Ride the Gap takes cyclists through historic Parowan Gap; CCNews Photo Gallery

View of Parowan Gap traveling from Parowan, Utah, June 6, 2014 | Photo by Kevin Robison, Cedar City News

PAROWAN – A sea of cyclists could be seen Saturday morning at Lions Park as they lined up for the third annual Ride the Gap cycling event.

The event, organized by Spin Geeks and sponsored by Parowan City, is an annual ride with three distances to choose from: 30 miles, 55 miles and 100 miles, commonly known as a century.

The 3rd annual Ride the Bike cycling event, Lions Park, Parowan, Utah, June 7, 2014 | Photo taken by Kevin Robison, Cedar City News
The third annual Ride the Bike cycling event, Lions Park, Parowan, Utah, June 7, 2014 | Photo by Kevin Robison, Cedar City News

The ride attracted nearly 250 participants from Utah, California, Nevada and Washington state, increasing the number of riders from years past.

“We didn’t even have 200 last year, so we are up over 50 riders – probably 75 riders more than last year,” Margaret Gibson, event director with Spin Geeks, said. “That’s wonderful.”

Troy Houston, Parowan City councilman, said he enjoys the ride because it’s low-traffic and a great course for first timers.

“We just want everyone to come and enjoy Parowan, what we have here to offer,” he said.

The ride, which travels through Parowan Gap, offers cooler Southern Utah temperatures and a relatively flat course.

Dave Ritch, of St. George, returned to the ride this year and said his favorite part is “going to the gap, taking a little time walking out looking at it.”

Shane Williamson, born and raised in Parowan, participated in the event for the first time in an effort to support the community and what they do. He also spoke of the gap and its cultural significance.

“It’s kind of a local treasure as far as local history and the Native Americans that were here,” he said.

Parowan Gap

Parowan Gap has a rich history in the area, dating back thousands of years.

“Parowan Gap was founded well over 5,000 years ago,” Dottie Stade, with the Parowan Visitors Center, said.  “That’s when the Indians started using it as a calendar to document when the sun set, as to when they should be planting crops or moving further south to get out of the winters.”

The gap was used as a calendar or clock in reference to changing seasons, Stade said.

Ancient Rock writing at Parowan Gap, June 6, 2014 | Photo taken by Kevin Robison, Cedar City News
Ancient rock writing at Parowan Gap, June 6, 2014 | Photo by Kevin Robison, Cedar City News

This use for the gap is still recognized every summer during the Summer Solstice Sunset Observation Program, held this year on June 21. The program instructs both kids and adults alike on the uses of the gap as a solar calendar.

The Gap features two distinctive elements: man-made and natural.

The man-made portion refers to the rock writing in the area, put there by early Native American settlers. The natural feature refers to the Gap itself, as the V-shaped ravine is a natural formation.

“They think it was originally put there by water erosion,” Stade said, “but there’s nothing to document that specifically.”

As the earth has changed and moved, further secrets have been revealed about the gap.

“About a year-and-a-half ago, we had a small rock slide on the left-hand side as you’re going through the gap, and we found another little chamber that had some very cute drawings that nobody actually knew were there,” Stade said. “So every time the earth moves we get the opportunity to find something new that just explains what happened here before we ever got here.”

The Parowan Gap can be accessed from both Cedar City and Parowan. The entire route is paved for vehicles, and driving the full loop is recommended. The area does not feature a hiking opportunity but offers great views and historical culture of the area. For more information about the Gap, visit the Bureau of Land Management.

Click on photo to enlarge it, then use your left-right arrow keys to cycle through the gallery. 
Cedar City
From Cedar City, travel north on Main Street, which eventually turns into Route 130. Continue north on Route 130 for 13.5 miles, then turn right and travel 2.4 miles to Parowan Gap.
Parowan City
From Parowan, travel north on Main Street to 400 North. Turn left and travel 10.5 miles to Parowan Gap. 
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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2014, all rights reserved.

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