Southwest Utah: Dual Sport Riding from St. George

Discussion in 'Day Trippin'' started by RedRockRider, Sep 16, 2011.

  1. Bob

    Bob Formerly H20Pumper

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    RRR thanks for all the great ride reports and pics! The family outings are always nice too.
  2. RedRockRider

    RedRockRider Long timer

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    Hey Idaho Scout,

    Late December riding in St. George, 2-up on a KLR 650. Sounds like fun. So much depends on weather, and whether or not there have been recent rains. Sounds like you know the St. George area, at least a bit. Best suggestion is to buy Benchmark Utah map and browse some of the rides in this thread. Index on page one should help.

    Generally, you want to stay around St. George or head west and/or south. For the most part this is lower elevation. You want to avoid east or north, higher elevations.

    As mentioned, a road ride through Zion is fun and rather unique with the tunnel. Also, you can ride on the road in the main canyon in winter. Very special to look straight upwards at the cliffs. Zion is slightly higher elevation than St. George, especially the east side above the tunnel. You may have to watch for ice. I would not venture off on dirt roads in this area. Zion on pavement would be more sightseeing as opposed to moto riding. Still very worthwhile.

    The "back" way into Zion is Smith Mesa. Good dirt that connects to the Kolob Reservoir Road. If there have been recent rains, the Smith Mesa Road will have a few mudholes that just might not be that much fun. Unlikely to hold snow for long, but things don't dry out at that time of year. Post #238 is description of Smith Mesa.

    The Kolob Reservoir Road, as mentioned, is scenic, but will quickly lead to snow. Keep lower unless you have studded tires for the KLR.

    Overall, the best area close to St. George for 1/2 day to full day rides is the Mojave Desert Joshua Tree Scenic Backway. Due west of St. George. There is some ground that is higher, but unlikely to hold snow. Many of the dirt roads have a higher rock/gravel content, not prone to mud. Lots of this is very 2-up friendly. Other bits would be better for solo riders. You can easily gauge this as you start.

    Many of these rides are accessed from Navajo Drive in Bloomington. Other main access points are on Old Highway #91, both on the Utah side of the hill and the AZ/Nevada side. You can always use #91 for a fast route back to St. George although it will be a bit colder as you blast on pavement back up over the top. Here are a few rides in this area: Post #17, #44, #95, #533.

    Both the Motoqua Road and the Eardley Road head west from Old #91. These are both easy rides and generally lose elevation as the head towards Beaver Dam Wash. Very possible to cross Beaver Dam Wash and make loops, possibly going as far as Caliente, NV although this is full day out and back and daylight will not be on your side.

    Some rides from the Motoqua and Eardley Roads: #102, #120, #144 Indian Spring Trail (very nice), #250, #538 (loops back to Gunlock Reservoir!!).

    You could head out onto the AZ Strip, but distances are long and daylight will hurt you. Generally you will gain elevation and some of these roads are extremely prone to mud. This is the kind of mud that will stop you. Unless you are confident I would limit yourself to shorter trips on the AZ Strip in winter, or at least keep on the main gravel roads. A few shorter AZ rides are: #22 Petroglyphs, #276 Maple Canyon, easy access.

    If you have never been to Toroweap, then you should figure out a way to make it happen. Probably the most spectacular Grand Canyon viewpoint. Not sure if winter is the time to make this trip. Definite "no" if mud is possibility.

    Close to St. George on the east side of town is Warner Valley. This is much more of a single track, recreational riding area. Still lots of nice riding in the area including shorter forays onto the AZ Strip. Sample posts: #171, #199.

    If you haven't been to Snow Canyon State Park, it is worth a visit, although this is all paved and scenic, not really a moto experience. Could combine with the Veyo Loop and a dirt/gravel detour on the Sand Cove Reservoir Road and Gunlock Reservoir. Some good twisty pavement with relatively few cars. Posts #49, #50.

    If you want to venture further from St. George, then Mesquite and the Gold Butte area (Whitney Pockets) offer a lot. This is lower elevation and will be warmer and probably drier. But, these are longer days from St. George, watch the daylight unless you just want to slab back up I-15 through the Virgin River Gorge. Not ideal, but I have done it lots of times on all my bikes including the TW.

    Have fun riding. There's always a chance I'll be around. Drop a PM when you are in the area. Perhaps we'll catch a ride together. Remember, pay attention to recent rain, and don't venture onto higher dirt roads without being ready to turn around at the first sign of trouble.

    Take care, RRR.
  3. Hoot Gibson

    Hoot Gibson Banned

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    after my "retirement" in the Summer of 2003, I hitched my Jeep Wrangler to the back of various Motor Homes, and delivered them around the 48 and Canada....St George was one{among several in the west} place I really loved exploring on my return trips back to Ohio and Indiana, from Vegas, SLC, and California....I thought I saw much of the area via the Jeep...now, nearing age 65, your RR has convinced me to haul the Kawasaki xlr250s out that way in the next year or two, and see some of what I missed.:1drink
  4. idahoscout

    idahoscout Adventurer

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    Thank you so much. I have my Utah Benchmark and will start plotting out some rides. I definately will send a PM when we are down there. And, we will take it easy and keep it fun. Thanks again
  5. sealsam

    sealsam Sam...I am.

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    ^^^

    RRR,

    Nice summation of some of the 'quick' riding in/around of SG.

    ...and yep, you've gotta have a Benchmark.

    My best to RRR & family on this Thanksgiving. Enjoy that east coast!

    Sam
  6. RedRockRider

    RedRockRider Long timer

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    Hiya - Appreciate all the Thanksgiving wishes. Best regards to all inmates and visitors to our little corner of the asylum. Enjoy some time with family and friends. And get out on your bike if the opportunity presents itself. :D

    Had the chance for a short exploratory ride to find the Diversion Dam on the Virgin River prior to leaving town for Turkey festivities back on the east coast. Some pics very similar to those posted by DirtyJohnny, one of our semi-local hooligans. :clap


    TW with recent snow on Pine Valley Mountain in background. Ride starts from Navajo Drive in Bloomington. Sorry Quota, will have to get organized with you next time. No planning went into this ride, just start the bike and go. Get home before the kid and wife arrive after school/work. :lol3

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    At river level, just below the diversion dam. As mentioned by DJ, powerlines are the marker, just upstream from the dam. Probably an easy run in an inflatable kayak, but you could portage on the right bank (heading downstream) quite easily. Main current pushes far left.

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    The view downstream. This is the real start of the Virgin River Gorge. The next place you can easily get next to the river is at Cedar Pockets in the middle of the gorge. Notice fence on right side. Start of wilderness area.

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    Standard warning sign. Doesn't say anything about BASE jumping. :evil

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    Walked through the gate to the Wilderness side. Two track is rough, but passable. Google maps shows that is quickly peters out. Interestingly, the green gate is unlocked, it simply swings open. Of course, any travel on this side of the line would be illegal. :eek1

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    View upstream past the diversion dam. Two ways to get to this spot. Possible to come down a rutted, ledgy, loose track that descends the left shoulder from the powerline tower. Or work your way upstream on the left bank around the curve to another better road with a white sand beach. The left bank route requires a little route finding and might be easiest with low water and no mud. For either route probably best to have buddy, unless you like to push/lift you bike all by yourself. :deal

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    River gauge, just above the diversion dam on right bank when going downstream. Easily visible, good marker. Super cool website with river flow levels. Good to watch if you spend time in canyons. :rofl
    Link: http://waterwatch.usgs.gov/?m=real&r=ut

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    Here's where I parked my bike at the last tower, just before the final drop to the river. Didn't want to take a chance on pushing the bike up since I wasn't sure about ledges and washouts on the last steep decline to the water. Always good to get home on time without pushing the SPOT. :clap

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    Best wishes to everyone. Thanks for riding along. :wave
  7. DirtyJohnny

    DirtyJohnny BR 549

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    RRR. Great Pics. Where would we put our kayaks or small raft in? Where would we take out? What do you think about a spring Virgin River Gorge trip?
  8. TheAdmiral

    TheAdmiral Long timer

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    I could take in a picnic here:D
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  9. ringokelly

    ringokelly Adventurer

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    RRR have a good time back east with the fam...see you when I get down in a few weeks to SG. :D:D
  10. RedRockRider

    RedRockRider Long timer

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    Good put-in is Man-of-War Bridge in Bloomington. Take-out could be in middle of Virgin River Gorge at Cedar Pockets day use area. Modest schlep up short hill to pavement, not bad.

    Water level is key. Virgin is not a big river and there can be lots of scraping (and walking). I taken inflatable kayaks through town many times. Easy put-in is just below diversion dam at Waterfront Street (by Costco). Take-out is Man-of-War Bridge in Bloomington. Easy parking in the park. This is mostly smooth riffles. Fun with kids.

    Never been in the Gorge. Probably some class I-II before Cedar Pockets. I think below Cedar Pockets there might be some class III+, depending on water flow. Or one might have some long walks. At times the lower part of the Virgin River in the Gorge seems to have almost no water. I'm sure there are take-out spots near Beaver Dam, AZ or all the way to Mesquite. Would want to do some scouting before going below Cedar Pockets.

    Hey . . . I heard a rumor that there might be some good river running up around Vernal, perhaps on the Green or Yampa. You ever hear anything about that?

    Thanks everyone. Enjoy Thanksgiving. :D
  11. ElleDubs

    ElleDubs Been here awhile

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    Big 10 rapid below Cedar Pockets is a class IV. It's exciting in a duckie at 3600 cfs. There are a couple of more significant rapids before the end of the gorge and take out.
  12. lacofdfireman

    lacofdfireman Been here awhile

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    We often do the Guided white water raft trips on the Sevier at Big Rock Candy Mountain and our last guide told us that the best white water rafting around is on the Virgin river during the right time of the year when the water is flowing good... Says he does it every year but it only lasts for a few weeks or so.. We have floated many times as kids from around the Washington Fields road park area to Bloomington but never had any sort of crazy rapids... Those must be a lot farther south in the Gorge I would guess..
  13. DirtyJohnny

    DirtyJohnny BR 549

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    [​IMG][/url][/IMG] RRR Great River running near Vernal on the Green and Yampa Rivers.
    Both are beautiful canyons! The Yampa is a 3-5 day trip- 69 miles.
    The green through Lodore Canyon is 3-5 days-47 miles. Both are
    located within Dinosaur National Monument. Permit required unless
    you go with a commercial outfitter. Lodore is my personal favorite.
    Almost tropical at certain times of the summertime. Red pre-cambrian
    rock. Rapids on both vary from class I-IV depending on levels. The
    Yampa is one of the last major free flowing rivers left in the west.

    I have included a pic of my longtime friend, riding bud, river running
    bud, and hell raiser, BOOM Beers. We always send him ahead as a
    scout when we run unfamiliar rivers and creeks in case that we en-
    counter any waterfalls or fences. LOL. Although I believe that we could
    could navigate the Viirgin without any mishaps, we may want to invite
    him just in case or possibly invite EllDubs?

    Happy Thanksgiving to all!:freaky
  14. RedRockRider

    RedRockRider Long timer

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    Recent run up to Brian Head. Some snow, but more is coming. :clap

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  15. ringokelly

    ringokelly Adventurer

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    wishing....I was down south: 18 degrees, snowing with 22mph winds from the N here in Utah County :eek1:eek1:eek1:eek1

    You're killing me RRR!!!!!!!!!!!!
  16. NSFW

    NSFW ktm's "the tourist"

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    as always great job keeping this thread fresh and interesting.

    thanks rrr for the tgd greetings. i'm sure you had a good one.

    cheers.
  17. holiday

    holiday DL650K7

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    Snow plows, Sand and Salt. 4X only. When I exited the park about noon thirty, there were still plenty of long stretches of ice. Wind gusts to 10. It was crystal clear with lovely blue skies.
  18. RedRockRider

    RedRockRider Long timer

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    Nice. Must have been beautiful. My dad and I both thought about going to Zion for the day. Sadly, we both had other obligations. But, I did spend some time outside around St. George. Also beautiful with the rare dusting of snow!
  19. sealsam

    sealsam Sam...I am.

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    RRR stayin' warm up there?

    When L.A. doesn't get out of the 50's, you know the west is getting some frigid air.

    Any snowy SG pics?
  20. RedRockRider

    RedRockRider Long timer

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    Earlier this afternoon. Fired up the hot tub . . . suggested a quick dip . . . kid was at a party . . . Mrs. RedRockRider said :eek1 :wink: :wink: :wink:

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    Snowed all day. Street in front of our house a few hours ago. Lots of snowmen being built. :thumb All our winter toys are at Brian Head so my son and his friends went "sledding" on some old cookie sheets my wife sacrificed. :clap

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    Snowstorm was a direct hit on St. George. At least 6 inches of perfect snowball snow!

    Talked to a few old-timers in the neighborhood. Most snow they have ever seen in St. George in 25-50 years. Next few days should offer some beautiful scenery with blue sky, red cliffs, and still lots of snow.