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Old 02-16-2014, 08:56 PM   #1
Stephenson OP
Joined: Jun 2011
Location: Colorado Springs, CO
Oddometer: 88
Thanksgiving Ride 2013 - AZ

Better late than never right!

Thanksgiving Ride 2013 a.k.a. Mudfest '13

The days before Thanksgiving, my brother-in-law Greg and I have been planning and riding 3 day dirtbike camping trips. This would be the third annual trip, this time adding our second brother-in-law Eric. He had been sitting at two different Thanksgiving dinners listening to our glorious rides, jealous he was not there. In 2013 he bought a bike, prepped, and was ready to join us for this years trip. Three CRF450x Hondas, loaded with camping gear, this time adding an extra day to get 4 days and 3 nights.

Day 1 New River to
For the 4 days prior to the trip, AZ experienced un-expected, unusual rain at least for that time of year. We spent the night before the trip trying to determine if we'd be able to cross the Tonto river where we expected. We used the river level site and looked at historical rainfall, etc... but most of all, we stayed up way too late. Anyway, we stuck to the original plan which was leave as soon as the rain stopped on Sunday morning. It was raining when we left somewhere around 9 am. We hit the dirt within 10 miles and realized the mud was going to be bad.

Eric had never ridden mud before, in fact he had just started riding in 2013. The mud was really slippery and I think he had been down probably a dozen times in the first 10 miles of the ride. This was not the type of conditions we had expected for his first ride!

It was clay consistency glued to your tires. We had two trials tires, and the bike in the front in the picture has a knobby... it really didn't matter. About to cross the sheep bridge over the Verde river.

It's a good thing Eric wore his rain/mud suit!

A little video of the mud --->

Sheep Bridge

Then after more unpredictable slippery dry looking but actually snot back across the Verde over the Horseshoe Dam

Eric is ready

Quick video of the Horseshoe Dam Crossing →

After this we took less pictures daylight was fading. We hit Fountain Hills for gas, groceries, beer, and dinner, we camped near Ironwood Wash. It was an unexpected really long first day, but overall great scenery. It was a cold night in the wash.

Day 2 Ironwood Wash to Young, AZ
From camp, over 4 peaks, into Tonto Basin, AZ for breakfast/lunch time to see if we would be able to ride across the river so we could get to Young.

Drying out the tents and gear.

We headed for 4 peaks it looked so far away and covered with snow

Video of the 4 Peaks road >

There was snow at the top, then the Roosevelt Lake on the other side, great views.

We felt good about the progress considering the first day's events. We gassed up and ate in Tonto, checked three different river crossings, and ultimately decided on Punkin crossing.

The crossing video →

Heading up the road towards Young got back into the mud. Here Greg is, taking a break.

We almost made a big mistake at the top of this hill by an old mining cabin on the way down a rocky mess, we ran into a guy on a rhino scouting deer. He said we'd just missed our turn about a half mile back near the cabin. We got the bikes turned around and headed back the right way. Then the mud returned in full force. Bike standing up on its own, no kickstand needed mud. Needless to say we didn't take too many pictures and it was dark at that point. Really dark, temp dropping! We determined we would stay at one of the two hotels in Young rather than camp that night, as long as we could make it out. After a few hours, we made it out to X road. It was snow covered and no one had been on it for at least a few days. We finally hit some solid dirt and made it to Young. It was 10 PM, nothing was open. It was also about 15 degrees and still dropping. Greg knew some people who knew that the Dead Broke Corall was the place to go he knocked on their door and they set us up a room for the night, a few beers, and some left over squash. The squash was important because we had a flank steak it would go with. It made for good grilled steak wraps after 12 hours of riding.

Day 3 Young, AZ to Roosevelt Resovoir

The TheDeadbroke Coral is a hotel/motel. The couple is in the middle of upgrading a building on the property to be a cool saloon style bar/hotel. Check them out, super nice people The next morning, they let us use a hose and some other tools to try and get the bikes cleaned up a bit. We had to at least remove the cement that was caked around the fork seals an such so we didn't have to drive frozen mud into the seals all morning.

My Ikea Sheep was dirty

Right in front of the Deadbroke

Gas again in Young Headed South through Cherry Creek Canyon on the way back towards Tonto Basin. We promised Eric we would take mudless roads. It was all a guess and of course, there was no way to avoid it.

Quick break

We hit another spot of unpredictable mud again, and found a great spot to split off for the 2nd half of the day. Eric hit the dirt road so he could secure a camping option near Tonto Basin, and Greg and I took the canyon. We planned to meet at 6 PM.

Canyon was really cool and Eric got a break from the mud.

Yet again, riding in the dark.

We met back up with Eric as planned at a perfect spot. They had a grocery store, restaurant, bar, and gas. All at the same spot. On top of that, there was BLM land about 100 yds from the bar where we could set up camp. Which ALSO meant, there was breakfast about 200yds from our tent. Considering it was again after 8PM, this was a very appealing option.

Dinner, Drinks, Camp good end to day 3

Day 4 Back to New River

Camp not too bad for a 10 PM find.

Spread at breakfast.

Back over 4 peaks. We'd already done it once now on the way home. It was just as good. Day 4 is again without many pictures. After 4 peaks, we hit some really good trails around Saguaro lake. Too bad we had 40 pounds of gear on the bikes we had to take is easy for fear of snapping the subframe. I'd like to trailer over there sometime to really get a chance to explore the single track at a faster pace! We then split again Eric headed home on the pavement so he could help assist my sister with Thanksgiving eve dinner. Greg and I were determined to head to Cave Creek to try and find a way through to New River. No luck on that connector trail, all private property. How do people just buy roads? Anyway, we then had to ride 50 miles of pavement back to the house. Day 4 complete. 459 miles complete. Awesome ride.

Due to the crazy conditions, this route was tougher than expected. The CRFs took an amazing amount of punishment and didn't miss a beat. I really like the bike, you can ride the road when necessary and they are a complete dirt bike which we absolutely needed. We had a number of exploratory routes that we could try given the chance. Next years trip will most likely be the same route, with different camp and alternate route options. The Deadbroke Inn will also be part of it, that was a great spot. Overall, AZ was fantastic again.
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Old 02-16-2014, 09:27 PM   #2
Joined: Jan 2014
Location: Aridzona
Oddometer: 28
Great report! I've always wanted to explore that area in between Roosevelt and Young but never had the chance.
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Old 02-17-2014, 05:16 PM   #3
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Joined: Sep 2010
Location: SODE- Colorado
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Awesome report - except many the whole mud situation!
Some day I l'll have to go do a ride in AZ.
aiMhi - Honda XR650R - AMA- RMAR
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Old 02-18-2014, 08:11 AM   #4
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Joined: Aug 2008
Location: Between Carson City and Topaz Lake
Oddometer: 478
Great report man...totally worth the wait.
Paul IBA #33
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Old 02-19-2014, 06:33 PM   #5
Stephenson OP
Joined: Jun 2011
Location: Colorado Springs, CO
Oddometer: 88

1. I forgot to thank Nightstalker - we reviewed quite a few of his ride reports and gpx files as well as having him review the route for any major problems before the ride. Thanks!

2. I forgot to post the first trip report from the second annual.. first annual is only memory - no report.
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Old 02-20-2014, 10:30 AM   #6
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Joined: Aug 2003
Location: Sunny Phoenix, AZ
Oddometer: 5,960
Great write up!!
2004 KTM 950 Adventure
2008 Honda CRF450X

North American
Ride Report Index and GPX files at:

Nightstalker rides North America 2007

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