Arches National Park Motorcycle Trip

Arches National Park Motorcycle Trip
Utah National Parks Trip 2015 – 3500 miles

We called this, Arches National Park motorcycle trip. But, it also includes:

  • Canyonlands National Park
  • Bryce Canyon National Park
  • Natural Bridges National Monument
  • Four Corners National Monument

This is the 3rd in a series. Also visit Oregon & Nevada Desert ride (1st) and Zion National Park Trip, the 2nd post on this trip.

These parks are all basically in the same geographical area, they are totally unique. People have asked which was our favorite, and all I can do is start describing each one. Zion, Bryce & Arches are what I think are the best known, but the lesser parks were mind-blowing as well.

Arches National Park Motorcycle Trip
Arches National Park Motorcycle Trip
Arches National Park Motorcycle Trip
Arches National Park Motorcycle Trip

From Bryce we were headed North to Torrey UT for a night outside of our usual Holiday Inn Express. First the road up is Hwy 12, rated as the best motorcycle road in Utah and it was spectacular. Again, when I get to GoPro footage there will be a short one on Hwy 12. It’s around 120 miles of great scenery, outstanding road and great company.

In Torrey we had reservations at, “Austin’s Chuck Wagon Motel” and I think I heard skepticism in Karla’s voice when she heard the name. However, this was a true find. With a population of 180, Torrey was a gamble for finding food for the vegan types. Austin’s Chuck Wagon was more than a motel, it was a complex……with it’s own store…the only one in town and very nice amenities. We rated this place very high and recommend it to anyone, pool and hot tub too.

Arches National Park Motorcycle Trip
Austin’s Chuckwagon Motel – Torrey Utah

There were two or three restaurants. If you’re counting that’s one for every 60 residents, but this is next to the entrance of Capitol Reef National Park, so tourists must outnumber the locals.

We walked to an Italian place and had a great dinner….and surprise this was the first place that actually had a liquor license. Now, have I have told you about liquor laws in Utah?……pull up a chair this may take awhile.

Liquor must be poured with a state approved device that will only allow 1.5 oz in a drink, so forget a double and a Long Island Iced Tea or a Hurricane well that just isn’t possible.

If the Mormons knew how much alcohol was in a Long Island……it might require the Quorum of 12 to have another meeting.

And then you know about the, “Zion Curtain” don’t you? A wall or curtain or partition of some type that prevents anyone from actually witnessing the pouring of alcohol? Yes, makes perfect sense to me too.

Not the Italian restaurant…. Yeah, that’s illegal.

You cannot order two drinks, what are you psychotic? Oh and you must order food before you’re allowed to have any alcohol. So much for, “Happy Hour” around here……. that’s Sunday morning.

Oh well, they have this 3.2% micro brew beer that was good….and they have a sense of humor…..Polygamy Porter, why have just one? I loved buying that and seeing the clerks grimace.

I admire the LDS organization, I don’t want anything to do with it, but I do admire it. You see, Mormons are basically mafia, they’re real nice mafia, but they control everything…..

Cost of National Parks

I forgot to address the cost of these National Parks & Monuments which was $24 for a motorcycle and they are going up. My commentary on that is, “What the Hell?”

I grew up poor; the only thing we could do was go to parks. I am absolutely against making parks only for people who have money.

If you’re going to as many as we did; buy the annual pass, it was $80 and paid for itself after the first three parks, we saved well over $100.

Capitol Reef National Park

This is another place where I called it wrong. I had never heard of it and I didn’t really like the name…..I told you the trip planning has my biases, as ridiculous as they are. Not many people at this park so I guess I wasn’t alone in thinking it wasn’t all that.

Capitol Reef was a self pay and on the honor system…..maybe that’s why they couldn’t afford to fix the sign. But it was a great park; named after two features. One resembles the old US Capitol Dome, and the Reef refers to the Waterpocket Fold. A geologic formation that is about 100 miles long. We didn’t get to see much of it, as the pavement ended pretty much at the beginning of the fold.

Waterpocket Fold – For the next 100 miles!

Capitol Reef also contains the historic Mormon settlement of Fruita, where the trees still produce and you can pick what’s available.

These flowers were amazing in that they are growing in the bottom of a wash. Washes are areas that routinely flood, and flash floods are very common.

Everything is rock, so water has nowhere to go but flow, and flow it does. The parks prepare the wash areas so the roads don’t wash out. When flooded they are buried in mud. These flowers will only last until the next rain.

There is this ferry I wanted to catch across the Upper, East end of Lake Powell. It was extra miles, it was out of the way, but hey I wanted to ride a ferry and we’re on vacation.

Hwy 95, south from Hanksville, turn onto Hwy 276

Pure desert, nothing but sand and a lonely two lane road that made us think, this ferry thing….maybe not one of Don’s greatest plans. But then Karla starts seeing flowers and here we are the only vehicle in maybe 100 miles, so we park in the middle of the road, and go picture taking.

That took her mind off my side trip for awhile, mission accomplished. Karla got some really special flower photos on this trip. We were so lucky in our timing, they had heavy rains throughout the area in the weeks before we arrived the flowers were in full bloom everywhere.

It’s not a dual sport bike, but I grew up on dirt bikes so what the heck when the pavement disappears…….without warning of course

Hall’s Ferry – Call ahead to make sure it’s operating – A long dead-end otherwise.
Hall's Ferry Lake Powell Utah
A 30 minute trip – Not too crowded- 2 cars & us.

I hope you’re getting the feeling that this was not a, take it easy, get some rest kind of vacation. Last summer, I drove us through some National Parks and, looking back we realized how much we missed by not getting off and hiking. Many people would just pull their car up, roll down the window and take a picture of the sign and drive on……we said, “That was us, last year.”

Mexican Hat – The Town – The Rock

The real, “Mexican Hat”

From the outside this might be a place you would pass up…..but these people have got it together…..check out their website

These folks understand marketing, in a town of 31 people….they hit it out of the park ! In 2015 many businesses still don’t understand their website and hello, social media ???

Look at their website and then look at my photos…..same place ????? Hmmmm, but they also did such a remarkable job at updating this property, I would go out of my way to stay there. OK, we’re on a motorcycle and the parking lot is crappy gravel.

So what’s better than a motel with a hot tub…….one that doesn’t say you have to be out by 10 PM……oh yeah the pool is set aside from the motel and no closing…….I’m sure it was clothing optional as well, but Karla says I think everything is clothing optional……if it’s not specifically prohibited it’s allowed…..

Hat Rock Inn - Pool with a full moon
Hat Rock Inn – Pool with a full moon


Hat Rock Ut

I seriously have to give this up to what we call, “Non-Vegans,” I think you would not want to miss this restaurant. We loved the atmosphere and the staff was outstanding. When you’re a vegan and in a town of 31 people, you are not expecting something on the menu, it just doesn’t make sense. But oh no, not at Swinging Steak, they had us covered !

Arches National Park Motorcycle Trip

First the photos you see here are the entire restaurant. It felt like a cafe in Mexico, open air casual dining with gente muy amable. But it had that Texas flavor too. The chef could have just tied up his horse and walked in to pitch a log on the fire. In one of the photos you can see a Gardenburger amongst the steaks……it looks a little pathetic doesn’t it?

Arches National Park Motorcycle Trip
Grill at Swingin’ Steak – We loved this place

The grill was as authentic as it was practical, just a nice wood fire and keep that thing a swingin’. The also wood fired stove beyond the grill has two big pots of beans cooking and he could even toast the bread on the grill. I will say when the waiter gave him our order, he looked over at us and didn’t really smile, but it was a noticeable glance. I’m sure he was thinking, Couple of hippy, yuppie, tree huggin, Californians……

I’m just not well versed in, “Steakhouse Etiquette” so the next event was my fault. See those metal dishes are heated up real hot so the steak sizzles when they bring it to your table. Well darn it, if a dry ole Gardenburger just had a touch of sizzle, I may have thought to not touch that thing. The only sizzle I heard was my finger…

I went to the waiter and asked if they had any ice, I may have added, “I just burned the shit out of my finger.” He was super nice and got me a glass of ice, into which my finger stayed for the rest of the meal.

Now cowboy chef; while I thought he might have gotten a chuckle…..I often judge too quickly….he was headed for our table. He reached out to me and said, ” this will help” It was out of context in my mind, so I must have looked confused…..he said, “it’s Aloe, it helps burns.” He had a plant there and had cut me off a branch… nice.

The first glimpse of Monument Valley from the parking lot

…….Monument Valley where all great western TV shows and movies took at least one background or B roll shot.

Director John Ford used the location for a number of his best-known films, and thus, in the words of critic Keith Phipps, “its five square miles have defined what decades of moviegoers think of when they imagine the American West.”.

Everyone who owns a motorcycle needs to make the, Arches National Park motorcycle trip!

So were we here to relive all those westerns my dad watched in the 60’ss??? Was it John Wayne?; was it Stanley Kubrick’s 2001 A Space Odyssey?, or Grand Theft Auto’s depiction of Monument Valley that required this to be on the itinerary of our 2015 Epic trip ????? Why Don, Why are we here ?

Run Forest Run

Mile post 13, yes just 13 miles into Utah from Arizona……. one of the most filmed, desolate areas of the United States is exactly where……..Forrest Gump stopped running………

Who doesn’t want to ride Forrest Gump Hill

And as always, we can’t just have one event in our day, so now it’s across the state to catch, ” Four Corners Monument.” This one is a Navajo National Park. Ride Don & Carla Ride !

Navajo National Monument

It’s a must do place, but it was really just a tourist trap. Only $5 to get in……if I were a Navajo, I would charge us $50 ……..I feel bad to be there and embarrassed to be an average white American……..we could be so much better, but we’re not. ?

Natural Bridges National Monument

So Natural Bridges was a quick stop. We just rode through & stopped for a few photos. You have to hike to the bridges, and it was getting late and we still had lots of miles to make (before dark). Arches National Park motorcycle trip was much more than just Arches.


Holiday Inn Express – Moab, UT

Here is a brief look at Moab Utah through the lens of an outsider. We did find a liquor store here. Apparently liquor is bad, but in tourist towns…..Well, even Utah needs revenue.

This town, we thought had a similar feel to our hometown. Sidewalk cafes that were, “vegan friendly” a coffee roaster, and places where it looked like people were having fun, not in a church.

Coffee, it’s still legal in Utah…….well at least in Moab!

Non-vegans have lots of great choices in Moab, so no worries, and this town even had more than one choice for us.

Amazing, wonderful all vegan – Must eat here.
Mr. McStiff’s place – Non Vegan
Sweet Cravings had one vegan option
Well balanced meals in hotel room — highly recommended.

You Meet the nicest people in hot tubs. I can even say you meet the nicest families. The Holiday Inn Express in Moab was one of the nicest ones we’ve come across.

Sometimes hotel hot tubs can have kind of a weird vibe, people are uncomfortable, avoid making eye contact and try to stay in their own little territory. First we met a vivacious set of sisters.

Later, (still in the hot tub) we found out there was more to the family. We met Tom & Betsy, “the parents.” I blame everything on parenting, and it was easy to see where Casey & Katie came up with their awesome personalities

We made friends, laughed and shared stories that ran in the 15 minute cycles of the hot tub timer. Our paths crossed but once in this life………but you never know; it is, “A Small World After all.” Best of life to you all, we hope to see you again on another adventure!

This is Nate, our hot tub photographer…. Nate is a, “Tour Guide” and has been living in this exquisite Holiday Inn Express for like a couple of months. He and his crew take tourists out on, “Jeep” adventures……. OK so maybe Nate has life dialed in at his age and I didn’t, ……’re rocking it Nate !!!!! Jeep tour guide ??? Really, that is a job ?

Moab was just a super comfortable town to hang out in, but we still had parks to see, and nearby was Arches & Canyonlands.

Every park had its own take on how to make an entrance sign, To Canyonlands we award the, “Bigger is Better” award!

Arches National Park Motorcycle Trip

Arches National Park has more trails with more breathtaking scenes than a person could hike in a week. We had one day, so we prioritized almost everything out. But if you’re going to Arches, we think there is one, “must see” rock and that is, “Delicate Arch.”

Arches National Park Motorcycle Trip
There it is, the Icon of Utah as seen on the state’s license plates.

The trail to Delicate Arch is around 5 miles each way, crossing the slickrock, which isn’t slick (maybe when it’s wet? ) and climbing pretty much all the distance.

Arches National Park Motorcycle Trip
Arches National Park Motorcycle Trip
Above the slick rock trail, it narrows to a cliffside trail, but not so narrow that it becomes uncomfortable..
Above the slick rock trail, it narrows to a cliffside trail, but not so narrow that it becomes uncomfortable..
Above the slick rock trail, it narrows to a cliffside trail, but not so narrow that it becomes uncomfortable..

Here it is as seen over our shoulders. The line at the base was a little long to get a shot of us under the arch. We were not the only ones making the trek.

The park is huge and this is perhaps the best known attraction, but anywhere you look in this vast landscape , you will be in awe of the beauty.

Miles upon miles of road through these magnificent red rocks.

There was still one more major National Park to visit from Moab

Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands National Park
Best explored hiking – Backpacking – 4WD

I apologize if I have overused the word awesome in this blog post, in every instance you could substitute; Stunning, Grand, Awe-inspiring or breathtaking. They are all of that and more, Canyonlands did not disappoint.

The Green River joins the Colorado within Canyonlands, although the gorges were so deep we couldn’t see water from our vantage. There are distinct sections of the park, accessible from different entrances, what we show here is the, “Islands in the Sky” section. The rivers are more than 2000′ feet below. Drop 1200′ to a bench, and then another 1000′ drop to the water.

The saddest day of any trip is the day you realize it’s time to go home. Especially true for the Arches National Park motorcycle trip. Leaving the beauty behind; taking the memories and 1200 photos to remind us, “Life is Short, Start Living Now.”

Don’t wait for adventure to find you, it’s right there waiting for you to shape it your way.

We hope our pictures and words have exposed Utah in a way that leaves you wanting more. We say again, this is a trip you really need to make. We didn’t see it all; and we will be back.

If you see us on the road, please wave or say Hi. If you don’t recognize us, look for this sign on the back of our bike.

We have a new motorcycle now, still has the sign. Check out our 12,000 mile review of the, Star Venture.

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