We’ve been riding our bikes from the Mexican border northbound on the Western Wildlands Route (WWR) and have made it to Idaho! This is our experience from Segment 5.
(Links to previous segments can be found at the bottom of this post.)
As explained in my last post (WWR – Segment 6), we weren’t able to stick to the official route through Utah’s high elevation in late May as it was still covered in snow. We made a solid effort, but it just wasn’t passable. Instead, we rode around the snow covered Skyline Drive section to American Fork to connect with a friend and take 3 full days off riding in Salt Lake City. It was a much needed rest both physically and mentally for ourselves and, it turned out, our bikes needed a break and some work as well. Our three days were spent eating as many baked goods as possible, catching up with friends, cleaning our mud covered bikes, replacing both of our chains and cassettes on the bikes. Salt Lake City is surprisingly great at vegan food, and we ate to our heart’s content.
It was time to head back to cycling all day, and we got a lift back to American Fork right where we left off. Our day was spent riding bike paths and highway back to the WWR. First we rode on a lovely bike path through Orem that connected to the paved Provo River Parkway. We were stoked not to be riding the highway and enjoyed a beautiful ride following the river without having to worry about traffic. The 6 miles was over before we knew it, and we switched over to highway riding northeast on Highway 189.
My new chain and cassette were giving me a little trouble, but thankfully there was a bike shop right off the highway that was available to make a few derailer adjustments for me on the spot. A few minutes later, we were back at it and reached Heber City for a quick resupply. From there, we switched to Highway 32 and then some county roads as we headed towards Rockport State Park to rejoin the WWR. Just north of the park, we intersected Interstate 80 and jumped on the gravel rail trail adjacent to the interstate. Our final 8 miles for the day brought us to an RV park right off the interstate that would suffice for the evening’s campsite. We went to bed tired and happy to be back on route.
We packed up early and got some coffee to properly caffeinate ourselves for the long ride ahead. We left the tiny town of Coalville and headed straight into rural northeast Utah occasionally crossing the state line into Wyoming. The day was a mix of pavement and dirt, back roads and highway riding. We did a quick resupply in Evanston,WY then left the city again for cattle town USA. We had dinner at a town park in the tiny town of Woodruff and got just far enough out of town to reach public land. Not the most amazing campsite for the night, but we had little choice.
Our morning began on dirt with a big slow climb which made for a tough but beautiful morning ride. We exited dirt for highway and glided down four beautiful winding miles which ended with incredible views of Bear Lake. We resupplied at a little gas station / general store and headed towards the lake. It was just about 70° with a slight breeze, perfect for all the people out recreating on Memorial Day weekend. The next twenty miles were like a dream as we rode along the east side of the lake in a wide bike lane. The bike lane ended as we crossed the UT / ID state line marking the end of Segment 6. It didn’t quite mark the end of our day, but I’ll pick up where I left off in the next post.
Our time in Salt Lake City was much needed and so appreciated in every way. Our lifestyle has blessed us with friends all over the country, and we are so grateful for their help when we tackle ambitious trips. This Segment marks about the half way point and rest, recovery, and repair were in deep order.
We were so glad to get back to the WWR after riding highway a couple hundred miles around the snowed in section. We would love to make a bikepacking trip out of the Skyline Drive section that we missed.
Segment 5, from where we rejoined the route, featured some long climbs, little tiny towns, and lots of wide open spaces. Water was plentiful enough that 3 L carrying capacity was sufficient. Food resupply was 70-90 miles apart so we needed a day and a little extra at a time which was not bad at all. In late May, the temperature was in the mid 60s-70s with abundant sunshine in the day and maybe dipping into the mid 40s at night.
Bear Lake is stunning!! Up in the northeast corner of Utah and sharing a state line with Idaho, Bear Lake is a massive beautiful spot to come recreate. We were there Memorial Day weekend and saw plenty of people, but not the massive crowds swarming at more popular destinations. Van lifers, RVers, Airbnb-ers should all consider a stop here!
(miles and elevation gain tracked with Strava)