- pretty nippy at night but didn't have the lingering winter snow to deal with.
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Old 01-24-11, 08:02 AM   #6
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Google average temperatures for the cities. E.g., According to weather.com, Cedar City in March is 53 with an average low of 28.
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Old 01-24-11, 08:08 AM   #7
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According to the NPS, the average nightly low in Bryce is 17. Brrrrrrrrr!

http://www.nps.gov/brca/planyourvisi...heroutlook.htm
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Old 01-24-11, 09:08 AM   #8
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I did a tour around St. George and Zion last year - end of March, early April. It snowed in Zion and was down around freezing every night. Brrrrr! I think Cedar City and Bryce are even colder.

I think the ACA loop people are talking about is the Cliffs Loop. I downloaded the map and would like to try it someday. It's a lot of off-roading. I think a mountain bike would be better than a Randonee.
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Old 01-24-11, 09:31 AM   #9
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March is a crap shoot in the Rockies and intermountain west. You could have great weather or you could have blizzards. Late spring or early fall is better for the Utah area. Look further south. The south rim of the Grand Canyon could be very nice with a loop further south into Arizona.
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Old 01-24-11, 11:56 AM   #10
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Thanks for the input guys, I wasn't even considering going farther south, but that is a great suggestion in light of the low night temps.

As I definitely want to do something this March for Spring Break, it looks like I should go farther south than Southern Utah to avoid the late Spring snow.

Zion and Bryce seem like places I shouldn't miss though, so perhaps a Fall tour is more in line for that.
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Old 01-24-11, 12:25 PM   #11
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Southern Utah in mid March can be a crap shoot.

In the past several years I have done some mid March trips into Canyonlands NP, Maze and Needles District, and had great weather. Last year we did a bike tour out of Grand Junction, CO around the first of April, heading down through the Paradox Valley and through Monticello UT, towards southern Utah. We encountered killer headwinds and got snowed out of the trip in Monticello and called for a ride home. It was too early that year!

I have a south rim Grand Canyon backpack trip in mid March this year. Hoping for good weather!!
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Old 01-24-11, 12:38 PM   #12
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So any suggestions for loops in Arizona, or any other warmer climates?
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Old 01-24-11, 10:25 PM   #13
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I would urge you not to forget your idea of touring around Zion; only consider a little later in the season. It can be really cold in the winter, and really hot in the summer, but it's one of the most beautiful, spectacular places on earth, and very accessible. It's one of my favorite places in the country. My parents lived in Springdale, about 5 blocks from the entrance to the park, for about 15 years. I went every Christmas, and several times during the summer. I still find myself wanting to go back. Like I said, I toured there last spring. This spring I'm going to car camp in the park and bring some more comfort items - more clothes (long underwear, down parka, etc.), chair, barbecue, camp stove, ice chest, etc. But I'm going to bring my bikes and do some riding while I'm there.

I'm also still planning on trying the Cliffs Loop one of these days.

The Grand Canyon is spectacular too, but it's a big hole in the ground, and getting down into it isn't easy (I haven't made it in more than a couple of miles so far.) Zion has shuttles through the canyon and hiking trails all over where you can walk right through some of the most spectacular rock formations and see some amazing views within a few miles. Consider the Emerald Pools, Hidden Canyon, the West Rim Trail, the Narrows, and Angel's Landing. Wow.
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Old 01-24-11, 10:35 PM   #14
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AT -
How are you getting there?
If you are driving - why not continue on to the Mojave Preserve and/or Death Valley.
March is the perfect time to tour - great temperatures -
Plus you have the lovely fringe benefit of wildflower season.
This year was looking good with all the December rain - but January has been dry.
February will tell whether or not there are oodles of wildflowers or only a few.
There are plenty of loops - but you need to use care with H2O.

J
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Old 01-26-11, 10:07 PM   #15
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Best loop in the state: east out of Boulder, UT, on Burr Trail, through the ungodly backside of Capital Reef Nat. Park. When you reach 95, go north to Hanksville, then due west on 24 to Torrey, then due south on 12 to Boulder (extra points for riding 12 from Boulder to Escalante.) It is the most beautiful loop in the continental United States, Europe, Africa, Australia, or South America. I haven't been to Antartica or Asia.
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Old 01-29-11, 02:53 PM   #16
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AT -
How are you getting there?
If you are driving - why not continue on to the Mojave Preserve and/or Death Valley.
March is the perfect time to tour - great temperatures -
Plus you have the lovely fringe benefit of wildflower season.
This year was looking good with all the December rain - but January has been dry.
February will tell whether or not there are oodles of wildflowers or only a few.
There are plenty of loops - but you need to use care with H2O.

J
Hi,

Thanks for the suggestion, I think going down to Mojave would be a great idea. However are the trails road bike friendly? I will be using Schwalbe Marathon 700 x 35C tires with a good granny gear. Do you think that's sufficient for any dirt/sand trails in March?
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Old 01-29-11, 03:20 PM   #17
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I would definitely think that those 700 X 35 will work on a decent dirt trail. Just the other day I went on a 20 mile loop that got into some pretty rough, wet dirt roads, and I was just using 700X28 continental ultra's. You'll survive, thats for sure, but you may want to stick to a route thats more on paved roads.
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Old 01-30-11, 01:23 AM   #18
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Plenty of pavement without even having to get onto dirt.

Check out the Mojave map - -
http://www.nps.gov/moja/planyourvisi...d/MOJAmap1.pdf

And the Death Valley map - -
http://www.nps.gov/deva/planyourvisi.../DEVAmap1a.pdf
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