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The Bryce Canyon and Capitol Reef National Park makes for a stunning motorcycle ride full of short and long sweeping roads and through several arch tunnels. You'll make your way through small towns with farmland tucked into the mountains along Highway 12. The motorcycle route is 124 miles (200 km) and can be done in 2 hours and 45 minutes.
The area is known as The Grand Staircase because of the varying elevation and immense sequence of sedimentary rock layers that stretch from Bryce Canyon to the Grand Canyon. Bryce Canyon is near the Southern border of Utah and Arizona with a small town of 200 at the entrance to the National Park. Bryce Canyon is not actually a canyon because it was not carved out by a river, but created over millions of years through natural erosion. Bryce Canyon features many unique structures called Hoodoo, that are large spikes of rock protruding from the bottom varying from 5 feet up to 10 stories tall. Some other unique features are the red rock arch tunnels some which you can drive through on Highway 12 and petroglyph markings on the walls that indicate the presence of people in the area several thousand years ago; very little is known about them.
After taking in the breathtaking scenic views of Bryce Canyon, start your motorcycle ride by heading North on Highway 63 to Highway 12 which is the main route towards Capitol Reef. The Western part of Highway 12 has lots of twisties and sweeping turns. Elevation varies throughout the ride from 1500 metres to 2800 metres. Riding along Hwy 12 you will see the eroded canyon, forests and mountains of red rock, nestled in between, many small towns with farmlands.
You'll arrive at Escalante 50 miles(80 km) into the route, a small town of 800 people located in the Escalante Petrified Forest State Park. Nearby is a reservoir that's filled with rainbow trout and bluegill, popular for water sports including fishing, swimming and boating. Stop in at the visitors centre in Escalante for displays of plant and marine fossils, petrified wood and fossilized dinosaur bones over 100 million years old. The Petrified Forest has a 1 mile walking trail, winding through the lava flows and pieces of petrified wood. Hiking, camping and canoe rentals are also available. For more information on Escalante see: http://esr.cc/L224Qi or http://esr.cc/K7qT0q
From Escalante you continue riding north on Hwy 12 to Torrey, Utah. The Eastern section of Hwy 12 has an elevation of 1800 metres in Escalante to 2700 metres reaching Torrey the road is a curvy uphill road through forest and mountain. Coming into the town of Torrey, it's all downhill. Not much to do here but you will find a gas station and a general store.
Continue on State Road 24 to the final destination on this route, Capitol Reef National Park Visitors Center in Fruita, Utah. The final 10 miles (17 km) of the motorcycle route is all downhill. There's a number of things to do in the national park including: camping, hiking, rock climbing, biking, horseback riding and road tours. The road ends here, but you can take a "guided tour" on a road called Scenic Drive (entrance fee is $5) where you'll see sandstone cliffs, the Capitol Gorge, the Moenkopi Formation a 225 million year old rock and the Navajo Formation a 400 metre thick white rock formation. For more information on Capitol Reef National Park see: http://esr.cc/NcwaDq
Bryce Canyon and Capitol Reef motorcycle ride is an incredibly beautiful 3 hour motorcycle ride. Through small towns with farmland tucked into the mountains and scenic views of the National Parks. This is sure to be the perfect motorcycle ride for the natural history buff. Enjoy the ride!