Spring Break in Utah

Discussion in 'Day Trippin'' started by abhicles, Mar 31, 2013.

  1. abhicles

    abhicles Adventurer

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2010
    Oddometer:
    81
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    I recently started grad school, and it's ruined my ability to take long rides. So, when spring break finally rolled around, I gave myself the week off from work and headed out to Utah.

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    Started with brunch with the girlfriend, and then it's time to hit the road!

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    The first planned stop was actually a day in Vegas with some fellow classmates. Near Calico Ghost Town, I found some entertaining backroads to explore.

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    More exploring.

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    Vegas! Caught some March Madness and the usual crap, and it's off to Zion the next day.

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    My first time in Zion. Even views from the cheap motels were nice.

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    Meet Baby Jack (Skellington), my travel buddy. Here we are entering the park to try and catch the sunset.

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    The view from Canyon Junction

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    Even though it was 40 degrees outside, there were plenty of people trying to take quality photos of the sunset.

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    Saw this guy on my way back to the motel after sunset.

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    Thanks to ADVRider, I learned of a dirt road called Smith Mesa that provides a more exciting entrance into the park, so the next morning I doubled back and tried to find it.

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    Eventually, you have to detour around Hurricane Mesa Test Facility - which makes me think of Half-Life.

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    Heading towards Zion on Smith Mesa. The road is in generally good shape, though there are some serious ruts caused by trucks trying to navigate the road when it's muddy.

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    Ha.

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    Encountered some wild horses but I could never get closer than this without scaring them away.

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    Entering Zion NP.

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    Also near Zion is the ghost town of Grafton. I decided to check it out, and encountered this sign.

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    Grafton - only 3 buildings remain from a settlement formed by Mormons fleeing religious persecution.

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    Baby Jack takes a break.

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    Also checked out the Grafton Cemetery. Four years after the town was founded, a series of disease and freak accidents killed a large percentage of the population. Most deaths were from diptheria, but two teenage girls died when a swing broke! And a young boy was dragged to death by a horse. Then there was the Berry family...

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    ...all 3 members of the family were killed by Navajo raiders, and the entire town fled to safety soon after.

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    Heading back to the park...did I mention it was COLD? Hooray for heated gear.

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    One of the most interesting features of Zion is a 1.1 mile tunnel cut out of the rocks back in the 30s. There are a few cutouts in the rock, like the one in this photo.

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    That same cutout from inside the tunnel.

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    Leaving the park, I caught this guy making a ridiculous face.

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    And then two guys play fighting.

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    Something else I found on ADVRider while trying to plan a route - Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, the largest no-kill shelter in the US.

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    Behind the shelter is this sign, which commands you to explore.

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    On the unimproved road is Angels Rest, a pet cemetery. I had to take a look.

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    Lots of pet graves, including "Spud". Great name for a rabbit.

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    No comment.

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    Approaching Horseshoe Bend - you can sort of see the silhouette from here.

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    Horseshoe Bend

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    Yours truly pondering if I should wait for sunset to try some more photos. I decided not to.

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    Upper Antelope Canyon. It's famous for light beams that shine through, but that only happens for a couple of hours a day.

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    I took way too many photos of light beams, so I'll just show a couple here.

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    Looking up.

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    You're not allowed to go into the canyon without a Navajo guide. Sometimes the guides cheat and throw sand up in the air to make the beams more visible.

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    Or they'd throw sand onto this and create a 'sandfall'

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    Alright, one last beam and we're out of here.

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    I've been trying to get to the dirt loop in Monument Valley for years, so this was a personal highlight for me.

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    The Cube!

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    Saw a couple of mountain goats climbing around one of the monuments.

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    That's a big rock.

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    Leaving the park floor - probably the best $5 I've ever spent. Road conditions were good. Some minor rocky sections and two very minor sandy bits. Nothing I felt too uncomfortable on with a loaded (though 1-up) 1150GS.

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    Making my way towards Mexican Hat for the night, I saw a scene that’s pretty well-known. Remember where it’s from?

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    Ta-da!

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    Sorry for the poor quality of the photo. Had to show you guys this beer - Polgamy Porter. The slogan: "Why have just one?" I asked myself the same question.

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    Mexican Hat. Eagle-eyed viewers may notice that someone made a tiny replica in the bottom right corner. There are multiple options to get to the hat in terms of dirt roads, but one of them was too steep and rocky for me, so this is as far as I got. I try not be too aggressive when riding by myself.

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    Goosenecks State Park

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    En route to Valley of the Gods. This is technically my first ever water crossing. Please, hold your applause.

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    Valley of the Gods.

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    Moki Dugway

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    Valley of the Gods road from up on the Moki Dugway

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    Met two British tourists that apparently fly in every year to Vegas, rent Harleys, and then explore for a week or two. Cool chaps. They weren't very happy about this road on the Harleys, though.

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    The Dugway is a series of switchbacks that changes over 1000 feet in elevation over 3 miles. Parts of it also seem quite dangerous, as exampled by this truck.

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    Or this semi.

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    Natural Bridges Monument

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    Yet another road I discovered thanks to ADVRider - the Burr Trail.

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    Lovely switchbacks on the Burr Trail

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    Hell's Backbone

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    Unfortunately, I didn't get to finish the Hell's Backbone loop. Got turned around here as the road turned into snow and mud.

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    I had bought a local brew at my last gas stop to enjoy when I got to the top of the backbone. I figured I might as well enjoy it, even if I got turned back. So I used the snow for the one thing it was good for - refrigeration.

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    Entering Bryce Canyon National Park

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    Sunset Point, Bryce Canyon

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    Last day of the trip, I decided to take a detour through Death Valley. First stop, Rhyolite.

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    This thing always makes me laugh.

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    Sentimental graffiti on a 60's Impala.

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    House made of glass bottles, one of the few buildings kept intact after the town was abandoned. Restored by Paramount Pictures in 1925.

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    Out of all the buildings here, the brothel is in the best condition. The front door is locked…

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    …but the back door is open. Ha. Here’s the oldest signature I could find.

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    My primary goal in going to DV was to see Titus Canyon. The only access is a one way dirt/gravel road from the eastern side of the park.

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    After 12 miles or so, you start getting into the mountains and an elevation of around 4000ft.

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    Before you get to the canyon, you’ll discover Leadfield. That’s some impressive advertising – though what’s even more impressive is that a town only lasted 6 months. Baby Jack has preferred words.

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    If I had to guess, it's a late 20's Model T?

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    One of the few remaining buildings...

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    ...and one that wasn't so lucky.

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    Finally - the opening to Titus Canyon

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    Titus Canyon

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    More of the canyon

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    Freedom! Oddly enough, the hardest part of the ride was right after you exit the canyon and get back to two-way traffic. The gravel gets deeper and looser.

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    Obligatory “Panamint Springs wants HOW MUCH for gas?” photo.

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    I had no idea that there was an ADVRider Noob Rally going on this weekend, so I was surprised to encounter a fellow inmate (fishwhisperer) who filled me in on the details. I joined him for a drink while he explained what the plan was, but I didn't think I had the bike or the time to enjoy, so I headed back home. Hope you guys had a blast!

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    While we were sitting at the restaurant, a whole bunch of trucks came in with some beautiful bikes. Here was one of my favorites.

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    Leaving Death Valley.

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    My approximate route. Thanks for reading!
    #1
  2. sevenpointsixtwo

    sevenpointsixtwo Resident Hooligan

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2010
    Oddometer:
    211
    Location:
    In the Shadow of Smuggler's Notch, VT
    Great photos! Looks like you had a blast. I'll make it out there one of these days!

    -fellow short-on-time grad student
    #2
  3. Davethestick

    Davethestick Registered Rider

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2011
    Oddometer:
    74
    Location:
    Malibu California
    Awesome trip, Great photos too. Thanks for Sharing!
    #3
  4. txplants

    txplants Pastafarian

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2011
    Oddometer:
    313
    Location:
    Texas
    Great ride reort! :clap
    #4
  5. irvfr

    irvfr Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2010
    Oddometer:
    104
    Location:
    Bergen,NJ
    Great Ride Report. Really enjoyed it.
    #5
  6. Rutabaga

    Rutabaga Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2012
    Oddometer:
    734
    Location:
    Southeast Lower Carolina
    Great to see Zion and Bryce again from your perspective and without me doing the driving. Thanks for the show, it was great.
    #6
  7. exile730

    exile730 exile730

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2009
    Oddometer:
    67
    Location:
    Mandurah Western Australia
    looks like you had a blast - how many miles all up?
    #7
  8. abhicles

    abhicles Adventurer

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2010
    Oddometer:
    81
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    Exile - just under 2,000 miles. Thanks for reading!
    #8
  9. ghte

    ghte Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2010
    Oddometer:
    117
    Location:
    Sydney Australia
    Loved the trip, looks like a wonderful area to take in such divergent scenery. Thank you for sharing and good luck at grad school
    #9
  10. sealsam

    sealsam Sam...I am.

    Joined:
    May 30, 2010
    Oddometer:
    2,255
    Location:
    seal beach, ca.
    Nice report!

    Nice mix of covering the 'big' sites along with a smattering of back road stuff. :thumb:thumb

    Thanks for sharing and good luck with grad school!
    #10
  11. RedRockRider

    RedRockRider Long timer

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2011
    Oddometer:
    1,479
    Location:
    St. George, UT
    Looks like you and Baby Jack Skellington had a great trip. :thumb

    Good luck with grad school and the girlfriend! :D
    #11
  12. jtb

    jtb Long timer

    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2003
    Oddometer:
    2,230
    Location:
    Hawkesbury NSW Australia
    Nice! Now there's some parts of the US I'd like to see on a bike:clap
    #12
  13. AZ Mark

    AZ Mark Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2011
    Oddometer:
    903
    Location:
    Wickenburg AZ
    Thank you... :clap
    Awesome part of the Li'l World ! ! !
    #13
  14. roaming_art

    roaming_art In transit...

    Joined:
    May 4, 2009
    Oddometer:
    205
    Location:
    Long Beach, CA
    Epic! Saved your Google route for next spring break! Would love to do a ride like this!
    #14
  15. sealsam

    sealsam Sam...I am.

    Joined:
    May 30, 2010
    Oddometer:
    2,255
    Location:
    seal beach, ca.
    Take a trip over to Auto Club and pick up the map 'Indian Country'. If not a member, you don't have to be, they'll sell it to you.
    #15
  16. Domromer

    Domromer Desert Rat

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2004
    Oddometer:
    1,098
    Location:
    Charleston, South Carolina
    Very cool ride report. I'll have to check out that dirt road next time I'm in Zion.
    #16
  17. abhicles

    abhicles Adventurer

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2010
    Oddometer:
    81
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    I ended up making some changes on the fly - the Charles Hall Ferry wasn't open yet so I ended up having to take the long way around (but that's how I discovered Natural Bridges Monument.

    Let me know if you have any questions, I'd be glad to help.
    #17
  18. groop

    groop So much to ponder

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2007
    Oddometer:
    3,400
    Location:
    oc, ca
    Nice ride report. I've ridden to many of the locations, including Best Friends and Ho-Made Pies (Thunderbird), but you've uncovered some great off-road trails as well. Was in Titus last month. Looks like gas was $0.02 cheaper at Panamint Springs on your visit:lol3
    #18
  19. roaming_art

    roaming_art In transit...

    Joined:
    May 4, 2009
    Oddometer:
    205
    Location:
    Long Beach, CA
    Right on, it's on my to do this week!
    #19
  20. roaming_art

    roaming_art In transit...

    Joined:
    May 4, 2009
    Oddometer:
    205
    Location:
    Long Beach, CA
    Will do mate! Planning a TAT trip for this summer, but afterwards I know I'll be looking for somewhere to go in the spring. :) Back in 2010 I rode the KLR out to Moab to ride the White Rim Trail, I'm learning through this site that I blew right past a lot of cool places in the process. Still had a blast, but I definitely need a revisit. :) Were you using the Indian Country Map as well?

    Sorry for the double post. :puke1
    #20