motorcycle destinations

Best Motorcycle Roads and Destinations in Utah, United States

Best Motorcycle Roads and Destinations in Utah, United States

1. Introduction

Named after the Native American Ute tribe or “the people of the mountains,” the geography of the state of Utah is certainly full of treacherous mountains. Because it is also squished in between some of the dryer states like Arizona and New Mexico, Utah has large expanses of deserts dotting the landscape as well. While most would be intimidated by the rough and hostile environment, many motorcyclists are drawn to Utah because of the dangerous atmosphere.

If you are feeling brave and wish to spend quality time with your motorcycle, then a trip to Utah is perfect for you. Before heading out on your journey, you will need to figure out where you would like to go in Utah. There are plenty of paths friendly to motorcyclists in Utah that you may want to take advantage of.

Part of planning your Utah motorcycle trip also means familiarizing yourself with the state’s motorcycle laws and preparing the appropriate baggage to carry belongings.

This article will primarily summarize the roads and destinations in Utah that will put your operating skills to the test and allow you to create lasting memories with your motorcycle.

2. Roads and Destinations in Utah

2.1 Highway 9 - Zion Canyon

Highway 9 - Zion Canyon

Distance: 70 miles

Time: 1 hour 50 minutes

Start: Washington

End: Glendale

As you follow Utah State Route 9, you will eventually come across Zion Canyon with its valley full of mesas and rock spires. As you descend, you will travel alongside the Virgin River that cuts through the canyon.

If you have intimate knowledge of Western films, you may recognize the location where the movie “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” was filmed.

If you decide to stop in Rockville, you may get exposed to what life was like during the Old West and maybe get to explore the apple orchards if they are in season.

You will then find yourself beside the Zion National Park with its reddish sandstone cliffs towering above you. If you look carefully, you will notice the grooves in the Kaibab limestone caused by erosion that helped form the natural path that your road follows.

2.2 Mount Nebo Loop Road Run

Mount Nebo Loop Road Run

Distance: 44 miles

Time: 1 hour 21 minutes

Start: Payson

End: Nephi

One of Utah’s official scenic byways recognized by the Department of Transportation, you start with a slow climb up towards the Wasatch Mountain Range. The higher up you go, the narrower the road becomes. Not to mention you have to watch out for switchbacks that could be hidden in the shadow of the aspen trees.

This route will take you up to Mount Nebo and alongside the Wasatch Mountain Range. You will also be able to wind around North Peak which took Mount Nebo’s title as the tallest mountain in the area.

2.3 The Alpine Scenic Highway

The Alpine Scenic Highway

Distance: 23 miles

Time: 52 minutes

Start: Alpine

End: Wildwood

After departing Alpine, you get a view of the Timpanogos Peaks in the distance. As you get closer to the mountainous region, you may be able to stop by the Timpanogos Cave National Monument where you can explore the inside of the titular cave by taking a guided tour.

As you get closer to North Fork Ridge, you may want to pull off of UT-92 to travel up the hiking trails. If you reach the highest point, you may be able to take pictures of the clear waters at Cascade Springs below in the distance.

When you come down to Sundance, you will exit the Provo Canyon. You may catch a glimpse of the local wildlife on your way out such as deer, moose, elk, coyotes, and bears.

2.4 The Logan Canyon Run

The Logan Canyon Run

Distance: 39 miles

Time: 51 minutes

Start: Logan

End: Garden City

You might recognize the scenery from the Logan Canyon as it was used in pictures created for Sear-Roebuck catalogues. As you begin your approach to Logan Canyon, you will find yourself on wide roads making wide sweeps that circle around the Logan River.

When you reach Logan Canyon, you may try your hand at rock climbing and try to reach heights that are inaccessible by road. As you continue on your way, you will end up at a valley with the Tony Grove Lake nestled peacefully.

Pressing forward in the direction of Garden City, you will notice a sudden drop of temperature as you find yourself in the coldest place in Continental United States, Peter Springs.

2.5 The Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument Tour

The Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument Tour

Distance: 137 miles

Time: 3 hours

Start: Panguitch

End: Capitol Reef National Park

This route will take on a tour of the natural scenery of Utah due to there being a number of national parks and natural rock formations within the territory. You will get glimpses of cliffs, buttes, plateaus, mesas, and canyons.

Followed one after another by cliffs that progressively get larger, these form the “Grand Staircase.” The cliffs that make up the “stairs” include the Shinarump Cliffs, the Vermilion Cliffs, the White Cliffs, the Grey Cliffs, and the Pink Cliffs.

As you follow along the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, each row of sediment contains the remains of animals, plants, and minerals from a different era in time. The farther down you go, the more millions of years you travel back to.

When you leave the rocky natural sites behind, you will ride through the aspen forests of the Dixie National Forest, the largest national forest in Utah.

2.6 Burr Trail

Burr Trail

Distance: 67 miles

Time: 2 hours 7 minutes

Start: Boulder

End: Garfield County

As this trail cuts through a dry and barren desert landscape, you want to hydrate and fill your stomach before you head out. While still in Boulder, you should get a meal at Hell’s Backbone Grill & Farm.

When you leave the comfort of civilization behind, you will be alone with just your motorcycle and the unforgiving terrain. There are plenty of towering rock formations, but they provide little relief from the sun. You will have to be careful when descending into narrow canyons since switchbacks can surprise you.

While it can be a challenge to travel during the day, you will be rewarded if you stay the course until sunset. The dying light of the sun changes the color of the land and creates beautiful scenery along the dry river beds and against the surface of the rocks.

2.7 Journey Through Time Byway

Journey Through Time Byway

Distance: 65 miles

Time:1 hour 30 minutes

Start: Torrey

End: Escalante

Upon leaving Torrey behind, the elevation can change drastically as you enter the desert landscape. One moment you can be low with the dry patches of vegetation, then level with the juniper trees, and then climb while surrounded by aspen forests.

When you begin your ascent up Boulder Mountain, you may notice the reddish tint of rocks that originate from the La Sal Mountains. Be on guard when traveling upward as the sweeping corners may give you room to maneuver, but you will have to act quickly to clear them.

The most intense part of the route is referred to as “The Backbone,” a skinny road that travels near narrow ledges and hugs close to the rock faces surrounding you. It does not help that the sudden dips and rises in elevation make this section even more treacherous.

2.8 Wolf Creek Pass

Wolf Creek Pass

Distance: 68 miles

Time: 1 hours 25 minutes

Start: Francis

End: Duchesne

As you travel along the twisty mountain pass, you may find yourself at the top of the Duchesne Ridge. Because of the view it gives you, it is a great place to look for local wildlife. These may include deer, elk, moose, bears, and birds of prey.

If you happen to stop at Hanna, take a moment to stop by any of the cafés if you wish to enjoy a hot meal and hang out with other motorcyclists. The town of Hanna is famous for its burgers and fresh pies.

2.9 Big Cottonwood Canyon

Big Cottonwood Canyon

Distance: 16 miles

Time: 24 minutes

Start: Wasatch Blvd E, Utah

End: S Brighton Loop Rd, Utah 84121

The first thing you will see upon entering Big Cottonwood Canyon will be the narrow yet tall rock walls that almost seem like they are pressing in on you. While the route is elevated, it follows the path of the Big Cottonwood Creek down below. Be aware that there is an s-curve further down which will require you to slow down and put a large buffer space between you and any vehicles in front of you.

If you wish to take a break, you can find a rest stop at the Silver Fork Lodge and Restaurant. Besides the waiters bringing out delicious American delicacies, you can also take in the view of the Honeycomb Canyon.

2.10 Little Cottonwood Canyon

Little Cottonwood Canyon

Distance: 10 miles

Time: 20 minutes

Start: UT-210 & UT-210, Utah 84092

End: 10148 E Hwy 210, Alta, UT 84092

Both the smaller and younger counterpart to the Big Cottonwood Canyon, the Little Cottonwood Canyon has not experienced as much erosion. Besides retaining most of its shape, it also has plenty of greenery and white rocks decorating its surface.

As you continue to weave along the curvy roads, you will come across a notorious set of corners called “the Seven Sisters.” Renowned for being difficult to clear in one attempt unless you are a seasoned motorcyclist, they will push your motorcycle riding abilities.

Upon reaching your final destination, you can explore the Alta and Snowbird Ski Resorts if you decide to brave the trip during winter. You can also get some local food at the roadside food stand referred to as “the Kickstand.”

2.11 Cedar Canyon

Cedar Canyon


Distance: 57 miles

Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

Start: Enoch

End: Alton

It is recommended you do not attempt to complete this route unless you are confident in your motorcycle riding skills. Beside the unforgiving environment due to lack of greenery, the large frequency of sudden corners requires you to be always vigilant.

As you swerve near Cedar Canyon, you will find yourself enclosed by reddish rocky terrain while riding parallel to the Coal Creek. You will be surprised by the variety of color that makes up the multi-rock formations that make up the Cedar Breaks National Monument.

2.12 The Energy Loop

The Energy Loop

Distance: 75 miles

Time: 1 hour 35 minutes

Start: Huntington

End: Nebo School District

This loop travels along UT-31 which has plenty of clay buttes and an electric power plant situated along the sides of the highway. After you pass these sights, you will come across Hunting Creek which offers a good place to practice fly fishing.

When you leave your current highway for the UT-264, you will have to pass through a narrow alpine valley and then climb up a steep ledge overlooking a mountain meadow. Keep in mind that there is a sharp and narrow corner along this section as you draw closer in view of the mountain meadow.

When you see the yellow coal chutes and barren landscape, that is a sign that you are drawing closer to the town of Scofield. Scofield Reservoir is arguably the best fishing spot in Utah since it had been visited once by President George W. Bush.

3. Motorcycle Laws in Utah

Just as important as knowing where the most notable motorcycle routes in Utah are located, you also need to educate yourself on the motorcycle laws specific to the state. While complying with traffic laws is a universal rule that all motorcyclists in the United States have to follow, that is only similarity shared between states.

Each state comes with its own regulations regarding what kind of motorcycle safety gear needs to be worn, what equipment needs to be fitted on your vehicle, what are legal maneuvers to do on the road, and how to care for the wellbeing of your passenger. Some states are a bit more lenient about motorcyclist’s personal freedom and others are strict about motorcyclists respecting the rules of the road. Utah is no exception

Listed below are the essential Utah motorcycle laws that you need to know before setting out on a long motorcycle tour.

3.1 Helmet Laws

If you are below the age of 21, you are required to wear a motorcycle helmet approved by the Department of Transportation and that satisfies Utah’s state standards. Even if you are an adult over the age of 21, it is highly recommended you always put on a motorcycle helmet whenever you plan to go on a ride on Utah’s highways and roads.

It is best if you get either a three-quarter helmet or a full-face helmet. Make sure the motorcycle helmet you choose has a DOT sticker plastered on the surface and is easily visible.

To make sure that the motorcycle helmet you choose complies with Utah helmet laws, make sure to look for the following:

  • Has padded lining about 1 inch thick
  • Weighs at least 3 lbs overall
  • Has a hard outer shell with no visible signs of damage
  • Allows for peripheral view
  • Can be securely fastened with either a neck or chin strap
  • Provides eye protections (face shield, goggles, glasses)

3.2 Required Safety Features

For your motorcycle to be approved as street legal, it needs to be equipped with the necessary safety features to help relay your presence to other drivers, make it easier to be spotted, and be able to see at night. You should always find time to examine the condition of your motorcycle and provide maintenance wherever there are signs of damage. While in Utah, make sure that your motorcycle has all of the following features and that each of them are functioning properly:

  • Horn
  • Wheels
  • Tires
  • Handlebars (no higher than shoulder height)
  • Braking system
  • Controls
  • Head lamp
  • Tail lamp
  • License plate lamp
  • Stop lamp
  • Rear reflector
  • Exhaust system
  • Muffler
  • Turn signals (for models built after 1973)
  • Rearview mirror(s)

3.3 Lane Splitting Laws

Utah is one of the few regions in the United States where it is legal for motorcyclists to engage in lane splitting. Of course, it is only safe to ride on the dividing lines in between the rows of vehicles in traffic so long as certain circumstances make it safe to do so. You are only allowed to lane splitting if all the following criteria are met:

  • The posted speed limit cannot exceed 45 miles per hour
  • There must be two or more adjacent lanes pointed in same direction
  • All other vehicles around you cannot be moving
  • You cannot move faster than 15 miles per hour
  • Only attempt if there is enough buffer space between you and the rows of vehicles

3.4 Passenger Laws

If your passenger is below the age of 21, he/she is also required to wear a helmet while seated on your motorcycle. Besides that, there is no minimum age restriction.

If you wish to carry a passenger, your motorcycle must have additional features installed to help keep your passenger in place and ensure his/her safety. You either must have a seat that is big enough to fit two people or a separate designated seat for just the passenger. There must also be footrests so that your passenger’s legs are not left dangling while your vehicle is in motion. To help keep your passenger secure, you may also want to include handholds, though this feature is optional.

When determining whether it is safe for a younger passenger such as a child to ride with you, make sure your passenger can reach the handholds and footrests. They should be able to extend and move their limbs with little to no difficulty.

4. Motorcycle Luggage for Utah Touring Trip


Considering that Utah is 84,899 square miles, you should expect a lengthy motorcycle tour ahead of you, traversing across hundreds of miles of road cutting through rocky terrain. While you will primarily be spending time on Utah’s roads and highways, you may want to take breaks at rest stops or pull off the main trail to visit attractions that catch your attention. Times like these when your feet are back on solid ground, you should take the time to hydrate yourself, eat some snacks, or get additional clothing in case the temperature drops. However, to have access to such items, you will need the right motorcycle luggage to store all of the necessities. Listed below are a few examples of the types of baggage you may wish to acquire:

While they each may differ in terms of material and design, each type of motorcycle luggage provides a reliable means of storage. They all come with pockets arranged around their designs, straps that help them stay attached to your ride and aid in carrying them, and are sealed to keep out materials such as dust. Based on the quantity of items you plan to bring with you, you should carefully deliberate the type of motorcycle luggage best suited for the job.

5. Parting Words

Utah is blessed with large areas of wilderness that have been left untouched by people. Therefore, there is no shortage of natural beauty for you to admire while cruising on the bumpy or level paved roads. While you have read descriptions of the more well-known motorcycle roads and destinations in Utah, they hardly do the real locations justice. When you actually head out to weave the winding trails and stop to admire the views, you will happily find that the real experience was better than what you imagined. And that is not even the best part. There are plenty of newer roads and destinations in Utah that are being discovered every day. That means the list of places that motorcyclists can go to have adventures in Utah never truly ends.

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