Bob's pilgrimage to Sturgis (sort of)
I just returned from an 8 road-day motorcycle road trip through 7 western states – AZ, UT, CO, WY, SD, MT, & ID. Here are the numbers and highlights:
Day 1: 475 miles; Phoenix to Moab, UT. Via I-17, US89, US160, US163, US191. I rode with Lawrence between Flagstaff and Tuba City– he was on a Yamaha 1000 R1 and I thought I could outrun him… poor deluded man! We had a nice stop & visit at Speedy’s, a favorite pit stop of mine at Cameron, AZ (gasoline and fried burritos!). Lawrence left my company at Tuba City, his home. I stopped for the night at the Apache Motel, John Wayne’s favorite when he made movies in the Moab area – they still have memorabilia commemorating his stays there.
Day 2: 393 miles; Moab to Rawlins, WY Via US191, UT SR128, I-70, CO SR13, WY SR789 and I-80. A great day of riding – but encountered a little rain around Baggs, WY. I started the ride with a run along the banks of the Colorado River above Moab – along SR128, this is a very scenic area. Then used I-70 over to Rifle, CO to pick up SR13 to get into Wyoming. I contracted a case of mid-afternoon drowsiness, so I stopped for a nap (30 minutes in downtown Craig, CO) at a little city park. The motel at day’s end was disappointing; this is a major pitfall of making advance reservations at Mom & Pop establishments – I was charged $60 for a room not worth $30. It was clean but old and had zero amenities.
Day 3: 358 miles; Rawlins to Deadwood via SR789, SR220, I-25, SR387, SR59, SR450 (all WY), US16 and US85. I flew past Independence Rock on the Oregon Trail– no signs pointed it out because of road construction and the rework of a rest area there (although I recognized it as I flew by, I didn't believe it because I was EXPECTING it to be well-marked). Also passed a Mormon Trail site known as Martin’s Cove where many hand-cart emigrants perished in 1856 when caught in a snowstorm. Later, along the N. Platte River near Casper, a marker pointed out the place where the first white man’s cabin in Wyoming had stood dating from the early 1800s. Had lunch in Casper and went on to Deadwood from there. I was able to make very good time on Wyoming two-lane roads – it is far between towns and they are long and straight or with wide, shallow curves. On beautiful US85 going into Deadwood, I started passing large numbers of Harley Davidson motorcycles. It was the week before the 65th Annual Sturgis Rally, and the “pilgrims” were arriving.
I spent three days in Deadwood visiting friends, & had the motorcycle serviced (and a new rear tire installed) by the great folks at Black Hills Powersports. While there, I test drove a Yamaha V-Max motorcycle -- big, fast and powerful -- a definite thrill. I rambled around Deadwood and the Black Hills looking for history.
Day 4: 389 miles; Deadwood to Cody, WY via US85, I-90, US14, & US14A. Got a late start, and the wind was blowing me around quite a bit. On US14A, went over the Bighorn Mountains. Most of the Indian combatants and their families went into the Bighorns after the Custer fight in 1876. It’s a beautiful place – the highway winds between mountains over 10,000 feet high. I passed the Medicine Wheel, but it was a three mile dirt road and then a three mile hike (round trip) – and I didn’t have time. My motel stay in Cody was another disaster – several rooms near me were occupied by the degenerate members of a road crew – there was proliferate drinking, swearing and fighting until the local police arrived sometime in the late hours, and at least one individual was then carried away & hosted by them at the city jail. The laundry machines didn’t work properly and I also found left over dirty towels in my room – the housekeeping staff didn’t look hard enough to find and remove them. The Frontier Motel in Cody will not be on my short list of acceptable places to stay in the future.
Day 5: About 289 miles; Cody to Jackson, WY via SR120, SR296 (the Chief Joseph Scenic Highway over Dead Indian Pass) US212, then US191 through Grand Teton National Park to Jackson. The Chief Joseph Highway is another of those magnificently spectacular byways – and is so-named because the route figured prominently in the flight of the Nez Perce band in 1877 and the Army’s campaign to capture or kill them all. My day was supposed to be spent predominantly at Yellowstone– but I greatly underestimated the time it would take to get there from Cody in the morning – I ended with only about a half day to drive through the park. This allowed quick stops at the Mammoth area and at the Falls. I hurriedly left the Park and proceeded south to Jackson for the night. This segment of the trip was the least satisfying – I needed way more time and couldn’t spend it.
Day 6: Rode from Jackson to Richfield, Utah (mostly on US89), by way of Montpelier, ID, where Butch Cassidy robbed the bank in 1896, and Bear Lake, site of a couple of memorable trappers’ rendezvous in 1826 and 1827, attended by such fur-trade notables as Jedidiah Smith, Jim Bridger and William Ashley. I rode down through Salt Lake City on I-15, then through Spanish Fork Canyon to US89 again, and south to much-anticipated Mom’s Café in Salina City, UT for supper, finally stopping for the day in Richfield at the Budget Host Night’s Inn (which was very nice). Rode 458 miles on this day. US89 south through Utah is a very beautiful ride – much prettier than I’d remembered.
Day 7: Another short day – I rode south to Bryce Canyon, spent several hours in the park but ultimately got rained out (very disappointing, but the only such day on the entire trip). Consolation: Bryce is close enough to home that I can go back almost anytime I want. After the warmth of coffee and soup at the Bryce Pines restaurant (and chocolate cream pie), I headed south again in rain through Mt. Carmel Junction and Kanab to the Crazy Jug Motel in Fredonia (on US89). The furnishings in the rooms (and restaurant) all seem to be home-made (rustic pine, with a natural finish). Very unique. I didn’t track the mileage for this day but it was something less than 250 I think. [Edit note: I discovered later that the Crazy Jug Restaurant in Fredonia had charged my Visa card THREE TIMES for my evening meal! It took intervention by my bank to get my money refunded. Not a happy camper.]
Day 8: Fredonia to Phoenix via US89A, US89 and I-17. This was a 393 mile day, and I didn’t stop much as I’d just made this same run on the 4th of July weekend. Wish I’d had time for a visit to the North Rim, but passed that up in the interest of getting home earlier. I was stopped by construction north of Cameron on US89 -- for almost an hour. I stopped in Prescott for dinner with my daughter-in-law – my son was recently assigned to Camp Humphreys, Korea, and Jennifer is staying with her family in Prescott until he returns. So we caught up on the news from Korea while eating at Young’s Farm in Dewey, AZ on SR69). I came home from there (about 90 miles) – again in the rain for part of the distance. I didn’t even put on the rain gear as the next stop was home, so was a bit wet for most of the ride. No problem, it washed off some of the bugs. I’ll post more on the trip later, including the costs. It’s good to be home, but I already miss being on the road!
Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 08-12-2005 at 03:17 PM.
Reason: Add Photos
See the photos
I've posted a few photos from this trip if you care to see them. They're at http://bschaller.photosite.com.
Cody and Bob Brown
Great field report, as always. Too bad you didn't have time to check in with Bob Brown, who lives in Cody and is a frequent photo contributor on this site. I am sure he would have steered you to a nice motel.
Originally Posted by Moderator Bob
Should have asked!
I would have preferred to not have made reservations for this trip, but I'd have only gotten away with this once -- in Richfield (UT) on the way home. Every other destination town (Moab, Rawlins, Deadwood, Cody, Jackson) was booked almost solid a month ahead of time because of the literally thousands of bikers headed for Sturgis for the rally. This was confirmed as I arrived in each town and watched the parade of lodging-challenged unfortunates as they searched unsuccessfully for any available accommodation.
In Rawlins, you also compete with a large population of transient workers (oil or mines, I'm not sure which) -- so it is probably always more difficult to find cheaper accommodations there.
I should have thought to ask if RTA had any suggestions for lodging in these towns -- it sounds like I could have made some better-informed choices.
The other thing I'd have done differently would have been to spend the extra day at Yellowstone/Grand Teton rather than at Bryce -- don't know what I was thinking, as northern Wyoming is much harder to get to from Phoenix than is south Utah.
But I had a great trip and these were minor issues, not worth crying over. Bob
Sounds like a great trip. I saw a documentary on the Sturgis bike ralley on I think the Travel Channel once.. it looked like a lot of fun. The pictures you took were incredible! I'd love to do a similar trip through Utah and Wyoming.
Where were those pictures of Bryce Canyon taken from? Thanks again for the report!
The Bryce photos were taken from Rainbow Point (the one farthest away from the entrance gate) and Bryce Point. It was in the middle of a powerful T-storm and I didn't hang around long -- except at Rainbow Point I stayed underneath a shelter in hopes that the storm would clear, for about an hour. It didn't and I gave up and went on down the road.
The quality of photos I get from my Nikon digital camera IS incredible -- it often captures subtleties of lighting and depth like no other camera I've had could do -- the photos often appear to be 3D. It's a Coolpix 4300.
Motorcyclists typically wave to each other on the road. For about 500 miles around Sturgis last week, no one was waving -- you'd have had a hand off the grips continuously! Once I was a day or so away from the Black Hills, the riders started waving again. Pretty funny.
I didn't stay for the rally itself; my friends Linda and Merrill just bought the Budget Host Jackpot Inn at Deadwood so I went to visit them for a few days (shameless plug -- good people & very nice place to stay if you ever go that way). I'm green with envy of them -- not only are the Hills a great place to live for scenic reasons and climate, but all that western history makes me drool. Bob
your pictures are getting better and better and more artistic! I think the Church Rock picture is my favourite along with the Mormon Temple, and the cemetery ones are cool too. You make me want to have a motorcycle too! ;o)
Great post Bob. Going to Sturgis is always an unique adventure.
Will you be heading out in 2011? If so give me a shout.
Last edited by AZBuck; 04-22-2011 at 12:10 PM.
Reason: New members may not post links to commercial sites