Bicycling in Capitol Reef National Park
Bicycles are allowed only on established roads in the park. Highway 24 is a state highway and receives a substantial amount of through traffic, so it's not the best place to pedal. Scenic Drive is better, but the road is narrow, and you have to contend with drivers dazed by the beautiful surroundings. Four-wheel-drive roads are certainly less traveled, but they are often sandy, rocky, and steep. You cannot ride your bicycle in washes or on hiking trails.
Cathedral Valley Scenic Backway. In the remote northern end of the park you can enjoy solitude and a true backcountry ride on this trail. You'll be riding on surfaces that include dirt, sand, bentonite clay, and rock, and you will also ford the Fremont River; you should be prepared to encounter steep hills and switchbacks, wash crossings, and stretches of deep sand. Summer is not a good time to try this ride, as water is very difficult to find and temperatures may exceed 100°F. The entire route is about 58 miles long; during a multiday trip you can camp at the primitive campground with five sites, about midway through the loop. Off Hwy. 24 at Caineville, or at River Ford Rd., 5 mi west of Caineville on Hwy. 24, Capitol Reef National Park, UT, 84775.
South Draw Road. This is a very strenuous ride that traverses dirt, sand, and rocky surfaces, and crosses several creeks that may be muddy. It's not recommended in winter or spring because of deep snow at higher elevations. If you like fast downhill rides, though, this trip is for you—it will make you feel like you have wings. The route starts at an elevation of 8,500 feet on Boulder Mountain and ends 15 miles later at 5,500 feet in the Pleasant Creek parking area at the end of Scenic Drive. At the junction of Bowns Reservoir Rd. and Hwy. 12, 13 mi south of Torrey, Capitol Reef National Park, UT, 84775.
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