Zion / Yellowstone in March

Discussion in 'Americas' started by Tonopah, Jan 31, 2010.

  1. Tonopah

    Tonopah Been here awhile

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    A few of us are thinking about a motorcycle trip during the week of March 20. Two Yamaha FJR riders and me on my R1200GS. Leaving Southern Cal for Zion, and then on to Yellowstone.

    I'm thinking it will be too cold, wet and probably festooned with ice. The others think it is doable.

    What do you all think?
    #1
  2. Tsotsie

    Tsotsie Semi-reformed Tsotsi Supporter

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    I personally dont like Zion - the scenery is great, riding tourist busses to get anywhere in the park is not my kind of fun!

    A must is UT Hwy 12 up to Torrey. Then 24/59 to Blanding, to Moab. Arches, and Canyonlands are a must. Flaming Gorge WY into ID and Montpellier (Oregon Trail) then back into WY on 89 up to Jackson. If you can, come out of Yellowstone at Tower Junction, do 212 Beartooth Pass into MT and also backtrack to 296 (Chief Joseph skyway) into Cody. Then, Alt 14 E along the Medicinewheel Passageway into the Bighorn mts are a WY must.

    That far North might be an issue with the weather at that time!
    #2
  3. LewisNClark

    LewisNClark Long timer Supporter

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    too cold, wet and probably festooned with ice.

    Google for "Webcam in Zion", Yellowstone, etc. Most webcam's are updated every 60 seconds.
    As shown below Zion has a lot of snow today...check this link in March.

    http://www.alltravelcams.com/snow_cams/

    But you need to add Bryce Canyon to your list of stops. You will find places like Bryce and Zion regularly have snow and Ice even into May and June...been there and had to turn around...But the ice (sleet) and snow can come and go in 24 hours.

    Regarding Zion, it is a very pretty place but you will not appreciate the real scenery without going for 3 to 6 hours of hiking...ie: stairway, and hike down the middle of the creek at the end of the park. The real scenery will not be seen on 2 wheels.
    #3
  4. Dolly Sod

    Dolly Sod I want to do right, but not right now

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    Actually, the busses in Zion don't start until april, so if the roads are passible in March, he'll be able to drive anywhere he wants.

    Angels landing is a very good hike, a bit strenuous but it's quick and you get to amazing views of the park.
    #4
  5. TwoShots

    TwoShots Vagabond

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    Tonopah-
    If you take that route in March, prepare youself for ice in two areas:

    1) The plateau at Bryce Canyon.
    2) Northeast side of Boulder Mountain, just east of Boulder, UT.

    The latter gets little to no sun in March. Temps stay low all day (8-9K feet) Consider a dozen or so miles of twisties with black ice patches on a perpetual down-grade. Not good. It's a common area for car and motorcycle slide outs. Gets a few every year.

    Keep the number for a Torrey, UT rescue service handy.
    #5
  6. The Savage Rabbit

    The Savage Rabbit Adventurer

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    Are you saying it's not possible to ride up the 12 to Torrey in the last week of March or that there are two spots that require care?

    Also, if those spots are near 9,000 feet and are not traversable, are there lower routes through Utah that are scenic but not impassable?

    The other side of the story is that the rest of the year is not available for a motorcycle trip, I've never been to Utah, CO, WY, ID, NM etc. I've finally got the time and guts to hit the road and do it. I want to see the sights I day dream about when sneaking a peek at this website while I'm at the office. I want a big trip with lots of riding over terrain Ive never seen before. Seeking the safe shelter of the CA sunshine is like never leaving home. It's quitting before ever trying. If I have to turn back on the road to take an alternate route around ice, so be it. But I'll still be out there doing it.

    Framed against the motivation for the trip, is Tonopah's concern worth canceling the trip and going back to work?
    #6
  7. TwoShots

    TwoShots Vagabond

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    They both require care. The plateau at Bryce (>8000') gets sun, but low temps leave ice on the road all day.
    Northeast side of Boulder Mountain (>9000') between Boulder & Torrey will likely have thinly packed snow and/or black ice side to side - intermitent for several miles.

    Not through that part of the State (unless you take the KLR).

    Open a UT road map. You'll see that turning onto 12 east from 89 leaves no scenic alternative paved route.
    You would have to back track over 100+ miles to route 89 if the mountain was impassable.


    Tough call not knowing your limitations. The best time is early/mid October. The desert and rock colors are as beautiful as ever and you have the added bonus of foliage color in the higher elevations. Crisper air. Clear skies. Ultra quiet nights. Worth the wait if you can wait.

    If you go in March: Your very best/most accurate weather source for Bryce and Boulder Mountain is the BLM staff at Escalante Interagency Visitor Center. Second one on this page. If you go, call them. Every day if you have to. They're used to it. They monitor weather stations all over the area and can tell you what's happening in real time and what kind of conditions to expect.
    #7
  8. machinebuilder

    machinebuilder Long timer

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    I don't think you're getting into yellowstone that early,

    If my poor memory is right, I did a snowmobile tour around the beginning of march in the early 90's
    #8
  9. The Savage Rabbit

    The Savage Rabbit Adventurer

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    What about the 9 to the 89 north? Torrey is only mentioned because of the 12 . If the 12 is icy what about the 9 to anywhere on the way to Corado? We could stop anywhere to spend the night.

    Is the 9 passable in late March? The general goal is to ride to Utah and then decide if we want to go North to Wyoming or, the weather is bad, to Southern Colorado, then to New Mecico. There'svanbslternate plan for icy conditions in the North. Depending on the weather we go north or south.

    But getting through Utah is central to both alternative ride plans. If the 9 is icy, is there a way to ride from CA to Southern CO via Utah?
    #9
  10. TwoShots

    TwoShots Vagabond

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    It's in your favor. You're playing with the "iffy" time of year. Same as before. BLM guys will have the most current info. First one on this page. If you call and ask their opinion, they'll be honest about your chances and far more accurate than anyone here.

    Southern route:
    9 > 89S to Page AZ > 98 > 160 > 163 back into UT > 191N > I-70 into Colorado. Much of that is straight and desolate, but it's a route. Moab area is OK passing through on a street bike. Arches National Park is a stop if you've never seen it.

    Northern:
    9 > 89N > I-70. Much shorter of course. More fun to ride, certainly colder with greater chance of snow.
    #10
  11. The Savage Rabbit

    The Savage Rabbit Adventurer

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    Great info. Thanks TS. I'm getting the impression there is a way through so long as the descision is made based on the then existing conditions as we enter Utah and are not set on any specific target city in Utah.
    #11
  12. rocker59

    rocker59 diplomatico di moto

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    +1

    Memorial Day Weekend is the "Grand Opening" of Yellowstone.

    I've been there the week before Memorial day and there were many places closed due to snow. They were still plowing some roads and had only recently opened some of the gates. Yellowstone Lake, not to mention the smaller ones, was 99% iced over.

    Yellowstone is one of the coldest places in the country. Getting in there before mid-May will probably mean snow cat/snow mobile.
    #12
  13. RideFreak

    RideFreak Torque Junky

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    I can't comment on Yellowstone but TwoShot's advise is right on for Utah. I've ridden and drove the area a good bit and seen non-motorcycle friendly conditions as late as the third week in May. If you're hard core, it's possible especially if it's a warm spring. Ether way you cut it both locations you mentioned are going to be real chilli that time of year. If you're committed to that time frame I'd plan a backup ride say in Ariz in case UT and Montana don't work out, Az is perfect at that time of year and there's some great rides if you know where to go. :D
    #13
  14. The Savage Rabbit

    The Savage Rabbit Adventurer

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    That's what I planned. A northern ride plan and a southern ride plan. Southern CO, New Mexico, back through AZ (anywhere north of the barren desert) are on the southern route. I wanted to make the decision in Utah as to which to take based on the weather and continue to modify the plan based on the weather.

    I want to find some way through Utah. Don't care where at this point.
    #14
  15. RideFreak

    RideFreak Torque Junky

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    Any of your route that's over say 7000' needs to be checked just prior to taking off, I'm thinking that's where you might see some issues. Sometimes no plan at all is good too :D
    #15
  16. TwoShots

    TwoShots Vagabond

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    Yeah I think that is about the best plan to have given the time of year. Can't stress enough using the BLM numbers. I've ridden UT both paved and back country quite a bit and still call them when things are iffy. Their weather station monitoring is pretty extensive, though they don't advertise it.
    I think they like taking the phone calls. Probably a nice break from selling maps to tourists and answering the question "where can I see hoodoos?" over and over.

    By the way - lots of good Mom and Pop motels in Kanab and Page if you ride past the Super 8s and Best Westerns.
    Have a great trip.
    #16
  17. GrizGirl

    GrizGirl Long timer

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    Yellowstone is closed to over-snow vehicles in mid-March. Between March 15th and the middle of April the only road open is the one that goes from the north entrance to Cooke City - there is no through route open at that time. They usually open the west entrance (out west Yellowstone) in mid-April, the south and east entrances in early and mid-May.

    I often go, in my car, the weekend the roads open into the interior in April. I usually get snowed on. If you don't mind the snow in March, you might get to see grizzly bears as they wake up from the one road that is open (as well as elk, bison, big horn sheep, cool views, and so on). To get there you go to Livingston on I-90 in Montana and head south on 89 about 60 miles to the north entrance. I think between there and Cooke City is around 45 miles or so.

    If you do mind the snow, stick to the areas in Utah everyone has been commenting on!

    Cathy
    #17
  18. Zerk

    Zerk DILLIGAF

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    Been to YS twice on a bike, one of my favorites. Beartooth is great. But being from the midwest, I know riding can really suck in March. If your riding its just cause you got a sunny day, and your itching to ride.

    If March is your only time for the year to go for a bike trip, stay south.
    #18
  19. Vstromdek

    Vstromdek Vstromdek

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    I wouldn't go to Utah till late April or May; try Big Bend in March.
    #19
  20. Oldun

    Oldun Older and slightly slower

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    Chris / all, please excuse me hijacking this thread briefly. I have 5 days unexpectedly available to ride in the US this month - flying in and out of LAX where my bike is stored - but can only go late Feb. Needless to say I've got the tickets and am planning furiously!

    The bike (a V8) is v heavy and I am used to riding on the 'other' side of the road so I am planning staying away from snow and ice. I intended to stick to southern Arizona / Cali and so far have identified the Pima (Air Museum), Tucson, San Diego (USS Midway) as places to see. (Couple of years ago I did the northern roads / Flagstaff - Monument Valley from Utah and anyway I guess this time of year - ice likely). Any suggestions for other south AZ / south NM waypoints gratefully received.
    #20