This is a simple out and back ride up a pretty valley between the Grand Hogback and the Flat Tops Wilderness, that felt quite remote.
There were good smooth gravel roads (in May 2020) with minimal washboards and very little traffic.
We started at the Rifle Gap State Park parking lot next to the reservoir, which made for a nice swim after a hot day on the bike! There are also camping sites in the park, so you could easily combine this route with camping too.
There are a few steep grades just before the turnaround point. We ended up doing a short hike-a-bike on one of those sections.
The road is entirely public, but in several places private property is on either side of the road, which means there is nowhere to stop and refuel or top off water bottles at all. (Make sure you are prepared with enough hydration and fuel for all 36 miles!)
Do this ride if you are near the Rifle Gap Reservoir and want to get away from the crowds, give yourself a moderate climbing challenge and see some stunning views.
This could also be done as a one-way gravel route between Rifle and Meeker, avoiding the main road (CO 13), or as part of a much bigger (bikepacking?) loop in the area.
The parking lot at the start is very minimal and there are no restrooms or water at this location. It's requires a cash payment deposited in an envelope so make sure you have cash with you (or have a Colorado state park pass) if you plan to park here. There was another pullout further towards the eastern end of the lake with vault toilets, but this would involve cycling about 1.5mi further along the paved road, which is trafficked by a fair amount of trailers and RVs.
The nearest place to get food and other supplies is about 20 min away in the town of Rifle, CO, so come prepared or plan to stop on the way in.
Laura Martel and Lewis Dawnay are avid bikers who ride and compete in road and gravel events often. They are also friends of Laura and Rose, the founders of Gravel Bike Adventures, and they got into gravel ridding through Laura & Rose's encouragement. Because of that, they have ridden many of the Colorado routes on this site and have had many more gravel adventures on their own.