On a recent trip to California, I (Ashley) told a Pharmacist at Walgreen’s that I was from a little nowhere town in Utah called Big Water. His eyes lit up. “I’ve heard of Big Water, it’s famous in the Bicycling forums online! I’ve always wanted to go there.” I then shamelessly plugged my short-term rental, World Traveler BnB, as a place he could stay if he ever makes it out here for a visit.
When I got home, I sat down with my brother-in-law, Ben, and he helped me to understand why Big Water has the reputation it does as Bicycler’s Paradise. When Ben and my sister Lauren come home to visit the folks and I in Big Water, their favorite activity is to go paddleboarding in Antelope Canyon on Lake Powell. But in the wintertime, the Canyon becomes a bit too cold for their liking. Those same chilly breezes that make for sub-optimal paddleboarding, however, become the ideal for bicycling.
“The back roads behind Big Water contain some of the most stunning, accessible, and serene cycling I have ever had the privilege of experiencing.” He began.
“Exploring the desert on two wheels is the way to go in the colder months. Around each turn of the twisty dirt roads: gravity defying hoodoos, once-violent flash flood washes, skittering lizards, and breathtaking vistas are revealed.” I can tell what ride he’s describing. Ben smiles. “If I didn’t have the world’s best in-laws (read: Rankin’s) drawing me back into town, I would put the tent in my saddlebag, and disappear for weeks. Words cannot describe how exceptional this riding is. It would take a lifetime to see everything.”
Ben shared photos and stats from two of his rides last winter with me.
The first ride took Ben 12 miles, across an area behind Big Water the locals affectionately call “The Moon”, for it’s grey and crater-like surface. He followed BLM Road #230 “Smoky Mountain Road”, which serves as a gateway to many exploration opportunities: Wiregrass Canyon, Crosby Canyon, Warm Creek Bay, The Coal Seams (why it’s called Smoky Mountain), and lots more.
The second ride, at 10.6 miles, took him out past the Wahweap Fish Hatchery, on BLM road #327. This road follows Nipple Creek, through Nipple Creek Canyon. It passes the Trailhead for the Wahweap Hoodoos hike.
“Do yourself a favor and go see as much as you can!” He urged.