Toroweap-Grand Canyon and Trailer Queens

Discussion in 'Day Trippin'' started by mknight, Mar 22, 2011.

  1. mknight

    mknight Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2005
    Oddometer:
    371
    Location:
    Harrisville, Utah
    Trailer Queens and &#8220;No Wrong Turns&#8221;<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:eek:ffice" /><o:p></o:p>


    An Adventure ride to Toroweap &#8211; March 17-19, 2011

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    High on the Shivwitz Plateau of Northern Arizona, I approached a road junction where my friend Charles was waiting. I asked, &#8220;Did we take a wrong turn back there?&#8221;, and he jokingly quipped, &#8220;We&#8217;re on an adventure ride Mike. There are no wrong turns.&#8221;

    Simple, yet profound, his words summarize the essence of what I love about adventure riding&#8230;..the freedom of roaming the backroads on two wheels, seeing areas the majority of the world will never see, and enjoying good times with friends.

    The plan was to sneak in an early season adventure ride with a group of fellow riding buddies. Based on the recommendation of a friend, we decided to venture to Toroweap Arizona (also known as &#8220;Tuweep&#8221;) on the north rim of the Grand Canyon. Toroweap is an extremely remote, yet incredible vantage point into the Grand Canyon, and boasts one of the most dramatic vertical drops anywhere in the entire park with over a 3,000 foot sheer vertical drop with nothing between you and death other than your own stupidity or an ill-timed strong gust of wind.

    Thursday morning arrived and the intent was for everyone to complete a day of work and then trailer the bikes to St. George Utah. I commented to my wife that morning that it seemed sacrilegious to be trailering adventure bikes. I felt like a hypocrite, comparing myself to the countless Doctors and Lawyers who trailer their Harleys to the Sturgis motorcycle rally for a weekend of motorcycling fun.

    Within an hour, I acted on my intuition, wrapped up some loose ends with work, sent an email to all my buddies telling them not to plan on me trailering down with them, and offered a few loving jabs about them being trailer queens.

    Shortly thereafter I was on the road&#8230;.destination, St. George Utah. I had a minimum of 350-400 miles to cover, with a questionable weather forecast, so I committed to my wife that I would stick to the pavement, but avoid the interstate at all costs.

    It didn&#8217;t take long for the cooler March temperatures and overcast skies to cause me to second-guess my decision but I was committed. I took primarily backroads and highways all the way south. Many will recognize this popular stop in Elberta Utah.
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    And the back way from Goshen Utah to Mona Utah:
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    I stopped near the Mountain West MX Park because I had never been there and was excited to see such a nice facility.
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    It was then on to Levan, Gunnison, and eventually Sigard Utah. I had intentions of going up over the Fish Lake National Forest in hopes of riding all of Highway 12. I rode the southern half last May and wanted to do the entire highway this time. I had a hunch based on the snow and weather in Sigard that I wouldn&#8217;t be able to make it due to the elevations. This is what it looked like in Sigard:
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    But I pressed on, but found more snow the higher I climbed:
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    I rolled 10,000 miles on the KLR, literally right as I passed this historic marker (memorial to a Peace Treaty struck between Brigham Young and the local Indians. I wonder if Brigham Young rode a KLR J
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    I motored south and managed to drop out of the snow, past Otter Creek Reservoir near Antimony Utah, and then west through Kingston Canyon which popped me out on the highway north of Panguitch. This was an enjoyable little canyon:
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    When I gassed up in Panguitch I could tell it was going to get interesting, but at this point I was committed. The plan was to either continue all the way south to Kanab and then to St. George, or possibly cut through Zions National Park.This is what greeted me near Mt. Carmel Junction:
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    Snow covered windshield:
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    But, my persistence paid off and I made it to Zions and enjoyed a beautiful drive through the park and only saw a handful of cars the entire time. It was as if I had the place to myself.
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    I arrived in St. George and met up with 3 of my other friends, Jason, Troy, and Kenny. We were staying the night at Kenny&#8217;s sister-in-law&#8217;s house and his mother and father in law stay the there during the winters.
    Kenny&#8217;s mother in law Mary Lou is a history buff and was absolutely infatuated with the idea that we were riding our bikes to Toroweap. She had been there herself and couldn&#8217;t stop talking about it. She kept saying, &#8220;Oh, we are going to have so much fun!!&#8221; in her very sweet and animated way. I think if we could have strapped her on the back of one of the bikes, she would have willingly gone with us. They cooked us a full-course breakfast in the morning and told us all about the history of the places we were going to visit and sent us out the door with a handful of maps. I think she was more excited about our ride than we were! Here, Jason rides the Trailer Queen out of the garage ready for his maiden-voyage adventure ride on his new 950.
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    Our general route (remember, there are no &#8220;wrong turns&#8221; on an adventure ride) was to ride in a counter-clockwise loop from St. George with intentions of hitting a few key landmarks such as the Three Corners area of Utah/Arizona/Nevada, Mesquite and the Virgin River Mountains, Mt. Trumbull, Toroweap (Grand Canyon) and then back home.
    We first had to meet up with our two other friends, Charles and Brent, who had stayed at a difference location Thursday night.
    We rode west from St. George to Shivwits and then took a Utah designated Scenic Backway known as the Joshua Tree scenic backway that cuts through the Beaver Dam Wilderness area. This is the furthest north that Joshua Trees grow.
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    For being a Joshua Tree scenic backway, I sure wasn&#8217;t seeing a lot of Joshua Trees. However, once we descended the backside of the Mountains, the landscape started to change.
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    And before long, we were riding through an awesome desert chalk full of Joshua Trees.
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    Our westerly route caused us to intersect the Beaver Dam wash. This isn&#8217;t some little desert wash with easy routes in and out of it. I was very impressed with the size of this wash. Here&#8217;s a view of our first vantage point:
    The &#8220;UNEV&#8221; pipeline was under construction so we encountered a lot of pipeline workers and equipment along the power line road. The best part was that a water truck had watered the road and made the conditions perfect.
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    The group enjoying the view of the wash and of the pipeline construction.
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    We hoped this water truck could follow us all the way to Toroweap:
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    Across the wash we eventually caught up with another crew laying this impressive pipeline all the way from Salt Lake city to Las Vegas.
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    The trench above was cut right through the road we had to travel. The crew lead was a super nice guy from &#8220;Southern Alabama&#8221; and told us within a few minutes he would have a large steel plate placed that would allow us to cross the trench. He said the pipeline will deliver diesel and jet fuel. We had our own water truck and our own bridge builders.
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    The next stop was the &#8220;Three Corners&#8221; area of Utah/Arizona/Nevada. There&#8217;s a whole story behind this, but the short of it is that this last Fall I got the idea that it would be fun to try and ride our bikes to all 6 corner markers of the state of Utah. Troy in our group took the challenge seriously and completed a solo trip successfully last Fall, being the first to declare that he had visited all 6 corners. The rest of us are slowly picking away at the corners and this was one for all of us to accomplish together. Here, Jason is just nearing the three corners marker:
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    Success:
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    And yours truly, to ensure photographic evidence that I made it:
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    Next stop was Mesquite Nevada for gas and lunch, and then beginning the eastward portion of our journey across the Virgin River Mountains.
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    On every ride, there are little segments that prove to be real surprises. We rode Lime Kiln canyon road east out of Mesquite and this road proved to be a real surprise.
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    There were multiple small stream crossings, enough technical riding to keep you on your toes, and a lot of scenery that we just weren&#8217;t expecting.
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    I try to prove that even the KLR can have a little fun.
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    Kenny descends the other side of the Virgin River Mountains:
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    I loved the Solitude&#8230;and small two-track roads like this:
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    Our intent was to continue in an easterly direction and eventually get to the Mt. Trumbull schoolhouse and then camp at Toroweap for the night. But, as alluded to earlier, it&#8217;s important on rides like this to not get caught up in a set itinerary because stuff happens.
    We encountered a few technical sections like this:
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    At the top, Troy&#8217;s bike was squirting coolant out of his left radiator in a pin-hole leak so it was time for some trail-side repair:
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    Troy happened to have some radiator stop-leak stuff so we doctored it up and continued our journey.
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    I love the desert and we just continued to enjoy the ride. It became quickly apparent however that we were not going to make it to Mt. Trumbull before the day escaped us so we opted to find a campsite for the night. At that point we had gained some elevation again and we were in kind of a high-desert juniper tree forest. We found a great old cowboy camp complete with some old rusty buckets so sit around the fire:
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    It doesn&#8217;t get much better than this. I go to work and tell people these kinds of stories and they think I&#8217;m a whack job. I realized how lucky I am to have other friends who think this kind of thing is as cool as I do.
    The next morning we continued on towards Mount Trumbull schoolhouse. The route at this point was a real riot, with smooth flowing roads through the juniper trees with lots of turns, hills, and bumps to keep you on your toes.
    Mount Trumbull school was a small community schoolhouse in an extremely remote location in the Arizona desert that actually had students up through the early 60&#8217;s. It was eventually abandoned and vandals burned it down about 10 years ago or so (very very sad), but a great group of volunteers rebuilt a replica that stands there now.
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    I love visiting these types of locations because it makes me want to read and learn more about the history. You can actually go inside the schoolhouse and they have lots of old photos and memorabilia of the era that the schoolhouse was operating.
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    I didn&#8217;t quite fit the chairs:
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    East from Mount Trumbull, the road really starts to climb again:
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    And before you know it, you&#8217;re in thick stands of Juniper trees, which eventually lead to Ponderosas pines. I always find it interesting how you can be in the middle of thousands upon thousands of remote BLM land, and then come upon a place like this:
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    This section of the ride was another one of those real surprises, and all of a sudden I felt like it was June, riding in the high-country at home:
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    We started hitting patches of snow, and I rounded the corner and found that I had just missed out on Troy&#8217;s yard sale in the middle of a mud hole. This is one of those moments where all your buddies whip out their cameras, snap the pic, and then ask you if you&#8217;re OK.
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    Troy was covered in mud from head to toe, but everyone else made it through OK:
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    We hit the summit near Mt. Trumbull where there is a trailhead (hiking) for Mt. Trumbull and lots of beautiful Ponderosa Pines. We were some of the first over the summit, and I don&#8217;t think we could have made it just a week or two earlier. A large ponderosa had smashed the Mt. Trumbull trailhead sign:
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    Troy fashions the latest in adventure riding mud gear:
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    This was the worst we saw, and after this we began our descent off the mountain, and on the stretch to Toroweap.
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    The terrain really changes at that point and we were back in the desert.
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    And into the National Park.
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    This is a very remote entrance to the park and no fees are required. However, there is a &#8220;Greater Tuweep Metropolitan Area&#8221; at the ranger station about 4-5 miles from the rim.
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    And then, it&#8217;s on to the Toroweap overlook, and boy-o-boy, what an overlook it is. I can&#8217;t tell you the way this made my stomach turn. I don&#8217;t consider myself overly afraid of heights, but it was all I could do to shimmy my way over to the edge. It&#8217;s over 3,000 feet of straight vertical drop at this point.
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    Pictures do it absolutely no justice whatsoever. Here, Jason takes a peak (you could see rafters below and they were just tiny dots).
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    Charles may be smiling in this picture, but he&#8217;s really saying &#8220;Brent&#8230;.hurry up and take the dang picture before I poop my pants.&#8221;
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    All six of us pose for a shot (L to R, Me (Mike), Charles, Jason, Brent, Kenny, Troy).
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    A little to the west we take a look down on the Lava Falls rapids. The largest rapids on the Colorado for rafters. While we were watching, we could see rafters approaching the rapids.
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    The faithful horses waiting for us back at the stable.
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    We never had real great sunlight, as there was a haze all day, but the sun broke through while we were having a lunch snack and felt great for the middle of March.
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    Brent and Charles were staying an extra day so we split our ways at the Toroweap trailhead. Here Brent and Charles appeal to the moto-gods about their route for the next day (they were really just consulting an Arizona Atlas&#8230;.remember, there is no such thing as a wrong turn on an adventure ride:
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    We stopped to check out the Toroweap campground on our way out from the overlook. This was our intended destination the first night. It really is a great area with multiple campsites, potties, and no fees.
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    Troy&#8217;s bike was still having some radiator troubles so we stopped by the Ranger station on the way out and borrowed some yummy rain water from the catch basin on the garage as an extra security measure in case we needed to nurse him home.
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    Our group was now split up with Brent and Charles on their way for another day of adventure and the remaining four of us headed back towards St. George knowing we had a long 5 hour drive home ahead of us that night. We headed straight north from Toroweap towards Colorado City Arizona. This was one long, straight, stretch of nothing.
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    We made it to Colorado City. This was sure an interesting place. I had never been there and knew this was home to the polygamous communities. It seemed to be either one extreme of poverty or wealth. These trailers in the background looked barely hospitable, yet, within a block there were huge homes bordering on mansions.
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    This home behind Jason looked to be at least 4,000-5,000 square feet but was completely unfinished on the outside (but was inhabited). Apparently that is done intentionally to reduce the value of the home for tax purposes.
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    I snapped this pic while riding so it isn&#8217;t very good, but this is the backyard of one of the huge houses:
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    We gassed up in Colorado City and then ducked our heads in the headwind and headed for St. George.
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    But not before MaryLou greeted us at the door with her enthusiastic wave of arms, inviting us in to tell her all about our trip.
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    She and the rest of Kenny&#8217;s family (sister and brother in law) insisted that we stay to eat dinner with them so we could tell them about our trip. It was incredibly hospitable of them to let us in their beautiful home after two days of eating dust on the trail, but it seemed a fitting end to our little mini adventure. As Mary Lou had so properly stated the morning we had breakfast with her, &#8220;We are going to have so much fun!&#8221;. We did in fact have an absolute blast.
    It was then time to load the Trailer Queens and make the long trip home. I can hardly wait for the next ride.

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    Here&#8217;s a pic from Charles and Brent the next day&#8230;..looks fun.
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    #1
  2. Roostre

    Roostre Discombobulated

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2006
    Oddometer:
    1,050
    Location:
    SL, UT
    :clap:clap Looks like another "must do" to put on the list!

    Not sure how you find time with USRA and everything else... Great report.
    #2
  3. azredline

    azredline Wobbly Adventurer

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2009
    Oddometer:
    539
    Location:
    Chandler, AZ
    Great report and pics, thanks for posting.

    I really want to get up to Toroweap too. They say the drop off into the canyon is the most spectacular from there.

    Well done!
    #3
  4. MSH

    MSH The Salt

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2007
    Oddometer:
    3,249
    Location:
    Utah
    Awesome ride report. Thanks for the effort. I love that area!
    #4
  5. sealsam

    sealsam Sam...I am.

    Joined:
    May 30, 2010
    Oddometer:
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    Location:
    seal beach, ca.
    You did a great job capturing So. Utah.

    I've been going to Tuweep for a long time and as you know, pics & words does not paint the picture. A truely amazing place.

    BTW, the last garage photo-TW200 tucked away?

    Congrats on your trip! Awesome!!!
    #5
  6. trackhead

    trackhead Utard Wankster

    Joined:
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    Transient
    We were just there last week. Gotta love the Mohave.
    #6
  7. GeoMoto

    GeoMoto FMAR Chump!

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2010
    Oddometer:
    762
    Location:
    St. George, UT & Temecula, CA
    Great job and thanks for sharing!
    #7
  8. fano

    fano here and there

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2006
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    653
    Location:
    Salt Lake City UT
    Very nice!
    #8
  9. salute

    salute Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 14, 2009
    Oddometer:
    164
    Location:
    Utah
    Nice ride. I'll have to put it on my list.
    #9
  10. moto soto

    moto soto avg underachiever

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2009
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    Location:
    Draper, UT
    Nice report. Thanks for sharing.
    #10
  11. ScottG

    ScottG Razor Sharp

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2008
    Oddometer:
    264
    Location:
    Draper, Utah
    Fantastic RR. Now I have another ride to add to my ever growing list.
    #11
  12. mknight

    mknight Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2005
    Oddometer:
    371
    Location:
    Harrisville, Utah
    Glad everyone enjoyed the pics and report. Yes, that is a TW200 in the garage, but it's not mine. That's the home we stayed at as guests in St. George.

    The funny thing, I had a TW200 exactly like that but sold it a year ago. My friend Jason on the orange 950 also had a TW200. Super fun little bikes.

    Yes, anybody who hasn't been to Toroweap should put it on the list. The only other time I've ever been to the Grand Canyon was when I backpacked to Havasupai over 20 years ago. Havasupai is across the river from Toroweap and just a few miles upstream.
    #12
  13. Trailtwister

    Trailtwister To the peak!

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2009
    Oddometer:
    472
    Location:
    Salt Lick City
    Excellent ride report. Been to Toroweep but not on a bike, and never over Mt Trumbul. That 5-corners idea is kinda cool. One down ... snagged the 'inside corner' last year with Harkus and Infidel. Here, they're trying to piss in two states...

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    Earlier that day, we pissed in two rivers...

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    Woops, sorry for the hijack.
    #13
  14. dave6253

    dave6253 aka. dave62538675309

    Joined:
    May 1, 2006
    Oddometer:
    3,254
    Location:
    Phoenix, Arizona
    Hey Mike,

    Nice Report! I've been to many of the Grand Canyon viewpoints and Toroweap is my absolute favorite. There's some nice riding to be done out to there as well. It looks like you guys had a good time.

    I don't think think I've ever seen that many Tourmaster Transition Jackets in one report. :lol3 Great Jacket and a steal at the prices they can be found. I love mine. Are you guys sponsored by Tourmaster? Was this a catalog shoot?:D
    #14
  15. tylerjwhite

    tylerjwhite Wandering Mtn Goat

    Joined:
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    Orem, Utah
    Nice ride report very well put together.
    #15
  16. Narsisco Lopez

    Narsisco Lopez Addlepated

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    Location:
    Golden (Showers), Colorado
    EXCELLENT REPORT AND RIDE! I've been to the GC many times and it's one of my favorite spots on the planet, but it's been getting MIGHTY crowded these days. Doing it on KLRs and going in via Tuweep looks like a BLAST!
    #16
  17. 40MileDesertRat

    40MileDesertRat Born Again Pagan

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    67km east of la república socialista de Kalifornia
    F'n epic ride.... Congrats.

    No matter what the weather, the time of year, or the phase of the moon, that area can kick your butt. It has kicked mine more than once.

    I really enjoyed the post.

    Thanks,

    40mile
    #17
  18. Pourdu

    Pourdu Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2009
    Oddometer:
    40
    Location:
    Montréal, Canada
    Nice job and great pictures.

    André
    #18
  19. mknight

    mknight Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2005
    Oddometer:
    371
    Location:
    Harrisville, Utah
    The picture of the marker is the exact spot that started the idea of the 6 corners. I was on a ride last August with my brother and we stumbled upon that marker while riding Chalk Creek road towards the Uintas. I got the idea that hitting all 6 corners of Utah would be fun and soon thereafter, all my riding buddies got the bug to do it.

    Several have hit the Northwestern and Northeastern corners of Utah, and Troy (in the pictures) did a solo trip last Fall and hit all the remaining corners.

    I've also been on the KLR to the exact location on Elizabeth Ridge as your other picture.

    Great Adventure Riders think alike :)
    #19
  20. Red Stripe

    Red Stripe Church of the High Desert

    Joined:
    May 21, 2005
    Oddometer:
    283
    Location:
    SLC, UT- bastion of free thinking
    Nice job. Place looks familiar...... On a KLR no less. :D

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    #20