This 19-mile out-and-back (9.5 miles each way), rated aerobically and technically easy, begins with with 6.5 miles of paved road, which occasionally crosses through the wash on concrete pads. That is followed by three miles of graded, hard-packed dirt road. Through a world of rock you will go—rocks ranging from the reddish-brown shales of the Moenkopi Formation and the grayer band of Chinle shale (originally deposited as volcanic ash), to the distinctive colors and various shapes assumed by the sandstones of the Wingate, Navajo, and Kayenta formations.
Head out at first light and pack a picnic, because the turnaround at Pleasant Creek is an ideal place to spread a feast. You’ll find ample shade, along with close-ups of some of the Waterpocket Fold’s most spectacular domes; distant views of the juniper-clad, red slopes of lower Boulder Mountain; and the soothing gurgle of mountain water feeding the thirsty desert. En route to the turnaround, short spurs can be ridden up Grand Wash and Capitol Gorge. General location: The ride begins at Fruita Campground in Capitol Reef National Park.
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