Zion / Yellowstone in March

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

  1. TemeculaRider

    TemeculaRider Been here awhile

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    For what it's worth, he's 100% correct. I wouldn't go until mid-June. In fact, I am! :clap
    #21
  2. thetourist

    thetourist Just passing thru

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    I have been north from AZ to north Idaho in late March. Check my sig on the Baja Report for pics.

    I was in snow from middle of AZ till home. The roads were clear till I was near home. Snow to the eves of bldgs at Craters of the Moon. Freezing weather north of Ely. Yellowstone probably still in winter mode (snow machines).

    The good news. Southern Utah and Zion were quite warm. We are having a light/warm winter.

    It's a dry cold :rofl

    Bring your electrics.

    PS. I was stopped, for a day, by 4 inches of snow 6/7 yrs ago in Ely on April 20th.
    #22
  3. The Savage Rabbit

    The Savage Rabbit Adventurer

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    It's clear that roads like the 12 will need to be checked the day of the trip and are probably not going to work. But what about the 70 East through Utah towards Colorado? Are the freeway's and more heavily traveled roads passable around March 20 to April 11? Even if it is not a picturesque ride, being able to cross the state would be helpful.
    #23
  4. Phoenix101

    Phoenix101 Long timer

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    They now close the park around the mid March.. but sometimes don't PLOW the park until April depending on weather...
    #24
  5. barko1

    barko1 barko1 Supporter

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    #25
  6. JUDOKA

    JUDOKA retired

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    I did not read the entire thread, so maybe it has been said already, but, Yellowstone in march is out! We used to run snowmobile trips through Yellowstone country in March when I lived there in the early 90's. I dont thing that global warming has changed things that much!:rofl In fact, the snow did not even melt off of Terrace Mountain ( amere 10k ft. ) until the first week of June! Just my two pennies worth!
    #26
  7. FotoTEX

    FotoTEX Long timer

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    The Roads into Yellowstone will NOT BE OPEN that early. Unless you can change your bike into a snow machine and then you will be fine. March in Utah is very iffy. Plan B.
    #27
  8. rapidoxidationman

    rapidoxidationman Easily trainable

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    Fixed...
    #28
  9. LowAndSilent

    LowAndSilent Still a newb

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    I'm guessing April would be right out as well (for Yellowstone)? At least, most of the roads?
    #29
  10. rocker59

    rocker59 diplomatico di moto

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    They don't really start working on clearing the roads until May.

    I've been there the third week of May and was told the South Entrance had just opened. Recent snowplow activity was evident all the way up to Old Faithful. All the lakes were frozen over. Snow was piled high at Canyon Village and not much was open, one deli where I grabbed a sandwich.

    The place was beautiful, though.
    #30
  11. Thorne

    Thorne Sherpa-ing around

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    I would not recommend going through Yellow Stone in March. My Best Friend and I were through here last year in the 3rd weekend of May and as you can see there was snow. I can only imagine what it would be like in March.


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    #31
  12. Thorne

    Thorne Sherpa-ing around

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    We also journeyed through Zion and Bryce, the temps were hot but it was the month of May.

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    Bryce
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    #32
  13. LowAndSilent

    LowAndSilent Still a newb

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    Thank you for the info. That'll help. I guess a more southerly route is in order.
    #33
  14. Vstromdek

    Vstromdek Vstromdek

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    #34
  15. Rad

    Rad Done riding

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    March in the Rockies? Can be done if you are the type of person that is willing to risk, snow, ice. I have done rides all over those areas. My rule is May- October. Even with that I have hit snow storms more than once.

    I like one posters advice. Head into the southwest in March, great riding and lots to see.
    #35
  16. z987k

    z987k Long timer

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    We got snow in the last week of May in Yellowstone last time I was there. Lots of snow still on the ground everywhere to. Temps below freezing. 212 over Beartooth was closed.
    #36
  17. Gohot229

    Gohot229 n00b

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    Yellowstone in March..................... Did you give this any thought? I hate to be corse with you, it's not do'able. Not at all, period, get it out of your head. LATE April into early May the snow goes, that is if theres decent weather prior to then for about a month. The temps will be hovering around the 10's and 20's up until mid April, sure you get scatered days up in the 40's, and 50's but that will be rare. It's closer to two seasons in the Yellowstone area winter and summer, summer being more like spring, untill it snows again. But yea.....beautiful when it is the right time to be there.
    #37
  18. NinjaCraig

    NinjaCraig n00b

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    Being from Wyoming, I can tell you....you just never know about the weather between March thru June. You could get lucky, and have a great ride. Or you could be like me in June......Got caught in a big snow strom just outside of Jackson Wy. Good Luck. Craig
    #38
  19. The Savage Rabbit

    The Savage Rabbit Adventurer

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    My dad and I took this trip anyway. We are currently on the southern route previously mentioned. I pasted the daily posts from my website into this reply. Rookie is my dad. Sugar P is my wife.

    (NOTE: Some facts may not be 100% accurate. Distances, small town names, which road terminated where, etc. At the end of each day, I've found it difficult to recall these facts with confidence. At some points I'm estimating and recalling to the best of my ability.)

    As of today, we've done about 1,600 miles. We'll head West through Arizona to get back home to Ventura County, CA.

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    Saturday April 10

    Rookie met me at Fort Hacker around 7:00am this morning. (His alarm clock didn't go off). We hit the road just after sun rise and motored on down to the I15 where we gassed up. Hopping on the I15, we intended to pull off and get some food, but we kept missing each Denny's until we caught an IHOP (Remember when it was International House of Pancakes? I fear Mad Max's generation will think IHOP is an Apple product.)

    It was cold on the first portion of the 15. We were wearing our warm weather gear but the bikes showed 46 degrees. After a breakfast of pancakes, eggs, bacon, etc., we tackled the meat of the 15 with the goal of eating up as many miles as possible.

    The wind kept us on our toes. Some spots could blow you across the lane.

    We stopped in Baker and a little north east of Las Vegas for gas.

    We arrived at St. George around 3:30pm. Average speed was 69mph. Top speed was 112 mph. Average gas milage was 46.4mpg.

    Just North East of Las Vegas
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    Best Western in St. George, Utah
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    Sunday April 11

    Uncomfortably warm all day. Only down to 46 at 9,400 feet at summit of Boulder Mountain. Made it to Torrey late. Supped early. Ripped off a 167 mile straight stretc. To pull in to Moab.

    Will post today's pics later tonight.

    Breakfast in Springdale, UT on Highway 9
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    Mount Zion National Park
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    Highway 12 near Escalante
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    Further up the 12 Beyond Esclante Approaching Boulder
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    Just Under the Summit of Boulder Mountain about 45 Miles from Torrey
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    Desert after Lunch/Dinner at a Cafe in Torrey
    I went for the local Apple Pie Sweetened with Honey

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    Rookie Went for the Ice Cream Sundae
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    Highway 24 East - Best Stretch of Riding of the Day (To the 70 to the 191 South to Moab)
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    The FJRs are just about perfect. My Corbin seat gets hard after a while and I wish I had cruise control. Other than that it has performed perfectly.

    Sugar P booked us a room at a nice Best Western in Moab. We slept in tjis morning and are going to take it easy today. We'll move into western CO and head southish toward Durango, CO. The pictures of Durango look quaint. We'll bum around CO and then probably overnight in or around Durango. That positions us just North of New Mexico.

    Monday April 12

    We rose late this morning and walked down the main drag in Moab. We found a restaurant named Dex's or Rex's. We had a big breakfast of biscuits and gravy (no pictures) and Rookie talked about how classy Moab is. Frankly, I don't see it. It's a hole in the rocky desert that specializes in selling beer to packs of guys on dirt bikes. Ok, so maybe it has it's own beauty.

    We doubled back North to the I70, tucked in behind the windscreen, and jetted the 70 miles or so to Grand Junction, Colorado. The weather is unseasonably warm which is good, except the V Stream windshield is too good at redirected the air flow and I baked in my armored and insulated riding clothes.

    We gassed up in Grand Junction and continued East on the I70 until we hit Route 65. Oh, Route 65. How do I love thee? I'd count the ways but after knowing her so intimately a gentlemen would never tell. But stick around, I got pictures.

    Route 65 stretches for maybe 100 miles. And it is 100 miles of spectacular riding through stunning scenery. It began with aggressive riding on a two lane road the snakes through a rusty red rocky canyon. We passed through a ranch town whose 20 acre lots were each a retirement fantasy. Green ranches at the foot of an imposing granite mountain. Blue grey smoke curled skyward from each cobble stone chimney. Every yard a pasture, home to horses, ponies, cattle and llamas. Lots of llamas in red states, by the way. I bet there's a lot of harmonica in the music they play. Good folk like the harmonica.

    Through the town the 65 winds higher up the mountain. Snow lines the road at higher elevations. The trees change from conifer to white aspen. The road doubles back on itself like a black ribbon on a white mountain. Kinda like the reverse of a hostess cup cake but without the creamy filling. And more trees.

    As we climbed higher, the snow banks on the sides of the road grew. At one point, the snow towered over the road leaving only the tips of the road signs visible. At 10,000 feet we rolled along the side of the mountain with a towering snow covered peak to the left and a equally intimidating cliff to the right. The mountain to the left was a vertical wall appearing to us to be a 1,000 feet high. A sign read "Avalanche Area" and another "Falling Rock." Remember how every time Bo and Luke Duke drove by a sign that said "Falling Rock" a perfectly spherical boulder would come rolling down the hill to cream Enus's squad car? As we passed the sign, I peered up at the peek and, perfectly on que, 4 large bowling balls of ice broke free and tapped the cliff face 3 times as they, and a mini avalanche of snow, crashed down onto the road in front of me. I was terrified.

    We reached the summit and pulled off to the side of the road to look out over the valley below. We took photos and then sat on a snow drift, smoked cigars, and, at 10,000 feet, listened to the wind rush through the trees.

    We descended the mountain as rapidly as we ascended. We passed through several small towns whose names I don't remember. All the names sound like generic small-town USA names. They don't stand out in any way. But each has its own personality. That someone could open cider house or yet another fine art gallery housed in a dilapidated barn in a town of 400 and get by just fine thanks, makes me think that perhaps life is not as difficult as I make it out to be. In any event, none of the gas pumps in these towns have working card readers. You always have to go inside and stand in line. Motorcyclists don't do lines.

    The 65 converges with the 50 in a town whose name I've already forgotten. The 50 is a true back country road. Pastures filled with snow and mule deer line the road. I suppress the thought of connecting with a muley at 60 mph but keep an eye out. I bet they'd like a little pay back.

    The 50 turned into the 550 in or around Oure, CO. Oure is like Santa's Village minus the overt Christmas theme. It is tucked into a cul de sac of impossible mountains. Impossible in all respects. The town is flanked to the right, left, and behind by the tallest, sheerest, most jagged mountains I've seen since I walked out of Lord of the Rings after the first 50 wasted minutes. Small cottages line the narrow road. There is an opera house, a library, book stores, and all with the same flavor to them. It has to be contrived to sell its own stereotype. Cottages mix with western saloons that are fancy in the way that Hollywood douche bags to the trucker look. You know, it is but it isn't. Like the jerk has the right style of clothes but no dirt under the finger nails. It's the whole 2 hours to make your hair look like you just woke up thing. But damn-it, it works for this town.

    The difficulty of a road is often forecasted by its speed limit. The posted speed limit is for cagers. That's what their vehicles can handle. On a motorcycle, you can typically double the posted speed limit and be just fine. Not today. A posted 10 MPH is 9 MPH. Where the 65 doubled back on it self like a ribbon of delicious frosting, the 550 through these mountain passes is more like a compressed slinky.

    I will never forget this stretch of road. It is a scene straight out of the History Channel's Engineering Marvels. Two lanes. On the left, a jagged granite wall that thrusts vertically for a legitimate 1,000 feet. Every 50 yards, water falls gushed down the granite face to the side of the road and flowed along the road side, almost never wetting the road way. To the right, a true 1,000 foot drop. Beyond that, another 1,000 foot snowy mountain. I can only imagine that is what the Matterhorn looks like.

    I found myself staring up at the mountains. Craning my helmet backwards to bring the peaks into view. I'd become dizzy trying to comprehend their impossibility. I spent some of the ride thinking of how I'd describe them to you. I settled on "impossible," so you're going to read it over and over again. And then I'd drift a foot closer to the cliff and its unprotected edge. The bike only went a foot by my imagination went over the edge. Occasionally, around a turn, I'd peek over the edge. Once over, a guy would kiss the cliff face 2, maybe 3, times before his problems are all over. The fancy armored riding suit would be a wet bag a lasagna. Speaking of lasagna, Rookie had a sausage lasagna tonight at Momma's Boy Italian Restaurant that he says is the best he's ever had.

    The 550 took us to 11,000 feet. 11,000 feet of impossibly high, impossibly jagged, impossibly narrow, and impossibly beautiful mountain-scape. All covered in 5 to 10 feet or pure white snow. Come to think of it, not unlike the creamy center of a Hostess Cupcake.

    We finally reached the summit and began winding our way down the other side. More wooded ranches and green and snowy pasture land were found. It was an unforgettable sight.

    We pulled into Durango, CO around 7:00pm. Durango, on the other hand, has a disconcerting quality. The wind howls through the streets carrying sand. Not dust. Sand. Small rocks. The sidewalks are covered in the sand. The main street, named Main Street, looks like it belongs in southern Nevada. Closed shops and shuttered, abandoned buildings. We walked to dinner. We past 4 motels 2 of which had police and ambulances attending to what I get the feeling is a not uncommon news headline "Meth addict burgles motel room." Durango doesn't stand up to its neighbors. I don't know if I feel badly for this town or despise it.

    No matter. We'll be gone in the morning. On to New Mexico.

    Above the town with the retirement fantasy homes
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    At 10,000 feet on the 65 where we smoked the cigars
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    Other side of the impossibly tall, impossibly, rugged, and impossibly beautiful mountains.
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    Something about Durango ain't right. A J Frame Smith & Wesson is a great room-gun when traveling.
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    Tuesday April 13

    Some time between waking up this morning and stepping outside to load the bikes a snow storm hit. We quickly packed our gear and strapped it down. We pulled out of town in the thick of the storm.

    The 160 East took us to Pagossa Springs where we had breakfast. The storm let up on the way there. We stopped at some pub that served breakfast. We both ordered the biscuits and gravy. It was ok. The thin biscuits were lost in a sea of bland gravy.

    Northern New Mexico looks a lot like Colorado but not as extreme in its landscape. I'd love to hunt deer or elk in Northern New Mexico.

    We planned to head directly to Santa Fe, but took a detour on the 64 to see Taos. The wind has been an annoyance throughout this trip. The wind on the road to Taos was violent. Shock and awe. At one point I was blown clear out of my lane and into the lane heading the other way. I pressed the right grip and tipped the bike over at what felt like a 30 degree angle. I slowly began to fight against the wind when a second tidal wave of atmosphere blasted the bike up right and threw me back to the center of the oncoming lane. At the same time, Rookie was caught in a dust devil that gave him the washing machine treatment.

    That was the worst wind through which I've ever ridden and maybe the worst I've ever experienced. At the end of that 70 mile detour we arrived at our reward. Taos, New Mexico. People, Taos sucks. It's a crappy little town. True, we didn't see much of it. But the it reminded me of California City, California. That, and the coffee shop wouldn't let me use their bathroom. Taos sucks.

    We pulled out of that two bit jerk-water-berg and headed south to Santa Fe. After 30 miles of southern progress, the wind let up, a little. As we moved south, New Mexico began to look like Arizona.

    We pulled into the Best Western on Cerrillo Road around 4:30 pm. We'll hope to ride 2 Up in to the heart of some fancy pants part of town, park, and walk around. Where we are now is not all that impressive. But it's a big town. I hope we get to see some of it.

    Snow Day
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    Biscuits and Gravy in Pagossa Springs, CO
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    Northern New Mexico
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    #39