Smith Mesa: UT Gravel Riding at Its Best

Length:~30 miles

Elevation gain: 3k

Difficulty: Hard, 1st 3 miles is ALL climbing (about 2k) of ~11% grades, after that-easy-to-moderate

Terrain: The first couple of miles of the climb are on pavement (you’ll be grateful for that, believe me), and then it’s graded, gravel fire road the rest of the way

I’m discovering that so many places in Utah call for that overused, four-letter word EPIC. Just as Inuits have 50 words for snow, I think Utahans need to have 50 words for epic. These pictures don’t do begin to do it justice. This spectacularly scenic ride is a must do if you a gravel grinder who likes a hill challenge.

At the top of the hill you’ll see no trepassing signs  marking an old US government facility with a long supersonic test track that was used to test jet fighter ejection seats. 

The scenic road / route circles Smith Mesa, taking you through pastoral ranch land as it enchants you with views of Zion in the distance. Of course, you could do the route N to S. May have to give that a try sometime though I prefer to climb super steep sections vs descending them.

A couple miles of the descent are a bit bumpy (not washboard, but cow hooved, which are a bit worse) and you have to watch out for the occasional pothole and loose sand. Road conditions are always variable.

Smith Mesa meets Kolob Terrace Road and takes you back to Highway 9.

Getting there: Look for the Smith Mesa road sign off of Highway 9, north of Virgin, Utah, and west of Zion National Park.

Happy trails!