2009 Dodge Viper Long Term Road Test

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2009 Dodge Viper SRT10: Viperoadtrip in Arches National Park

July 15, 2010

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Though we had to be in Byers, CO, by noon the next day, we'd made enough time by this point in our trip with the 2009 Dodge Viper to allow a foray off of I-70 into Arches National Park, located in eastern Utah.

We arrived at the park late in the afternoon, which turned out to be good timing as it's hellaciously hot there this time of year. We paid the fee at the gate and headed up the road into the park.

This is a spectacular park in all senses of the word. The scenery is flabbergasting, like you're on some alien planet, and the signage and campgrounds are well maintained. You can drive and drive, or pull over at any one of the dozens of scenic views and trailheads. Bring a hat and lots of water. And sunscreen.

Since we arrived late in the day, the roads were sparsely traveled and the scenery wasn't all washed out in direct sunlight. Very pretty. Look around, or drive? The day was running out, sowe decided to doa bit of both. The roads farther up in the park are fast and smooth -- they play to the Viper's strengths. The Viper is not a pointy, sharp weapon, it's more of a nuclear warhead that you deploy with forethought.

The rhythm of the corners is such that third gear is all that's really required. It's like a giant rubber band you stretch and release as the rev rise and fall. This car has a ton of grip, and the forward visibility is actually fairly decent. And the brakes -- outstanding. Naturally, we had to wait forthe remaininglooky-loos to pull off before stretching the Viper's legs.

We pulled off at the far end of the road and did a quick walk up the mile-long path to the Delicate Arch,which, despite its placard description, has a decidedly not-timeless battle with gravity. It's only a matter of time before that sucker crumbles away completely. Check it out before it's gone.

As we descended back to the main road, the setting sun's tangerine glow washed over the park's plinths and pillarsas if to provide a visual cue to the ever-present tomblike silence. This is an eerily peaceful place.

Diversions like this one are what make roadtrips memorable. Try doing that on a plane.

Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor @11,966 miles.

Previous Viperoadtrip entries: first, second, third

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