The 120 mile stretch of Highway 12 from Bryce Canyon to Torrey, Utah was billed as one of the most scenic roads in the United States. We found this to be correct as we traveled the distance. Highway 12 passes by several state parks and a National Forest. It starts out with scenery similar to Bryce Canyon, then changes to desert, mountains and cliffs and finally ends up going through the Dixie National Forest, full of Pine and Spruce trees and climbing to an elevation of over 10,000 feet.
Along the way, we stopped for a ride through Kodachrome Basin State Park, with its colorful red sandstone "chimneys". We hiked in Escalante State Park and saw the petrified wood boulders there. We rode between Escalante and Boulder, a very windy road that at one point has a 1,000 foot drop off either side of the road. Fred had fun leaning through the turns, while Anita screamed in terror.
But the most incredible scenery we saw along this route was when we reached Capitol Reef National Park, approximately 9 miles from the end of Highway 12 on State Highway 24.
Red Cliffs at Capitol Reef National Park
The scenic road through Capitol Reef National Park takes you past beautiful red cliffs. One of these cliffs resembles the US Capitol Dome, which is where the park gets its name.
The Rental Harley at Capitol Reef National Park
A small Mormon community named Fruita existed in the park in the early part of the 20th century. Fruita was well known for its orchards. The farmers and families moved away but their heritage is preserved in this old log schoolhouse and the orchards, which are still thriving.
The Old Log Schoolhouse in Fruita
A few miles further down the road was a waterfall. The temperature was quite hot in this area of Utah so the waterfall proved a refreshing spot, especially for these children.
A favorite swimming spot
From Capitol Reef, we turned around and drove another 120+ miles back to Bryce. We put in quite a few miles that day but it was a very enjoyable ride. Unfortunately, our trip was almost over as we returned the next day to Arizona, and the town of Sedona.
Next segment of our trip. Return to 1996 Motorcycle Vacation page.