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Touring So. Utah incl. North Rim GC

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Touring So. Utah incl. North Rim GC

Old 09-05-16, 04:47 AM
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almanorkid
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Touring So. Utah incl. North Rim GC

Hi,

There seems to be no regional thread that covers the So. Utah roads south of Zion and Bryce...

So any advice on camping, road conditions, must see, for the following route in early October 2016:

Kanab, UT - North Rim GC - Lee's Ferry - Page, AZ - Kanab. Riding CCW it's about 280 miles. I've got the Zion and Bryce riding figured out, but wouldn't mind any notes on these highways. Also, would you recommend staying in Page or maybe push on a bit to camp in Waheap on lake Powell?

Thanks!

Mike
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Old 09-05-16, 05:57 AM
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My wife and I just vacationed there (by car), but I noticed that UT-12, between Bryce Canyon NP and Capitol Reef NP seemed to be a great cycling road. There was a separate bike path for long stretches of it, and UT-12 is quite scenic.
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Old 09-05-16, 06:20 AM
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We toured Utah in mid September a couple of years ago. It was VERY hot camping beside Lake Powell and there wasn't much shade. Also the boat trailer traffic around Lake Powell on weekends can be overwhelming. Kanab to the North Rim sounds like the nicest part of your ride. Frankly, I'd skip the rest and spend more time farther north. Agree that Hwy 12 is great for cycling.
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Old 09-05-16, 08:17 AM
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Hi Kid -

I've cycled all the roads you mention - numerous times.

First - elevation. You will be dealing with elevations in excess of 8000 ft.
Since you are a lowlander and just getting back into touring, I would urge prudence.
Also, high elevations can mean big weather swings in October -
You can be roasting by Lake Powell and wake up to a blizzard at Bryce.

Second, the climb up from Zion on Hwy 9 or Cedar City on Hwy 14 is tough.
Bikes are prohibited in the Zion tunnel, so you will have to beg a ride from a pick-up.
(The tunnel is alternating one-way, so there is stopped traffic from which to beg.)
There is another long, not-as-steep climb from Fredonia up to the Kaibab Plateau.

Third, at higher elevations there are forests, but at lower elevations shade is rare.
Exposed means not only rare shade but winds, too - - prevailing from the southwest.
Most of the time, riding towards the North Rim means dealing with a headwind.
(There are a number of fire closures in the region - check status.)

Also, shoulders are spotty to nonexistant. Traffic volume varies.
By October, tourist traffic is down, but still can be an issue in more popular places.

I see you are trying to do a loop of sorts.
Loops are very hard to do in southern Utah - very few paved roads.
If you are willing to do dirt, your options multiply manyfold.
US 89 between Page and Kanab is O.K., but boring.

Pic - Checkerboard Mesa in eastern Zion NP
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Old 09-05-16, 10:19 AM
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I was car camping in Bryce in early April 2014 and camping in the campsite next to me was a pair of dutch bike tourists. I remembered saying to them that they might want to start very early most days to avoid as much heat as practical and also to carry lots of water. The reason I remember that conversation now was that I recall they belittled my suggestion and I wondered how they fared.

When does the North Rim close for winter?
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Old 09-05-16, 10:56 AM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
I was car camping in Bryce in early April 2014 and camping in the campsite next to me was a pair of dutch bike tourists. I remembered saying to them that they might want to start very early most days to avoid as much heat as practical and also to carry lots of water. The reason I remember that conversation now was that I recall they belittled my suggestion and I wondered how they fared.
I'd probably raise an eyebrow too. I was in Bryce mid-April 2010 and this is what it looked like. The weather was beautiful. Having a normal water supply is always sound advise, but your warning does seem out-there.

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Old 09-05-16, 11:17 AM
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Originally Posted by BigAura View Post
I'd probably raise an eyebrow too. I was in Bryce mid-April 2010 and this is what it looked like. The weather was beautiful. Having a normal water supply is always sound advise, but your warning does seem out-there.


I remembered it being pretty hot on the drive down to grand canyon a day later, we did not have air conditioning in the jeep we had.

Just because you see snow up in the higher elevations does not mean it is that cool down lower.

I am the one wearing the stocking cap with my backpack, but there were hot and sweaty times too.
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Old 09-05-16, 12:28 PM
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The rim at Bryce Canyon is between 8000 and 9000 ft.
The valley at Zion is at 3666 ft. Big difference.
On average that would be a 15F temp difference.
With uplift and incoming fronts, maybe 20F.

From the Western Regional Climate Center -
Bryce Canyon (Oct) - Avg Hi - 60F, Avg Lo - 26F
Zion N.P. (Oct) - Avg Hi - 78F, Avg Lo - 49F

So you can have snow in the morning and bake in the afternoon.

Utah
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Old 09-05-16, 03:15 PM
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Originally Posted by jamawani View Post
The rim at Bryce Canyon is between 8000 and 9000 ft.
The valley at Zion is at 3666 ft. Big difference.
On average that would be a 15F temp difference.
With uplift and incoming fronts, maybe 20F.

From the Western Regional Climate Center -
Bryce Canyon (Oct) - Avg Hi - 60F, Avg Lo - 26F
Zion N.P. (Oct) - Avg Hi - 78F, Avg Lo - 49F

So you can have snow in the morning and bake in the afternoon.

Utah
Be prepared for some variant temperatures = yes. Baking at 78F = Really??
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Old 09-05-16, 04:26 PM
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Originally Posted by BigAura View Post
Be prepared for some variant temperatures = yes. Baking at 78F = Really??
Nota Bene - "Avg" means average
Record highs in Zion (almost all since 2000) in early Oct have been in the high 90s.
With no shade, that would qualify as "baking".
Just sayin' - ya know?
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Old 09-06-16, 06:28 AM
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Wow! Thank you all for the responses and great info. I'm actually writing this from Sri Lanka (work trip) and actually did get in some riding and hiking on the weekend...talk about hot, phew it's hot here. I always try to find a local tour company for some weekend stuff...better than sitting around the hotel eh!

I definitely may reconsider my route especially after hearing about how nice hwy 12 is. But the North Rim GC was a major point I wanted to visit, so not sure how to do both in the time I have available since this is a backpacking and cycle touring combo trip. As to Tourist in MSN's question: yes, the amenities and services are open at the North rim until Oct 15th, so I'm ok timing wise there.

I was aware of the bike thru tunnel issue at Zion, but it seems it won't be to difficult getting a lift from someone (hope I didn't jinx it ha!).

As to the temps and elevation, yes certainly aware, I'm more concerned about cold temps while camping at elevation and just checked and Bryce was 40 degrees today already in early Sept. I'll bring good gloves! I've snow camped with my equipment at 9500 ft elev (mid 20s), so should be ok with what the higher elevations have to offer. As to the potential hot days...well I won't be shy about carrying extra water.

Jamawani - thanks for the extra details for sure! hopefully get lucky on the headwinds from Jacob's lake to North rim, but at only 44 miles that's not a distance that I'm too concerned about that day. If I end up with my original plan, it'll have that 90 miler from NR to Lee's Ferry with that initial 10 mile uphill but then massive downhill run so thinking overall may not be that hard a day. Then from Page AZ to Kanab is 75 miles which is predominantly uphill which will probably be the hardest day and as you all mentioned not the greatest scenery.

Nice pics everyone btw!! Whatever route I end up doing, I'll report back here with a few a few pics of my own.

Mike
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Old 09-06-16, 10:38 AM
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North Rim to Lee's Ferry is a cakewalk.
Page to Kanab is not only uphill and relatively dull, but with a likely headwind.

Are you willing to consider dirt?
Cottonwood Road is 46 miles (short paved section) thru spectacular country.
I would be easier heading downhill north-to-south - meaning doing a clockwise loop.
It is a well-maintained, hardpack road - but tricky in bad weather.

Clockwise would also let you go up from Lee's Ferry - long day -
But then you could wail down to Fredonia. Better use of downhill.
Downhill to Lee's Ferry involves braking away your speed on switchbacks.
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Old 09-06-16, 11:09 AM
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Be aware that the Grand Canyon North Rim unit closes in mid-October. As in, the park gates are closed and everything is shut down. Officially it's Oct 15, but it could be earlier if there is snowfall. See https://www.nps.gov/grca/planyourvis...P_JUMP_2140043
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Old 09-07-16, 05:47 AM
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Jamawani - intereresting option to consider. A couple questions:
1. I see Cottonwood cyn road on google maps going between hwy 89 - Paria - Canyonville, (or reverse North to South) which basically puts you near Bryce, but not sure the clockwise loop your proposing that would include Lees Ferry then up (then down) to Fredonia?
2. As to the dirt, I'm riding a trek 520, 700cc rims, conti road tires, 1 to 1 easiest gear (equiv 27 inches ratio), panniers/gear on rear rack only. Would you recommend throwing on some tires with a slight knobby tread or is the dirt pack assuming good dry conditions is fine to ride with slicks?

briwasson - thanks for the heads up on the north rim closure dates!

Mike
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Old 09-07-16, 07:05 AM
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Mike -

Since you will need to do Cottonwood when it is dry, I would suggest moderate knobby tread.
Here's a detailed description north to south.
Cottonwood Canyon 44 Road, Utah Scenic Backway ? Truck Camper Adventure

Water will be an issue whatever route you decide on.
There is water in Cannonville, Kodachrome S.P., and at Big Water on US 89.
There is also a moderate amount of traffic on Cottonwood Rd. so you can beg, if needed.
By this time in the year the Paria River is mostly dry - but I wouldn't even filter its water.
I am not sure about the location of springs along the way.
(Spring water is often the most delicious - it is "uncertified", buy hey.)
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