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Old 10-07-2011, 01:59 AM   #44
RedRockRider OP
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Joined: Aug 2011
Location: St. George, UT
Oddometer: 1,480
Virgin River Gorge Overlook and Apex Mine Road

Great ride with Dad today. The weather in St. George has been a bit rainy (unusual). Today looked reasonable . . . and the cleaning ladies were coming. (It's Thursday.) Time to go!!!

Let's get to the pics. All rides start with gas. Good to top off, never know where you might go. We like the Maverick at the end of Indian Hills Drive. $5 buys a whole lotta fun.

For inmates following along, here's the map. A loop from the west side of St. George to Bloomington (on pavement, 3 miles), the dirt up to Blakes Lambing Grounds, the Utah side of the Virgin River Overlook, a high traverse road above Cedar Pockets Wash, drop down into Mine Valley (near Apex Mine), then out on the Scenic Backway (known locally as the Apex Mine Road). Hit pavement again on Old Highway 91 and return to St. George via Ivins and Santa Clara. Whole loop is about 40 miles. Very scenic. Great views down to St. George, across to Pine Valley Mtn (fresh snow today), and the red cliffs of Ivins. From many parts of this ride you can actually look down and see my house if you know where to look. The ride is relatively easy dirt except a few spots up high near the Virgin River Gorge. Mostly rocky, not much mud.

In Bloomington, look for Navajo Drive -- also a Mountain Biking area.

Inmates all like this sign -- the beginning of dirt. Only 10 minutes in . . .

Crossing the cattle gate . . . it's Utah, uh Utardia.

Dad on his Honda -- the perfect bike for him. And really a great bike for this kind of riding. Very maneuverable. Red cliffs of Bloomington just behind Dad. Lots of locals do target shooting in this area. And drink beer.

Some water in the road from recent rains, but easily avoided. Very little mud, mostly rock. Up high, some danger of washouts after large rain storms.

Dad working his way west, systematically gaining elevation. Note the sky -- nice and bright early in the day. It will turn ominous. We donned rain gear, but didn't really get wet. Very dramatic skies to come.

Signs. Gotta take a photo.

Clownin' around with Dad. Takin' a ADV-style pic . . .

Me and the WRR -- a great bike. Still sunny.

About halfway up to the Virgin River Gorge overlook. A few steeper spots with some loose gravel, all manageable. Pine Valley Mountain, now covered with clouds in background. West side of St. George below.

A few artsy, fartsy shots. We are now up in Blakes Lambing Grounds (small red lines on map), still some elevation gain to go. Big views all the back to Sand Hollow and the cliffs of Zion National Park in distance. Can start to see the edge of the Virgin River Gorge.

Power lines are the reasons for some of these dirt roads. Looking west (direction of travel). Sky is clear.

Several little intersections up here. No signs. Garmin also doesn't really work. Just have to explore. I have been on just about every track in the area. Today's ride was all territory we have done before (many times). If you don't know which way to turn at these intersections, you can get dead-ended.

You could get lost or ledged out. I've been up here once or twice after dark. Every ride report should feature a mirror shot and the ADV salute. Cheers, inmates!

Gathering clouds. Fantastic views. Havin' a great time with Dad. Crossing one of the last cattle gates.

Up high. Red cliffs of Ivins in background.

Dad approaching the Virgin River Gorge Overlook. On the map, this is just past the part I highlighted. Still very doable. Other overlook spots are trickier.

At the overlook. Have seen Rocky Mountain Sheep at this exact spot. They drop down the cliff-like sides into Cedar Pockets Wash as soon as the motos appear.

RedRockRider arrives.

And the photo with no helmet. I-15 is barely visible 2000-3000 ft. below. You can hear the trucks. Today, the Virgin River was more noticeable -- murky brown with lots of run-off.

Me and Dad. No helmets!!!

Time to go. Gettin' cloudy. Now we are looking north. On the map, we'll travel along a high traverse road above Cedar Pockets Wash, eventually dropping down into Mine Valley, the Apex Mine Road.

Dad leaving the overlook.

Dark clouds below.

Still in sun, but stopping to put on raingear. It was looking ominous!

We were in good spirits with the darkening clouds. Great light.

On the high traverse road. Heading into the storm. Distant lightening strikes.

Jarvis Peak. Know locally as "Utah hill" -- very visible from western St. George.

Dad riding down into the storm.

Two of me. Good to have Dad along to take the photos. Thanks, Dad.

Last shot of the bike before dropping down into Mine Valley -- very near the Apex Mine.

Dad descending. Notice the trees. Some primitive campsites in this area.

On the Apex Mine Road. We are warm. Still no real rain, only a light, occasional squall. Still looks threatening!

Riding north, into darkening skies. Losing elevation. red cliffs of Ivins (ahead and below) are obscured by clouds.

During a break in the clouds you can see down to St. George. The low, flat, black mesa in the sun (just above the bike mirrors) is the Black Hill behind Shadow Mountain. My neighborhood is visible at the base of the hill.

A second shot, looking east, back down to St. George. Pine Valley mountain hidden in clouds.

Look closely. Dad descending with the White Hills as background. In sunny weather, this is spectacular.

Some clearing. We can see the cliffs of Ivins as we approach the Shivwits Indian Reservation and the end of the Apex Mine Road.

Leaving the Scenic Backway. Like all good ADVers, we stopped and took a pic of the sign (from the wrong direction). This is a great road and can be easily taken over Bulldog Pass and out to the pavement of Old Highway 91 south of Castle Cliff. Highly recommended!

At the same time, you enter the Shivwits Indian Reservation. Easy to see line on map. Nice bullet holes in sign.

Final pics on dirt. Dad approaching. Storm behind him to South.

From same spot, Dad passing and going North. Clear, sunny skies. We got lucky. No rain. Great skies. Great ride.

Final shot of my bike on dirt with storm clouds still hovering over Jarvis Peak (Utah Hill) in distance.

There is an abandoned processing facility once associated with the Apex Mine just several hundred yards from Old Highway 91. Facility is fenced with no trespassing signs, and also on Indian reservation land.

The intersection with Old Highway 91. From here it is a fast 20-30 minutes back into St. George via Ivins and Santa Clara.

Final artistic shots. Mostly to show the clear skies!!!

Chasin' Dad down the hill home. Always good to get an "idiot" shot, taking while moving at speed. Ride safe fellow inmates. Do some version of this ride if you can. Well worth your time.

Thanks for ridin' along. Give a shout-out if you're in St. George.

RedRockRider - WR250R, TW200, Versys, Vulcan 900 LT, Zuma 125

Southwest Utah: Dual Sport Riding from St. George

RedRockRider screwed with this post 10-07-2011 at 02:15 AM
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