DO NOT underestimate this leg! The elevation map doesn’t look too menacing, but in reality it is a punishing 54 miles usually made worse by a head wind that nags at your motivation. This leg does have a lot of climbing, but it is also among the most scenic. It is a great way to start off a great race. Watch for the Hole-in-the-rock at mileage 15.9 and Wilson arch at mileage 25.8.
This leg will take you past the beautiful Abajo (Blue) mountains on the right. Passing thought the Comb Ridge at mile 37.5 is a majestic moment. Leg ends at the Mule Canyon trailhead where Anasazi ruins dating back to 1200 AD can be explored. GASOLINE WARNING!!! After the turn off at State Road 95, the next gasoline is in Hanksville, 121 miles away. Make sure to fill up in Monticello, Blanding, or the gas station at the corner of 191 and 95.
This leg is long but offers a nice gradual downhill leading to the Colorado River and beginning of Lake Powell. Pass the Natural Bridges National Monument at mileage 17.6 where the team vehicle may want to stop for a moment and view some of bridges at the National Monument. Also notice the Jacob’s Chair landmark around mileage 35 on top of the cliffs to the right. As you come to Lake Powell you will cross the Colorado River bridge then immediately after that the Dirty Devil Bridge. Enjoy the beautiful scenery of Lake Powell.
This leg has a gradual climb out of Lake Powell up to a plateau summit followed by a gradual descent into Hanksville. Enjoy the view of winding red rock canyons all along the ascent and tall rock pillars and layered cliffs along the descent.
This leg is a significant climb that follows the Fremont River (upstream) most the way. At mileage 29.0 you will enter Capitol Reef National Park. This is park is one of the last great secrets in the USA. As the sun sets in front of you the light will illuminate the towering red cliffs. The historical town of Fruita at mileage 37.4 shows how early settlers of Utah lived. The green fruit trees of Fruita contrast beautifully against the red cliffs overhead.
From Torrey start climbing up UT-12 into the Boulder Mountains. Climb is steep up to a false summit at mileage 15 then after a short descent and 5 more miles of climbing you will hit the boulder pass. Take a moment to enjoy the view the east. The mountains seen in the distance are the Henry’s that you just passed earlier in the day. After summit you have a steep descent down to the quaint town of Boulder and to the exchange. Take caution and watch for cattle, deer, and elk on the road during the descent.
This section of State Road 12 is what makes it famous! It just cannot be put into words, but here we go with a meager attempt. As you descend from Boulder down to the Escalante river, you will thoroughly enjoy cycling down the famous ridge at mileage 6.3 with steep drop offs on both sides of the road. You will feel as though you are cycling in the clouds. As you near the Escalante River you will pass the Calf Creek Gorge (home of Calf Creek Falls) on the right. Excellent views from a top the road down to the green bottom of the gorge are breathtaking. Shortly after climbing up from the river on the other side you come to a windy section of road that contours a rugged white slickrock. At mileage 26.1 you will pass through the town of Escalante and begin an ascent back into Dixie national forest. After reaching a mild summit, you wind down the narrow canyon and end in the town Henrieville, population 165.
Shortly after leaving Henrieville you will pass through the small towns of Cannonville and Tropic. In Cannonville at mileage 3.4 you can find a visitors center for the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. After Tropic enjoy the views to the west of Bryce Canyon National Park from below. At mileage 10.9 you will enter the Park. The road winds up the canyon with spectacular red hoodoos all around. Yes, the official name is a hoodoo. Reach the summit at mileage 14.4 and stay on top the plateau for about 9 miles, then begin the descent into Red Canyon. Again more hoodoos in every direction and pass though the 2 red rock tunnels at mileage 24.4 and 24.5. At the bottom of Red Canyon take a right in UT-89 and finish the leg into Panguitch.
This leg boasts the steepest ascent with over 3200 feet of climbing over the 37 miles. You will start climbing immediately out of Panguitch, entering the Dixie National Forest as the high desert landscape turns to mountain. Enjoy a short flat area as you bike around the scenic Panguitch Lake at mileage 15.7. After making a left to head to Duck Creek, you’ll have some downhill (and more uphill of course).
After leaving Cedar City make the 1,000 foot climb to the Iron Mountain Pass where early Utahns settled in 1850 as part of the “iron mission.” After the pass at mile 30.0 arrive to the tiny town of Newcastle and follow the Bench Road through the ranchlands until you arrive at Enterprise.
What better way to finish the Relay than with a 4,000 foot plus descent into Ivins. Pass through the cedar and juniper-rich mountains south of Enterprise and then descend down through the ancient volcanoes near Veyo and past Gunlock Reservoir. If desired, the 3 team members can meet up with their cyclist to finish the last mile or two of the course together. You have made it and deserve a good rest and time to relax. Unity Park awaits with hydration and goodies!