Reader Ride–Utah Highway 12: It's the Journey and the Destination
In my impetuous youth, I felt the kickstand was my sworn enemy. I was one of those guys who wore continuous hours of saddle time as a badge of honor and total miles for the day like the crown jewel on my riding tiara.
In my more mature years, I am a different rider. Places like southern Utah have changed me. And like any good father, I want to help my son avoid my mistakes. Thus begins a late spring father-and-son ride on Utah State Route 12 and the amazing bookends of that awe-inspiring ribbon of asphalt.
The western starting point of Utah State Route 12 is an intersection with Highway 89 in southern Utah. We make the turn, my son on his Kawasaki ZZR1200 fitted with soft luggage and me on my BMW R 1200 GS. The muted brown hues of this high desert intersection give little indication of the chromatic vibrancy that is to come. However, within a mile on the 12, the horizon holds a wisp of crimson foreshadowing.
After a handful of miles, we are fully engulfed in red rock spires, monoliths, and man-made tunnels. Red Canyon is visual sensory overload. The vermillion rocks contrasted with the intense blue sky is almost unnaturally vivid. Just miles later, Bryce Canyon sits as a grand celebration of the power of erosion. The stratified sedimentary rock formations are stunning and expansive. The stone “hoodoos” are the central characters of this remarkable national park.
That “young me” would have enjoyed glimpses of this majestic region from a rolling perspective. However, Bryce Canyon National Park is a place that begs for exploration in Timberland hiking boots not Sidi riding boots. My son and I spend hours hiking, gawking, and taking in this rosé wonderland. Lesson number one on embracing the kickstand completed.