Sierra Vista AZ to Paonia CO and Back through Moab UT

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by AZ-Twin, Jul 29, 2008.

  1. AZ-Twin

    AZ-Twin Dusty and Thirsty

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2007
    Oddometer:
    1,335
    Location:
    Sierra Vista, AZ
    I have been hooked on ADV for almost a year now. Here is my first ride report.

    -A little about me and my bike

    I am 36 years old, like to ride dirt and street, and do all my own wrenching. Till now the longest ride I had been on was a multiday trip from Arizona to Arkansas in 1999. I was on a Ducati 900 Monster and the purpose of the trip was to visit family and attend a Rally in Eureka Springs AR. It was a good ride but the Ducati is not really a touring bike in my opinion. So I never went on any longer trips until I bought my R1200S last year. The R1200S in not really a touring bike either, but I find it to be comfortable and offer some wind protection. It works great for me.
    This trip the BMW and I went to Paonia, Colorado to attend the Top of the Rockies rally. I would also meet my brother there, and some folks I have met through another board focusing on the BMW R1100S/R1200S.

    -The Route

    There are a few roads I wanted to ride from Sierra Vista to Paonia. One is HWY 180 up the western side of NM. I have ridden 191 in AZ a few times, and since I am trying to make time I decided to take the less twisty but still fun 180. I also wanted to ride the million dollar highway from Durango CO to Montrose. It is US 550 and is truly a wonderful ride. On the way home Moab and Monument Valley are on the list.

    Day 1

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    So I made my way from Sierra Vista AZ to Paonia CO in 1.5 days. I spent the night at the Cottonwood campground near Farmington NM and the Navajo Dam.

    I rolled out of Sierra Vista AZ early for me, about 0900. I am not a morning person so I don’t generally get on the road at the crack of dawn.
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    I took a few pictures along the way, here are some views of the desert southwest during monsoon season, note how green the desert is. This lasts till mid September, and then it dries out again.

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    Here is my camp site. The camping area was hard to find due to the lack of signs, but it was a nice place near the river.

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    The first day of riding was hot, I did not take a lot of pictures. I will post up more pictures of the rally, and sites around Paonia tomorrow. Paonia is in a beautiful part of the country.
    #1
  2. zadok

    zadok Long timer

    Joined:
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    Location:
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    Nice looking bike, Rob. I like those sweeping roads too.:D:lurk
    #2
  3. AZ-Twin

    AZ-Twin Dusty and Thirsty

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2007
    Oddometer:
    1,335
    Location:
    Sierra Vista, AZ
    Day 2

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    I made it from my camp site near Farmington NM to Paonia, CO. This was a pretty short ride, just a few hundred miles.
    Here is a shot of the Navajo Dam
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    If you ever get the chance to ride from Durango to Ouray, CO on US 550, AKA the Million Dollar Highway then do it. It is a beautiful ride with lots of curves and great views. I must warn you, <style>ns */ @font-face {font-family:"Cambria Math"; panose-1:2 4 5 3 5 4 6 3 2 4; mso-font-charset:1; mso-generic-font-family:roman; mso-font-format:eek:ther; mso-font-pitch:variable; mso-font-signature:0 0 0 0 0 0;} @font-face {font-family:Calibri; panose-1:2 15 5 2 2 2 4 3 2 4; mso-font-charset:0; mso-generic-font-family:swiss; mso-font-pitch:variable; mso-font-signature:-1610611985 1073750139 0 0 159 0;} /* Style Definitions */ p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal {mso-style-unhide:no; mso-style-qformat:yes; mso-style-parent:""; margin-top:0in; margin-right:0in; margin-bottom:10.0pt; margin-left:0in; line-height:115%; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:11.0pt; font-family:"Calibri","sans-serif"; mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-fareast-font-family:Calibri; mso-fareast-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi;} .MsoChpDefault {mso-style-type:export-only; mso-default-props:yes; mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-fareast-font-family:Calibri; mso-fareast-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi;} .MsoPapDefault {mso-style-type:export-only; margin-bottom:10.0pt; line-height:115%;} @page Section1 {size:8.5in 11.0in; margin:1.0in 1.0in 1.0in 1.0in; mso-header-margin:.5in; mso-footer-margin:.5in; mso-paper-source:0;} div.Section1 {page:Section1;} --> </style><!--[if gte mso 10]> <style> /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-priority:99; mso-style-qformat:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin-top:0in; mso-para-margin-right:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:10.0pt; mso-para-margin-left:0in; line-height:115%; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:11.0pt; font-family:"Calibri","sans-serif"; mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-fareast-theme-font:minor-fareast; mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;} </style> <![endif]--> if you are afraid of heights, there are some large stretches of highway with no guardrail. If you fall, it will be a Long Way Down. :D

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    I stopped for lunch in Ouray, a nice little town in the mountains.
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    I snapped a shot of the restaurant and the meal but for some reason they did not come out.
    After lunch I headed up the road to Paonia. Not much to mention except the final leg of the journey from US50 near the Blue Mesa Reservoir to Paonia is a wonderful road, CO hwy 92. Lots of wonderful views, nice curves, and more drop offs with no Armco barrier, so be careful. Unfortunately only one pic came out. Time for a new camera I guess.
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    I arrived at the rally and setup camp. This is the first time I attended this rally and it was a wonderful time. The nice lawn made camping good, lots of food, beverage (beer) and entertainment. I made some new friends and had a good time.
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    Top of the Rockies is a good party. I know some of you were there, I saw several ADV stickers while looking at the collection of bikes.
    #3
  4. lightfighter

    lightfighter where does this go?

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2007
    Oddometer:
    2,303
    Location:
    Sierra Vista AZ.
    how was the food in durango? should i listen to a local, or just go for the carne asada?
    #4
  5. AZ-Twin

    AZ-Twin Dusty and Thirsty

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2007
    Oddometer:
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    Location:
    Sierra Vista, AZ
    Lightfighter

    The only thing I did in Durango was buy a smoke visor for my Shoei. I am sure good food is to be had, but I zipped through.

    I saw you started a thread, when are you off to Moab? 128 North out of Moab is wonderful for picture taking, and lots of dirt roads that looked interesting, you GS will be great. I wish I would have bought a Nikon for this trip. I look forward to your pictures.
    #5
  6. lightfighter

    lightfighter where does this go?

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2007
    Oddometer:
    2,303
    Location:
    Sierra Vista AZ.
    im leaving in a couple hours... thanks for the inspiration.:clap
    #6
  7. GB

    GB . Administrator

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2002
    Oddometer:
    61,694
    Gorgeous Colorado riding :thumb

    :lurk
    #7
  8. AZ-Twin

    AZ-Twin Dusty and Thirsty

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2007
    Oddometer:
    1,335
    Location:
    Sierra Vista, AZ
    Day 3
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    Friday was a good day. Instead of going on the group rides or canned entertainment of the rally I decided to go looking around on my own. I enjoy riding by myself because I can stop and take pictures, or look at sights and not worry about holding up a group. I rode North out of Paonia to Carbondale, then through Aspin over Independence Pass, which is a beautiful ride. The road had some chipseal and gravel on it west of the summit, but the east side was nice blacktop. Breathtaking views that my pictures do not adequately capture, but here is what I saw. The beauty of this area reminds me of when I lived in Bavaria in the mid 90s, and used to travel to the Austrian Alps to Ski.
    Views from Carbondale, and over Independence Pass.
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    <o:p> </o:p>
    I made a big loop back to Paoina through Monarch Pass. Unfortunately it was raining so the view was not very good at Monarch Pass. I will have to try again next time. I passed through Gunnison and rode 92 through black canyon again.
    It was a great day of riding and beautiful sights even if I did get wet.

    I have not mentioned it but I have been rained on and had water in my boots every day of this ride. My leather pants go inside my boots so as it rains my boots fill up. In the Southwest this time of year a little rain is expected. I usually ride through it, and then dry off quickly. I usually don’t bother to put my rain gear on but I may have to rethink this, or get some vented boots with drain holes.
    #8
  9. AZ-Twin

    AZ-Twin Dusty and Thirsty

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2007
    Oddometer:
    1,335
    Location:
    Sierra Vista, AZ
    Day 4
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    Saturday was another beautiful day in Paonia. Friday night was pretty fun and I probably had a few too many beers so I had a bit of a hangover, which was no big deal. A good breakfast and some coffee fixed me right up. I went on a ride with my brother and his friend Craig. Craig is an excellent photographer and I know him through another board my brother and I are both on. My brother has recently taken up photography as a hobby so the mission for the day was to go find some good things to take pictures of. Keep in mind that I am using a Kodak P&S camera on this trip (which is malfunctioning) so the pictures are less than I would like them to be. I have since purchased a Nikon DSLR and am looking forward to my next trip to take some better pictures to share.

    We left Paonia and rode west to Hotchkiss, then north from Austin through Grand Mesa which was beautiful. Unfortunately we got rained on some (more water in my boots) and picture taking was not the best. Also where we stopped mosquitoes were carrying us away. We snapped some pictures, then decided to pack up and head for the desert to take some pictures of red rocks.

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    Craig takes some magnificent pictures of the desert as he lives in Moab Utah, and is an amazing photographer. Bill wanted to try his hand at photographing red rocks, and I just wanted to ride. So we left in the rain and headed north to I-70, then we took the slab to Grand Junction and ventured into the Colorado national Monument. This is a beautiful park with lots of great views. Again if you don&#8217;t like heights, be careful as there are sections of road with no guard rail, and if you go off, you will most definitely fall to your death. Here are a few pictures I took.
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    After the park we headed back to Paonia on US 50. Not much of a day on paper as I write it, but the riding was wonderful, and the experience was one I will remember for a lifetime. It is not often I get to spend time with my brother as we live 1300 miles apart. Family time on motorcycles is good.
    #9
  10. dave6253

    dave6253 GCBAR Explorer

    Joined:
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    Wow! Nice photos. Cool bikes. This shot is really inspiring. I must make it there soon. Thanks for sharing neighbor.
    #10
  11. AZ-Twin

    AZ-Twin Dusty and Thirsty

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2007
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    Location:
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    Thank you. That is a beautiful part of the country. I am anxious to go back.
    #11
  12. bradley gt2

    bradley gt2 .....

    Joined:
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    Gwinnett, Georgia
    looks like blast!
    #12
  13. AZ-Twin

    AZ-Twin Dusty and Thirsty

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2007
    Oddometer:
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    Location:
    Sierra Vista, AZ
    Sunday morning it was time to head home. I packed up and was on the road by 0930. Remember I am not a morning person so that is early for me. :norton
    My goal was to make to home in two days, and see some nice stuff along the way. So often for me the trip homes turns into nothing more than a mission to get home as fast as possible, and I miss out on part of the trip. This time I decided I would savor the trip home and enjoy it as much as every other day of the trip. I planned a route home through Moab and Monument Valley. I also called the wife and got a hotel room in Flagstaff due to severe weather in AZ during the monsoon season. I know, I wussed out on the last night, but a bed would feel good.

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    So from the rally to I 70 to Utah was pretty boring. It started to get good when I got off the interstate at the Cisco exit. I made my way on US6 to Utah 128 south.
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    First stop was at the Dewey Bridge, which was burnt down recently by a fire started by campers. A shame, I hope they get it restored soon.
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    South to Moab the road goes along the Colorado river, winding through beautiful red mesas. I stopped several times to take pictures. This truly is beautiful country. I would like to spend a few days in this area exploring the numerous dirt roads and nation park land. Here are some shots along 128.
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    I stopped for lunch in Moab, again no food photo, then headed south. It is beautiful though there in places, and boring desert in other places. I did start to catch up to some rain and I decided to put my rain gear on. I have had water in my boots every day, so I put on my rain paints and had the jacket handy.
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    Here are some shots down through Utah towards Arizona.
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    Mexican Hat
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    Monument Valley
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    I like this one. FYYFF. :D
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    This is my favorite. I will go back with a good camera some day.

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    Into AZ and to flagstaff is uneventful, and not the most beautiful strip of road in the world. It is hot and fast to flagstaff.
    I arrive in flagstaff and call the wife to find out where my Hotel is, she made the reservation the day before. She gives me directions, we joke that she is my On Star.

    I arrive at the hotel and unpack.

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    It was windy so I stashed the bike in the stairwell safe from any storms.
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    I am ready for a real bed, I have a beer, eat a MRE, and go to bed.
    #13
  14. AZ-Twin

    AZ-Twin Dusty and Thirsty

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2007
    Oddometer:
    1,335
    Location:
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    Today is uneventful. I get up, eat breakfast, and hit the road. I avoid interstate as much as possible and ride some beautiful roads through AZ. Most folks think of AZ as flat desert and cactus. That is accurate for a good portion of the state, but we have some beautiful mountainous areas also. Unfortunately since I ride this area often I did not take a lot of pictures.

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    Lake Mary Road SE out of Flagstaff is very nice. It goes along a couple lakes, and down through Happy jack to AZ 87.
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    Here is another of my favorite. I always know when I am close to home. This is near Roosevelt lake.

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    Here is the bridge near Roosevelt Dam.

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    I love this sign, a bit of everything.

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    And I arrive home safely after almost a week away. It was a great trip and a lot of fun. If anyone tells you a BMW R1200s is not a sport touring bike they are wrong. I felt great after every day, and was always ready to hop on the bike.
    A wonderful trip has come to an end.

    I look forward to the next time now.
    #14
  15. dave6253

    dave6253 GCBAR Explorer

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    I enjoyed your RR! You shot some very nice photos! :clap
    #15
  16. joedoe

    joedoe Armchair Adventurer!

    Joined:
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    Location:
    S.E. Washington State
    Nice Ride!
    Nice Pics indeed.
    Love that high def. too.
    #16
  17. achesley

    achesley Old Motorcyclist

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    Location:
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    I'll have to wait till I get home to view the pics. Way too big for my slow at work in the gulf internet connection. But looks to be a good story.
    #17
  18. AZ-Twin

    AZ-Twin Dusty and Thirsty

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2007
    Oddometer:
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    Location:
    Sierra Vista, AZ
    Thanks!!

    Sorry if the pictures were too big. I generally go by the 1000 wide rule when posting on a board. I figure most folks are running at least 1074x768. If I should make them smaller let me know.

    Thanks for all the positive comments. I am anxious to get out on the bike again.
    #18
  19. lightfighter

    lightfighter where does this go?

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2007
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    Location:
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    hey rob, are you planning on going again? next year I think we need to head up there together.... i like your routes better than my own in some cases...
    #19
  20. AZ-Twin

    AZ-Twin Dusty and Thirsty

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
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    Location:
    Sierra Vista, AZ
    Sounds good to me. Our timing was off by a couple weeks this year. Nice pics on your RR. I got a Nikon, now I need to learn how to use it. :D
    #20