Sometimes the southwestern states all get lumped into the same category—desert. If you've seen one lonesome desert highway, you've seen 'em all.
Well, that couldn't be further from the truth.
The American Southwest is downright massive, with dozens and dozens of exceptional rides in Utah alone. Today, let's take a peek at just ten of these worthwhile trips, and you'll see exactly what I'm talking about.
Utah is far more than endless desert. In fact, it's home to some of the best motorcycle rides in America.
1. Ogden River Scenic Byway
Ogden—Monte Cristo Campground
Highway 39 runs east out of Ogden through a valley before ascending up into more alpine terrain. The route is extremely diverse in terms of sights, and runs just long enough to keep you interested while not so long you doze off.
The byway's other other claim to fame is its incredibly out-of-place Trappist Monastery, secluded near the highway in Huntsville.
2. Provo Canyon
Follow US Route 89 north out of Provo and trek side-by-side the Provo river. Eventually, you'll head past some of Utah's top-notch fly fishing spots near Bridal Veil Falls and Alpine Wasatch Back beneath Mount Timpanogos.
The route exits the valley via Midway and Heber City back at US 189.
3. Mirror Lake
Mirror Lake Byway is one of the highest routes in Utah, and passes through a portion of the Uinta Mountains, real oddballs that run east to west instead of north to south.
Set against a backdrop of Uinta's snow-capped peaks, the byway also runs past Mirror Lake, a spectacular alpine lake surrounded by towering Bald Mountain and company.
This is sort of cheating, but the ride ends in Wyoming—I know, I know, not technically Utah. But you'll forgive me.
4. Eureka to Delta
Cross big, arid valleys. Climb lonely desert hills. Pass ghostly mining towns and incredible desert views, and give Fort Deseret a nod while you're at it—it's been keeping watch since 1866 and could use some company.
Utah's desolate Great Basin is calling.
5. Fish Lake Scenic Byway
Highway 25, from Highway 24 to Highway 72
Fish Lake might be the least inspired name for a lake you've ever heard, but damn if it isn't accurate—it's a lake full of fish.
But that's not why we're here. No, this drive is all about trekking through the high desert and alpine terrain surrounding Fish Lake, a hidden gem of an oasis stuck in the middle of the badlands.
6. Southwestern Desert
St. George—Littlefield, Arizona
Boring name, exciting ride. Start out in the wild frontier at the very edge of Utah, end in Arizona. Explore the fringes of the Mojave Desert and the region's iconic Joshua trees, the way our pioneer forefathers would envy—on a motorcycle.
Oh, and bring plenty of water.
7. Dead Horse Mesa
Highway 313—Dead Horse Point State Park
Dead Horse Mesa is one of the most iconic sites in all of America—it's the unofficial face of the Southwest, and you've probably seen pictures of the park a dozen times already.
This is a quick ride, and branches off from Highway 313 about 10 minutes north of Moab. Get your camera out, and see if you can do better than the countless photographers before you.
8. Bicentennial Scenic Byway
This one is a beefy high-desert haul. You want canyons? Here's some canyons. Bicentennial Byway is a grab-bag of attractions, from sweeping views of the Henry Mountains to the awesome Glen Canyon crossing.
The byway is also home to Natural Bridges National Monument which, as you can probably guess, is home to some badass natural bridges.
9. Capitol Reef
Loa—Hanksville—Goblin Valley State Park
The main spur here winds through Capitol Reef State Park, which boasts fantastic views everywhere you look. Exposed sandstone cliffs, weatherbeaten rock formations, you name it.
But keep your eye on the prize once you clear Hanksville. Keep on trucking a bit further and make it to Goblin Valley State Park and see some of the most surreal, alien-looking rock structures you've ever laid eyes upon.
10. Indian Creek Scenic Byway
US Route 191—Canyonlands National Park
Hop off Route 191 near Church Rock and head west into the Needles district of Canyonlands Park. Enjoy the red rock formations, adventure through sage plains, and finally wind up at Newspaper Rock.
The Needles represents just ¼ of Canyonlands' sprawling districts, but there's enough to see here that you should make a special trip.
The Desert's Best
These are just ten of Utah's best rides, but there are so many that we couldn't possibly cover them all in one post.
Much, much more than empty desert, right? But don't take my word for it. Get out there and explore!
And what about you? What are you favorite motorcycle rides in Utah?