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A Long Weekend in Zion National Park

People smiling for a picture with Zion in the background

“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul”

– John Muir

I am thankful to John Muir for being the “Father of the National Parks” and advocating for our environment. Our national parks are incredible, protected pieces of land. Their natural beauty is amazing and provides some of the most spectacular places to visit and experience in person – and on bike. In 2019, I was able to experience the beauty of Zion National Park firsthand from the seat of a bicycle.

Trek Travel Zion bike tour

Trek Travel’s Zion National Park bike tour is the perfect trip to receive the beauty and strength from nature, while playing in and enjoying your surroundings. Waking up and riding towards the east entrance of Zion National Park is awe inspiring. It is hard to keep your eyes on the road when you are constantly looking up and losing yourself in the nature that surrounds you. After passing Checkerboard Mesa, we had a chance to stop and watch the mountain goats graze on their morning meal. Just before the tunnel, our guides, Zack, Jake, and Griff, led us on a hike along Canyon Overlook Trail. This short hike gave us an astonishing view looking west over the park. From that vantage point, we could see Angel’s Landing and the Alter of Sacrifice. At the top of the trail, looking out over the park, I knew that this is a place that touches your soul and makes you keep coming back for more. I could not wait to continue exploring.

A deer at Flanigan's Inn in Springdale, Utah

Upon arrival in Springdale, Utah, we were greeted at our hotel, Flanigan’s Inn, by a new friend! Sighting our new neighbor was a fun little reminder that we were there to observe and enjoy nature’s beauty that weekend.

Zion Long Weekend Bike Tour

After settling in at the hotel, we started our ride from Springdale to the Temple of Sinawava. As we rode, the immense mountains hugged me around each turn and guided me towards the Temple as the sun rose over the fortress that protected us. Growing up on the eastern side of the country in the valley of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Angel’s Landing showed me the amazing face of the west. Trading in the green trees of the Appalachian Trail for the majestic red rock gardens was breathtaking. As I approached the Temple, I felt the thumping of my heart and realized how small I am in this massive world. The rocks around me continued to grow and jut towards the sky. This made me smile as I thought about all that Zion has experienced in the past century and what new stories the future will bring.

Enjoy a long-weekend getaway in some of America’s most stunning nature.

Head to Zion

A Day in Zion

Summer is ending soon, but that doesn’t mean the fun should! Join us in Zion National Park this fall and make your “summer vacation” last just a bit longer! It’s time to sit back and relax (or lean forward and pedal your heart out) and pretend like you’re a kid at summer camp.

It’s not often that we find ourselves within a group of people we don’t know, but all with a similar interest: a desire to explore by bicycle. Many might find a two-hour ride in a ten-person passenger van with a group of strangers quite uneasy or claustrophobic. As the initial shy kid at camp, these thoughts crept into my head while packing my bags to meet my group on Day 1. But I quickly forgot about that when I caught sight of the scenery just outside of St. George. Cue entire van jaw-drop. I’m a Midwesterner who’s accustomed to rolling green hills, cornfields, and forests, so this new landscape had me clutching my iPhone in camera mode the entire shuttle to Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park. After prancing around in the sand like a little girl at the beach (note: there are no bodies of water here), I met back with the group for a picnic before our ride. Food always has a way of bringing people together, just like it did at camp when I was ten and I was beaming ear to ear and chatting away.

Trek Travel a Day in Bryce & Zion

After twenty-six miles through a vast desert landscape, I satisfied my inner child-like craving to visit with the ‘farm’ animals at Zion Mountain Ranch before sitting down to dinner with my new friends (the other guests, not the animals). Chickens scurried over my toes, horses tried nibbling my fingers, and a foreign sense of delight swept over me as I felt like I was back at the summer state fair. Except the chaos of the fair was nowhere to be found, and the sunset in the distance was starting to blanket the Ranch in hues of blue and pink—a sight that I didn’t appreciate enough as a child.

As we rode west closer to the entrance of Zion National Park on Day 2, I could tell I was going to have a hard time focusing on the task at hand: staying in my lane. Sloping towards the sun on either side of the rust red road were petrified sand dunes and towering mesas. My mom’s voice popped into my head a few times, “Keep your eyes on the road, Ashley.” I wanted to look at everything around me, it was all so stunning! But I thought back to when I was a child with skinned knees from tripping over my feet because I was too busy looking at everything around me. So I slowed my speed, and stopped from time to time to soak it all in. Trust me when I say you’ll need to do this more than just a few times!

Trek Travel a Day in Bryce & Zion

Both Day 2 and Day 3 offer our guests the chance to explore Zion National Park and the quaint town of Springdale on their own before closing out the weekend with a victory lap through the canyon. After hiking to what felt like the clouds (Observation Point) on Day 3, I was able to see the entire canyon from a bird’s-eye view, vastly different from what I perceived the canyon to be on the bike the day before. While I chomped on my more sophisticated sack lunch at the cliff edge, I could see hikers attempting Angel’s Landing, the Park shuttle buses unloading the morning’s first explorers below, and vultures circling even further above our heads. Climbing trees at camp served me well as a child, because I was now able to experience the same feeling, only now (safely) at 6,500 feet.

To say that this weekend fulfilled some sort of childhood dream is an understatement. My group, the guides, and this place left me feeling energized and inspired. By the end of Sunday, I wasn’t ready to leave Springdale. However, I refrained from the kicking and screaming I may have done when I was younger and quietly packed myself back into the van.

Trek Travel a Day in Bryce & Zion

“In every walk with nature, one receives more than he seeks.” -John Muir

Muir was an incredibly wise man, and the founding father of our National Park system, and he hits the nail right on the head with this quote. I’ve always enjoyed spending time outside, but I didn’t expect for this trip to bring me back in time and relive some of my greatest childhood experiences. So go ahead, order that ice cream cone in Springdale and buy a silly souvenir to remind yourself of when you were a kid again for a weekend!


Ride the spectacular Zion National Park

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Remote. Rugged. Refuge.

The people who choose to call this place home are of a tribe that stretches back thousands of years and although not all related by blood, their spirit thrives here with the same reverence and passion. Their brilliance is mirrored by daily rhythm of the desert; it begins cool and refreshing and becomes warn and welcoming.

“I know what they tell you about the desert but you mustn’t believe them. This is no deathbed. Dig down, the earth is moist. You can hear a man breathe at a distance of twenty yards. You can see out there to the edge where the desert stops and the mountains begin. You think it is perhaps ten miles. It is more than a hundred. Just before the sun sets all the colors will changes. Green will turn to blue, red to gold…” – Barry Lopez, Desert Notes

Nearly 1000 years ago, Ancestral Puebloan people were the first to be captivated by this ancient and rugged landscape and its allure stretches to today. Boulder, Utah is a town so spectacularly remote, its residents still received their mail by mule-train until the late 1940’s. In Boulder, I find a bit of refuge. I find it in a pastoral familiarity amongst a sea of sandstone. I find it in the sounds of migrating waterfowl emanating from a tiny wetland. I find it in the first taste of a cold craft beer and the spicy kick of a warm bowl of Posole. Most of all, I find it in the people there.
Experience the Utah desert and Bryce Canyon hodoos on Trek Travel's utah cycling vacation
At the tail end of a five-hour drive, you crest a ridgeline high above Calf Creek. Below, deep gouges split ancient petrified sand dunes forming massive canyons. Not a powerline, building or person in sight. Other than the road you’re on, it’s a landscape devoid of human impact. At the top of the hill, look out the right side windows of the van to the distance and get your first glimpse of Boulder. Pivot irrigation in the middle of a green hayfield. A red barn. Cattle and a few solitary horses. These things look out of place. Anomalies on this naked stretch of earth.
Visit Boulder, Utah on Trek Travel's bike tour
We begin this trip here–maybe six or seven times a year and regardless of what’s required to get things rolling, I always make an effort to spend at least a few short moments with the folks that bring my Boulder to life. Maybe I’ll sneak away for two minutes between lunch and our Day 1 bike fitting session to say hello to Jen Castle while she roasts fresh chilies behind Hell’s Backbone kitchen or hang around after dinner for a glass of wine and farm happenings update with restaurant owner Blake Spalding. Sometimes, I’ll crawl out of bed a few minutes before my co-guide to watch the fist shooting light of the sun bounce across the cliffs along the Burr Trail. Maybe attempt to give Jezebel, resident queen kitty of the Boulder Mountain Lodge, a good morning head-scratch (when she lets me get close enough). My community is in Lander, Wyoming but when I’m here, this place sure feels like home. There is a special energy that is manifested in this community. It’s magnetic and unique. You’ll see it first in their easy smiles. Then their wholesome gratitude. Soon, you’ll become friends. It’s a given.
Eat at Hell's Backbone Grill on Trek Travel's Utah BIke Tour
The people who choose to call this place home are of a tribe that stretches back 1000 years and although not all related by blood, their spirit thrives here with the same reverence and passion. Their brilliance is mirrored by daily rhythm of the desert; it begins cool and refreshing and comes warm and welcoming. Tucked away in this magical landscape of pinion and juniper, dark canyons and crystalline creeks, towering rock spires and golden sandstone domes, lives a community bound by a dynamic love of these things. They’re ready to share them with those who choose to travel here. They’re ready to share these things with those who can pause and surrender to the raw and uncompromising power of this beautiful desert. Far beyond the world-class cycling to be had on these lonely desert highways, the spirit of the community here shows its undeniable and unwavering character. We might only get brief glimpses of life in Boulder, Utah (a short 18 hours over the span of six days), but those snapshots will call you back.
Trek Travel Bryce and Zion Utah Bike Tour

Picnics Aren’t Just For Summer

As the holidays quickly approach, we want to help you prepare for the family gathering you’re required to host or annual neighborhood party that never disappoints. It’s the perfect time of year to prepare a big meal, light a roaring fire, and of course, gather your friends. Our picnic making tips and tricks will help you create the perfect spread – because long winter days beg for hearty laughter, rich red wine, and bountiful buffets.

One way we love to ‘wow’ our guests is by providing them with opportunities to taste the finest, local cuisine. Our team spends quality time in every destination before trips begin to run. We know the local flavors, we’re friends with baker down the street, and we’ve found the best-kept secrets in every region.

And if there’s one thing we’ve mastered throughout the years, it’s picnics. Over and over, guests are ‘wowed’ by their guides’ ability to provide a feast. I’m not just talking about a large meal, banquet, or lavish celebration. F.E.A.S.T. is actually a mnemonic device our guides use to help remember the five most important principles of creating a killer picnic: full, elegant, appetizing, selection, and timely.

The first and most important thing to do when preparing a picnic is to organize the grocery list. This will save time and reduce stress. Tip: Organize the menu by departments of a grocery store: produce, dry goods, condiments, bread, dairy, and deli. To provide the best possible selection, always choose regional specialties and locally produced brands. A picnic is only as good as the food on the table.

Next, providing food in a timely manner by prepping as much as possible in advance will minimize the risk of hangry (anger invoked by hunger) guests. Tip: Putting a napkin in a plastic bag with pre-cut food with help absorb moisture and keep things fresh.

When actually preparing a picnic, it’s crucial to make the table to look full, elegant and appetizing. This requires mastering the art of garnish. Tip: Use fresh leafy vegetables – parsley, kale, collard greens, and romaine lettuce – to spread throughout empty spaces. Or choose items you can eat at the next picnic – different colored onions, bell or hot peppers, garlic, lemons, limes – to add zest and color to the display.

When it comes to display, elevation is the key. Tip: Place cardboard Ziploc boxes, empty berry containers, or upside-down bowls under your tablecloth. Then set a bowl or platter of food on top, and a flat table will be transformed into a bountiful multi-level display. Tilting the food toward guests will allow for easy viewing and serving.

But what would a blog about picnic making be without sharing some of our favorite recipes. In today’s collection we will be featuring an appetizer, a main course, and a dessert from various regions across the globe. They are tried and true, and some of our favorites here at Trek Travel.


This salad works well as an ingredient in tacos or as a topping on a green salad

Region: Bryce and Zion
Source: Rebecca Falls

1 can seasoned black beans
1 can whole kernel corn
1 can salted garbanzo beans
1 can kidney beans
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 yellow bell pepper, diced
1 red onion
2 roma tomatoes, with seeds removed and diced
½ cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped

1. Mix the dressing ingredients and set aside.
2. Prepare all other salad ingredients and combine in a large bowl
3. Toss the salad mixture with the dressing and add salt and pepper to taste

Costa Brava

Fresh, local, and seasonal ingredients are the hallmarks of California coastal cuisine

Region: California Coast
Source: Tania Burke

2 cups packaged shredded cabbage or coleslaw mix
¾ cup salsa
2 T. sour cream
1 lb. halibut, mahi mahi, or tilapia fillets
2 tsp. olive oil
8 corn tortillas
2 cups shredded cheese of your choice
Lime wedges

1. In a medium bowl, combine cabbage, ¼ cup salsa, and sour cream. Mix well and set aside
2. Cut fish into ½-inch think strips, Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until hot. Add fish and cook 2 to 3 minutes per side or until fish is opaque in center.
3. Fill warm tortillas with fish, cheese, cabbage mixture and top with extra salsa. Serve with lime wedges if desired.

Great food on Crater Lake & Oregon Cascades bike tours

This is an old Vermont recipe described as “nice to come home to”

Region: Vermont
Source: Audrey Coty, Nebraska Knoll Sugar Farm

1 cup maple syrup
½ cup of soft butter
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp. vanilla
½ cup milk
3 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt

1. Combine and sift dry ingredients
2. Beat syrup and butter to a cream
3. Add eggs, well beaten, and vanilla
4. Add milk alternately with flour mixture
5. You may roll these cookies out, or just drop them on a greased cookie sheet and flatten with a glass dipped in milk
6. Bake 10-12 min. at 400°F

Great Service in Zion

Two cyclists ride through rock strata in the Utah canyonlands

This originally debuted on cycleutah’s blog after going on a Trek Travel Bryce and Zion bike tour in May. Thanks for sharing Bob!

BL-If you think about it, we are all in the service business. What ever you do for a living you are serving someone. Over the years I have kept a keen eye out for excellent service because it helps me get better.

Our three guides from Trek Travel exuded really great service these past 6 days. Dave, Lisa and Matt were the consummate professionals and their theme of fun and flexible worked to perfection! Every morning we had a pre-ride briefing of what to expect on the ride and also details about our stops, lunch and our final destination. All the little details from a proper bike fit, air in the tires, snacks for energy, water bottles filled and of course that big pull into the wind were all handled with great expertise. And the picnic lunches, the fabulous dinners and excellent hotels…all were first class!

The best part for me was that all three were really nice people with great stories (right Matt) about their adventures around the world. These three have worked all three major cycling tours (Tour de France, Giro d’Italia, Vuelta a Espana), New Zealand, Australia, Vietnam, Costa Rica and on and on. Their passion is travel and adventure and being of service to us amateur cyclist.

bikesGood job guys…you are the best ever!



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Activity Level

Level 1:

Road: 1-3 hours of riding. Up to 25 mi (40 km). Up to 1,000 ft (300 m).

Gravel: 1-3 hours of riding. Up to 20 mi (35 km). Up to 1,000 ft (300 m).

Hiking: 1-3 hours of hiking. Up to 5 mi (8 km). Up to 1,000 ft (300 m).

Level 2:

Road: 2-4 hours of riding. 20-35 mi (35-60 km). Up to 2,500 ft (750 m).

Gravel: 2-4 hours of riding. 15-30 mi (25-45 km). Up to 2,000 ft (300 m).

Hiking: 2-4 hours of hiking. 4-8 mi (6-12 km). Up to 1,500 ft (450 m).

Level 3:

Road: 3-5 hours of riding. 25-55 mi (40-85 km). Up to 4,500 ft (1,500 m).

Gravel: 3-5 hours of riding. 20-40 mi (35-60 km). Up to 3,000 ft (900 m).

Hiking: 3-5 hours of hiking. 6-10 mi (9-16 km). Up to 2,000 ft (600 m).

Level 4:

Road: 4+ hours of riding. 40-70 mi (60-110 km). Up to 8,000 ft (2,400 m).

Gravel: 4+ hours of riding. 30-50 mi (45-80 km). Up to 4,000 ft (1,200 m).

Hiking: 4+ hours of hiking. 7-15 mi (11-24 km). Up to 4,000 ft (1,200 m).

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