Utah is filled with iconic places. When it comes to road biking, Utah is more than iconic. Choose from hitting the asphalt amid powerful red rock scenery in one of Utah's Mighty 5® national parks, traversing thousands of miles of scenic backways and byways, reaching high plateaus, ascending majestic mountains, crossing lonely roadways in curvy canyons or finding yourself in wide open expanses beneath endless sky.
With a passion for outdoors matched only by a passion for sport, you must experience Utah by bicycle.
Here are seven classic routes that will introduce you to serious road cycling — at elevation. For even more cycling, see our Tour of Utah-inspired three-day itinerary, Cycling the Road to Mighty.
1. Logan Canyon | Northern Utah | 39 miles one way
A shimmering surprise caps a tree-lined uphill ride
From 4,500 feet at Utah State University in Logan, riders will climb through Logan Canyon to 7,800 feet over 30 miles before being rewarded with a 10-mile downhill with incredible views of Bear Lake — the Caribbean of the Rockies. Stop for a famous Bear Lake raspberry shake and a burger in Garden City, which sits at nearly 6,000 feet. Riders should exercise caution as the shoulder is often narrow or nonexistent.
2. Ogden Valley
Ogden Valley is a wonderful place. There's a town here called Eden, with good reason. There are three ski resorts encircling the valley. For the thirsty, Utah's oldest continuously operating saloon, the Shooting Star, stands by in nearby Huntsville. And while we're on the subject, New World Distillery is opening soon. The craft distillery emphasizes new world ingredients and the legacy of the West.
At the heart of it all is Pineview Reservoir, a cool escape in the summer and an icy centerpiece in the winter. But, oh, the roads. The narrow roads climbing from the city of Ogden are narrow and not ideal for timid cyclists, but the roads of Ogden Valley are terrific. There are great climbs up the Old Snowbasin Road or south past Snowbasin to the Peterson Loop. But one of our favorites is the Old Liberty Loop. It is of the most scenic routes in the Ogden Valley.
3. City Creek Canyon | Salt Lake City | 5.7 miles to top
From downtown to national forest in minutes
Few symbols better exemplify access and proximity than Salt Lake City's City Creek Canyon. An historically important source of drinking and irrigation water for the valley, City Creek remains an important watershed for Utah's capital city. On odd-numbered days, bicycles are welcome to enjoy a car-free canyon ride, taking on grades averaging 7 percent over the 5.7 miles, from the rolling stretches of the lower canyon to the steeper — and rougher — upper section.
4. Saltair | Great Salt Lake | 36 miles round-trip
A metropolitan to marsh flat ride to the onion-domed pavilion by the sea
A must-ride for residents and visitors to the Salt Lake area, the straight shot west from downtown Salt Lake follows the grand avenue North Temple to the airport bike path that through multiple gated restricted areas connects to the Salt Lake International Airport and an industrial park. The second half of the ride connects with the North Temple Frontage Road, which runs a parallel course with I-80 toward the Great Salt Lake. Though there's not much of a shoulder, cyclists will frequently have this road to themselves. Get to know the characteristic aroma of the Great Salt Lake then turn back to see the distant city and the full expanse of the Wasatch Front.
5. Mirror Lake Scenic Byway | Uinta Mountains | 56 miles one way
Climb to fantastic heights among Utah's tallest peaks
Starting at nearly 6,500 feet in Kamas, Utah, will tell you something about this ride. You've officially entered the cycling land of Utah: Life Elevated. A 30-mile climb along the Upper Provo River to about 10,700 feet at Bald Mountain Pass is ahead, meaning Mirror Lake Highway is a ride for serious climbers. With countless campgrounds and trailheads to high mountain lakes dotting this byway, cyclists may choose to set up camp along the way, and enjoy segments to test their lungs and legs at elevation. The road from the Wyoming state line to the summit is no less scenic, and keeps riders at a higher elevation. Watch for wildlife ranging from groundhogs to the majestic moose.
6. Dinosaur National Monument
Appreciate hundreds of millions of years of the visible geological timeline from two wheels
The Dinosaur Country Cruise is a 48.1-mile out-and-back ride over gently rolling hills and false flats. The ride starts in Vernal, Utah, where you can get a primer on the region's prehistory at the Utah Field House of Natural History State Park Museum. From Vernal, you'll ride into the Dinosaur National Monument as far as the pavement stretches, then return. The pavement surface is good along the outer ends of the route (i.e., in Vernal and approaching and in Dinosaur National Monument) but is fair to rough along Brush Creek Road, in the middle section of the course. There are ten cattle guard crossings. There is only a few hundred feet in elevation change. Back in Vernal, you can refresh and refuel at great local restaurants like the Vernal Brewing Company. See the full Dinosaur Country Cruise description.
7. Alpine Loop | Middle Rocky Mountains | 20+ miles
Get acquainted with Robert Redford's Wasatch
Bookmark American Fork Canyon; you'll have plenty of reasons to return to this Wasatch gem. For now, ready your rubber for a climb from 5,000 feet at the mouth of the canyon to 8,000 feet at the summit of the Alpine Loop Scenic Byway on state Route 92.
The 20-mile highway passes Timpanogos Cave National Monument, Cascade Springs, Sundance Resort and multiple recreation stops on the Uinta National Forest en route to its return to the valley via the equally spectacular Provo Canyon. Most importantly, the Alpine Loop name honors an area that is both splendidly alpine, but reminiscent of the very Alps from which the word is derived. Though the road is narrow in spots, this is mountain road biking at its finest.
8. Arches and the Upper Colorado Scenic Byway | Moab | Each up to 45 miles
Moab-area cycling accesses the true beauty of Utah's Red Rock Country
When a Denver-area magazine visited Moab they quickly recognized an astonishing truth: this world-renowned mountain biking mecca is also home to some of the finest asphalt adventures anywhere. The scenic drive through Arches makes it one of the more accessible parks, but you'll lament passing too quickly through this masterpiece of red rock geology. Read about biking Arches in the national park biking guide below, but also don't miss the rolling Upper Colorado Scenic Byway up state Route 128. The junction is between Arches and Moab and the road follows a modestly trafficked path up the Colorado River along BLM lands with abundant camping and classic sandstone pinnacles that define this landscape. The entire byway runs 44 miles but many riders often cruise the 15 miles to the La Sal Loop Road to enjoy a cruise through Castle Valley before a return trip home (or an epic climb up the switchbacks of the La Sal Mountains, which 5280 magazine details from the opposite direction).
9. All-American Road Scenic Byway 12 | Southern Utah | Up to 124 miles
This could be the most scenic ride of your life
Scenic Byway 12 is approximately 124 miles of relentless beauty and endless outdoor recreation. When the Tour of Utah bicycle stage race took on the nationally designated All-American Road for the first time, it solidified the road's status on the global stage. On a bicycle, it combines some gently graded touring opportunities with rapid descents and punishing climbs en route to racking up more than 10,000 feet in elevation. Riders can basecamp at Panguitch for the whole shebang, at several gateway communities along the way or their choice of state and national parks for select legs of the road. Whether you ride a single mile or all 124, you will not be disappointed.
10. Veyo Loop
Here, Colorado Plateau meets Basin and Range meets Mojave Desert. Ride it all.
While cyclists may feel compelled to head east toward Zion National Park, they'll find quieter roads that are just as scenic on a loop starting near St. George, Utah. The Veyo Loop travels the beautiful road along Snow Canyon State Park, part of the sprawling Red Cliffs National Conservation Area. The road continues along Old Highway 91 past Gunluck Reservoir and parallel to the Santa Clara River. Here's a map of the loop from Ivins, Utah, which is a common place to start.
Road to Mighty
Southern Utah. Home to Utah’s Mighty Five® national parks and connected by some of the most scenic byways and backways in the country. Find your road:
Cycling the Road to Mighty
This itinerary is the weekend warrior’s dream, with options to push yourself to your physical limits or shorter routes to keep it real.
Road Rules and More Places to Ride
Whether you're new to road cycling or a seasoned pro, it never hurts to brush up on the rules and etiquette of the road. A favorite? "It benefits all bicyclists to ride courteously." Read about Utah Cycling Laws, Bicycle Parking, how to Ride With Traffic and more.
Click here to discover more places to take your road bike and mountain bike, as well as maps and other resources from Bike Utah.
Visitor Information Centers across the state carry area-specific cycling information and maps. Cycling suggestions covered in this section represent only a sampling of the routes and terrain opportunities available for bicycle exploration. Click here for a printable one-sheeter with additional information on biking in Utah, with a focus on mountain biking opportunities.
• cyclingutah.com is a listing of bicycle shops, tours, festivals, races and events, including trail maps, forums and advocacy groups.
• bicycleutah.com is a resource for locating biking guides.