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Mother of all breaks

Updated: Aug 3, 2019



Moab's a great destination... as all the hotels, motels and restaurants prove. Lots to do here

Tonight is my second night in the small town of Moab – which doesn't stand for "Mother of all Bombs" as my RAF-mate Martin insists. I think it's probably Biblical in origin. I'm here partly to kill time and avoid killing tyres but also partly because... well, I want to be here. I fancy a day without putting on hundreds of miles. I need a break and this is a nice town.


It also has two national parks outside - Arches and Canyonland - plus a state park, Dead Horse Point... Yes, this is the wild west. It's very civilised, though. There are heaps of motels and hotels and restaurants, plus shops selling trinkets to tourists and any number of companies offering tours - by jeep, ATV, raft, airplane... This is a proper outdoors tourist town, like Keswick but with even bigger scenery.


I aim, optimistically, to visit both National Parks. I've paid my $80 dollars for the annual pass that'll let me visit them both so I'm damn sure I'm going to get my money's worth... Except, of course, there's no way to pack two such vast visitor experiences into a single day. I start with Arches and even the approach road blows me away – if each National Park is a song that's been written to sing the praises of the natural landscape, this one has the best intro ever...



Squinting into the sun at Park Avenue, Arches National Park

The rest of the park is every bit as special. It's not as huge as the Grand Canyon, nor as strange as Bryce Canyon – but in some ways it's even better, because the crazy rocky desert has elements of both of the others, but they're right on top of you here. The landscape seems to get much more up-close-and-personal here. It's staggering, looming over me whenever I get off the bike. With huge rocks, patches of scrubby grass and stunted trees sprouting out of the sand, it's the kind of landscape where I half-expect to spot a young William Shatner fighting with a man in a rubber lizard mask.


As with the other National Parks I've visited, it's deceptively huge – it's 18 miles from the entrance to the Devil's Garden at the end of the park road, with spurs leading off in several places. The attraction of the place is its collection (if that's the word) of rock arches. After a chat with Phil (1990 Harley Evo) from Portland in Oregon, I stump through the Devil's Garden to see the Landscape Arch. It is spectacular and I'd be more impressed if I wasn't melting in the heat. Plus all the visitors here seem to be German. I stop just short of the arch, in case one of them's put a towel on it already...


The trail leads through the Devil's Garden to the Landscape Arch (just visible in the background)

Balanced rock (screen end). Nobody sneeze...

I spend hours here, without noticing the time ebbing away. I don't mind. As well as the Devil's Garden, I visit the Garden of Eden, the Tower of Babel... as well as the Three Gossips, the Parade of Elephants and more – for these are the names of the most notable and strange rock formations. Just as I'm preparing to go, my usual weather jinx strikes and there's a little rain – but it's just a shower and it's wonderful, cooling and refreshing after the oppressive heat of the afternoon. I get back to the motel just as the heavens properly open. Hopefully tomorrow will be a dry day, as I'm moving on – in search of tyres...





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SIMON WEIR
The Riding Guide