Almost 100 degrees and my brother Kurt and I were stuck on Zion behind a convoy of smoky tour buses. The gatekeeper had gleefully taken our money and not warned us about the road construction work all through the park. The towering red rock mountains we rode through were beautiful, but hard to enjoy from the dusty one-lane roads. So it was with relief that we rode down out of the park and out on the open road again.
Description alone could never do justice to Bryce National Park, where the road took us next. To say the rock formations are magnificent, awe-inspiring, almost over-powering would begin to cover it. But one just needs to be there. On a motorcycle, if at all possible. The roads snake up to the almost 9000-feet high rim, but they are nicely graded, wide with plenty of scenic overlooks and amphitheaters. The high altitude, not noticeable as we rode through the switchbacks, became readily apparent when we stopped. Just walking from the bikes to the overlook edges made me breathe as if running a marathon. But to stand at the rim of the world and gaze out onto the delicate high-rise pinnacles (called hoodoos, I learned) makes the walk more than worthwhile.
We arrived at the park late afternoon due to our delay in Zion. But as it happened, the timing was perfect. We made our way through, stopping at every viewpoint, and watched the sun begin to set and cast eerie shadows on Inspiration Point. I felt as if I were in a cathedral, the experience uplifting and ethereal. My advice to anyone: Check this place out.
We camped that night in a KOA near Cannonville. Our plan was to ride toward Arches National Park and stop at Moab. Kurt and I had both been to the small town many years before on family vacations.
The next morning we ate at a little diner in Escalante, enjoying excellent green chili sauce on our eggs. We met a crotch-rocket rider who claimed to have ridden 1200 miles a day. We didn’t really believe him but let him talk as it seemed he needed to. On leaving, a grizzled old biker rode up and handed us his card. The “Desert Doctor” he was, available for motorcycle service or help, any time, almost anywhere. In another life, he would have been the blacksmith or cooper, or possibly the gunslinger.
We rode Highway 12 into Capitol Reef. The road was awesome, full of dips and curves that any biker loves. Capitol Reef is known for its sandstone domes and cliffs (the domes look like the Capitol building, hence the name). Along the way, we met a swarthy braided biker, who had a little trouble with his bike. Kurt helped him out and he rode with us for quite a while. We declined the offer of a drink, though; the guy just seemed a little sketchy. We waved to him when he stopped at the bar and cranked the throttles out of there.
We took 24 up to 170 to get into Arches National Park and spent most of the day checking out the weird, almost other-worldly rock formations. The temperature climbed and the dry red lands reflected it back double to our bikes. We both carried water and refilled it at every chance. Even warm, it hydrated. We stopped to walk through Devil’s Garden and felt like we were in the Devil’s actual home. But the photo opportunities abounded. Both of us had been through here as children and enjoyed it even more. Kurt climbed to the top of “Top of the World” arch; being 16 years my junior, I let him do that on his own. He did get this incredible photos, but admitted the climb about wore him out.
We ended our full day in a Moab KOA, ate some steak at the Branding Iron, had a few beers, and at long last, climbed into our tents and drifted off to motorcycle dreams.
Photos by author