|06-02-2013, 10:16 AM||#1|
Joined: Dec 2007
Location: Abq NM
Grand Canyon et. al. Megatrip RR
This was a 10 Day ~2200 mile loop from New Mexico to the east and north rims of the Grand Canyon,
southeast Nevada, southern Utah, southwest Colorado and back to NM.
We had 11 riders - 2 KLRs, 5 KTM 690s, 2 KTM 990s, 1 Suzuki DR 650, and 1 Suzuki SV650 (highly modified).
The goal was to ride mostly dirt roads with a fair sprinkling of challenging primitive roads.
We are a bunch of old farts who stay in motels and eat in restaurants along the way.
FWIW, here is a big picture map of the trip.
There’s more trip history, links, and other logistical info at the end of this segment.
Day 1, - Albuquerque, Los Alamos, Santa Fe, Taos, to Chinle
We gathered the group from Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Taos, and Los Alamos New Mexico in the Jemez Mountains.
We do a lot of riding in NM, so I didn’t take many pictures of the first day on this trip, but I included some from other rides.
Took some nice roads thru the Jemez Mountains including FR 534 (one of the best):
Then thru the desert to Chaco Canyon. We didn’t stop this time. Ruins pics are from another trip.
We had a 300 mile plus day planned to get to Chinle.
Leaving Chaco we took a great easy primitive road east onto the Navajo Rez.
We try to do this road every chance we get.
Took more dirt and paved roads to Chinle. Stopped for gas at Sheep Springs, NM
Day 2, Chinle to Marble Canyon.
Didn’t stop at Canyon de Chelly this time, but again here are some pics from a previous trip.
From Chinle we took a series of only mildly interesting paved roads and dirt roads to a beautiful remote canyon
called Moenkapi Wash northeast of Tuba City
We looped back south to Tuba City for gas and then headed for the east rim of the Grand Canyon.
The ride west of US 89 is part of the unofficial Great Western Trail and it will also be included in the
Arizona Back Country Discovery Route.
You are supposed to get a permit from the Navajos to ride on any dirt road in the Navajo Nation.
We didn’t and we didn’t get caught.
We generally followed Crawdaddy’s Loop of the Grand Canyon tracks in this area.
We only went to one overlook - Nanoweap Falls. The ride there was thru a maze of easy primitive roads,
and navigation was a bit difficult – even with GPS tracks.
We spent the night at the Marble Canyon lodge just across the Navajo Bridge over the Colorado River
and next to the Lee’s Ferry where raft trips start from.
(RR to be continued)
But here's some related information
All of my pictures are here:
GPS tracks are posted on GPSXchange.com and DualSportMaps.com. The tracks are heavily commented
as to quality of the various roads we took.
This trip was a follow-on to a similar trip we did from NM to Death Valley in 2010.
That trip worked so well and was so much fun, we decided to do another one.
Here is the RR for the Death Valley trip
We first tried to do the Grand Canyon trip in fall 2011. It ended after less than one day in a mud disaster
outside Chinle AZ. We ended up having to be rescued by the Navajo Police.
Two of us destroyed our clutches in the process.
Here is the RR for that little adventure:
A month later 3 of us did the eastern half of the Grand Canyon trip.
We did not go to the Grand Canyon because we didn't have time but just rode the 4 Corners area.
Pics are here:
Day 3 Marble Canyon to Kanab UT
(RR to be continued)
wbbnm screwed with this post 06-03-2013 at 04:26 PM
|06-03-2013, 04:07 PM||#4|
Joined: Dec 2007
Location: Abq NM
Let's see I think I was up to Day 3.
Day 3 Marble Canyon to Kanab - more Grand Canyon
We headed out on pavement and then picked up another leg of the Great Western Trail. This time we were following
Countdown’s tracks. We took a very nice medium difficulty dirt road down to the canyon rim to an overlook.
There was one mildly difficult rocky uphill along the way. Here is the landscape at the top:
The last guy layed his bike over and, since nobody was around or knew it happened, had to remove his pack to lift the bike
- the SV650. Here is the group helping him retrieve his pack
Next was the Grand Canyon overlook at 27-Mile Rapids.
We then continued west to another canyon overlook . This was slightly disappointing since we couldn’t see the river.
Guess I didn’t take any pictures. I was too busy scrambling over rocks trying to get a good view.
Then we went west to the Kaibab National Forest still following the GWT. The road from the desert up into the mountains
was long, rocky, steep, with a lot of switchback turns. This road didn’t improve much on top. So it was another fun ride.
Here is a section about 10 miles southeast of Jacob Lake after things got easier.
We got gas and a snack at Jacob Lake. There were a lot of people there since the north rim of the Grand Canyon
had just opened the day before. Then onto the part of the Great Western Trail up north to US 89. This part of the GWT
is very official and there are lots of signs for it. This was a nice road thru the forest that later descended back down to desert.
I had some bonus loops in the ride plan for more of the GWT north of 89. But it was getting late and we were hot and
tired, so our group didn't take it. Just took the highway into Kanab for the night.
Our second group took the shortest loop and said it was an easy road.
Day 4 Kanab to Mesquite via Toroweap overlook of the Grand Canyon
The Toroweap visit was the highpoint of the trip. We had tried to get here on the Death Valley ride but had to turn
back due to mud.
The Mt. Trumbell road down to Toroweap was pretty easy for the first 40 miles or so.
But the last two miles got a little harder – rocky with some small steep uphills and a few really nasty silt puddles.
In fact on the way out 2 guys crashed in one of these puddles.
Coming into Toroweap
And some views of the canyon itself.
If you look close, you can see a few rafts coming down the rapids in this one.
The next obligatory tourist stop in this area was the Mt. Trumbell schoolhouse. Took a really nice forest road
thru the Mt Trumbell area over here. The original schoolhouse was burned down by vandals and this is a replica.
Amazingly it was not locked, and there was a lot of cool stuff inside.
After the schoolhouse the road deteriorated but wasn’t difficult. But we immediately encountered about 6 fence gates
about a mile apart that had to be dealt with. Next we went thru the Nutter Twists road and Hidden Valley.
I had been intrigued by the name "Nutter Twists" since I started planning the trip and was anxious to see what it was.
It turned out to be a rugged road along a stream bed in a beautiful canyon. The first part was kind of rugged but not hard.
We had decided to take the southern route to Mesquite which I had heard was more challenging
than the northern one. After the junction the road got worse again but was rideable.
It was just a long hot grueling ride.
This is just before the aforementioned hard part.
The western part of the Nutter Twists was noticeably harder than the east. The road was a lot more primitive.
At one point there was a really bad looking steep ledgy downhill. It might have been a little hard to get up this,
but there was a reasonable line thru it.
The signs said we were heading for something called Pakoon Basin.
I guess this might be it. But it wasn’t marked when we got there.
By this time the road had improved some.
A few miles after this the road improved again. We climbed up about 2000 ft to get thru Lime Kiln Pass
and then down the alluvial plane into Mesquite NV for the night.
(Well the RR stuff is making my head hurt. More in a day or so.)
wbbnm screwed with this post 06-03-2013 at 04:23 PM
|06-05-2013, 02:52 PM||#7|
Joined: Dec 2007
Location: Abq NM
BTW we often rode in two different groups. One group wanted to keep moving and the other stopped for a beer a couple of times during the day. Dave carried beer and ice in one of his hard saddle bags.
Day 5 Mesquite to Alamo NV
One of the highlight of the day was doing Pony Reservoir road which took us from Kane Springs road over to Carp road. This was a really primitive tough road up the streambed of a narrow canyon that doesn’t show up on a lot of maps. I had doubts we could get thru, but it turned out to be a tough fun ride.
And certainly worth a beer.
The guys were even willing to stand still and pose for a group pic.
Next up was the Delamar dry lake bed. The surface was perfect – hard and smooth as
glass. Not many of the guys had riddent one of these and everybody loved it.
It’s not very good, but here’s a long distance pic of guys riding on the lake.
After this we went on into Alamo for gas and to check into motels. I had another 40 mile
loop planned for later in the day. But after 4 grueling days most guys just wanted to hang
out and drink beer – including me. A couple of guys did want to go out. But we ended
up getting a fair amount of rain, more than would have been comfortable to ride it.
There was an Iron Butt ride going on the next day. Several of the riders stayed at our
motel, theWindmill. They had some awesome machines with lots of extra fuel storage.
They had learned there would be only one NV State Patrol on duty that day due to some
event in the west side of the state. Their objective was to complete and document as
many miles as possible in like 24 hours. Their routes were personal and secret.
Day 6 Saturday May 18 Alamo to Cedar City
Still nice and cool. We took a nice moderate road out of Alamo and then over to the
good Alamo Canyon road
We then got on a really fun primitive road that was pretty easy. Then on to the Delamar
mine for a long picture taking break. I had read a lot about this mine when I first
planned the trip back in 2011, but forgot everything I read.
Took a nice primitive road getting out of the mine area to the west. Then a great road
thru the forest over to Elgin.
Here is the historic old schoolhouse at Elgin NV.
We then went up Pennsylvania Canyon. I had been a little worried about this being too
hard and had even worked up a go-around. But it turned out to be a difficult but
makeable fun primitive road with lots of steep rocky uphills and then stream bed riding
up to the Mt. Ella lookout. Here are some pics from the top looking back down at the
And one looking up at the lookout and towers.
A few from the lookout tower.
Looks like I don’t have any more pics from this day. But after the lookout we continued
|06-07-2013, 04:09 PM||#8|
Joined: Dec 2007
Location: Abq NM
Day 7 Cedar City to Escalante
Took paved UT 14 out of Cedar City. The original plan was to take UT 148 over thru Cedar Breaks and Brian Head and then 143 down to Panguitch lake. But a couple of guys we ran into at Jacob Lake said 143 was closed. When we got to the top of the mountain it turned out 148 was closed, so maybe I misunderstood them.
Anyway I had known we couldn’t get thru for a couple of days so I plotted a backup route. We went down to the Duck Creek area and picked up the Mammoth Creek forest road heading north out of there.
Here we are somewhere between Duck Creek and Panguitch Lake
After waiting a while and even sending Johnnie back there was no sign of the beer
group. So we continued on.
Got on a great primitive road thru the forest into Panguitch for gas and a nice lunch. The
weather turned bad. It was windy cold and seriously threatening rain. We considered
slabbing it for a while, but weather actually looked pretty good over where our next dirt
So we took a nice gravel road out town. But it turned into dirt and looked pretty bad mud
due to a very recent heavy rain. We tried it for a few hundred yards. Terry
went down on his 990, so we turned back. Terry had to walk the bike for a few hundred
yards back to the gravel. We then slabbed it all the way to Escalante, our next stop. We
could see it had rained hard with standing water in the road.
One of the highlights of the day was going to be Casto Canyon. The road appears very
primitive on maps. But when we went by the road to it, there was actually a sign. A
Gordon and Jon rode up to the canon and said it looked like an established ATV trail. So maybe next time.
Weather was nice in Escalante and after checking into the motel 3 of us went backwards
on the dirt road we would have come in on. This road went up to 9200 ft and I had been
concerned about snow. But we actually went up to 10,500 ft before we encountered any
snow. This was an out-and-back side trip.
Later the beer group came in. Dave’s battery had failed. They spent 3 hours
troubleshooting it and ended up buying a new battery at an ATV store in Duck Creek (on
a Sunday in Utah).
All in all this day was a bit of a bust with the snow closures, rain, mud, and the battery problem. But we had been incredibly lucky on this trip.
Day 8, Escalante to Blanding
We took UT 12 over to Boulder. This is a spectacular ride. At one point the road runs
along a hog back with slick rock canyons on both sides. Next was the Burr Trail. The
first 25 miles are so are paved. I didn’t stop until near the end. Some of these pics are
from another trip as you might surmise from the fall foliage.
Going down the Burr Switchbacks:
At the bottom of the switchbacks looking back at the Capital Reef Waterpocket Fold
Next we took the Notam-Bullfrog road about 10 miles south and then headed east
towards Hite Marina on what I call the Eggnog road. We could see some nasty lookng
rainstorms brewing over the north end of Lake Powell. So I wanted to get thru here
before they hit. The road is pretty good, but there is no pavement bail out for a long time.
Crossing Bullfrog creek
We then took Woodruff road along the top of a mesa along the eastern side of the Henry
mountains. This road has great view of some red slick rock canyons down near Hite.
Stopped for gas and snacks at Hite Marina. The convenience store was open. But the
lake was so low that boats could not be launched from here.
Next onto Wooden Shoe road heading east towards Blanding. Another nice scenic road.
After maybe 25 miles this road starts climbing up to Elk Mountain. It had been freshly
graded and was a little difficult to ride. Gordon fell on his SV and broke a clutch lever.
He was able to continue on the dirt road to about 10 miles from Blanding. Then he and I
bailed down to 95.
Elk Mountain road thru here is a good road but had a lot of loose gravel. The gravel
combined with about a 30 mph crosswind made for some interesting riding along a
couple of exposed ridge tops.
(to be concluded next time)
|06-09-2013, 09:52 AM||#9|
Joined: Aug 2011
Location: St. George, UT
Lots of great territory. Appreciate all the effort with pics and write-up.
Always creates a wish list of more places to ride.
RedRockRider - WR250R, TW200, Versys, Vulcan 900 LT, Zuma 125
Southwest Utah: Dual Sport Riding from St. George
|06-09-2013, 10:26 AM||#10|
Joined: Jan 2007
Location: Now serving just Snohomish County
Sweet report! Thanks for sharing.
That mud picture from your previous ride in NM reminds me of a ride I did long ago from Page to Escalante over Smoky Mountain Road and then back to Page on Cottonwood Canyon Road. We got turned around on Cottonwood Canyon Road a few miles north of 89 by mud sticking to our tires like that. We were so close to freedom after a long battle with the mud. My buddies 640 LC4 had so much buildup that the engine did not have enough power to turn the rear wheel. Had to go back up to Tropic on Hwy 12 and then slab it all the way around on the highway. It was a long ride. We even got hailed on. The stretch of 89 north of Kanab was beautiful that day! That was one of my first dual sport adventures.
|06-09-2013, 02:14 PM||#11|
Joined: Sep 2002
Location: Corral de Tierra CA, Ketchum ID
Thanks for the link to get here (RRR), got to check it out on something bigger than my phone!
|06-09-2013, 02:19 PM||#12|
Missing Two Wheels
Joined: Jan 2008
Location: Rio Rancho, NM
Very cool ride Bill!
Trailwerks - NMOHVA Recreation Resource Director - Together, we do more!
2008 WR250R, 2004 450 EXC, 2008 690
"No battle was ever won by spectators, was it?" - George Smiley in The Honourable Schoolboy by John Le Carre
|06-10-2013, 01:56 PM||#13|
Joined: Dec 2007
Location: Abq NM
Day 9 Blanding to Durango
(I hardly took any pictures of the last two days, probably because we were getting back to familiar territory and getting close to home. But I will try to describe the route and the quality of roads we took and sneak a few pic from other trips.)
Took Perkins Ranch good gravel road south and east out of Blanding over to Montezuma
Creek canyon and road, another good gravel road. Then east into Squaw Creek canyon
for a mile or so.
Found a nice primitive road up to the top of a mesa at Bug Point. And there were a lot of
bugs, so many that we cut our break short. Then a bunch of good gravel section
line county roads to Dove Creek for gas and lunch.
We then picked up the western Colorado portion of the TAT heading southeast out of
Dove Creek. More gravel section line county roads for several miles. Then we went
down into the Delores river valley and crossed the river.
Next onto FR 521. This is another good road but with lots of loose gravel. Scenery is
mostly so-so - an exception being a great view of snow on the San Juans off to the east.
I think I will look for a more interesting route next time thru here. I don’t need any more
We found a dirt county road heading east and took some nice dirt roads nearly all the way to Durango. One of them was of the fun primitive variety
On the last dirt segment it looked like the road had been watered. I went on and so did Steve. After a mile or so I realized it wasn’t water, but they had spread Mag Chloride to keep down the dust. Everybody else had realized this immediately and turned back at the start of the “watering”. So when we got to the motel in Durango we all studiously washed the corrosive coating off the bikes.
Day 10 Durango to home – various points in New Mexico
We took paved county backroads out of Durango down thru Ignacio and along the west
side of Navajo Lake. Then east on 64 a ways to a good county dirt road into the oil and
gas fields. The planned route took us on one very primitive road and then failed.
The planned road just didn’t exist. It would have had to go straight up a vertical cliff on a
big mesa. So we plotted a go-around to the south. Somehow we were going to have to
get to the top of that mesa to get where we wanted to be in the Carson NF.
After a while we could see a road going up and about then we came up on an old rancher.
His first words when he saw the first two of us ride up were “I’m packin, I’m packin”.
And when the rest of the group came up he said “I’m packin a machine gun”.
I took off my helmet and soothed his fears. He told us how to get to the top of the mesa
and to get where we wanted to go. He wanted to hear all about our trip. At the end he
said if this was some kind of charity thing, he would be glad to contribute.
So up into the forest for a nice ride south. Here we are near the southern end of the road.
Those are my last pictures. We went down to Gallinas for gas. Turned out it was a
little over 150 miles from gas in Durango which was stretching it for some of the bikes.
By this time we were shedding riders left and right as they took different routes home.
We also left the beer group in Gallinas.
We took FR 103, 315, and 144 thru the north Jemez mountains in the Santa Fe NF. This
was a really nice ride and one we do a lot.
Stephen and Greg left me when we got to 144. And I ended up riding the rest of the way
home alone. I did get a hankering for a beer at San Ysidro and stopped to buy some and
drank a tall one in the parking area of the nature trail.
I got home about 6 pm.
In summary this was a fantastic trip. We were very lucky not to have any serious
injuries, bike problems, or route diversions. I sensed there was a strong desire in the
group to do this again sometime in the not too distant future.
|06-10-2013, 08:15 PM||#15|
Joined: Jul 2007
Great trip and great report.
"Get yourself to the hills and be uplifted, assuming you got some good knobbies"
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