There are numerous ways to explore Utah’s outdoors, but only on the back of a motorcycle can one achieve a feeling of…possession. After being tethered to an office and corralled by the grid of the city, there’s a satisfaction that comes with motorcycle touring, an affirmation in its promise: Here is the road. Own it.
Whether on a road bike, hugging the s-curves of scenic byways or a trail bike, rumbling through red rock canyons and aspen groves, motorcycle tours offer pleasing contradictions. Rough trails and luxury. Rebelliousness and civility. Release and control. The growl of an engine, the silence of wilderness.
These trips are also highly customizable. You can rent or ride your own bike. Trips can be enjoyed in any length depending on time, budget and distance. Organized tours can include lodging, meals, support vehicles and other activities, while self-guided tours include all the support information.
Kelly and Kim Peacock had been riding road bikes for years, exploring Utah’s wonders and traveling further and further away from home. After other riders began requesting travel tips, the Peacocks knew it was time to turn their passion into something more. In 2007, they started their touring company, Open Road Motorcycle Adventures. Today, the couple leads guests all around the Western Rockies. Their trips weave north through Yellowstone to the peaks of Glacier National Park and south, from Torrey to Escalante on Highway 12—a jaw-dropping byway Kelly says is on “the bucket list of roads.”
While Open Road offers a variety of pre-organized guided tours, they can also plan a custom trip. For others, the self-guided option is the way to go. These trips still include lodging, motorcycle rental, map, directions and dining suggestions, but the rider goes it alone or with his or her own group of friends or co-workers. “You can still feel like a lone wolf maverick,” says Kelly. “Yet, it’s almost like having a guide.”
Off the Beaten Path
For a trip that offers an escape beyond the asphalt and into the wilds, travelers can embark on an off-road motorcycle adventure. Elite Motorcycle Tours, headquartered in Moab, leads riders through some of Utah’s most spectacular and remote country. Riders can truly disappear for a few days, camping under the stars 50 to 100 miles from the closest town, under the guidance of trail- and wilderness-savvy experts.
Dale Parriott founded Elite in 1997 as an expert hobbyist turned professional. As the local go-to guy in off-road riding, and the man who knew where to go for the best legal, safe and breathtaking rides, Parriott spent most of his time giving tours for free. Now he runs tours from March through November, from $300 a person to $2,400, depending on the number of participants, number of days and individual needs. Elite takes beginners and pros to destinations all over canyon country.
Tours include everything a rider needs to have fun, from the bike, to the gear to luxury lodging and spa treatments at the end of the trail. Elite has partnered with The Gateway Canyons Resort, a five-star oasis east of Moab over the border in Gateway, Colorado. Business executives, which Parriott says comprise 80 percent of his clientele, can plan a night’s stay at the resort and incorporate a business function using one of the hotel’s meeting rooms. Elite will transfer whatever a client might need at the conference such as a slide projector and handouts.
But, if you’re looking to leave all that in the board room, Parriott says the most desired amenity his rides offer is total, mental freedom from the trappings of life and work. “If you’re on a jeep tour, you’re still able to think about work,” he says. “When you’re riding a dirt bike, you’re only thinking about riding that dirt bike. These rides put you into a totally different mindset.”
There’s a saying that goes like this: “Four wheels move the body. Two wheels move the soul.” Maybe it’s time to lose a couple wheels.
Elite Motorcycle Tours
2 Riders: $700 ($350 per person)
6 Riders: $1800 ($300 per person)
Point to Point Trips (3 days/4 nights)
2 Riders: $4400 ($2200 per person)
6 Riders: $8888 ($1482 per person)
Discounts for bringing own approved bike.
Open Road Motorcycle Adventures
Self-guided: Start at $2,500
Guided, 5-day: Start at $3,200
Guided, 15-day: Start at $8,000
Custom: Cost depends
Discounts for bringing own approved bike.