Day 29 Fry Canyon to Hanksville UT 75 miles with 3100 feet
My second day riding UT 95 was, like the first day, different from what I expected. This time I asked a fellow that works, and lives, at the Fry Canyon Lodge about 95 from Fry Canyon to Huntsville. He said it was mostly downhill from Fry Canyon to the lake, and quite hilly after that.
Since Fry Canyon is at 5200 feet and the lake is at 3600 feet, there is obviously a lot of downhill between them. Similarly, Hanksville is at 4500 feet so there is bound to be a bit of climbing after the lake. The question is, how much? The answer, is not as much as he thought. Yesterday I expected a relatively flat ride and got a hilly one. Today I expected a hilly ride and got relatively flat one. Note that the total climbing for both days is about the same, but my perception of how hilly the riding was is quite different.
Fry Canyon Lodge
I left Fry Canyon Lodge after an enjoyable, if rather expensive, stay. Since the lodge is completely off any grid and everything consumed has to be either generated locally (e.g. electricity from solar panels) or has to be brought in from at least 55 miles way, it is reasonably that everything costs about 30% more than it would 'in town.' The room was nice, the meals were good, I slept well, and it was wonderful just sitting on a rock across the highway from the lodge watching the land as night fell.
Riding down UT 95 toward Lake Powell was fast and easy. I averaged about 17 mph for most the 25 miles to the Lake. It was pretty riding with buttes and mesas above and deep canyons to the left side of the road. There were only a few uphill stretches in the first twenty miles.
The road condition was good and there was little traffic, so I usually rode in the regular lane rather than on the shoulder. As the road approached Glen Canyon, the terrain became more spectacular and hillier.
The East Entry to Glen Canyon Recreational Area
Once in the recreational area, there was a good bit of climbing, about 500 feet vertical, before the 10% grade sign that was at the top of the descent to the river.
Going down to the river - the silver arc just below the center is the bridge
Actually the descent was no where near a steady 10% grade. I was coasting at 30 to 35 mph which implies a 5or 6% grade. I was thankful for this since I didn't
want to have to climb out up a 10% grade on the other side! On the way down, I passed the road
to Hite Marina. The marina offers the only services between Fry Canyon and Hanksville. You could get food and water there,
but it is a few miles, and a few hundred feet
Lake Powell as seen looking south from the bridge
After crossing the bridge, I stopped by the road side to take a break and eat a snack. It was hard to find a spot with shade! Then I rode up the hill leading away from the lake, only to discover that it came back down, crossing Dirty Devil River and then descending along the lake. This was pretty, but descent meant climbing later so I wasn't ecstatic about it <grin>. There were lots of folks camping along the west side of the lake. I saw boating, skiing, and swimming as well as folks just taking it easy by their camps. A peaceful place.
Then came the climb out. It was about 500 feet vertical at a steady 6% or so. At the top, it went down again to another canyon! Four hundred of the five hundred feet I had just climbed were lost. Then there was another climb, but not as steep, and another descent - I was hoping we weren't starting a pattern! - and then it settled down to a long climb up a canyon.
This climb, at 1 or 2% grade, went on for fifteen miles. I stopped, part way up, at Hog Springs Rest Area for a snack and to use the (composting) toilet. That is a very nice rest stop, and the only one along 95. There are public toilets at Fry Canyon, but this rest area had nice shaded picnic tables and a foot bridge across the creek.
Eventually, about 26 miles form Hanksville, UT 95 meets UT 276 and the really scenic part of the ride is over. UT 95 is still designated as a 'Scenic Byway', but the remaining 26 miles into Hanksville aren't very scenic. They also aren't very hilly, although 95 does climb up to more than 5000 feet before descending, with some climbs, into Hanksville. It was hot and dry and I needed a lot of water (I carried, and drank, six liters on this 6 hour ride), but it was also pretty easy riding. Hanksville is also hot and dry, but I enjoyed my second meal of the day at Stans (good milkshake!) and I'm looking forward to heading west on UT 24 tomorrow.