Riding in Utah
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Thread: Riding in Utah

  1. #1
    Slug 87 Array Slug87's Avatar
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    Mar 2005
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    Vancouver to Utah and beyond in 2 weeks

    This report is broken in 12 posts due to the restrictions of this forum and is best view in the Display Mode 'Linear Mode'


    Every first or second week of June since 2005 a group of 6 buddies max ride for a week. This week we tried to make it a bit longer by taking almost 2 weeks.
    Things never go according to plan, so we had 3 different routes.
    • Group 1 rode down and back to Utah in 10 days
    • Group 2 road down and back in 15 days
    • One lone rider flew to Las Vegas, rented a bike for a week and rode 5 days with the other 2 groups from Moab to Zion roughly

    I was in the 2nd group and here is a rough report

    Part 1 : Ride down to Utah.

    Day 1

    The initial plan was to get as close as possible to Spokane via Osoyoos and some eastern Washington roads. A bad service on one bike cost CAD$380 and a detour via Kelowna on day one.
    At least we had a super easy border crossing east of Grand Forks.

    Day 2

    In 2005 I discovered the rattlesnake canyon south of Lewiston (ID). At the time I was rained on for the first time on a bike, and it was a bad memory. So after the heatwave in kelowan of Day one, I was confident that this year would be different. Well it was not to be. It was cold and rainy like the first time around. That road is curse for me so far. And we had to cancel the small road loop to Hell’s canyon as well. A day to forget.

    Crystal falls east of Colville(WA)

    The old spiral highway in Lewiston (ID)

    The old spiral highway in Lewiston (ID)

    Day 3:

    Due to our tight schedule we had to make some serious progress. So the Interstate was the only reasonable option. At least it was not the gong show that I5 generally is.
    Salt lake city the Mormon capital is pretty quiet on a Sunday night. Just what we needed after a really long day eating nothing but interstate and having a bit of a fight on the outskirts of the city with some crazy race drivers. I took off for about half an hour to get a taste for that somewhat famous city. I think I’ll be back one day... Maybe.

    Moving a multi level brick building

    Too many dollies to count

    Salt Lake City and County Building

    Utah State Capitol.

    Salt Lake Temple
    Last edited by Slug87; 08-25-2009 at 03:09 PM. Reason: Broken Links

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  3. #2
    Slug 87 Array Slug87's Avatar
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    Chapter 2

    Day 4

    The fun finally really started near Provo, when we went into some alpine country totally worthy of the Alps. Despite a few wet road it was pretty good. But the highlight had to be the road east of Fairview. A high-speed succession of perfectly smooth curves with next to nobody around. And a really decent scenery to boot. HIGHLY recommended for a sport bike.

    Uinta forest above the little town of Alpine

    Hwy31, and endless succession of fast sweepers. Sport bike heaven.

    At the motel in Moab we met those three swiss guys who were crossing the US on their custom bikes.

    Probably not the most comfortable way to travel. And no speedo an any of those bikes.

    Part 2 : The Utah adventure.

    Day 5
    Morning loop Map
    Our first Utah objective is the Shaffer trail in Canyon Land National park. To amke things more comfortable we have booked 2 nights in a row in Moab and that way we can ride without all our heavy bags.

    This is the beginning of the trail. We considered turning around right away as the sand was surprisingly deep and not suppose to be there. This first section is literally riding on the edge.

    After about a mile the we can clearly see the trail leding away from the first drop. We can’t tell how we are going down yet.

    A few hundred yards later we have our answers as a few steep switch backs appears.

    Here is a link to a zoom over the switchbacks as seen from space

    Here I am going down slowly as a guinea pig. If the HP2 can’t make it, the there is no hope for the big GS behind.

    It all goes well, and we salute the Shaffer trail cliff as a thank you to let us go by unscated.

    Another 2 miles or so down the road at a faster pace this time, we hike a little bit to reach the Gooseneck viewpoint above the Colorado river.
    Last edited by Slug87; 08-25-2009 at 06:08 PM. Reason: Fixing broken links

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    Slug 87 Array Slug87's Avatar
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    Chapter 3

    We found this weird balanced rock.

    A view of the gooseneck. Incidentally you can see a trail to the left. We ended up there later. (Picture to follow)
    I am a bit of a pain to travel with as I generally carry a tripod with me to take some half decent pictures.

    Here I am setting up for the previous shot.

    A look back toward the upper mesa.

    We were a bit excited to be there, so we played silly for a bit.

    So we figured out that it would be cool to loop back to Moab for lunch instead of backtracking up the shaffer trail. So down to the right to the potash trail. The shaffer cliff is right ahead on this shot.

    Mesa view

    Parked above the Colorado river.

    The HP2 overlook the colorado and the spot with the balancing rock we saw before.

    No need to explain that the rock refused to move.
    Last edited by Slug87; 08-25-2009 at 03:18 PM. Reason: Fixing broken links

  5. #4
    Slug 87 Array Slug87's Avatar
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    Chapter 4

    The HP2 in action on the Potash trail.

    Some petroglyphs were visible once we reached the colorado river and pavement.

    Afternoon loop Map

    After a good Lunch to recover from the morning emotions, we did a quick ride along the northern part of the Colorado river, before turning around to visit Arches National Park.

    Riding along the Colorado river.

    Posing near the Courthouse in Arches National Park.

    The balancing rock (Arches National Park, UT)

    Posing at the balancing rock.

    The most famous arch, the delicate arch.

    Riding towards the parade of elephants

    My new favorite in the park, The double arch. Too cool.

    Late afternoon light over the courthouse towers.
    Last edited by Slug87; 08-25-2009 at 03:19 PM. Reason: Map link repaired

  6. #5
    Slug 87 Array Slug87's Avatar
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    Chapter 5

    Day 6

    We have a double wide trailer booked in Bluff and we know that we can check in early. So after an early chilly ride down and after dropping our gears in Bluff, we head out to the two most famous tourist trap known as, ‘the four corners’ and Monument valley.

    Passing through the little town of Aneth under a better sky.

    Traveling along Hwy 41 in the desert. Speed limit need not apply.

    The four corners is even more of a tourist trap than expected. I hope my $3US goes to a good cause for the Navajo peoples. Shortly after that we are heading to Monument valley until I spot a ‘shortcut’ leading us to the entrance of Monument valley. The ‘shortcut’ crosses the navajo desert of course. After a bit of hesitation we launched into the unknown, and we had a true blast and adventure.
    Of course all the Murphy's laws applied on that shortcut and it probably took us 3 times longer than the paved main road. But who cares. we had a blast and the approach to monument valley that way was stunning and unforgettable.

    The start of the shortcut. Signs of old pavement could be seen. But boy the repair crews have not been down this way in a while. Of course there is no signage.

    After many stops to double check the map, we arrived in view of our objective.

    We passed by many cool rock formation and encountered very little life. Maybe 3 cars including one crazy fast cop.

    That last thing I expected here was a group of sheep. The guard dog did not like the color of the HP2 and promptly gave chase.

    The shot was taken shortly before the bike coming up crashed into some deeper sand than the one visible here in the background.

    Deep sand 1 - Left turn signal 0

    Not far from the entrance of Monument Valley. By then it is too late to go in, and we know that the road is pretty bad in there.

    I guess this scene would remind some of many good old westerns movies.
    Last edited by Slug87; 08-25-2009 at 03:20 PM. Reason: fixing Broken links

  7. #6
    Slug 87 Array Slug87's Avatar
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    Chapter 6

    On the way back to Bluff we cross the town of Mexican hat, who takes its name from this rock formation.

    The ride was pretty awesome and pleasant after the hardwork we did on the ‘shortcut’. The late afternoon lights helped a lot.

    Day 7

    Time to relocate to the center of Utah, at the start of Hwy12 in Torrey. But before getting there, we have a busy schedule and arguably the best scenery to go through. Well that is what we read about.
    The morning session before breakfast starts by a ride along the ‘Valley of The Gods’. This was probably our best trail of the trip. The quality of the road, the scenery, the twistiness ,roller coaster layout and some fast pace section made for a perfect ride. I wish I had a video on that one.

    This is a road where you can easily get comfortable and get carried away. Next thing you know and your back wheel might be in the air.

    A wide view of the valley of the gods, which probably show the variety of ridding available. The only danger is yourself, and the odd tourist car around a blind corner.

    A roller coaster of a road I tell you.

    Some of the ‘gods’ in the background.
    We then headed to the second highlight location nearby just north of Mexican Hat.

    The gooseneck which have been carved by the San Juan river, over ... a few years. The scale of this place is hard to fathom.

    After a more than needed breakfast and fuel up in Mexican Hat we head towards the Moki dugway and its very famous dirt switchbacks.

    Warning signs abound as soon as you turn on the road.

    The switchbacks. Good fun on a Dual Sport.

    The switchbacks as seen from space

    The warming signs up top, and a hazy vista in the background.
    Last edited by Slug87; 08-25-2009 at 06:13 PM. Reason: Broken images links fix

  8. #7
    Slug 87 Array Slug87's Avatar
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    Chapter 7

    At the top of Moki Dugway switchback to the west there is an easy trail starting. IT gets pretty bumpy and slightly sandy further in, but by that point we are getting pretty good at that dirt game. The trail takes you to ‘Mulley point’. Totally worth it. Have no hesitation if you are in the area, just go for it.

    This picture was taken at the first viewpoint. The San Juan river is still below us but now too deep in the canyon to be seen. Monument Valley can be seen on the horizon.

    A wider angle of the same location. There is a trail at the intermediate level. Sadly it is a dead end one. Given more time I bet this could be fun to investigate too.

    A partial view of the Mulley point vista.

    Further up the road in Glen Canyon we cross the white canyon. No water in sight though.

    On board the HP2, riding toward lake Powell near Hite where a gas station is like an oasis in the desert.

    Looking over Lake powell and Hite. The water line of the lake is pretty low. The US is running out of water.

    Hwy 95 offer a fastpace riding through a pretty cool red canyon. I should have pulled the camera earlier as the canyon was narrower.

    The last highlight of the day was Capitol Reef National Park

    The section of road near the visitor center is lush green. It is notorious for its forest rats. Those stupid animals are everywhere. Lucky for me they were busy in the shade when I came by.
    Last edited by Slug87; 08-25-2009 at 03:25 PM. Reason: Broken Links on images fixed.

  9. #8
    Slug 87 Array Slug87's Avatar
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    Chapter 8

    Day 8

    If you speak to most riders of an kind who has travel around Torrey (UT), chances are that they will tell you to go and ride Hwy 12. This road is borderline legendary for many. It is a road well travel as there are not really many alternatives, yet it offer such variety in scenery.
    In the little town of boulder where you can grab gas you can turn off Hwy 12 onto the Burr trail. That trail is paved for a good 30 minutes ride or so, then become dirt. Due to some reports on lots of sand banks at the bottom of the canyon we decided to just go see the highlight and backtrack on pavement.

    Not a fantastic pavement, but certainly a fun, remote and less travel road. A must do for all.

    The highlight are the burr switch backs. This is one serious drop in the valley ahead. Brilliant and very scenic location.

    Here is a view from space of this section.

    A good angle showing the fast drop of the switchbacks.

    Back on Hwy 12, the most talked about section is the one where you can ride on a ridge on some excellent twisties.[/IMG]

    A bit hard to see, but there is a drop on the right into a canyon and drop on the left into another.

    Hwy 12 also travels through the Grand Staircase Escalante.

    And even more famous, the highway visits Bryce Canyon national park and its incredible rock formations.

    Bryce tour guides are very fast.

    The last highlight of Hwy12 is the Red Canyon section.

    The red canyon section offer some decent road carving opportunity too.
    Last edited by Slug87; 08-25-2009 at 06:17 PM. Reason: Added detailed link

  10. #9
    Slug 87 Array Slug87's Avatar
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    Chapter 9

    Day 9

    This Saturday morning, is the day when the group split. Group 1 heads back home over 3 days, while the solo rider head back to Vegas to return its rental bike and catch a plane back to Vancouver.

    The two slow returning guys head to Point Imperial on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon (AZ). Despite a very hazy view, the Grand Canyon is still an incredible site.

    Another point imperial view from the top of that natural bridge visible on the previous shot.

    The view at Cape Royal. Of you are lucky the traffic will be light and the road to those 2 viewpoints are a lot of fun.

    The motel in Kanab, where we had an early stop due to a looming thunderstorm. We love to stay in ‘classic’ looking and cheap motels where we can park the bike right in front of the room door. On a bike trip who needs luxury anyway.
    You got to love the pink neon on this one.

    Day 10

    A looong day and a buzzy one to boot.

    During breakfast in Mt Carmel Jct we were entertain by an army of hummingbirds.

    Then it was time to head to our last Utah national Park aka Zion.

    This is a typical Zion landscape especially along the higher level highway.

    Now we are coming down to the mouth of the canyon, and the difference in stone color layers is clearly visible.

    After taking the free bus and parking the bikes at the entrance of the canyon, we arrived at an excellent viewpoint over Angel Landing (to the right). The most popular hike in the park probably.
    Last edited by Slug87; 08-25-2009 at 05:21 PM. Reason: Broken images links fixed

  11. #10
    Slug 87 Array Slug87's Avatar
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    Chapter 10

    Part 3 : The long ride back to Vancouver.
    After leaving Zion NP and Utah behind we quickly enter Nevada and starts making some serious progress West as the weather report North of us is pretty bad. Riding in the desert has its attraction to me already, but this time the weather is turning to thunderstorm and lightning strikes. But also I am relatively excited and looking forward to ride this famous extra terrestrial highway (HWY 375). Little do I know what adventure lies ahead.

    The start of the highway near ash spring.

    One of the many wacky signs along the side of the highway.

    Being the desert not only do you have some pretty straight roads but also some decent line of sight. Some vortex of dust can be seen everywhere due to a pretty active wind.

    No need to explain what Area 51 is all about.

    By the look these cows are giving me, I think that I must be the only Alien around. I kept on looking.

    The sky is getting darker. Not a good sign. My rain gears are on, as not only the rain is looking more and more probable, but the temperature in the desert is pretty damn cold now.

    The desert was that much more dramatic with these menacing clouds. Minutes later we rode in a heavy shower, but more scary was the lightning bolt failing around us. Luckily not at a high intensity. In any case we did not stood there waiting.

    Then what was suppose to happen to me since I tour on the HP2 finally occurred a few miles after the showers, that you can see in the background. I believe that some stupid Aliens quietly sucked all my gas out of my bike.
    The HP2 holds 13 Liters of gas, that’s it. If I play real nice, I can get about 220 km out of one tank. However here in the desert with some headwind and a wide open throttle, the range drop to 160-170 km.
    In this case it was 40 miles short of the next Gas Station. Bummer.
    Not to worry, since my buddy bike is my tanker as it can hold 33 Liters of gas. So here come the crappy tire $3.99 CAD syphon I carry with me. The piece of junk did not fair too well after 9 days on the road, so a little hole had developed somewhere. Bummer Bummer.
    So there is no alternative but to start flagging down passing by cars and trucks, while my buddy is heading for town to get some gas back to me.
    After 20 minutes or so, I am rescued first by a welder guy from Vegas. We take some gas out of is generators. While we do that to my surprise my buddy is already back, and with a gas can strap on the back. He had met a couple camping in a trailer 10 minutes up the road in the middle of the desert. So after thinking all those good samaritans and hearing some really cool stories about Area 51, I figure that we lost 90 minutes or so on our journey.
    Now the town of Rachel in the middle of the extraterrestrial HWY is the one place where you can get gas. But as long as you do not show up after closing time. Or be prepare to pay some mega bucks for the precious juice.
    An hour later we rolled in Tonopah (NV). That ghostly looking town survive with the test range business in the desert nearby (Nuclear explosion test and all).

    In its happier life Tonopah was home to the second largest gold and silver source in the US. And now all that is left is this mine museum.
    Last edited by Slug87; 08-25-2009 at 05:23 PM. Reason: Broken images links. fixed.

  12. #11
    Slug 87 Array Slug87's Avatar
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    Chapter 11

    Day 11

    Our re-routing is bringing us to California. This is exciting as those of us who have been riding to California before know full well that a bike rider is in charge of the department of highways. Entering from Nevada in the middle of nowhere I was expecting a standard road. But now not at all, the full california quality and fun road was there waiting. Hwy 120 starts in Benton (Good breakfast at the gas station) at the junction with Hwy6. Sorry no pics as I was having too much fun. You are first greeted by some excellent sweepers similar to those you can find outside of Callahan for eg. Then the road becomes straight, dead straight. Yet this must be the most fun and must scary straight road I have been on. This is a straight roller coaster with only a couple of curves. But that is a real roller coaster. I promise you that your stomach will not like the drops, and your suspensions will compress seriously when hitting the base of the up hill bumps. Imagine a tuned down motocross track and you are there. There must be some bad crashes on that road, as it is easy to get carried away. This would be true for any bike. Since my return I have met a few peoples who know that section, and they all rave about it.
    So I can only say that I will make the effort to go out there again if I am nearby. Nearby would likely be a visit to Yosemite National Park (Coming next).
    The rest of the road until you join Hwy 395 is made for Sport-bikes.

    Tenaya lake in Yosemite National park.

    Those rock faces in Yosemite are fascinating.

    Shortly after taking this picture of the Bridal Veil waterfall we came to the difficult realization that Yosemite reputation as the second most visited park in the US was true. The traffic turned to chaos, and it was too much of an adjustment for us after many days in the desert. So we left this mad house in a hurry ending up a bit by hazard in mariposa. There we caught Hwy 49. The gold rush highway. Let me tell you that we had smiles on our faces by the time we arrived to the really cute town of Coulterville, because the road was perfect fun. Highly recommended. The number of bikes increased exponentially at that point, which is sure sign that we had found a good road.

    So we tagged along Hwy 49 until Auburn where we spent the night, after crossing some really cute town such as Sonora and Placerville. Anywhere else those towns would be ghost towns, but not there. This also come at a price. The urban prowl is everywhere, and the good sections of road are sadly split by urban areas and traffic. So if you head down there, you should do your homework as alternative access roads are everywhere and guaranteed to be even more fun.

    An example of how col hwy49 can be found here south of Coulterville (CA). Another cute little town to do a stop overnight.

    Day 12

    Heading North big time. Lots of fun on Hwy 49 once we cleared Nevada City. If I travel down there again, I think that I would make the effort to stay in this really cute town called Downieville. Then we crossed Lassen Volcanic National Park again like last year.

    The sulfur pool was particularly active this year.

    After the repaving of the summer 2007 the road is tons of fun. Especially with a near null traffic.

    Up top the lake was still frozen and the snow still covered the trail to the summit of Lassen peak.

    Day 13

    Not a good day, as we crossed Oregon in one shot, and were kicked out of a couple of good roads due to closures.
    So after crossing Crater Lake we had to deal with traffic and road works all day. The Detroit to Estacada was there to save the day at least just before getting into traffic in Portland.

    Last snow on Carter Lake
    Last edited by Slug87; 08-26-2009 at 02:15 PM. Reason: One picture link busted.

  13. #12
    Slug 87 Array Slug87's Avatar
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    Chapter 12

    Day 14

    The rule coming back from a good trip like this is simple. NO I5 at any cost.
    So since Mt St Helen was still closed and that on top of it a bridge had been washed out, we went up the Columbia gorge and up to Yakima. A classic for many BCSB members.

    Crossing the Bridge of the gods into Washington State.

    Windsurfer were out in full force on the Columbia river as we approached Hood River.

    Tons of fun I tell you. The wind is amazing in the gorge.

    Kite surfers enjoyed it too.

    Then I discovered the road to Klickitat and its countryside

    Typical fishing party as can be seen on the Yakima canyon almost anytime you go there.

    Some serious farming going on with Mt Adams as a backdrop.

    The Yakima canyon was cop free, and surprisingly so was the road to leavenworth.

    Day 15

    Morning Map
    Afternoon Map

    Nothing exceptional on this last day, as this is a big classic for many on this board. The crossing of the cascade was uneventful. We finally hit some rain from Concrete to Sedro Woolley. Even the border crossing was a breeze.


    This picture taken in Marblemount just before getting a wash in the rain says a lot about the success of a trip or not. When on a trip, I hate washing my bike. I am on a ride, I am not here to pose. The more dead bugs the better IMO.

    More seriously, in retrospect we got lucky with the weather. Even if I prefer some perfect blue sky, I realize that all the off road section in Utah would have been unbearable in the regular June temperatures. And we had no rain despite clouds hanging over us almost all the time.
    Then this is also as far as we can get on our normal one week to 10 days schedule. The group who went down quick and back up quick, had little fun both way, especially because they hit a lot of rain. But the need to cover some ground quickly can’t be avoided in this scenario.
    The lone rider who rented a bike for $1,000 US for the week + airfare, probably did the best move. When one factor, the exhaustion, of 6 days of hard riding + gas + wear and tear of your own bike, a new set of tires, food and accommodation, the rental suddenly looks pretty attractive.

Some quick Stats for the entire group.
    • Mileage : 7632 km but more likely 7800+ km
    • Speeding tickets : 0 Warning : 1 in Marblemount on the way back of all places.
    • States visited : 9 (WA, OR, ID, UT, CO, NM, AZ, NV, CA)
    • All bikes equipped with brand new rubber on day one = 0 tire issues.

    Thanks for reading.
    Last edited by Slug87; 08-25-2009 at 05:26 PM. Reason: Broken links fixed.

  14. #13
    Registered User Array Borgnine's Avatar
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    Incredible pics. Thanks for those!
    "Let us cross over the river, and rest under the shade of the trees."
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  15. #14
    Just call me Fred Array cjlf's Avatar
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    Amazing trip and fantastic pictures as always Bruno.
    fred 1) n. a person who spends a lot of money on his bike and clothing, but still can't ride. "What a fred -- too much Lycra and titanium and not enough skill." Synonym for poser. Occasionally called a "barney".

  16. #15
    Thank You Vets Array jafkaf81's Avatar
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    Stunning photos and great trip report ..............no , I am not jealous ............not at all ........ .
    I can only surmise that the "2005" in your name is derived from your year of birth. You weren't born yesterday, but pretty damn close to it. - Howattzer to Phantom2005
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