FR88 the Notch
The road following Elk Ridge from Natural Bridges National
Monument towards the southern part of Canyonlands NP has
been used occasionally for a supported bike tour, lasting
two or three days. But It is also possible to split up
this route into adjoining loop rides, adding some
additonal roads. This is one of those loops. It follows
the traditional Elk Ridge route between points 3 and 11,
which includes its highest summit point. The advantage
over doing just the ridge is, that you get to see even
more of the Abajo Mountains and the multilayered pedestal
it sits on from a very different eco zone. The riding
surface on the rest of the described loop is not quite as
comfy perfect as on the ridge route.
click on profile for more detail
SOUTH-EAST: jct CR228 South Elk Rd - CR268
02.(7710ft,mile18) Profile turns left onto FR95,
south of Round Mountain
03.(8640ft,mile20) Profile turns left onto FR88.
Right is also FR88, to Beef Basin
04.(8704ft,mile23) first right to Deadman Point.
Profile stays left/straight
05.(8630ft,mile25) second right to Deadman Point.
Profile stays straight
07.(8700ft,mile26) left goes to rim above Chimney
Park area. Profile stays straight
08.(8280ft,mile28) the Notch (big Notch)
09.(8620ft,mile29) intermediate summit point
10.(8250ft,mile34) little Notch
11.(8190ft,mile36) Profile turns left onto CR228
South Elk Rd
12.(5550ft,mile47) START-END SOUTH-WEST: same as
From South-East. The junction of CR228 South
Elk Rd and CR268 Cottonwood (Creek) Rd is signed. A few miles
up this junction on Cottonwood Rd, the road enters the Ute
Indian Reservation, complete with bearpaw marked signs and the
list of things that are prohibited. One of these items is
bicycling. The sign does not refer to this public access road.
Bicycling is still legal, even in this part of Utah. The sign
combined with what looks like a man made lake in the road may
make this approach look somewhat intimidating at first look.
In October this ford was easily crossable, but you do get wet
feet. The road continues, switching in and out of the
reservation as well as a great parade of Cottonwood trees,
which however look very sick.
The creek fords continue but they do get much smaller,
until you can't decide weather to still count them as a stream
crossing or a crack in the road, when you realize that you've
lost count anyway. Suffice it to say there are quite a few. As
the grade of the road picks up, closer to the junction with
FR95, the surface switches intermittently to gravel or hard
medalled. The top was being worked on, so I don't know what
the final result will be. When the route turns left onto FR95,
the view shed opens up onto red cliffed mountains to the
north. The climbing is now at a more steady rate than earlier,
on a fast, hard medalled surface. FR95 ends onto FR88. From
here on many junctions lead to points on the rim and the point
of decision comes closer, which ones to ride, which ones to
skip, which ones to assign a project number to. The road
crests at a point that is hardly noticeable even with an
altimeter. It is located shortly before the turnoff to a spur
overlooking the Chimney Park area. The spur is only marked
with a FR170 sign (meaning FR5170).
From South-West. (described downwards). Next on the
menu is the main course in the scenic department. The main
course in the climbing department is already digested. A few
switchbacks lead down to a land bridge dividing Dark Canyon in
the west, from Notch canyon to the east. A climb leads back up
to the mesa, still carrying the name Elk Ridge. Finally a long
fast descend leads to the junction with CR228 South Elk Road.
The fast descend on perfect surface continues east on South
Elk Road. Approximately where the road emerges from dense tree
cover onto a rocky dessert scape, still high above the darker
valley rocks, the surface turns into a fairly deep gravel.
Still, going downhill is no problem. The road levels out for a
short time where it crosses over Navajo sandstone, then dives
deeper. It crosses Cottonwood Creek just before you get back
to the starting point of the profile.
Dayrides with this point as highest summit:
FR88 the Notch s(u) , additional out and backs : 2
miles east of jct CR228 - CR268 > up CR268 Cottonwood Creek
Rd > west on FR95 > south on FR88 <> out and back
to Deadman Point >> south on FR88 <> out and back
to Chimney Park area >> FR88 the Notch s(u) <> out
and back to Steamboat Point >> south on FR88 > west
on CR228 West Elk Rd > back to starting point: 70.7miles
with 5550ft of climbing in 6:29hours (VDO MC1.0 m3:11.10.19)
Notes: Steamboat Point took a lot of time, but it's hard to
find a place to see the canyon through the tree. Perfect