The Ten Best Paved Motorcycle Roads in America
Part Six of an Eleven Part Series
By Mark ‘Buck’ King
Over the last fifteen years I have had the privilege and blessing to have ridden almost all of the top motorcycle roads in the country. Practically every bike magazine and web site has at one time or another published their own list of the top roads. All the lists are a little different. Some list many of the same roads, but in a different order. Some add a different road and leave another out. I really don’t think anyone can rank these roads for anyone but themselves. Your opinion might be quite different from mine, but you won’t know that until you ride these roads for yourself. So I encourage you to quit reading articles like this and get out there and ride them for yourself!
So why eleven parts to the series on the top ten roads? That’s because there are many GREAT roads that didn’t make my top ten that just might be on YOUR top ten lists.
Part Six – Utah Highway 12 #6
My sixth ranked road is Utah Highway 12 specifically Escalante to Torrey.
It really doesn’t matter what direction you ride this 65 mile section of Highway 12. North to South, South to North or both ways it delivers a wide variety of scenery and some absolutely white knuckle riding because between Boulder and Escalante the land on either side of the road begins to disappear. Finally, the twisting ribbon of road is all that is left on either side with a thousand foot drop on either side of the road to the canyon floor below. This area is prone to pretty heavy cross winds in the afternoons. With that complication you might need to be wearing Depends.
Utah SR12 runs along the northern edge of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument which encompasses 1.7 million acres of pristine wilderness. It is situated between Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Capitol Reef NP and Bryce Canyon NP. It protects a huge area of southern Utah encompassing the Grand Staircase in the west, Kaiparowits Plateau in the east and the canyons of the Escalante.
You Adventure guys should check out an unpaved section just off 12 that is known as the Devil’s Backbone or Hell’s Backbone. It is a 38 mile gravel road that was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s which connects the towns of Boulder and Escalante. Halfway along the road is Hell's Backbone Bridge, which is 109 feet long and 14 feet wide. A 1,500-foot drop is on either side. Near the bridge are spectacular views of the Box-Death Hollow Wilderness. Reports say the road is not for the faint of heart.
As for me, I will stick to the pavement.
Utah is one of the most scenic states in the country. It boasts 5 national parks and too many national forests to name. A visit here to ride Utah 12 will afford you the opportunity to explore Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks very near Escalante. Or head over to Moab to see Arches National Park. Better yet plan a whole week in Utah and visit all 5 parks.
After you spend a week in Utah you’ll be saying, “Ole Buck was right about this one, too!”
The next article in the series is coming soon to the BMWMCON web site.
Here is the link to the GPX file: #6 Utah 12
#1 is the best road in my opinion so this is my list to this point:
#1 Beartooth Highway and the Chief Joseph Highway
#2 San Juan Skyway
#3 Pacific Coast Highway
#4 Going to the Sun Road
#5 Icefields Parkway
#6 Utah Highway 12
Google Earth Map of Utah 12