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Old 01-14-2007, 09:10 AM   #1
neiltkool OP
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El Camino del Diablo: Pictures and Info

Hi Everyone,

This is my first attempt at posting a Ride Report with pictures, so please forgive me if I make any mistakes. After having to sell my much-loved XR650R last month (hope you're enjoying the bike Luca!) I'm in a bit of a depressed mood and thought I'd share some pictures of one of the best rides and dual-sport adventures that I ever took with that bike.

Last year my wife and I decided to drive down from our home in Beaverton, Oregon to visit her family for Christmas in Yuma, Arizona. Sensing an opportunity to take some time for myself and play in the desert, I made the necessary arrangments to trailer my bike down and go riding on the day after Christmas (2005). After doing a little research online, I came upon what I thought would be the perfect one-day, solo adventure: El Camino del Diablo or The Road of the Devil. It's basically the remnants of an old native american and indian trail that has been used by many different people for hundreds and hundreds of years. Today it's a rough, dirt, rock and sandy "point to point" 4WD road that extends from Yuma to Ajo, Arizona. Here are some of my favorite pictures from my ride that day.
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El Camino Del Diablo
Oregon Back Country Discovery Route
Continental Divide Ride

neiltkool screwed with this post 01-15-2007 at 12:05 PM
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Old 01-14-2007, 09:20 AM   #2
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Risky beginning though. Starting ride reports with no pics can bite ya.
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Old 01-14-2007, 09:26 AM   #3
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Pictures

Here's what the road looks like near it's west end (riding towards the east). After leaving the Fairfield Inn in Yuma and stopping for one last splash of gas on Foothills Boulevard, I was on my way.

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Old 01-14-2007, 09:29 AM   #4
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Looks good!! Keep it comin'
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Old 01-14-2007, 09:40 AM   #5
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More Pictures

Sorry, I hit the wrong button and inadvetantly posted that first message before attaching a picture. I think I've got it figured out now though.

This is the view after just crossing over the Tinajas Altas Mountain Range. As you can see, the road at this point was in excellent shape and the scenery was just incredible.

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Old 01-14-2007, 10:05 AM   #6
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Sorry, I'm still having a hard time trying to post more than one picture at a time. Hopefully I've got it figured out now.

I like this next picture alot because I think it really conveys the isolation and remoteness of this area. Look closely and you should be able to see the road strechting way off into the distance towards the next mountain range.



One thing great about El Camino del Diablo is that it's contantly changing. The scenery, the vegetation, and even the road surface was constantly different. I was surprised at just how diverse the desert landscape really was.



This is an old house located at Tule well. I'm sure it's seen better days, but I still thought it was in remarkable condition given it's apparent age. It must be that dry, desert enviornment.

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Old 01-14-2007, 11:04 AM   #7
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At one point in the ride, there seemed like there was just an endless number of these soft, sandy two-track berms. I quickly learned to cross back and forth over the center and rail the outside line, as getting too close to the inside of any corner might result in a painful scratch. It seemed like every bush and schrub in the desert was armed with some sort of thorns or spikes.


This was my first experience with a dry silt bed. This stuff was incredible; it was powdery dry, yet deep enough to bog down the engine. When I stopped to take this picture I swear I was in it more than half way up to my axles, and to get going again I had to fan the clutch and paddle with my feet, just like if were stuck in a deep mud hole back home. Weird.



A good reminder to always keep it safe when riding alone.



This is kind of a funny story. At this point in the ride I'd already been stopped by one Border Patrol agent earlier in the morning. He was extremely nice and polite and after checking me out, warned me that there had been a drug smuggler/illegal border crosser also seen on a motorcycle in the area earlier that day and that I would probably be stopped again during the course of my ride. Anyway, while I was riding along at a pretty good clip I passed the above grave marker just as I was cresting a rise. I'm sure I kicked up a fair amount of dust as I turned around to double back and check out the grave, when just then I spotted this Border Patrol agent up ahead and coming towards me, but still a ways off in the distance. I knew I'd have some explaining to do if I continued to turn around and ride away from the agent, but I really wanted to check out that grave marker so I did it anyway. Wow, all I can say is that those Humvees can really move across the desert when they need to. In the end, everything turned all right. After a few terse moments while questioning me and checking out my paperwork, the agent turned out to be really cool. In fact, I think he even radioed ahead for me as even though I saw another two Border Patrol agents later that day, neither one of them asked me to stop and just waved me by. Cool.

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Do the things that are important to you, sooner rather than later.

El Camino Del Diablo
Oregon Back Country Discovery Route
Continental Divide Ride

neiltkool screwed with this post 01-14-2007 at 12:52 PM
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Old 01-14-2007, 11:17 AM   #8
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Old 01-14-2007, 11:30 AM   #9
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Cool. Good report so far.

Nice to know the BP are out there doing their job.

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Old 01-14-2007, 12:14 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by neiltkool

This was my first experience with a dry silt bed. This stuff was incredible: it was powdery dry, yet deep enough to bog down the engine. When I stopped to take this picture I swear I was in it more than half way up to my axles, and to get going again I had to fan the clutch and paddle with my feet just like if were stuck in a deep mud hole back home. Weird.


AKA moon dust. That stuff sucks!
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Old 01-14-2007, 12:46 PM   #11
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Last Set

At one point for what seemed like several miles, there were these weird iron two-tracks set up in the middle of nowhere. I'm not exactly sure what they were for, but my guess is that they allow heavy trucks and non-4WD vehicles to cross the soft sand. I couldn't decide if it was better to ride up on top of the steel or off to the sides along side of it. I ended up sliding around and doing a little of both.



One of my favorite pictures from that day.



That's me. (I carry a little plastic tripod that I can strap around sign posts and tree branches, etc.)



Well, that was it. The section of the El Camino del Diablo that I rode turned out to be 125 miles, point to point, all off-pavement. In the entire distance, I only saw four other vehicles that day and they were all U.S. Border Patrol agents. The distance between fuel stations was approximately 135 miles and as I'm sure you could tell, there was pretty much nothing in between. To ride this section of the El Camino you'll need to get a couple of permits. One to enter the Barry Goldwater Military Reserve and the other for the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge. I'd read reports that it was difficult, if not impossible, for motocycle riders to get permission to ride in this area, yet I had no problems dealing with either the Marine Air Base folks in Yuma or the National Wildlife people. Maybe I just got lucky, who knows. I know one thing that may have helped out though is that I took care of all of my paperwork and permits a month before leaving for my trip. Maybe being from out of state helped a little to. Knowing that I was going to be riding through the area just the one time, and not every weekend, may have helped me get permission to, I don't know.

As I said in the beginning of this report, I rode my trusted XR650R on this ride and would highly recommend other such dirt orientated dual-sport machines for anyone attempting this route. The terrain and road surface isn't too terribly challenging, but due to the many sections of soft sand I'm quite certain that that I couldn't have made it on my DL650 V-Strom. Not in one day at least. I'm pretty familiar with the KTM950 and think that with the right tires, that would be about the largest and heaviest bike that I would feel comfortable taking on this route.

I'm a pretty fair, although now old and out of shape, off-road rider and even riding along at a pretty good clip it still took me me just over five and a half hours of "moving time" to make it from Yuma to Ajo. Add in time to stop and take pictures and the requisite Border Patrol encounters and you could easily end up taking seven total hours just for the dirt section of this ride alone.

After I made it to Ajo, where I ate lunch and fueled up, I rode back to Yuma on Highway 85 and Interstate 8. It was kind of a long and crappy way to end the day, but I had no choice as I had to make it back that night. The entire day's ride turned out to be just over 300 miles and even though I left right at dawn, I still had to ride the last half an hour in the dark becuase of the short winter days. If I were to do it again I'd try to stay overnight in either Yuma or Ajo, and then ride the dirt section back the next day in the opposite direction. Anything really to avoid that long and boring pavement stetch again.

I can't really think of any other tips or information that I can share at this time. All I can say is that the El Camino represents a fantastic, remote, desert southwest, long distance dual-sport adventure for anyone who's in to that type of thing. If anyone has any questions or would like a copy of my GPS tracklog, please feel free to ask.

I hope you enjoyed the pictures, -Neil

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El Camino Del Diablo
Oregon Back Country Discovery Route
Continental Divide Ride

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Old 01-14-2007, 01:23 PM   #12
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Those steel planks are PSP, or Perforated steel planking, which were originally used for setting up airstrips in remote locations. Sometimes they're now used for sand ladders to keep 4wds from sinking or getting unstuck....

That's too many to be left by someone in a 4wd...my guess is that someone wanted to land a small ultralight or other aircraft on that road....

Great views!

-H-
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Old 01-14-2007, 02:10 PM   #13
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Cool Report, Thanks

That PSP stuff is also called marsden matting.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marsden_Matting
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Old 01-14-2007, 03:18 PM   #14
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Excellent!! Great looking pics too!
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Old 12-30-2007, 07:25 PM   #15
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You Lucky Dog !!!!!

I somehow stumbled across this thread and just about fell out of my computer chair. I have studied, plotted, canived, lied, routed, GPS'd, tried to get a permit and read everything about riding a motorcycle across the El Camino El Diablo trail for years.

Everything I read said they only allowed 4-wheel drive vehicles------that's it.

I was aware of the permits and made several calls to get one. One time a guy told me that it was fine to ride a bike out there and I burned his ear for about 20 minutes asking him questions about it----I was all set to go. Then his boss came in (a woman) and he wanted to verify this with her-------she said "Oh no--motorcycles are not allowed out there" .

Crap-----------foiled again. So I gave up---and now see the pictures and story of you riding across the trail.

You may be the only motorcyclist to ever do this---you lucky dog !!!

I bet you got your permit from the guy that told me it was OK----and now he's probably fired from his boss

Anyway glad to read about it---maybe I'll try again someday---as I have ridden a jillion sections of trail in Arizona-------you can read that tale here
http://bigdogadventures.com/Arizona1.htm


Thanks for the story and pics !!!!
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