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Thread: Spring Southwest Tour

  1. #1

    Spring Southwest Tour Part I

    Our BMW Club finally hit the road last Friday for our long-anticipated spring tour. We had planned for 9 days through the southwest, concentrating on Utah. The trip ended early, for a variety of reasons, but we still had a great tour and lots of great memories.

    After overnighting in Laughlin, NV, one of our first stops was the Hoover Dam, which had changed considerably since my last visit in 1988 or so.

    Here's the whole gang at the dam. We were all on GSs, except for one Harley and two RTs.

    While in the vicinity, we swung by Lake Mead where we found a sailing regatta going on. I also took the opportunity to buy an annual national parks pass which more than paid for itself on this trip alone.

    We spent the night in St. George, UT where we had a pretty darned good pizza. In the morning we hit the road early, and our first stop, naturally, was Zion National Park.

    Roland cruising his '06 GS through Zion.

    There's a really cool, long tunnel going through Zion. It is 6000 feet long and is cut through solid sandstone. The tunnel has at least three openings with scenic overlooks, but you can't pull over in the tunnel. Probably constructed in the days of 25 mph cars.

    A little ways down the road, we had a pretty good lunch at the Thunderbird restaurant, amid busses and busses of German, Japanese, and French tourists.

    Further on down Hwy 12, we encountered the sanguine landscapes of Red Canyon. Here Kelly pilots his 1150GS into the canyon.

    The 12 is a great motorcycle road with twisties and scenery abounding.

    After a day of incredible scenery, we made our destination, Escalante, UT. If you go there, stay at the Bunkhouse Motel, a series of handmade log cabins on the grounds of the Escalante Outfitters. They have an amazingly well-stocked store selling outdoor gear as well as a respectable restaurant and wireless internet cafe.

    The owner (I think Jim) had a 1968 Vespa in mint condition. When he saw all the beemers he wanted to go on a tour of his own around town. I already had a couple of Jim Beams in me, but Kelly and Myram took him up on his offer and provided escort around Escalante as Jim pointed out local sites.

    In the morning, after a good meal, a campfire, and good night's sleep, we headed back out onto Hwy 12. The road out of Escalante is a wonderful, serpentine challenge through some of the most wondrous geological forms you'll ever see.

    Some of our group found it a bit pricey, but I highly recommend the Hell's Backbone Cafe. They serve gourmet meals expertly prepared with locally-grown ingredients. I had an order of milpas which must be Spanish for delicious. Check them out.

    There are miles and miles of spectacular scenery. Here Brad takes it all in.

    There is no shortage of photo ops and pull-outs. Here Myram gives his steed a rest.

    One member of our party was deathly afraid that we would encounter snow on this trip. We saw not one drop of rain nor a single flake of snow on the road, but across the summit there was miles of snow on either side of the road. It was cool, but not intolerably so. Again, just jaw-dropping scenery.

    Off the summit and into warmer temps, we entered Capitol Reef National Park. I had buzzed through here last year on a trip with my wife, but it didn't make the impression on me that it did this year. Another wonderful park with miles and miles of majestic formations.

    Capitol Reef NP.

    Native American petroglyphs in Capitol Reef NP.

    Continued in Part II
    Last edited by SNC1923; 04-18-2006 at 02:48 PM.

  2. #2

    Spring Southwest Tour Part II

    Continued from Part I

    Our next stop was Moab, UT. We spent two nights here in these KOA "Kabins." Not as nice as Escalante, the same price as a local motel room ($50), and they forbid campfires. Kind of a bummer.

    Along with unusual scenery, you meet some quixotic characters on the road. This fellow, along with his family, were setting out to tackle Slick Rock on unicycles!

    While in Moab, you've got to check out Arches National Park, as Myram is doing above.

    Arches NP; check out the people beneath the arch.

    Landscape Arch in Arches NP.

    Yeah, we all thought the same thing. Shame on you.

    In Moab, just outside of town, there are two roads that parallel the Colorado River--the 128 and the 313. They provide pleasant rides with enough curves for interest, some beautiful scenery, the occassional rock climber, and more petroglyphs.

    It ain't a road trip without Brad's high-fiber coffee.

    After a couple of days of really nice rides, we headed out for Monument Valley by way of Natural Bridges National Monument.

    Once out of Natural Bridges we headed south on 261, a significant portion of which is unpaved and drops 1100 feet in 3 miles.

    If you dare take your eyes off the road, it provides a wonderful view of the road below, leading out to the Valley of the Gods on the Navajo Reservation.

    After a Navajo Taco at the San Juan Motel in Mexican Hat, we made our way to Monument Valley. We rented a double-wide mobile home from Goulding's Resort. Because three of our party had departed early, that left five of us to share a three-bedroom unit. It was pretty nice; check it out on your next visit.

    Breathtaking views abound, whether midday. . .

    . . . early evening. . .

    . . . or sunrise.

    Sadly, our trip met an early end in Monument Valley. One of us got a mild flu, another had a knee go out. We were tired and had had a long week on the road. All agreed it was time to head home.

    Three took the scenic route and overnighted in Laughlin. Brad and I deadheaded it home 650 miles, arriving in time for dinner.

    These trip reports always turn out much longer than I originally plan. If you're still reading, thanks for your interest. In the unlikely event that you want to see what few pictures remain, you can find them here.

    If you haven't ridden this part of the country, get out and do it now.

    See you on the road. sup:

  3. #3
    Slowpoke & Proud of It! BRADFORDBENN's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    State of Confusion
    I merged these threads together for you.

    Nice riding and picturing.

    It isn't what you ride, it is if you ride

  4. #4
    Great ride and images. I went through the area last May and hope to do so again this year. Thanks for the revisit.

  5. #5
    Wow...I'm sold! Thats some awesome riding and fantastic photos too! Thanks!

  6. #6
    @ the Big Muddy & I-80 bluestune's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    LeClair, IA
    Thanks for sharing the great ride and great photos! The Canyon Lands are one of my favorite areas.
    1976 R90/6

  7. #7
    Rally Rat RTRandy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Dallas, Texas
    What a wonderful report and fabulous photos ! I rode many of those roads last July and it was great seeing your photos of those areas again.

    QUOTE: There's a really cool, long tunnel going through Zion. It is 6000 feet long and is cut through solid sandstone. The tunnel has at least three openings with scenic overlooks, but you can't pull over in the tunnel. Probably constructed in the days of 25 mph cars.

    Here's a shot outside that same tunnel. We were parked for about ten minutes outside the tunnel because a tour bus was coming through from the other side and the tunnel isn't wide enough for two way traffic with that bus.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  8. #8
    On the Road
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    New Mexico


    What an awesome report, great photos and good-looking bikes! Went through the area myself many years ago and enjoyed the whole trip. Let's see more ride reports...

  9. #9
    I like TANG! bubbagazoo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    St. Albert, Alberta, Canada

    Great report and pics

    The first thing I thought of when I saw this picture was Sesame Street -- "One of these things is not like the other, One of these things just doesn't belong ... "

    The St. George area is one place that is most definitely on my future tour plans. Probably not this year as the missus does not have any holiday time coming. Oh, well.
    2010 Suzuki GSX1250SEA
    ǣIf you get in too far over your head, remember - full throttle and make it spectacular!

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