We're normally fans of riding loops, they tend to make starting and ending a route a bit easier. However, for the epic Plateau Passage Route we decided that leaving one vehicle at the beginning of the route in Monticello, Utah and one at the end in Nucla, Colorado was a worthwhile inconvenience. 

Plateau Passage is an epic 1200 mile bikepacking journey starting in Las Vegas and ending in Durango, Colorado covering some 120,000' of climbing authored by Bikepacking Routes - and we're thankful they put this one together. We opted to take on segment five of this route and boy was it quite the adventure..

Route Brief: 

Bikes and Gear:


Salsa Fargo. Size Medium. Build Kit: Sram Apex 1 Mechanical (1X11). Stock build.

Surly Bridge Club (Grandma's Lipstick colorway).  Size large. Build Kit: Sram SX (1x12). Stock build.


Plateau Passage was our first truly epic biking trip and required some serious consideration into supplies, gear, and nutrition.  Much of segment five of Plateau Passage consists of gnarly single-track, so be sure to bring a proper trail ready bike, we strongly suggest riding something with mountain style tires. The Fargo and Bridge Club share many of the same attributes, upright riding position, rigid fork, ample cargo room, and geometry supportive of long days over rough terrain. A key differentiator between the two lies in the Fargo's drop bars (Cowchipper handlebars) and its carbon fork. However, the Surly is extremely affordable and can handle anything you may throw at it, even fully loaded with gear. 

Water scarcity was a real issue on this ride, so it was paramount to plan for no access to water for one to two days at a time. This meant riding heavy, loaded down bikes. Each rider carried seven to eight liters spread across a five liter bladder, and a few bottles of water. Every opportunity at water was utilized, and our MSR trailshot filter worked overtime to replenish supplies, we also carried iodine capsules in the event the filter became unusable (we tried to avoid this as the taste of iodine is awful). Water is quite bulky and often hard to store on the bike, but we found that carrying the water closest to the center of gravity on the bike is best (on the fargo that meant inside of the framebag). We found the Salsa frame bag to have extremely strong material and zippers, we could shove our five liter bladder inside and use all our strength to zip the bag shut and forget about the contents until we needed to use some water. This is worth mentioning because while many small boutique bag makers exist; the big companies, specifically Salsa, also make high quality accessories at a more affordable price. (We are also huge supporters of Apidura)

Among the other tools we used, the Garmin inReach explorer was a key component. Following the route proved to be extremely challenging and the inReach proved quite useful, although we found the interface to be quite clunky and preferred to use the bluetooth to connect to our iPhone and navigate through the application. In addition to the navigational features of the inReach, the device also offers a few paid features such as messaging, SOS, and weather reports, all of which proved to be quite useful. We can't recommend a GPS device enough for any bikepacking trip for both the ease of navigation and for the peace of mind associated with ability to communicate and access to SOS features. 

Nutrition on this trip left much to be desired, we opted for mostly fresh and packaged foods from the grocery store instead of using dedicated camping meals (Freeze-dried MREs). 

If you're planning a trip and are unsure of which direction to go in with any of your adventure riding decisions, let us know, we're here to help! Message us!

Bottom Line on Bikes and Gear:

Both bikes passed the ride test with flying Colors, and as did our camping equipment. We had room to improve on packing (always best to avoid riding with a backpack), nutrition, and navigational skills. Plateau Passage was an incredible experience and humbled us in many ways, but it was the ride we always look back with fondness.


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The iconic bikepacking photo! Bikes leaned against a trailhead sign awaiting for the vistas beyond the next bend just a few hours after starting our journey. Roberston's Pasture was stunning, but mostly north facing and left us with lots of large snowdrifts to navigate. This few mile stretch cost us many hours and ultimately required us to spend the night atop the Abajo mountains. 

The next morning we awoke to breathtaking views of Cayonlands and the La Sal mountains. The descent out of Roberston's Pasture was tricky as we had to avoid more snow drifts that obscured the trail. 

Sam looks for the trail hidden beneath the snow, but unfortunately we had no such luck and made the decision to descend on the hillside hoping that we would eventually meet up with the trail and fortunately we found the path!

After spending the better part of the morning descending though Indian creek and having a few cattle enounters we finally met up with highway 211 where we were treated with one of the most beautiful descents in the United States.

The views on the descent were unbelieveable. The weather was gorgeous, very limited traffic, and on the opposite side of the road was canyonlands. A true highlight of this trip was enjoying these vistas by bike.

Canyons just south of Moab

On the opposite side of these rock formations is Moab, Utah. We opted to stop here for the evening and enjoy the close proximity to water and enjoy the views until we loaded our bikes up the next day and continued on our journey.