Our very first weekend with the 2020 Polaris Slingshot R, we went touring in the Batmobile! It was starting to get cold up north, so we headed into southern Utah for a trip along picturesque Highway 12. That put us within spitting distance of the world famous Zion National Park, so we took that route home the next day. The Slingshot was an excellent companion for it. Please don’t forget to support us for just $1 a month over at Patreon. We don’t sell anything so every dollar counts!
|Review Model||2020 Polaris Slingshot R|
|Review Dates||October 14, 2020 – November 5, 2020|
|Price Point||Starting at $30,999 US MSRP|
|Reviewers||Eric and Carrie Leaverton|
Touring in the Batmobile on Highway 12 in the Polaris Slingshot
Highway 12 is one of Utah’s premier scenic routes, and if you’ve toured Utah, that’s saying a lot. It runs 130 miles from Torrey at the northeast to Highway 89 in the southwest. Much of that length is twists and curves, with steep changes in elevation throughout. The road winds through several different types of geographical areas and formations, each one more breathtaking than the last.
In the northeast, you’re traveling through bulbous, towering rock formations that look like petrified coral. It may or may not be, I’m no geologist. Scraggly pine trees and low, gnarled juniper blanket the entire region.
Moving south by west, the bulbous rock gives way to steep, treacherous spires of rock that jut up from impossibly deep valleys. The road races over narrow spines of stone while steep cliffs fall away on either side. The sheer enormity of this region is stunning. Awe inspiring. A hundred other adjectives that will fail miserably to convey these natural earthen cathedrals. It will make you feel small, it will make you feel fragile. It will make you feel glad there is gas in your tank and bottled water in your storage compartment.
Not that you’re in any real danger of being stranded out there. Hundreds of thousands of people swarm this area all the time while the weather is good, taking advantage of the all the hiking, biking, fishing, and camping opportunities. Every scenic overlook is crammed with cars, and in the Calf’s Creek region hundreds of cars line both sides of the road.
As you move further south and start to angle west, the deep caverns and spires of rock fall away. They are replaced with low rolling hills and smooth, stunning red rock covered in pine forests. The road still winds and twists, but with very little change in elevation. This area is called Red Canyon, and it lives up to it’s name.
In the Slingshot
Our 2020 Polaris Slingshot R was a wonderful companion for touring Highway 12. Temperatures can vary wildly during this time of year in southern Utah, so we brought lots of layers to shed or don as the sun rose and fell. The large storage compartments behind the seats made it easy to take all that along. And not just those either. We also carried our overnight bag and extra clothes, and as always a bag full of camera equipment.
The Slingshot carried more than just our stuff though. It also carried us. And it did a great job. Crisp handling, comfortable seats and suspension, and the powerful 2.0L Prostar motor all combined to make Highway 12 one long collection of smiles and grins. Wind protection was excellent too, though our full-face helmets contributed greatly to that. The only real downside we noticed came from the low and wide-open nature of the cockpit. Pulling off the road for pictures would invariably kick up clouds of dust, so the inside was constantly covered in a thin film of dirt. Picturesque Utah red dirt of course, but dirt. It didn’t have any ill effects, but it was tough to stay clean.
“…the smell of grilling ribeye and the crisp clinking of beer bottles “
We stayed overnight in the small town of Panguitch. Our hotel, the Mariana Inn, was a quaint western-themed affair with cabins, porch swings, and a huge covered wood patio that was undergoing renovations while we were there. Our room was clean and comfortable and the water was hot, the staff was friendly and engaging and the other clients were all very friendly and talkative too.
The Mariana has a large charcoal grill at the back of the parking lot for guest use, and we used it! A quick trip to the local grocery secured us a fat ribeye steak, microwave mashed potatoes, macaroni salad and a fresh green salad too. We also bought a bag of charcoal, of which we donated the portion we didn’t use to whoever used the grill next. All that fit in the Slingshot too of course, since we left all our other stuff in the motel room.
Once we were settled in we unloaded our groceries and started up the grill. We made several friends that night, mostly thanks to the Slingshot. Everybody who walked past it had to ask us about it, and we spent a lot of time explaining it’s features and details to a parade of people. Of course, the smell of grilling ribeye helped.
“…Breathtaking. Awe inspiring. Awesome. Amazing. Magical”
A Change of Plans
Until we sat down that night for a live Facebook chat with all of you, our plan was to go back the way we had came the next morning. There is some debate among our friends whether Highway 12 is best experienced north to south or south to north. We were going to do both back to back and put the discussion to rest.
Instead, though, we discovered the Slingshot was so comfortable for a long tour, we decided to head further south and ride through Zion National Park on our return trip. This added about 2.5 hours to our journey home — along with a $25.00 toll — but in the Slingshot that’s nothing.
The only downside was, we missed out on Burr Trail Road, which came highly recommended by a colleague. Sorry Sarah! We intended to hit Burr Trail on the way home, but we’ll do it some other time for sure. As it turns out it may have been for a best. We were told by an old biker we were chatting with on a gas stop that there were about three motorcycle magazines doing photo shoots on Burr Trail Road that weekend. It might have been standing room only.
So, back through Zion National Park!
Zion National Park
Zion National Park is, of course, world-famous. And for a reason. I’ve already used all the adjectives you’d use for a place like this. Breathtaking. Awe inspiring. Awesome. Amazing. Magical. Wait, I didn’t use magical yet! Either way, all of these and none of them are sufficient to describe Zion.
Towering red rock cliffs with crags and arches inlaid, giant cathedrals and valleys of undulating stone shot through with pine and juniper forest. Vistas of unimaginable, dramatic beauty that boggle the mind. It’s almost too much to look at. It makes your chest hurt if you stare too long. Unless you’re going to stop and hike, though, you wont get to look for long.
Touring in Slow Motion
The trouble with world-famous places is, the whole world comes to see them! Another colleague of ours described Zion as “the conga line”, and he was not wrong. The entire 10 or 15 miles through the heart of the park is a slow 25mph crawl around hairpin curves and deep sweeping corners. Once you reach the tunnel it slows even further, nearly bumper-to-bumper in sections.
Zion doesn’t have to be like that. If you’re into hiking or biking, you eventually park your car somewhere and take off on one of those activities. There’s also shuttles you can ride into the park from the nearby communities. What I’m sure of, though, is driving end-to-end through Zion in a car is not the best way to experience the park.
“…hairpin curves and deep sweeping corners.”
But You See, In a Slingshot
The Slingshot makes it marginally more fun than a car would though. The cockpit is so open and airy, your view is totally unimpeded. Even in our convertible, your view is obstructed below shoulder level because it still has doors and sides. The Slingshot is just a pan slung between three wheels, and it lends itself to site seeing.
Such epic scenery demands an equally epic soundtrack. The Slingshot R comes standard with the exceptional Rockford Fosgate audio system, and we used Bluetooth to stream music from Carrie’s Galaxy S20. It sounded great, even inside full-face helmets, and worked flawlessly.
The Sprint Home
After all the excitement of Highway 12 and Zion, the trip home didn’t have much to offer. We put all three of our tires squarely on the slab and took Interstate 15 back to our home in northern Utah. Much of that stretch is an 80mph speed limit, which our Slingshot did happily and easily. Comfortably, too. Nothing about that exposed run up the I-15 corridor was unpleasant or taxing in that fun little three-wheeled roadster.
End to end and top to bottom, our weekend tour is the Slingshot was exciting and rewarding.
Please don’t forget to support us for just $1 a month over at Patreon. We don’t sell anything so every dollar counts!