As far as motorcycle trips go, I've been as far East as North Carolina, as far South as Big Bend in Texas and as far North as Montana. But when it comes to the West, I've only been as far as Colorado. So, this year, a trip was planned to the scenic state of Utah. For years I've heard about Utah and its' beauty...Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon and Cedar Breaks. Little did I know how beautiful they are in person!
Three of us set out on a trip from Texas to Utah and back. The 9 day trip covered 3800 miles that in many places left me speechless as far as scenic beauty. Pictures do not give Utah justice. To get the full effect, one has to see Utah for himself!
Thursday, September 27, 2007
Destination: Dallas/Lindale, Texas to Vernon, Texas
Weather: Sunny, temperature in the mid to upper 80's
Miles for the day: 150+ for Dale and Rodney, 250+ for Robert
It was previously decided that I would meet Dale and Rodney in Decatur which is just Northwest of Dallas/Ft. Worth. I took off work at noon, finalized my packing, said goodbye to my wife Kathy, and was off from Lindale headed for Decatur at 3:00pm. I arrived in Decatur at 6:15pm to Dale and Rodney waiting for me at O'Harley's BBQ. We had dinner, then proceeded Northwest on 287. We arrived in Vernon about 8:00pm and got a room at the Best Western. Getting to Vernon today helped greatly in our quest to make it to Las Vegas, New Mexico tomorrow.
Friday, September 28, 2007
Destination: Vernon, Texas to Las Vegas, New Mexico
Weather: Sunny, temperature in the low 90's
Miles for the day: 400+
Dale, Rodney, and I got up early, ate breakfast and were on 287 heading Northwest at about 7:30-8:00am. We knew today would be a long day in the saddle. There's not much to see in the Panhandle of Texas, so the best thing to do is ride hard and fast to reach your destination. We stayed on 287 until we reached Amarillo, then we proceeded West on I-40 until we reached Tucumcari, New Mexico. In Tucumcari, we headed North on Hwy. 104 which took us into Las Vegas. We arrived in Las Vegas at about 5:00pm. Once arriving, we got a room at a local motel, then went to eat dinner. Tomorrow, our destination will be Farmington, New Mexico.
Saturday, September 29, 2007
Destination: Las Vegas, New Mexico to Farmington, New Mexico
Weather: Cloudy, slight thunderstorms, temperature in the low 70's
Miles for the day: 250+
All three of us were up and ready for breakfast at 7:30am. After eating at the Hilltop Diner, we left Las Vegas and headed for Taos, NM by way of Hwy. 518. Once in Taos, Hwy. 64 takes you by the Rio Grand River bridge and on to Tres Piedras. You know you're in Tres Piedras by the distinctive three huge rocks that are close to the four-way stop. Once past Tres Piedras, we continued on Hwy. 64 through the Carson National Forest. Although the weather was over cast, no rain was spotted during this part of the trip.
Once through the forest, we arrived in Chama, New Mexico. I've always liked Chama. It's a nice little town nestled in the hills of Northern New Mexico. We stopped in Chama to eat lunch and have some ice cream at one of the ice cream shops. Once gassed up, we left Chama continuing on Hwy. 64 through the Jicarilla Apache Indian Reservation. During this time the wind picked up significantly and it started to rain on us intermittently. We traveled through Dulce, then Bloomfield and arrived in Farmington at about 4:30pm. We checked in to a local hotel and tried to go see the Aztec Ruins, but by the time we arrived at the park, it had closed for the day. So, we stopped and ate dinner and went back to the hotel to clean our wind shields and prepare our bikes for the next day's ride.
Sunday, September 30, 2007
Destination: Farmington, New Mexico to Kanab, Utah
Leader: Robert (Trip)
Weather: Partly cloudy to sunny, temperature in the mid 60's
Miles for the day: 350+
A cold front came through the night before and although skies were clear, the temperature was a brisk 47 in the morning. Dale, Rodney, and I did our usual routine....packed up, checked out, ate breakfast and prepared our bikes for the day's ride. Today the plan was to make it into Kanab, Utah and as the day went on, the weather cooperated nicely.
Today's route took us out 64 West from Farmington to Shiprock. At Shiprock we rode North on 160 to Four-Corners. Four-Corners is interesting and well worth the visit. Then it was back down South on 160 to 191. We proceeded North on 191 to 163 which took us into Mexican Hat and ultimately Monument Valley. Monument Valley sports some of the loneliest roads a rider will ever see, but none-the-less, it's got some stunning scenery.
We continued on 163 to 160 at Kayenta where we stopped and ate lunch. We then proceeded on 160 to 98 which took us into Page, Arizona, then from Page we took 89. Hwy. 89 took us into Kanab where we arrived about 5:00pm. I had reservations at the Parry Lodge which turned out to be an excellent place to stay. Parry Lodge was founded in 1931 by the three Parry brothers and has hosted some of the biggest names from the golden age of Hollywood. John Wayne, Frank Sinatra, Olivia De Havilland, Gregory Peck, Maureen O'Hara, Tyrone Power, Linda Darnell, Robert Taylor, Anne Bancroft, Dean Martin, Lana Turner, Clint Eastwood and Barbara Stanwyck are just a few of the hundreds of stars and character players that stayed at Parry's while filming in the many scenic locales in and around Kanab, Utah.
We stayed in the Frank Sinatra room which was #127. After checking in, we walked down the street to a local cafe and ate dinner. Tomorrow we ride North of Kanab to take in some of the Utah beauty.
Monday, October 1, 2007
Destination: Tour North of Kanab, Utah
Leader: Robert (Trip)
Weather: Partly cloudy/some rain, temperature in the mid 60's/40's in higher elevations
Miles for the day: 330+
After eating breakfast at the Parry Lodge, all three of us set out for a day of touring North of Kanab. The plan today was to not only see Zion National Park and Cedar Breaks Monument, but to also travel into Nevada just to notch another state into our states list. The route we took is known as the Panguitch Route because it ends up in Panguitch, Utah.
Our first order of business for the day was to ride through Zion National Park which turned out to be a sensational park to see. Not only were the roads tight and twisty, but the scenery was absolutely stunning. One the greatest thrills in Zion NP was riding the mile long tunnel carved out of solid rock. After stopping several times for pictures, we proceeded out of Zion and on to the towns of Springdale and Hurricane. We then jumped on I-15 heading Southwest to ride the Gorge then on to Mesquite, Nevada. After stopping for gas and a cold drink, we then shot back up I-15 to Cedar City, Utah where we stopped to eat lunch. After lunch, we proceeded East on 14 until we crossed 148 and 143. At this time we were climbing into the mountains and higher elevations. The weather turned rainy and very cold. We stopped to view Cedar Breaks Monument, then proceeded down the mountains into Panguitch. Then it was back to Kanab by way of Hwy. 89.
Here is a list of the route we took for the day:
89 from Kanab to 9
9 to I-15
Before heading northeast on I-15, headed southwest and went to Mesquite, NV to say we rode to Nevada
I-15NE to 14 at Cedar City
14 to 148
148 to 143 to Panguitch
143 to 89 back to Kanab
Tuesday, October 2, 2007
Destination: Tour South of Kanab, Utah
Weather: Sunny and Warm, temperature in the mid 70's
Miles for the day: 270+
If we were to pick a day that was our favorite on the trip, this day would be the one. We rode some fantastic roads, saw some fantastic scenery all on a day that was sunny and warm. What more could one ask for?
After getting up and eating breakfast, we left Kanab at 7:30am ready to tour the Southern areas from Kanab. Our plan today was to ride down to the Grand Canyon (North Rim) and then ride to Marble Canyon. We left Kanab and rode Hwy 89A through Fredonia down to where Highway 67 (Grand Canyon Highway) intersects. We then proceeded to the Grand Canyon on 67. Highway 67 turned out to be the best road we had ever ridden. The road surface was perfect and 67 sported some of the best sweepers, twisties and switchbacks that we've ever encountered. This road is a joy to ride. Not only was I able to stop and take some stunning pictures, but I was able to take some video of our ride on 67. We recommend anyone with a motorcycle ride this road!
Around 10:30am, we arrived at the Grand Canyon Lodge North Rim. The Grand Canyon is just that...GRAND! We toured the Lodge and spent an hour or so gazing at the Canyon. After getting our fill of the scenery and buying some t-shirts at the gift shop, we got back on our motorcycles and rode back up Highway 67 to the intersection of 89A. There, we stopped and ate lunch in a township called Jacob Lake at the Jacob Lake Inn.
After lunch, we proceeded East on 89A to Marble Canyon. We stopped several times in between at some very interesting towns, one of which was Cliff Dwellers, a town where rock climbers frequent. One area we stopped in was full of large boulders that had fallen off the cliffs. For years, Navajo Indians made their homes in these rocks until the government made them leave. Now the area sports Navajo Indians selling jewelry and other wares.
We arrived at Marble Canyon and were surprised that there were two bridges crossing the canyon. One was a new bridge to handle heavier traffic. The old bridge had been converted to a walking bridge allowing tourists to walk across the canyon and view the spectacular rocks and canyon below. After taking pictures and reading about the bridges that were built, we headed back to Kanab by way of 89A.
We got back to Kanab rather early so that we could do our laundry before eating dinner and retiring for the night. In trying to pack as light as possible, all three of us brought only enough clothes to last three days, so, unfortunately, it was time to do laundry.
Video 3 of Highway 67 ride Video 4 of Highway 67 ride
Video 5 of Highway 67 ride Video 6 of Highway 67 ride
Video 7 of Highway 67 ride
Wednesday, October 3, 2007
Destination: Kanab, Utah to Moab, Utah
Weather: Sunny and Warm, temperature in the mid 70's
Miles for the day: 300+
We got up early and ate our last breakfast at the Parry Lodge. After packing up and checking out, we took off bound for Moab, Utah. We left Kanab headed North on 89, then we turned East on 12 which took us to Bryce Canyon. The temperature this morning was colder that it had ever been. So cold in fact, that our fingers were going numb on the handle grips. Once we turned onto Highway 12, we stopped at a local cafe for a quick cup of coffee.
We arrived at Bryce National Park about 9:30am. Once through the entrance gate, we made various stops around the center of attention, a huge valley of washed navajo sandstone and limestone that was so picturesque that we just sat there staring at the beauty. Bryce is a must to see! No place else will one see such a tapestry of washed rock. Needless to say our cameras were clicking. Although we didn't have time to explore Bryce more than we did, Bryce features plenty of walking lanes around and inside the valley.
After leaving Bryce, we continued on Highway 12 through such towns as Tropic, Cannonville and Henryville. When we arrived in Escalante, Utah, we stopped to fuel and decided to eat lunch. Escalante is a small town, so we asked the clerk at the convenience store where a good place was to eat. She said Georgie's was the best place. It was in an old house next to the Post Office. After eating at Georgie's, I can honestly say the food was magnificent! The best Mexican food I've had in a long time. If you're ever passing through Escalante, make it a point to stop and eat at Georgie's Cafe and Deli.
With our bellies full, we continued on Highway 12 until we reached Torrey. At that point we turned East onto Highway 24 which would take us into Hanksville. While we traveled Highway 24 we saw some of the prettiest countryside while passing through Capital Reef National Park. A must see, if you're traveling through this area. While in Hanksville, we stopped for fuel at a convenience store that was operating out of a carved rock. It was interesting to walk into a cave and buy a cold drink. We continued on Highway 24 which headed Northeast. This stretch of 24 was long, straight and lonely. The next 40 miles was nothing but dry, desert. When we came to I-70, we turned East through Green River, then we turned South onto 191 which took us to Moab, Utah.
Right before reaching Moab, we stopped and viewed Arches National Park. This park features some of the best rock formations that I've ever seen. We got there about 6:15pm. The sun was starting to set, which made for great picture taking. After leaving Arches we rode into Moab and checked into our hotel, the Red Stone Inn. After eating dinner, we visited several apparel shops for some t-shirts. Today's ride took us over 300 wonderful miles. We stopped and visited two major parks and rode through another. Not bad for a day's work.
Thursday, October 4, 2007
Destination: Moab, Utah to Taos, New Mexico
Weather: Cloudy, cold and rainy, temperature in the mid 50's
Miles for the day: 430+
We got up early this morning. All three of us packed up, checked out and ate breakfast. When we came out of the cafe we noticed that the weather was clear and cold. We were hoping that it would stay clear all day while we make our run through Colorado, but it didn't. Our plan today was to travel South of Moab, then turn East into Colorado and pass through such towns as Ridgeway, Ouray and Silverton. In fact, I was looking forward to possibly eating lunch at the Brown Bear Cafe in Silverton. We had eaten breakfast there several years before. The old west character of that cafe has always appealed to me.
As we left Utah and traveled into Colorado on Highway 46/90, we passed through Bedrock Colorado which sports a small mercantile store that's been in business since 1881. As we got off our bikes and went in, we were amazed at how the store was kept in its original state. After talking with the clerk, we found that the store was for sale. Immediately, thoughts came to my mind of possibly buying this local icon and making a life here in the Colorado mountainside. But then reality set in. I don't have much experience in running a small store, besides the closest Walmart was over 60 miles away. My wife couldn't survive without a Walmart close by. I'm sure the same thoughts raced through Dale and Rodney's minds, after all, they have the merchandising experience to pull it off. But, alas, at last check, Dale and Rodney were still living in the Dallas area.
After leaving Bedrock, we continued on through such towns as Naturita and Redvale. When we arrived in Norwood, we stopped to fuel and put on our rain suits. It had begun to rain slightly and the clouds up ahead looked to be low and dark. After fueling, we talked to the clerk about what the weather forecast was going to be for the day. She reported that not only was rain predicted for the day, but snow was predicted in the higher elevations and passes. Finding out that news prompted us to discuss and re-think our route for the day. It didn't take long for us to decide that we would bypass the higher elevations and travel to the West and South instead of chancing riding through snow on the Million Dollar Highway (550).
Now the rain was coming down harder. We backtracked out of Norwood on Highway 145 heading West, then we headed South on Highway 141. After riding some 55 miles in the rain and cold, we intersected with Highway 491 and proceeded to Cortez, Colorado. Once through Cortez, we proceeded East on Highway 160 through Durango and into Pagosa Springs. After fueling in Pagosa Springs, we traveled South on 84 and 64 into Chama, New Mexico. Our plan was to spend the night in Chama, but after checking there were no vacancies to be found in the whole town. Our only alternative was to continue on in the rain and cold and try to make it to Taos, New Mexico.
When we left Chama, it was 6:00pm, raining, cold and beginning to get dark. Ahead of us lay 90 miles of winding roads through the mountains. Trekking this on a motorcycle is not too bad except for the fact that your speed must be kept to a minimum in case a deer or elk decides to dart in front of you. Even though it was nerve racking, we made it to Taos, New Mexico about 9:00pm and checked into a motel for the night. I have to admit, that hot shower felt really good that night.
Friday, October 5, 2007
Destination: Taos, New Mexico to Vernon, Texas
Leader: Robert (Trip)
Weather: Sunny and Warm, temperature in the mid 80's
Miles for the day: 460+
Taos, New Mexico is an excellent place to eat breakfast. There a many cafes and restaurants to choose from. After eating breakfast, we headed out of town on Hwy. 68 until we got to Highway 518. Then we headed Southeast through the forest and over mountains toward Las Vegas, NM. It's beautiful country between Taos and Las Vegas. Perfect for riding a motorcycle. Everytime I ride through there, it makes me want to come back.
Once arriving in Las Vegas, we headed for Tucumcari by way of 104. Once in Tucumari, we stopped and ate lunch, then it was on to our destination of the day, Vernon, Texas by way of I-40 and Highway 287. We arrived in Vernon about 6:30pm. We got a room and walked across the street to a local cafe for dinner. Tomorrow, we head home and by getting to Vernon today, it makes tomorrow's ride much easier.
Saturday, October 6, 2007
Destination: Vernon, Texas to Home
Weather: Cloudy with rain, temperature in the mid 70's
Miles for the day: 150+ for Dale & Rodney / 270+ for Robert
Well, every trip must come to an end and today is no exception. Dale, Rodney, and I got up early, ate breakfast and hit the road heading South on 287 about 7:00am. Dale and Rodney stayed on 287 until they reached Ft. Worth, then they split off to go to their respective homes in the mid-cities. I split of onto Highway 380 in Decatur and headed East. I got home about 1:00pm.
We added three more states to our visit list (Utah, Arizona and Nevada) and added 3800 more miles to the grand total of miles traveled on a motorcycle. I had always heard that Utah was a beautiful state to visit, but I never expected to see such beauty all in one state. The national parks and monuments in Utah are stunning to see. I wish the pictures that I took and the video could really portray all the beauty and unique countryside that I saw. I plan on coming back and I recommend Utah to anyone as a trip on a motorcycle. As a riding friend put it to me, "Utah is Big Bend National Park on steroids". I most definitely concur.
All requests to use material from this page should be sent to Robert Hilliard.