Utah Motorcycle Travel Destinations
Great roads and amazing rock formations
Utah’s many great roads and natural beauty make it ideal for motorcycle touring, either as a prime destination, or part of a multi-state adventure.
This western state is centrally located between several other states that also draw visitors from everywhere, many of whom fly in and rent motorcycles for guided or packaged tours.
The region is known for its low humidity, hot summers, blue skies, shades of brown, unique foliage, and lots and lots of rocks, including massive rock formations and mountains. Some of the most unique geological structures on the face of the earth are in Utah and some neighboring states.
Utah’s elevation ranges from a low of 2,000 feet above sea level up to over 13,000 feet in the mountains. Much of the state is well over twice the low point, and Salt Lake City, the capital, is at 4,330 feet (a mile is 5,280 feet).
If you are from greener, flatter or lower altitude areas, and have never seen Utah, it definitely should be experienced at least once in a lifetime.
Naturally the tourism industry has all sorts of options available. Riding your own route on a rented bike or on your own bike are both possibilities.
If you come with your own motorcycle, you will want it in good condition. A few regions, such as in southern Utah, are devoid of roadside amenities for many miles at a time.
If your bike is older, or carbureted, keep in mind the altitude will affect running compared to lower regions closer to sea level. Newer bikes with fuel injection are recommended, but not always necessary. If in doubt, check with a dealer.
Also, even though peak summer heat can reach over 110 degrees, depending on your route, you may find it getting considerably cooler, especially at altitude and in the evenings.
Following are a few prime destinations. Besides these, there are many others to look into.
As mentioned, Utah is a tour unto itself, and you could spend a couple of weeks trolling around the state and still not come close to taking in all the sights.
A short list of must-visit locations includes Arches National Park, Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, Canyonlands National Park, and Capitol Reef National Park.
The lowest of these is Zion, at 3,913 feet, and the highest is Bryce Canyon at 7,586 feet. Several of these are in southern Utah, and within an hour or two of one another. They are geological anomalies, connected by good roads, and offer phenomenal sites like nowhere else.
If you travel to the prehistoric geological formations in southern Utah, and want to add to your sense of awe, you could head east on I-70 into Colorado, past Grand Junction, high into the Rocky Mountains, some of which are snowcapped year-round.
This alpine route reaching up to two miles in altitude will take you past several Colorado towns worth visiting, including Aspen and Vail, all the way to Denver. Or once through the Rockies, you could branch off and head toward north to Boulder, or south toward Colorado Springs, or anywhere else for that matter, in this equally appealing state. The distance from Arches to Denver is about 370 miles.
Instead of (or before) heading east, you could go further south from Utah to the Grand Canyon in Arizona. This is one of the seven natural wonders of the world, and needs no introduction except to tell you it can be a short trip from Utah, and if at all possible, you should go there.
New Mexico offers more locations worth seeing, including Albuquerque, Santa Fe, and even Roswell. While the western scenery in places is already otherworldly, if you are so inclined, even potentially more alien attractions await you in Roswell.
Many riders will head to Las Vegas or Reno or other hot spots to take in the action but Nevada also offers plenty of natural prime destinations as well. Included in these are the eastern slopes of the Sierra Nevada mountain range, or high altitude Lake Tahoe. Although the lake is only nine miles away from Carson City, its elevation is nearly 1,500 feet higher.
Idaho and Wyoming are up a ways from Utah; a day trip from centrally located Salt Lake City, and reachable even from the southern parts of Utah in one day. North Dakota, home of the Sturgis Bike Rally, is also doable by traveling through Wyoming. Timing a trip so you can mosey over to Sturgis would be a great option.
As for Idaho, it has too many places to mention. Some highlights include the Craters of the Moon National Monument & Preserve, other mountainous and wilderness areas, and amazing waterways.
For natural beauty, Wyoming may arguably take the cake north of Utah. No less than the town of Jackson, the nearby Grand Teton mountain range, and Yellowstone National Park are located there.
The closest of these, Jackson, is about 280 miles from Salt Lake City. Yellowstone is about 90 miles from Jackson.
The Grand Teton National Park is home to true alpine mountains, reaching a peak of 13,770 feet. In all, these areas offer large areas of preserved wilderness like you may see nowhere else.
Moose, dear, and bears live in these regions along with tons of other wildlife. The river and stream waters are often dark and deep, often with lush vegetation right up to the banks. If you like to fish, make sure to bring your gear.
If intending to see a few national parks, consider purchasing an America The Beautiful – National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass. It is available at all national park entrances, costs $80, and is good for one year. With some park entrance fees at $25 for a 7-day pass, it could pay for itself in pretty short time.
And as for routes, destinations, and all other logistic considerations, if you are good at making up your own route, that is an option.
If you would appreciate the convenience of not having to figure it all out, and avoid missing any worthwhile destinations you may have had no way of knowing of, be they restaurants, roads, places to stay, or other attractions, you could rely on the services of a tour company. Guided tour packages are available in all sorts of configurations, as are pre-set route packages.
Motorcycle rentals are also an option. EagleRider in Salt Lake City is only four miles from the airport, and offers late model fuel-injected bikes, and maybe best of all, possibility for a one-way rental. The rental and tour company allows you to rent a motorcycle in one location, and then drop it off at another. They have several locations throughout Utah and the surrounding western states. Their rental fleets consists of Harley-Davidson, BMW, Honda, Victory, and for short trips, Vespa scooters, as well as off-highway vehicles. They even rent GPS units for travelers who want to stay on course.
With this option, you could head somewhere out of state, or even back home or close to home. Or on the other hand, you could rent a bike outside of Utah, ride into the state, then leave it in Salt Lake, and take a short trip to the airport for a flight home.
Obviously more research, planning, and thinking about what you really want will be necessary. It might be a good idea to set aside as many days as possible, to give yourself enough room to see and do as much as you can. Once the freedom of the open road out west is experienced, many riders have been known to say they wished they never had to leave.