[N.B. The following ride report from Tim Tait is written from west to east]
“I did a day trip from Fish Springs Wildlife refuge (mm1477 on RWGPS file) to Salt Lake City just recently. Here’s my notes on the section . . .
From Fish Springs to Highway 36 is reasonably smooth. I spoke to the ranger at Fish Springs and he mentioned the road was just regraded in October, so it only had a few months of traffic on it. It’s a surprisingly high trafficked area so I suspect it will return to washboards in the next few months. Lots of clay based areas so rain could put you at a stand still, depending on what time of year you ride. I rode two days after a small storm and roads were already dry. From highway 36 over to highway 73 were the worst washboards I’ve ridden in a while.
Keep in mind these areas are OHV playgrounds, so you will run into a good amount of Tacomas/Jeeps/ATVs in these areas. On a sunny weekend during early recreation season (as I hit), you’ll be in a dust cloud of big trucks. Plan accordingly.
It was 24 degrees in early March when I started at sunrise from Fish Springs, and possibly mid 50’s at the finish around SLC. I did it on 4 liters, but that’s b/c it was cold and the desert has slowly turned me into a camel. It’s probably an 8-9 liter section in hotter conditions.
I rode a Hakka MX on 650/47’s Specialized Pathfinders. Worked just fine on this section, but I wasn’t fully packed down and this isn’t the roughest of sections. Bring your aero bars, and tires with good side wall casing. Lots of sharper, larger gravel sections.
Make sure to take some time to cruise around Fish Springs (as long as it’s not bug season). It’s really breathtaking.
As mentioned by others, you can’t camp in Fish Springs but there is a small little gravel pit to camp at right in between the refuge lines [pictures here]. It has some camp fire rings and is protected from the wind (which you’ll want out in that area).
What the Utah west desert lacks in elevation, it makes up for in wind, heat, quick forming storms and limited shelter. It’s pretty damn unforgiving. I’d avoid riding this between June-August IMO. Even with a night riding strategy, there’s just no shade/shelter…”