Monday, July 02, 2007

Colorado - Day 5

Day 5
Monday, July 2, 2007
Start: Ouray, CO, 8:30 am
End: Grand Canyon North Rim, AZ, 7:30 pm
Mileage: 514

The route for Day 5: Ouray, CO to Grand Canyon North Rim, AZ, passing through Monument Valley.

Today would be a high mileage day since we were trying to get to the Grand Canyon in time for sunset at the North Rim. We weren't expecting to ride any spectacular roads today but some sights along the way would be interesting such as Monument Valley in Arizona.

We started the day by continuing on the San Juan Scenic Byway loop by taking CO-62 to CO-145. The views from CO-62 show-cased a picturesque Rocky Mountain image. It was quite a treat to have such views for a morning ride. While railing on CO-145, we came into this opening in the trees and saw this awesome view of Trout Lake. It was the quintessential image of living in the mountains. A small lake surround by snowy peaks and pine forests. We saw a few houses around the lake and Andy was seriously considering moving out here. Further south on CO-145, the change from green forests to red rock was indicative of us getting closer to southern Utah.

What a sight to wake up to in the morning… On CO-62 (part of the San Juan Skyway) looking south at some Rocky Mountains. (Picture by Andy)

Stuck in construction traffic in the beautiful mountains…

At least the scenery was enjoyable while we waited.

6 CO-62 & CO-145 of the San Juan Skyway [8:03]
Riding CO-62 & CO-145 of the San Juan Skyway from Ridgway to Dolores, CO. Note the change from green forests to red rock towards the end of the video / Andy
Musik: Blue Oyster Cult - Don't Fear the Reaper
My Rating > Road: 4/5, Scenery: 4/5

Trout Lake, CO… mmm mmm mmm good. Andy was thinking of settling down here.

The Blue Bikez

This picture doesn’t do it justice. A beautiful lake, surround by forests and show capped mountains. (Picture by Andy)

This was actually a very mild case of Helmet-bug-itis, but nonetheless, lots of summer bugs to deal with.

The Galloping Goose in Dolores, CO. They converted trucks in the 1950s to make them freight trains in these mountains.

After breakfast in Dolores, we headed for this small short-cut called Road G that would take us from Cortez, CO into south-eastern Utah. The original plan was to head down to the Four Corners site, but since we wanted to swing by Monument Valley, we decided cut out the Four Corners to save mileage. I got confirmation from an STNer that Road G was indeed paved all the way into Utah, because it looked like a small dirt road running by itself on the maps. It ran by Ute mountain which is a lone peak in south-western Colorado. The road was a little bumpy, but not too bad an option.

We came out onto US-191 heading for Mexican Hat. But before that, we swung by Goosenecks State Park where the San Juan River's intricate carvings into the sandstone are quite a sight to behold. After that we were looking forward to stopping by the Swinging Steaks place at the Mexican Hat Lodge, but they were closed.

7 Road G [4:25]
Riding Road G from Cortez, CO into south-western Utah, going by Ute Mountain and Canyons of the Ancients National Monument / Andy
Musik: Madonna vs Daft Punk - Get Into The Groove
My Rating > Road: 4/5, Scenery: 3/5

A lonesome oil derrick on BIA-5068 in the south-eastern part of Utah having just crossed from Colorado on Rd-G.

Interesting rock formation at the intersection of UT-163 and US-191.

The road to nowhere… actually it's heading to Mexican Hat, UT.

Erosion is the name of the artist in southern Utah and here's another fine example of her work.

Red rock formations… abound in this part of the state.

Goosenecks State Park near Mexican Hat, UT.

The little San Juan river is responsible for this stunning canyon.

The group at Goosenecks State Park: Steven, Rick, me with Aileen and Andy. (Picture by Andy)

Looks like someone painted those patterns on those hills, on US-163.

The rock formation that gives Mexican Hat its name.

Since we had come down from nice and cool Colorado, the rise in temperature required the use of our cooling vests. These are simply nylon quilted vests that need to be soaked in cold water and then worn under a perforated jacket. As air moves over the vest, evaporative cooling keeps the core of your body cool. Rewetting is required every 2 hours or so in 100F weather.

Putting on our cooling vests in Mexican Hat at this spanking new Shell (stood out in the stark desert). We had hoped to eat at the Swinging Steaks place, but they were closed.

Rick and his super bright High-Viz cooling vest. Seriously, what's the point of a high-viz cooling vest when it's going to worn under the jacket???

After seeing lots of pictures of Monument Valley in movies, cartoons, ride reports, etc., I thought it wouldn't be that big a deal. But coming around the corner and seeing the road heading straight into the distance with the peaks of Monument Valley bearing down was an awesome sight. From here, we headed up to Page, AZ to check out Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Powell.

8 Monument Valley on US-191 & US-163 [3:13]
Riding the open roads through Mexican Hat, UT and Monument Valley (US-191 and US-163). Some top speeds runs first and then the stunning scenery of Monument Valley / Andy
Musik: Franz Ferdinand - Take Me Out
My Rating > Road: 4/5, Scenery: 4/5

The classic shot of Monument Valley on US-163, just south of Mexican Hat. It is quite outstanding.

Another pic with the sky and desert harmonizing.

This was as close as we got. When there's more time, I hear the jeep tour through the actual park is definitely worth it.

Rick, at the border with Utah and Arizona with Monument Valley in the background. (Picture by Rick)

Looking back at the group riding through the Navajo Indian Reservation on US-163 towards Kayenta, AZ.

Andy, re-soaking his cooling vest in an auto shop in Kayenta (there were no restrooms around).

Rick's always been on my case about not paying enough attention to wildlife on the side of the roads that could be a potential hazard to us. And it didn't help that while leading on this road, I somehow missed seeing a heard of sheep that were sitting right next to the shoulder. They weren't on the road, so what was the worry? I'm telling you, he spends more time looking for animals in the woods than paying attention to the road!

The nice thing about the open desert is that radar from the enforcement travels uninterrupted for a long distance. We got a blip about 10 miles out which slowly strengthened and we cruised by the officer doing the speed limit. Not to be facetious, but I was smirking and saying to the officer in my helmet, "you have a radar gun, I have a radar detector." :)

It was extremely hot as we pulled into Page with temps near the 120F range. After a quick lunch at Jack in the Box, we swung by for a few views of the dam and the lake, which looked very inviting with its bright blue contrasting with the red rock. Then, we were heading straight to our lodge just outside the Grand Canyon's North Rim.

On AZ-98 heading towards Page, AZ.

Rick, Steven and Andy on AZ-98.

It was blistering hot, around 115 F and not a breeze in sight. Check out the vapor heading straight up from the smoke stacks.

Glen Canyon Dam near Page, AZ.

The dammed man-made Lake Powell. This dam was a little controversial as it flooded many beautiful canyons and submerged lots of archeological and wildlife habitat areas. It took 17 years to fill the lake up.

The bridge of US-89 crossing the Colorado River at Lake Powell.

Heading south on US-89 towards US-89 Alt, just before the intersection, the view after traversing the closed-wall Antelope Pass is quite dramatic. Only then do you realize that you've been riding on a huge plateau as a big valley opens up below you. This valley is the northern most point of the Grand Canyon, of which we would be riding through to get to the North Rim. We passed Marble Canyon and the Cliff Dwellers (rocks that rolled down from the cliff). It was still quite hot but I still managed to stop for pictures as I'm not going to coming through this area anytime soon again. What's a little sweat, eh?

From there, the road rides very much straight in the big valley until we started climbing the valley walls into the cooler climate of the Kaibab National Forest. We climbed reaching up to 8,000 ft at the North Rim. The elevation change in this part of the country, and that experienced by us on this trip was very much welcomed compared to the flatlands of the Midwest.

Just south of Antelope Pass on US-89 near US-89 Alt intersection. Riding on a plateau behind us, the view suddendly opened up to this huge valley, which we would be riding through.

Looking back at Steven on US-89 Alt riding in a big valley. It was extremely hot at this point, hovering around 110 F.

Cool rock formations at Marble Canyon.

Rick and Andy with Marble Canyon in the background.

Heading to the North Rim of The Grand Canyon.

We were patiently waiting for this road to finally meet those hills in the distance so that we could climb out of this heat and ride some twisties.

Looking down at the valley that we were in. Looks like a glacier could have done this back in the Ice Age…

The twisty part of US-89 Alt with the previous long straight section down in the valley.

A turn on US-89 Alt with the expansive valley below.

The Grand Canyon Highway of AZ-67 from US-89 Alt towards the North Rim was a real gem of tarmac. The road is very smooth and wide with endless sweepers. The forest fire damage from the previous year that closed down this part of the park was still quite evident. However, the greenery further south makes this a truly enjoyable run, especially at sunset.

9 Kaibab Road, AZ-67, Grand Canyon Highway [5:45]
Riding AZ-67, the Grand Canyon Highway to the North Rim and to Kaibab Lodge. Notice all the trees burnt from a previous forest fire. Don't you just love those never-ending sweepers... / Andy
Musik: The Jimi Hendrix Experience - All Along The Watchtower
My Rating > Road: 5/5, Scenery: 4/5

We booked a cabin at the Kaibab Lodge, just north of the park entrance so that we could take in the sunset at the Grand Canyon. After showering up and unloading our luggage, we set off and enjoyed a beautiful sunset at the North Rim. It really is an awe-inspiring sight. We sat on the edge of the canyon and just relaxed as the sun winded down. It must've looked quite funny to the other tourists there to see us walking around up and over the rocks in our riding gear. And Andy and his extremely squeaky Oxtar boots should've been banned for the noise disturbance. I don't care if they're a good deal; I'll pay more for less squeaky boots. On the way back to the lodge, we enjoyed a nice little night ride. Even though we did over 500 miles today, having an awesome destination helps keep the motivation going throughout the day.

Riding through the Kaibab National Forest on our way to the North Rim of The Grand Canyon after unloading our luggage at the Kaibab Lodge.

Profile view of the awesome GSX-R machine.

Entering the park. We got there after 6 pm and the ticket booths were closed, so we went in for free. Yeah.

Yours truly.

The road was nice and twisty in the park, but we just saw the park ranger go by…

Oh the pain of doing the speed limit of 35 mph.

The Grand Canyon.

"Ok, I've seen it all, I'm ready to jump." Nahhh, just stretching and taking in the awesome view. But if I had a base jumper's parachute… hmmm… (Picture by Andy)

Andy with the setting sun.

Just taking it all in…

Definitely worth coming here at sunset. (Picture by Andy)

Quite a few other people were just sitting on cliffs and admiring nature's work. (Picture by Andy)

Yup, that was my view.

We rode from Chicago for this. Click the picture for the full size version. (Picture by Andy)

A panoramic view of the North Rim. Click the picture for the full size version. (Picture by Andy)

The sun quickly tucking away past the canyon wall. (Picture by Andy)

Andy, Grand Canyon

A Grand Canyon Sunset.

A US Geological Survery Datum stating the elevation at 8,153 ft. at Bright Angel Point.

Trying to capture the full moon from our lodge. (Picture by Andy)

10 Kaibab Road Night, Grand Canyon North Rim [4:15]
Riding back just after sunset from the Grand Canyon North Rim to the Kaibab Lodge. It's lighter than it looks due to my dark windscreen / Andy
Musik: Eric Clapton - I Shot the Sheriff
My Rating > Road: 3/5, Scenery: 2/5

Next: Day 6, Zion & Bryce Natl Park

Ride Report Index

No comments: