Originally Posted by HogWild
No plans to go there . . . yet. Should I aim for this thing being 5000 miles instead of 4000? Are you nuts?
We've all got a screw or two loose, or else we wouldn't even be here talking about any of this...LOL.
Not sure how you do it but here's my take: When I started looking at doing what you are already adept at in AZ here, I sort of overlayed maps in my mind, starting with the first one as a map of the major networks of singletrack trails south of I-40. As you do, I then isolate and lay out all fuel and food sources, and put them on the master map. Then, I look for the coolest routes of dualsport-style riding, forgotten mining roads, water drainages/sandwashes that can go between them.
When I do this in this order, the scenery and remoteness off of the tracks always just seem to fall into place. Lastly, once I know that remoteness is established in certain areas, I look for areas where a HP heading or three can be put in safely.
Sometimes, as you state, the access for chase vehicles and bivouacing throws a monkeywrench in the works, but it's usually not a huge force of compromises.
The areas you are looking at all have generally similar weather and temperature patterns, all being on the Colorado Plateu for the most part. The areas I'm talking about are tougher to schedule, because they can easily be snowed in for ~4 months of the year or way, way to hot to ride during the day for the opposite 4 months of the year. The reward is that from Young to Payson to Fountain Hills, for example, you go through multiple types of forests and get a full range of anythign from tight woods in the pine trees to wide open desert sandwashes.
You probably already know this, but the Coconino National Forest(most of Northern Arizona that is not State land, or reservation) just recently changed their policy for motorized travel to "Closed unless marked." It used to be the opposite, and when I was growing up in Flagstaff we could pretty much go where ever we wanted in the forest up there...perfect for rally training, but now it's gone...