Exploring a new zone is the beauty of bikepacking. Being able to look at a map and connect a number of roads coupled with some neat surroundings is an exciting experience, one that I wish I could do every weekend of ever year. Doing it every so often actually makes it more special, especially in a completely unknown area to me, so the wait is ok.
A few weeks prior to this trip, I went on a trip north of Interstate 70 near the San Rafael Swell, a underrated zone Northwest of Moab in my opinion. Many people only see the area from the highway, but what truly lies in the washes and canyons is bikepacking bliss.
So it was a no brainer for Lindsay and I to go back and explore the area south of I-70 and see what it had to offer. For us who live in Colorado, this would be a farewell to our planned desert riding season, before we take out the fat bikes and skis for the winter.
Planning The Route
Some routes are easier to plan than others. This one proved to be a bit difficult. I had an idea of what I wanted to do, but what seemed to be the main issue was running into dead ends where steep canyon walls fall hundreds of feet to valley floors. After trying to work on the route with Strava and Garmin Basecamp, I found myself using the Gaia App to map and create the entire route. This system worked well, especially when my Garmin died and I needed a GOS device to navigate.
We discovered two main terminuses of the route, one on the north end and one on the south end of the loop. You could start at either end of the loop. What we did was drop water at the southern most portion, near Cainville, and started at the northern most portion. In total the route would travel 146 miles with roughly 8,000 vertical feet of gain. We traveled in a counter-clockwise direction. The route travels through sandy washes, super straight roads, tight twisty roads, desolate canyons and areas with big views.