Four Corners Loop 10/5-10/7

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by gbmaz, Oct 8, 2012.

  1. gbmaz

    gbmaz Power Newb

    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2009
    Oddometer:
    527
    Location:
    Los Alamos, NM
    This weekend I had the chance to do a 3 day loop from my home in Los Alamos, NM up to the Four Corners area. Given that this was a solo trip and my wife was out of the country (and I suck at riding sand) I opted for an almost all pavement route. I need to get back up there with a few friends and check out some of the easy dirt in the area.

    My goal for the trip was to ride as much new ground as possible while minimizing my time on anything bigger than a 2 lane road.

    Day 1:
    Hit the road around 8:30 and road through the Jemez Mountains to San Ysidro for my first fill up of the day.

    Stopped for the obligatory Valle Caldera shot:
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    And the standard shot of the bike just south of Jemez Springs:
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    After gassing up at San Ysidro I headed north up 550 and then turned off on 297 heading W/NW towards Torreon.

    297 is not the most scenic road, but you basically have it to your self:
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    At Torreon I met up with 197 which turns into Indian Service Route 9. I followed this through a bunch small rez towns until I got to Crownpoint. No pics from this section. It was pretty windy and I was just enjoying the ride. I gassed up again and picked up a drink and a candy bar to supplement my lunch. Took my only real break of the day eating my lunch in parking lot of the Basha's grocery store in Crownpoint.

    From Crownpoint I continued west on Indian Service Route 9 to 491 then north up 491 to Sheep Springs. From Sheep Springs I headed West over the Chuksa Mountains on 134. This is a beautiful ride and I regret not stopping for pics. Not as dramatic as Navajo 13 over the mountains from Shiprock, but still a nice ride.

    I finished my day heading north on Navajo 12 through Wheatfields and Tsaile to Lukachukai. Most of this is a gorgeous ride with the Chuksa Mountains to your right. Just keep an eye out for cows and horses along the road.

    At Lukachukai I spent the night with my sister and her family. She is school teacher at the middle school there. Great to see her and her husband (who actually grew up in the same house on the campus when his mom taught at the school). Really miss them and it was great to spend some time together.

    Here is a map of day 1 (300 miles total):

    <iframe src="http://dualsportmaps.com/embedMap.html?id=106369" title="Four Corners Loop Day 1 -ALT" height="600" width="800"></iframe>

    Day 2 to come later later (probably tomorrow). More pics for day 2.
    #1
  2. spoon

    spoon Rubber's gone!

    Joined:
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    I'm ready for the rest:1drink
    #2
  3. gbmaz

    gbmaz Power Newb

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    The second day started out kind of slow with some quality time visiting with my sister while she got breakfast going. She is a middle school science teacher in one of the most challenging school environments you can imagine. Her passion for her work and dedication to public education is humbling. In the midst of all her hard work she has managed to raise 4 great kids who all excel both academically and socially.

    The oldest is a freshman at Montana State on a full ride Gates Foundation scholarship (about 5% of applicants get the scholarship). I want to get her a bumper sticker that says "My kid and Bill Gates money go to MSU." :) She graduated near the top of her class at Chinle HS and is a solid young woman. The second oldest is a junior at Navajo Prep in Farmington and is a solid student and a natural leader. Expect to work for her some day or have her as your doctor. She is going places.

    The youngest 2 (in picture below) attend the K-8 school my sister teaches at. They are both gifted students and share a wicked sense of humor.

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    My sister is my hero. Whenever I hear friends with jobs that pay 3 to 4 times what she makes who have a stay at home spouse complain about how hard things are I have to hold my tongue. The vast majority of people I know could not do what she does. There is a special place in heaven for mothers like her. One where the martyred saints all say "Damn, burning at the stake was easy compared to what you went through!"

    One things that helps make the challenges she faces easier is the landscape she lives in. Here is the view from her front yard. These pictures don't do it justice. When the late evening light is on the red rock it is stunning.

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    I finally got on the road about 9:30 and headed north to 160 via Navajo 12 and Rt 191.

    Here are some shots on the ride north:

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    Still have not mastered shooting while riding:
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    I headed west on 160 to Kayenta and then north on 163. A little ways outside of Kayenta you encounter the iconic views of Monument Valley.

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    Took a few more pictures, but none of them do justice to the place. If you have not been there put it on your list and make the time. It is full of tourists, but still a stunning sight. Especially if you catch it in the morning or evening light.

    Then it it was onwards to Mexican Hat to pick up some ice tea and a candy bar to supplement my lunch. Mexican Hat is an odd little town, but I have started or ended a number of raft trips on the San Juan River there so it holds a special place in my heart.

    For lunch I headed out to Goosenecks State Park which overlooks a section of the San Juan River where it winds so much that it takes over 5 river miles to travel 1.25 miles of linear distance.

    (Yes that is a raft down there.)
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    This is the shelter where I ate lunch after the tour bus of nice folks from the UK left. I helped a few of them out with getting pictures together. Several of them had never been to the US before and were reeling with the scale of things. They started their bus trip together in NYC and had a while more to go.

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    The cool thing is that I have seen this shelter several times before....from the river while floating past 1200 feet below.


    Another shot of Monument Valley, this time from my lunch spot:

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    More to come soon.
    #3
  4. gbmaz

    gbmaz Power Newb

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
    527
    Location:
    Los Alamos, NM
    Mandatory bike shot:

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    After lunch I saddled up and road up the Moki Dugway. It is a fun little ride with great views. It was amusing to see how "extreme" some of the drivers thought it was.

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    At this point I almost decided to head back down to Mexican Hat and then east through Bluff to my final destination of Cortez. Instead I decided to continue on 261 north to 95 and made a loop around through Blanding. It is a beautiful ride but alas I had "road fever" and neglected to take any more pictures this day. I really need to work on this.

    After Blanding I headed south towards Bluff and then east on Hovenweep Road and County Road G through Mc Elmo Canyon to 491 just south of Cortez. The Mc Elmo Canyon portion was very scenic.

    Stayed at the White Eagle Inn motel just as you come in to Cortez (http://www.whiteeagleinncortez.com/). It was exactly as described a 70's vintage motel with rooms that are very clean. Ended up being about $50 for the night and they have wi-fi. Would definitely stay there again.

    Ate dinner at a pasta place just up the road (http://www.lotsapastathatzapizza.com/LP/home.html). Food was inexpensive and pretty good. Lots of good options for a mixed vegetarian/carnivore group.

    Here is the map for day 2 (280 miles total):

    <iframe src="http://dualsportmaps.com/embedMap.html?id=106382" title="Four Corners Loop Day 2" height="600" width="800"></iframe>
    #4
  5. gbmaz

    gbmaz Power Newb

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    Los Alamos, NM
    Day 3 started early with breakfast and coffee in my room. The internet said it was about freezing out as I went to leave at 7:45. Then the nice lady at the front desk to me it was 28 on their thermometer. Brrrrrrrrr!!!!

    Luckily my day riding started out with a 5 minute ride in to town to St Barnabas of the Valley Episcopal Church. I attended 8:00 services and things were quite a bit warmer as I hit the road a little after 9:00.

    The ride east on 160 was beautiful with great views as I headed through Mancos and past Mesa Verde NP. Ran into some road construction, but my longest wait was about 5 minutes. At Hesperus I turned right and headed south towards New Mexico on 140. This was a lovely ride with lots of fall color and nice views as I passed through the occasional small town.

    At La Plata I hung a left and headed east to Aztec on 574. Not a bad stretch of road, but nothing to write home about. Pretty much no traffic. At Aztec I joined gassed up and joined 550 north for a brief stretch before turning east on to 173 (Navajo Dam Rd.) I continued on out to the dam and took a few pictures of the the big marina on Navajo Lake.

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    The lake is pretty big, with lots of shoreline due to its convoluted shape. Seems pretty power boat focused, otherwise it might be fun to explore in my canoe.

    And the obligatory bike shot:

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    From here I road across the dam and south on 539 until it meets 64. From there it was a nice ride east through Dulce and on to Chama for a lunch break. I hit my usual stop at the High Country Restaurant (http://www.thehighcountrychama.com/) and had a nice steak before gassing up for the last stretch home.

    The last section down 84/64 to Espanola and up to Los Alamos is familiar ground both on the bike. It went smoothly and I pulled into my driveway around 4pm.

    Here is the map for Day 3 (280 miles total):

    <iframe src="http://dualsportmaps.com/embedMap.html?id=106411" title="Four Corners Loop Day 3" height="600" width="800"></iframe>
    #5
  6. DCZ

    DCZ Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2009
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    Location:
    Dove Creek, Co.
    Thanks for taking us along George - I too suffer from the agony of stopping a perfectly good ride to take pics.

    GoPro camera and then editing when finished might be a better option. I see several inmates here posting excellent movies from their rides but don't know how much time it takes to edit.

    Thanks again - Rick
    #6
  7. gbmaz

    gbmaz Power Newb

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    I have thought about a Go Pro, but not sure how they work for stills. I am definitely thinking about a helmet cam with a bar mounted remote. Perhaps one that shoots a burst of pictures.

    Not really interested in videos because most of my rides are not especially exciting.
    #7
  8. Gale B.T.

    Gale B.T. Long timer

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Pagosa Springs, CO.
    Great RR George, love your route for I feel the 191 part from border ,Mexico, to border,Canada, is one of the most beautiful routes in the US.

    Your pic of the over look at Gooseneck reminded me of the many times I have looked down on the San Juan at this point and wondered how long a "note in a bottle " would take between Pagosa Springs here and that over look. NEAT

    thanks gale
    #8
  9. AtomicGeo

    AtomicGeo Yep, ranked 49th.

    Joined:
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    Glad to see you got out to ride :clap.

    I did some of that route on Indian Service 9 to Crownpoint back in July...was really desolate and flat.

    :norton
    #9
  10. pcwirepro

    pcwirepro Aspiring Adventurer

    Joined:
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    Seems like a pretty versatile rig if you can log that kind of mileage and not complain about it.
    #10
  11. gbmaz

    gbmaz Power Newb

    Joined:
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    Los Alamos, NM
    The Corbin seat, Bead Rider and ExOfficio underwear are the secret. And not knowing any better because this is only my second bike and I have only been riding a little over two years. :evil

    Someday when I get a chance to log some miles of a comfy touring bike I will think "How did I do that?"

    I thinking could probably do a 400 mile day pretty easily as it is set up. I would need a few good breaks off the bike though. All the days went pretty easily and my backside was not complaining at all. The only thing that was tough was side winds on the first and third days. I always find that a bit tiring.
    #11
  12. NMTrailboss

    NMTrailboss Team Dead End

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    Albuquerque, NM
    Nice ride and photos!! :clap Thanks for sharing!
    #12
  13. coloradogoose

    coloradogoose Really?!?

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2010
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    Location:
    I can see the desert from here...
    Great ride report! I've travelled much of the road that you described and it really is beautiful! My sister spent years as an english teacher in southeastern Utah. She's A LOT tougher than I ever will be! Good on your sister for doing what she does. I can't imagine where this world would be if it weren't for people like her.
    #13
  14. gregdee

    gregdee Motocampist

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    Tijeras, NM
    Thanks for the info. Nice write up. I will try to use some of your route choices this weekend as we're headed to Monument Valley to see what all the fuss is about. We've done part of route 9 as the CDT but this might just be the opportunity to take it all the way into Crownpoint.

    Cheers.
    #14
  15. gbmaz

    gbmaz Power Newb

    Joined:
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    Los Alamos, NM
    Ironically I was reading your Big Bend ride report the other day and thinking the same thing.:D

    If you end up near Lukuchukai and have the time ride Navajo Rt 13 over the Chuksa Mountains and down by Shiprock. Unbelievably twisty and scenic. Recommend riding west to east so you do the tight twisties uphill and get to gawk at Shiprock on the downhill.

    Amazing country out that way!

    Ride safe. Perhaps we can hook up for a trip out that way sometime.
    #15
  16. zekester63

    zekester63 Been here awhile

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    Tulsa, OK
    Nice report with just about the right ratio of narrative to pictures George! Incredible scenery. I have often dreamed about living further west (than Oklahoma...) because I love that part of the country, and I hope to some day. I loved Los Alamos when we rode through with Steve a few weeks ago.

    Although riding forest roads and trails can be awesome, it sure isn't necessary to just get out and enjoy some time riding like you did on this trip. Keep up the good work!

    Happy Riding!
    #16
  17. gbmaz

    gbmaz Power Newb

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    Thanks!

    That was a really fun trip and the landscape out there is amazing. The pictures don't really do it justice. It is just a one day ride up to that area from Steve's and lots of dirt in the Four Corners. Also lots of sand which is one reason I stuck to pavement for the solo trip.

    Leaving in a few hours for a week of riding in CO, including the RMAR rally in Silverton.
    #17
  18. McRuss

    McRuss Been here awhile

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    Texas Hill Country
    Hi George,

    Just found this. Nice ride report. I grew up in Durango, have ridden many of those roads as well. As for the comment about the GoPro, not sure if you have tried one or not but I use mine almost excluseively for still shots. I set it for one shot every so often, usually 5 seconds. I just returned from Alaska where I took over 400 photos on the Denali Highway. Last year I set it for 10 seconds and rode from Ouray to Durango on the Million Dollar and had over 500 photos. I always end up using only a few but it saves stopping to get the camera out as I too would rather just ride.
    #18
  19. BigKnobby

    BigKnobby Adventurer

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    Jul 11, 2009
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    Location:
    Clinton, Utah
    Reading all of them sure gets me fired up for my impending move. I'm headed to Salt Lake City after I retire in March with the goal of seeing just how much riding I can knock out in a year off from the rat race.

    Your avatar kills me - I love it. I did some training with a guy who looked just like Beaker. My buddies and I ensured he'll carry that moniker to his grave.

    Thanks for sharing...
    #19