The following is continued from our article on Vernal, Eastern Utah's new mountain biking mecca. Click here for part 1.
Fossil Valley Field Trip
Eons before tires laid track to Vernal dirt, dinosaurs regularly left their mark. Peep at some of the prehistoric creatures inside the Utah Field House of Natural History, an interactive museum that brings the Jurassic journey of Earth to life. There you can examine and identify skeletal remains before heading to the Dinosaur National Monument, a paleontologist’s dream located 13 miles outside of Vernal. Craggy and fragmented rocks are embedded with thousands of dino bones from 149 million years ago, making the park one of the biggest fossil quarries in the world.
On a human scale, the red canyon walls along the wild Yampa River are riddled with petroglyphs, rock art and geological lore from the region’s ancient Indian tribes. Numerous outfitters in Vernal offer multi-day rafting trips through the undammed tributary, which swells with bubbling class IV whitewater when the high mountain snowpack melts in late spring.
Utah Field House of Natural History, 496 E. Main, Vernal, 435-789-3799, stateparks.utah.gov
Meet the Pro: Troy Lupcho
Photo by Stephanie Nitsch
Lupcho is the voice of Vernal singletrack. But to simply call him an avid mountain biker would be an understatement.
Growing up as a BMX racer in Vernal, Lupcho vowed to never return after graduating from high school. Ten years later, on a visit back home, he unexpectedly found himself signing a lease for Vernal’s first bike shop, Altitude Cycles (altitudecycles.com, 435-781-2595). It was an impulse decision solely based on the area’s untapped potential for great mountain biking. “There was literally nothing to ride back then,” he recalls.
That slowly changed as Lupcho and a few local friends started etching out trails by hand (and foot), scuffing new paths with the soles of their bike shoes. As the trail network grew, so did the people who came into Lupcho’s shop. He’d happily give turn-by-turn directions to the trailheads. Lupcho also provides a homemade trail guide and detailed topo maps.
Altitude Cycles is as well stocked with bikes, parts, paraphernalia and rentals, but Lupcho tends to open late or close early if it means having more time in the saddle. “I’m just really passionate about what I do.”
Get the Gear
Hot sun and exposed terrain will have you sucking down plenty of water. Stay hydrated with the Osprey Zealot 16 backpack, featuring a 3-liter water capacity plus a roll-out tool pouch. $150, ospreypacks.com
Club Ride’s Bolt button-up jersey combines post-ride style with summer-ready performance like UPF 30 protection and lightweight, moisture-wicking fabric. $90, clubrideapparel.com
Mount the Light & Motion SECA 1500 lamp to your handlebars or helmet and continue riding well past sunset with six different modes and up to 1500 lumens. $399, lightandmotion.com
Designed with a flexible “walking” sole, the Pearl iZumi X-Project 3.0 clipless shoes easily conquer technical hike-a-bike sections but with the pedaling efficiency of carbon construction. $160, pearlizumi.com