Rides & reports of motorcycle adventures..


Grand Canyon overnight, 6/3/08

Sedona to Grand Canyon, 6/3/08

We started in Sedona. Jim trucked his bike over & left his truck at my house. We met Tom & headed up oak creek canyon. It was about 9am. It's about 15 miles up the canyon to fs 535.

This stretch to williams was a good, fun ride. There were a lot of hard ruts, & Kim did clip a tree (the tree won). But overall we cruised through the pines & enjoyed the cool air & nice views.

The riders:

Jim, Scotty, Kim, Tom.

We rode up to garland prairie, a wide open meadow covering hundreds of acres. Unfortunately, where we came out, there was a sign & gate.. but the sign was on the other side, so we went through it... these are hard boiled arizona mavericks we're talking about.. open range types..

It was an easy ride on graded roads back into the pines & into williams.. the gateway to the grand canyon.

We went for the quick lunch, gassed up & headed to the back roads.

The next 50-60 miles were great roads.. rocky, rutted, windy.. Jim could open up his crx, with Tom & Kim in hot pursuit. I plodded along, bringing up the rear. There were several intersections where i had made waypoints to plot our way. But after a while, we encountered another of a dirt rider's greatest fears: A locked gate. The road on the gps went north to the next waypoint. But the fences & gates wouldn't let us through. We rode along the fence for a while, looking for another road, or a way through. But we had to double back, & take another road. this one didn't go north, either, but took us back to hwy 64, the paved road between williams & the grand canyon.

The san francisco peaks in the distance..

By now, it was around 4pm, so rather than ride into more unknown roads with unknown gates & locks, we opted to take the pavement the rest of the way.. about 40-50 miles.

We gassed up at tusayan, then entered the park. It was about 6pm.

There are few sights on earth that compare with the grand canyon. There was a little haze from the afternoon winds, but the skies were clear & you could see for 3 days.

We were there in time to see a nice sunset.. The shadows bring more texture to the canyon.

We checked into our rooms at the maswik lodge, showered & changed into our civvies & went looking for something to eat. The restaurant at the bright angel lodge was pretty busy, but we put our names on the waiting list & headed for the watering hole.

Tom had been raving about the bartender here who made the best long island iced teas. He had a couple, & we didn't even have to carry him into the restaurant. Kim, Jim & i had the fat tire ambers.. Jim & i had 2.. & we made into the restaurant ok, too.

We left the bright angel lodge about 9:30, & took the shortcut across the railroad tracks in the dark back to the rooms.

I was up first, at about 5. I went for a walk & took some shots of the sunrise.

This shot was before the sun rose.. with a night exposure.

I was freezing, though. It was in the 40's & the wind had already started to blow..

Here the sun is up & hitting the canyon walls.

Tom had gotten up after i left & had walked around a little. It was almost 7, so we figured we better wake Kim & Jim up so we could get breakfast & get going. After breakfast, we loaded up everything & got geared up.

In front of the maswik lodge.

We headed out to the other side of the park.. desert view.. along the rim road.

The wind was getting stronger.. it was forecast to be gusting to 40, with 30mph winds. But early on, the haze wasn't too bad. We had a good view of the colorado river & the little colorado river gorge from desert view.

This is the old view tower built in the 30's. Jim & Kim are coming toward you. They were inseparable after rooming together the previous night..

Inside the tower.. Jim & Kim...

There were more great views from the tower viewing area.. I'm still in awe every time i see the canyon.. it never gets old.

We gassed up & headed east on 64 out of the park. After about 5 miles, we came to a dirt road & went south toward flagstaff & the mountains.

This was another fun road. It wound around, zigged & zagged.. had lots of ruts, some rocks, some sandy wash areas. Jim was practicing for his enduro rides next year, & really let it rip. We got to a point that we started to climb. On the topo map, it looked pretty steep. It seemed even steeper! The road we were on didn't follow the gps map very closely, but there were no other ways up. We switched & climbed up for a few hundred feet, when i stalled. I was going up a steep section that had a hard turn, but when i slowed to make the turn, i lost my momentum & dropped. Tom stopped about 50 yds back, & Kim was even further back. He had slid out in the rocks & went down hard.. he banged his helmet up a bit, & put some new scratches in his bark busters. Undaunted, Jim blew by all of us & rode ahead to see if the road improved. It didn't. He said it got steeper, & there were some ledges you had to go over. Tom was geared too high for the climb, & i was out of my league, anyway. So we turned around & rolled down to another road. It maneuvered around the trees & washes & was going the wrong way. So we had to back track about 4 miles to another road & take it to the west to the next way over the mountain.

Tom turning around at my 'drop' point.

Jim coming back down after finding out the road would be too tough for me & Tom (Tom could've done it with the husky).

Our detour added about 20 miles, when we only had 2 miles up the hill. But we got back on the waypoints & continued on the ride toward the mountain passes. The wind was getting stronger as the day progressed. It was puffing us around on the dirt roads & making the riding even more interesting. We got down from the last set of mountains, which were along the coconino rim road, about 7k ft. Now we were down in the low 6k ft, & the roads were pretty open, though still lots of dried ruts. The wind was pretty open, too. It was beating us up pretty good, and keeping us well dusted. The sand & grit stung our faces around the goggles. We got on a section of the great western trail, which led us through some nice open vistas & cattle country.

At one of the gates, Jim noticed oil leaking out of his engine cover. He had taken a small hit in the rocks.. probably on the big hill climb.. & it was dribbling out some. It was high on the case, so he thought if he took it easy, he could get back ok. Tom got out his tire patch kit, & had Jim squirt some rubber cement on the hole. It seemed to hold, but Jim did take it easier from then on.

There was supposed to be a road that veered east, toward the san francisco peaks, but it never appeared. The road we were on kept heading southwest. We finally came to another crossroad that we could take back to the peaks, but it was again almost 3, we were getting low on gas, Jim had a hole in his engine, & we were all sick of the wind. So it was time for a decision: Head back toward the mountain passes & take another 3 hours & 50 miles or so on unknown roads. Or, take the easy dirt road to hwy 180, then 30 miles back to flagstaff, gas, lunch. I posed the question. Jim & Tom feigned indifference. Kim said, 'Does this mean i get to say where we're going?' Then he pointed to the shorter, easier way back. No one was disappointed.

So we started heading back. The wind was still real strong. Even with our speed below 60, it was gusting us all over the road. But we made it back in to flag, had lunch, gassed up, & returned to Sedona. Tom left us & went on to Prescott (after another long dirt ride on the way!!?). Jim loaded his bike back up, & the ride was over. We lived, & no major damage to the machines.

In retrospect, it was too far to cover this distance in an exploring ride.. there are too many variables.. locked gates.. etc. We should have either staged from williams, or had 2 nights at the canyon. But it was an adventure, & everyone seemed to have fun. We all got along well, & no one died. A good ride.

Here's a short video i took with a cheap helmet cam.. it's painful to watch, too much trouble to upload, & something else to carry. I think i'll stick with stills...

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Sedona, Arizona, United States
Semi-retired home builder. Musician. wr250x adventure rider. Amateur philosopher. Innovator. Tech & gadget freak, genealogist.