Grand Canyon Connector Bicycle Route
Adventure Cycling AssociationGrand Canyon Connector Bicycle Route is the 573 mile (923 km) connector route between the Western Express Bicycle Routeand the Southern Tier Bicycle Routeand is a prime example of the vast and beautiful American West. It also connects the magnificent Zion National Parkand both sides of Grand Canyon National Park. From the Western Express Route, it offers the opportunity to access Zion National Park and the north rim of the Grand Canyon. From the Southern Tier Route, it is 185 miles to reach the south rim of the Grand Canyon. One of the most spectacular examples of erosion anywhere in the world, the Grand Canyon is unmatched in the vistas it offers to visitors on the rim. Grand Canyon National Park is a World Heritage Site.
Some portions of the Grand Canyon Route are very remote, so good planning is needed for basics like food and water. The redrock country of
Utahand the Grand Canyon are beautiful and unique to this area of the United States. The elevational differences range from the Sonoran Desertup through the ponderosa pine and aspen forests in Arizonato the high desert and pinyon-juniper forests of Utah. Riders must be prepared for occasional blowing dust storms in the lower desert regions. Local conditions and mountain ranges affect winds, so it is difficult to predict any major wind patterns. This route can be ridden from spring through fall, with spring having the most widely changing weather conditions. Summers are potentially hot, with high temperatures, so rest during the heat of the day may be appropriate. There are heavy traffic levels during the tourist season (generally July through early September). An ideal time for both weather and lighter tourist traffic is in the early fall. If camping out, it is possible that scorpions have gathered under a tent floor during the night. Rattlesnakes also tend to be near water sources in the mornings.
Character of the Route's Regions, North to South
The Connector begins in
Cedar City, Utah, which is the beginning/end points on Sections 2 and 3 of the Western Express Route. Both Zion and Grand Canyon National Parks are bicycle-friendly, allowing cyclists to ride in popular sections where visitors in automobiles must use shuttle buses during the main tourist season. The Zion-Mt. Carmel tunnel in Zion National Park does not allow bicycle travel, though the National Park Service has personnel at the tunnel and will assist cyclists through. It is also wise to visit with rangers at the park entrance stations. The two rims of Grand Canyon National Park differ significantly, but both are appealing. The south rim is much more developed, has more services, and because of its accessibility is more heavily visited. The north rim is more remote, higher in elevation, and offers full but fewer services. The 44-mile spur to the north rim is a beautiful ride but does require backtracking to rejoin the main route. The route between the two rims of the Grand Canyon is the most remote section and offers a unique experience to the adventurous cyclist. Much of this portion of the route travels through the Navajo Nation Indian Reservation, allowing opportunities to meet these Native American people. To those who do not live there, the Navajo people seem shy and quiet and when spoken to are helpful and friendly. Services are limited to several trading posts that sell groceries and water. The trading posts also offer authentic Navajo-made crafts, pottery, and weavings as well as some rich history of their culture. Alcohol is not sold or served anywhere within the reservation. Wickenburg, near the southern end of the route, is the connecting point to the Southern Tier Route. This route continues into the metropolitan area surrounding Phoenix, Arizonaand ends in [Tempe, Arizona] , near the international airport.
This route comprises a series of climbs and descents. The elevational differences range from low desert to high desert. Within these elevational zones, there are some impressive climbs and steep drops for the touring cyclist. The route begins at 5,843' and ends at 1,198', with several climbs/descents over 7,000'. The North Rim Spur has the highest elevation, at over 8,500', for a length of 27 miles.
Services are generally well spaced along the connector, but bicycle shops are limited to the larger communities. In the national parks, plan to make reservations or arrive early in the day to secure camping spots.
tates on the Grand Canyon Connector Bicycle Route
Adventure Cycling Association
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