Canyons Ride 2003 – Day 6: Dodging Tar Snakes on the Hogsback

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Wednesday, May 28

  • Zion National Park to Scipio, UT
  • 339 miles

We check out of our motel, have an excellent breakfast and then head east back through Zion. We take lots of photos but few of them do justice to what we see. It’s like riding down a street filled with magnificent cathedrals. 

We head out of the Park and make our way north and east over to Bryce. It’s in the nineties and we stop often for water. Some we drink, some we pour over our heads and some we use to soak our shirts. The first mile or two of road inside Bryce Canyon National Park is being repaired but once we get past that, the riding and the scenic views become first rate. There are 13 viewpoints along the 38 mile round-trip park drive and we hit them all. 

We’ve all seen photos of Bryce but they still don’t prepare us for experiencing Bryce first hand; the colors, the shapes, the scope of it all, how the place feels. While Zion feels and looks like cathedrals, Bryce feels and looks like the ruins of an ancient castle. 

We motor all the way out to the southernmost spot in the Park called Rainbow Point which is over 9,000 feet in elevation. The view from there is amazing. Along the way, we see a natural bridge formed by rainfall. 

And lest we forget to mention, Scott is sporting a new hat. Not just any hat but another sunblock hat and one that’s even better than the previous hat, all thanks to Joe’s tireless shopping efforts. 

If Bryce Canyon was not enough excitement, we continue east on Hwy 12 out into the Utah outback, so to speak, to find the finest riding of the trip. We end up doing hours of superb, mountain cruising. (Learn more about Hwy 12 on Max Bertola’s southern Utah website.) He calls it one of the prettiest roads in the entire US and he’s probably doing it in a car. It’s really first rate on a bike, especially the section called the Hogsback where the road runs along the crest of a ridge with dramatic dropoffs on both sides. It’s a real trip to ride it! See great photos of it on Max’s website.

The only drawback is the extensive use of tar to seal cracks in the road, otherwise known as tar snakes. There is nothing like being leaned over in a turn and having the front end break loose and slide a few inches to make your heart skip a beat or two! We try dodging them but that just screws up your line through the turn and in the end, we just ignore them as best we can and have fun anyway.

We finish this absolutely awesome day of riding by heading all the way back out to Interstate 15 and spending the night in a town with no restaurant or tavern. We have to eat sandwiches from the gas station and drink lousy Utah beer. Oops! Next time, we’ll get it right.

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Go to Day 7: Back on the Slab!

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