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Texas to The Grand Canyon

Oct 19, 2006
Between a Rock and a weird place, Pflugerville, TX
With Fall closing in and the Texas Heat wave not letting up, we decided we needed to head out of state for some good riding. After several plans discussed and schedules with work and family worked out we settled on Plan C; a run to The Grand Canyon and Zion National Park.

The trip would start on October 2, 2011 at the end of my shift with the FD. We met up at my station; Austin Fire Department, Station 44.

A few words of encouragement from the Battalion Chief that relieves me.


Chief Bearden is an avid motorcyclist who is the proud owner of a 2012 Tenere' and is currently planning trip to Alaska next summer. I have been tempted. :ponder: But he said he would never use foam grips on any of his motorcycles. :-P


At 1030 we were on the road heading northwest to our destination for the first night; Palo Duro Canyon State Park. Bright sunshine and clear skies. Time for the serious business of having a great ride.

The Bruce rides again.


My office for the next six days.


Evidence of the many wild fires along the way.


Familiar roads as we make the trek out of Texas we have made so many times before.


In Lubbock we stopped for dinner at Abuelo's Mexican. Very good food and excellent service. It's in the GPS database just south of the loop on the south side of town.


The shadows grew long as we pressed on toward Palo Duro Canyon.


We arrived at the park gate just after sunset, 7:40 pm. We were greeted by a locked entrance gate. Not happy campers. I posted that story from my tent in the late arrival parking lot and primitive camping area.

Mile for the day; 481.


Tomorrow: Northern NM
Last edited:
Feb 13, 2008
Hope you guys plan to go through the Angel Fire Area in New Mexico and on West from there. Beautiful country. You're headed to some great places. Have fun and take lots of pictures. ;-)
Aug 14, 2008
From Zion go to Bryce Canyon Ut. you'll be glad you did . Just got back from there myself.Monument Valley, Natural Bridges, Gooseneck, Moki Dugway, Glenn Canyon,Zion, and the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Fantastic ride.
Oct 16, 2008
Bryan, TX
The trip is over, I"m just gathering photos and telling the story. We rode from 10/2-10/7. I've tried doing updates along the way and it take too much enjoyment from the trip for me.
You're not riding now so hurry up and post up. There are many waiting patiently.
Oct 19, 2006
Between a Rock and a weird place, Pflugerville, TX
Second Day 10/3 Palo Duro to Bloomfield, NM

I've gathered a few more photos in so I'll back up just a little and introduce the riders.


L to R: Chris riding an '09 Street Glide, Perry (NomadicFireman) riding an '09 Concourse, and Bruce (TheBruce) riding an '09 Ultra Classic Firefighter Special. We have been riding together for many of my rides reports, Perry in all of them, I think.

With that out of the way, let's continue with the story. We arose before dawn, packed our gear and rolled out before the park office opened. A quick 15 minutes later we were in Canyon, TX looking for breakfast. We had sorta planned on Peppitos Mexican but found that they don't serve breakfast. A couple blocks down the street was a cafe' with many pickup trucks in the parking lot, always a good sign. And it was good.


We were rolling on northwest towards Dalhart and Clayton, NM by 0830. Still a ways to go before getting out of Texas. Every once in a while a unique photo op presents itself. Perry self portrait.


About 60 miles west of Clayton on US64 is an attraction that we all have driven by many times but this time we stopped to check it out.


Capulin Volcano National Monument


We paid the $5 per vehicle entry fee and took the twisty paved road to the top.




Ah! Perry gets up close.


Nice parking area on the rim of the caldera. Paved trails follow the rim but none of us wanted to take the mile plus hike. So we just enjoyed what we could see from the parking area.




Great view from up there.


We continued our journey west along US64 past Raton and towards Eagle Nest. US64 is quickly becoming on of my favorite highways. I think the best way to get across northern NM. Not the fastest but the best scenery for sure. As we got closer to Eagle Nest the weather started to turn. Dark clouds ahead foretold our future. So, we stopped and put on the rain gear.

Looking forward,


Looking back to the east,


Normally when the rain gear goes on it prevents the rain from falling. And if you leave it in the saddlebag it will rain for sure. This time it rained. It rained off and on for the next four days. And the temperature dropped into a range from the mid 40's to mid 60's this day. So, when not raining the wind protection provided by the rain gear was welcome.

At Eagle Nest we turned north on HWY38 towards Red River. The road was wonderful with gentle curves and great scenery. Somewhere along this area a BMW GS pulled out from one of the side dirt roads and fell in behind us. I guess our pace ( a little over the posted limit carried through the curves) was a little slow for him since he blew past before too long. I let him go so I could focus on the views. The oaks in the creek bottoms and aspens at higher altitudes were turning with the cool fall weather providing ample color.






Still raining when we pulled into Red River. We met a local at the gas station and went with her recommendation for a place to eat lunch.

Red River


Notice the black spot on my pipe. I had a new set of Frog Toggs recently purchase from Moto Liberty in San Antonio. A word of caution, they do not like even a little bit of heat. They will melt instantly leaving a gooey black mess on any hot surface. I like the Frog gear overall. They have a couple weak points though. They are fragile. Two of the snaps came apart at the rivet the first time they were connected. One came off later after rubbing along a stone wall and snagging on a small edge. If you take a knee to look at something there will be a hole where your knee touches down. They are fragile, but that makes them very light. And they do breath very well while being completely water proof. Just keep them away from the pipes.


I plan on checking for warranty service regarding the snaps. They appeared to have not been properly crimped.

This is the spot for lunch; Yesterday's Diner.


Overall review, not good. Interesting menu but poorly executed. We tried the homemade pies for desert. The cream pies had softened the crust to the point that it was nearly mush. Good flavor in the filling but pie is all about the crust. Otherwise its just pudding. First time in many of our travels that the recommendation of a local let us down. Oh well; I guess we were overdue in that regard.

Out back they had the machines ready for the coming winter. Perry had to try one on for size. Looks fun.


After lunch we continued west on HWY38 in the rain. Then turned south on HWY522 to reconnect with US64 just west of Taos.


The rain had eased up and gave us a nice opportunity to stop at the bridge over the Rio Grande gorge.



Excellent cell signal for Facebook photos and checking messages.



Long way down to the river.



More rain coming our way from the south. We took a few sprinkles that got us moving west on 64.


Near Tres Piedras a large wild fire got our attention. It was several miles south of town being blown north.


US64 west of Tres Piedras heading towards Chama is the best of the best IMHO. Fast sweeping curves among the pine and aspen trees. Large open meadows and great vistas. We got to ride through a cattle drive.


I've always felt a bit of kindred spirit with the cowboys that still work the west. Love of the outdoors, having to deal with whatever the weather dishes up. Always a good experience anytime we meet up with them.


They even wave like bikers ;-)


The rain continued off and on. The highway took us around the worst of it.



A break stop in Chama and on west into the sunset.


After a fairly heavy rain shower we reached Bloomfield, NM at about 8:00. I chose Bloomfield over Farmington because the hotels were about $20 cheaper than 12 miles further down the road. We stayed at the Super 8 and got a nice room for about $70. We couldn't leave the bikes up front. While pushing across the lot Perry lost his balance and dropped the Connie on her side. Since I was bundled up for rain he had her back upright before I could get a photo. Minor damage, you will see it later.

Miles for the day: 546

Oct 19, 2006
Between a Rock and a weird place, Pflugerville, TX
Third Day 10/3 Bloomfield to The Grand Canyon

Up early with light rain. A diner across the road from the hotel beckoned us to come get breakfast. We headed the call.


Having had our coffee and grub we continued west on US64. The temps were getting colder as we rode and eventually we got more rain. Just across the border into Arizona we took the short detour north on US160 to see the Four Corners Monument. $3 per vehicle entry fee.


Doesn't look like much from the outside. They built this enclosure for the Navajo to set up booths facing in toward the monument to sell their crafts.


Nice set up inside.


What's worse than an a-r photographer? One that doesn't know how to operate his camera and keeps everyone waiting in the cold rain while he gets his shot.


There are required poses for us tourists.




I chose a normal stance.


A quick check of the gps on a 200ft. per half inch scale proves what I've heard; that the monument is not actually at the four corners point. But that point was over the edge into a valley so this spot will do, close enough.


This place was inviting us in out of the cold wind.


Warm bread covered with cinnamon, powdered sugar, drizzled with honey and a hot cup of coffee was mighty tasty.


This photo of Chris shows how he was feeling. A bit of a head cold made for a miserable day for him. But he soldiered on without any complaint. :clap:


Back to the route we were now on US160 heading west. The rain stopped and we had a great ride through the desert.


Navajo, it's their land.



Looks like a coal operation, maybe.




We don't stop much for photos and sometime you can get a pretty good one at 65 mph.



We turned off 160 onto AZ98 then stopped for fuel and snacks in Page, AZ. Then south on US89.


We were stuck behind an 18 wheeler but he was making good time up the grade so I figured he was running empty and became content to stay behind him. There is a huge cut through the rock before dropping down into the plain above Glen Canyon.





Once on the valley floor we made the right hand turn onto US89 Alt. for the run up to the Navajo Bridge.


Navajo Bridge is the last crossing before the Grand Canyon, next crossing is at the Hoover Dam in Nevada.


The old bridge is left as a walkway with the new one for road traffic. New on on the right in this photo.



The center joint where the span meets.



The main reason we stopped here was to see the historical marker in place for Lee's Ferry, about six miles upstream.


The operator, John Doyle Lee, was Chris's Great Great Grandfather. His ferry was instrumental in the settlement of northern Arizona.


A kind stranger walked by our little group in the parking lot and offered to take a photo for us. Thanks. The leading edge of Perry's saddlebag shows the damage from his parking lot tip-over. Not too bad.


We started down the road the led to Lee's Ferry. Coincidentally named Lee's Ferry Road. Last time Perry had been here he started a float trip from there and it was just a road. We soon found that it is now a National Recreation Area and each vehicle is subject to a $15 dollar entry fee. :eek2: This is Chris saying he didn't need to see it that bad.


I started to ride without the rain gear but quickly stopped to put it back on and the horizon showed rain in the forecast. The flag on the back of my bike shows the wind speed.


The road was straight for about 20 miles then climbed up through several tight curves up to the plateau that makes the north rim of the Grand Canyon. Jacob Lake is a small community at the intersection with the road that goes south to the park and the last real commercial interest along the way. We stopped at the lodge to have dinner at the cafe'.


Props to Texas T for giving me that tip. Food was great. And pie for desert was awesome!


Temperature was low 40's with sprinkles of rain as we headed south toward the North Rim Campground.


The view from Perry's Connie.


We arrived at the camp at about 5 and had just enough time to get set up before the heavy rain came. We walked down to the canyon rim in heavy rain with small hail injected a couple of times. I got one crappy photo of sunset while trying to keep my camera dry.


Back at the camp I got a photo in the rain.


We walked over to the camp store and settled into the coffee bar to wait out the rain. Hot drinks all around. Chris was still feeling poorly and it showed.


We stayed until they closed at 8. The rain had turned to a slow drip and stayed that way so we were able to get settled in for the night.

Miles for the day: 376


Texas T

Forum Supporter
Nov 7, 2004
Sun Lakes & Show Low, Arizona
Re: Third Day 10/3 Bloomfield to The Grand Canyon

The operator, John Doyle Lee, was Chris's Great Great Grandfather. His ferry was instrumental in the settlement of northern Arizona.
That is VERY cool.

This is Chris saying he didn't need to see it that bad.
Chris should have played the Great Great Grandfather Lee card. :trust:

Props to Texas T for giving me that tip. Food was great. And pie for desert was awesome!
My pleasure.

We walked down to the canyon rim in heavy rain with small hail injected a couple of times.
Must be the nature of the beast. We got POURED on during the ride down to the lodge, and riders about five minutes ahead of us said they got pummeled by hail as well.
Oct 19, 2006
Between a Rock and a weird place, Pflugerville, TX
Fourth Day 10/5 Escape to Phoenix

We woke to cloudy skies and 34 degrees. Our original plan was to stay two nights and ride Zion National Park/Bryce Canyon on this day. We met a couple who were active with CMA and they invited us over to their camp for coffee. Talking to them we got the weather report predicting snow for the next morning. :giveup: We finished our coffee and quickly came up with a plan to avoid the freezing precipitation.


We packed up and loaded up. The plan; head south via the south rim and end up the day in Phoenix where we would spend the night with Perry's son, Jacob, who is in Phoenix attending the Motorcycle Mechanic Institute. The route would develop as time permitted in order to meet up with Jacob for dinner around 8 pm. First order of business was breakfast at the lodge. We walked past the cabins where the rich folk stay.


and on to the lodge where Perry ate off the buffet while Chris and I had the chef prepared gourmet huevos rancheros.


Back of the lodge...


We took a few minutes to check out the views of the canyon.








We rode north as I plotted the course on the Zumo 550 gps unit. We were 16 miles from our destination but it would take about 205 miles on the highway to get to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. It was cold but a nice ride to Jacob's Lake.


Evidence of the fire a couple years ago. Regrowth occurring as it always does.


We stopped for fuel and Chris and I both needed some air in front tires. The guys at the service station were very helpful giving us use of the tire shop air. I was laughing as Perry made some joke about Harley's always breaking down.


We retraced our path across the plateau and the air warmed as we dropped down onto the plain above Glen Canyon. Back across the Navajo Bridge and south on US89.


We turned west on HWY64 for our entry into the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park. Our $12 entry fee from the North Rim was good for a week so we didn't have to pay again. We had all been to this side before so we only planned one stop at a place none of us had been. The Watch Tower view point.


A funny story as we pulled in to park. We took a wrong turn and went through a gas station where a bunch of guys wearing black leather and riding black Harley's were filling up. Perry noticed they were all Asian. He stopped, on his Kawasaki, to ask why none of them were riding Kawasaki motorcycles. Not speaking Engrish they just replied "Is OK." and pointed to the open gas pump. I guess they were living the tourist dream, renting Harley's and riding around to see the sights.

Inside the tower was really cool, decorated with native art with a rotunda around the stairs going up.




One of the reasons we were glad that Chris came along is that he recently got a promotion to Fire Captain along with a new assignment in the Prevention Division. He was a little depressed by the change in schedule and the new assignment so he needed to get away.


He was a good sport and gave the extinguisher a quick inspection for the safety of all present. :thumb:


At the base of the tower was a viewing deck with a scenic view of the big hole in the ground.



And the view, not bad.


We soaked in what we could of the view and made our way back to the bikes. We went on the rest of the way west into the park then south on US180 toward Flagstaff.


At Valle 180 bears off to the east toward the San Francisco peaks. We took a quick break to stretch. This gave Chris the opportunity to replace his headlight that had lost the low beam. We both carried spares. An easy 10 minute job and done. The only real problem those horrible Harley's had the whole trip.


US 180 through the San Francisco peaks is another one of those must ride roads. Sweeping curves and nice scenery.



We got into Flag just in time for rush hour, about 4:30. In Flagstaff we checked our time and made a plan to ride through Sedona and Prescott on the way to Phoenix. The entry into Sedona from the north is through Oak Creek Canyon. There was traffic that slowed everything down but that was ok. It gave us a safety margin to enjoy the view.





Here is map shot to show the curves. Notice the scale.


Once at the canyon floor we made a little better time, but traffic was a limiting factor.



Riding through Sedona was an experience in slow maneuvering. Nobody was moving over about 10 mph. And nearly every intersection was a roundabout. I hate those things. At least with the slow traffic is wasn't too unsafe. But I missed the turn to Prescott in one of the roundabouts and got spun out to the south back to IH17. It wasn't bad as this put us on US179 which is also the Red Rock Scenic Drive. Very nice divided road so you can enjoy the scenery with less danger from traffic.




We ended up back on IH 17 heading south. I plugged in a route back to Prescott but as we got to the turn I did some quick calculations on time. It would be dark about the time we got to Prescott. So we agreed to just head south on 17. This would give us time to get a quick shower before meeting up with Jacob for dinner. We met at Claim Jumpers on the 101 Loop. His ride is the scooter between Big Red and the Connie.


After stuffing ourselves with good food we all piled into Jacob's apartment for the night.

Miles for the day; 428

Aug 11, 2008
DFW, Texas
Love ride reports, and awesome photos, thanks. Gee when I get off in the morning I'm on Vac, and should do a trip myself. But I let the Wing lean over to the Fire wagon (like I could stop her) and shattered the right mirror!!

Too bad about the Connie mishap. When I had my ST it was not unusual for riders to have a tip over in parking lots. I ain't sayin' who did this.:eek2:
Oct 19, 2006
Between a Rock and a weird place, Pflugerville, TX
Fifth Day 10/6 Phoenix to Ruidoso, NM

We woke up to bright sunshine and warm temps. Loaded the bikes and headed out to Jacob's favorite breakfast place.



Jacob is doing great at the Motorcycle Mechanic Institute earning a spot on the Director's List and several times as Student of the Course. Recently wrapped up a course on Dyno Testing where he was SOC. Let me know that my DRZ400 with Yosh pipe will put out 34HP to the rear wheel. :clap:


Huge breakfast burritos where ordered and consumed. :eat: That's one proud papa.


After breakfast we took Loop 101 to the east then made our way onto HWY 87 for the run up to Payson.




As the altitude increased the temperature decreased and the clouds began to build. Before getting to Payson we were stopping on the side of the road to don rain gear.


Once the rain started the photos stopped. We had rain from before Payson nearly all the way to Springerville. In Payson we rode east on HWY260 through Show Low and eventually taking US60 for the run into New Mexico. We got flashed by a traffic camera at an intersection in Payson. Not sure if we were speeding. If we were it was only a mile or two over. It was a green light so the jury is out on that. We stopped for fuel in Overgaard and Chris was near frozen. The temps had been down close to 30 in the rain. He was shivering. They had a DQ attached to the gas station so he sat for a while inside then changed to thicker socks and put on nearly everything he was carrying to keep warm. The sun came out about 10 miles from Springerville. Lunchtime. :eat: If you go through Springerville you gotta stop hear. Everything is good.


Chris and Perry had their Mexican stew which was like tortilla soup on steroids served with a grilled cheese sandwich. Along with a cup of coffee it fixed Chris up and got him ready to continue on. I had the lunch special; 3 carne asada tacos with cabbage slaw and homemade salsa. :eat:

Down the road to the east was our destination for desert; Pie Town, NM. Perry and I had been through here on our Continental Divide Trip last year. But we had come through on Sunday and the place was all closed. So we were looking forward to our return. We first stopped at the intersection with the Continental Divide Trail to reminisce. Then on the to Pie-0-neer. :eat:


We arrived at 4:15; the sign said open 'till 4:00 or until we leave. :doh: Luckily they had not left yet and they still had pie from left the day so we got in. :eat: We were greeted with warm smiles and a barrel wood burner stove in the middle of the dining room that had the place nice and toasty warm. And older fella sat in the corner peeling and slicing apples for tomorrows pies. We chose our pie and order hot drinks and settled in for the best pie of the trip, no doubt. Perry got the last piece of blueberry and Chris and I had apple crumb. Superb! Here is Perry with our waitress.


The owner treated us with the story of how Pie Town came to be and how she came to own the store. During dust bowl days US 60 was the main route for folks leaving west Texas and heading to California. Many of their vehicle would break down along the way and they would have to walk so they would only get 20-25 miles each day. Along US 60 in this part of NM there are remains of settlements every 20-30 miles where the people would give up and decide to stay. There was a group that stopped in the area of Pie Town. They had a bushel of apples with them and made pies to sell to the travelers to earn some cash to get started on their new homestead. Eventually they opened a store and continued to sell pies. Several years later, the census bureau went looking for the missing families and found them all over the area of western NM. The government granted homesteads to these families and many are still there. In order to give them an address they created the name Pie Town in honor of the first family to settle there. The current owner used to travel through on vacation with her mother and would always stop for pie. One year there was a sign on the door "Tired of making pies, we quit." She told her mother that if you will make the pies, I'll buy the store. And she is the current pie mistress having learned from her mother. Plan a trip through here and stop for pie, you won't be disappointed, unless they are closed. Call ahead and they will let you know their schedule; they do take vacation from time to time.

After a great visit we continued on east on 60. About the only thing out there is the Very Large Array radio telescope system. LINK



We were running out of day so we just did a drive by. They do have a visitor center so I'll go back someday.

We crossed IH25 and continued east on US 380, cut the corner at Negal, turned right onto HWY48 for the run into Ruidoso. We check in to our favorite Motel 6 for the night. We've been there enough times that the manger knows us by name now. Great folks running this place and the indoor pool and hot tub are welcome after a long day in the saddle.


Ah, that felt good! Got a great nights sleep in prep for the run across west Texas.

Miles for the day: 428

Oct 19, 2006
Between a Rock and a weird place, Pflugerville, TX
10/7 The home stretch

OK, I pulled my shift at the FD so now time to wrap this thing up.

We slept a little longer than intended with the hot tub, adult beverages, and the comfy beds at the Motel 6. Oh well :shrug: As we were loading up the manager came out to wish us well. His name is Tom. Very nice guy, lets us park on the front porch with the bears. Thanks again Tom; see you next time.


After breakfast at Chef Lupe's on the main street through Ruidoso, it was time for the 11 hour trip home through WEST TEXAS :puke: Air temp was around 55 as we got on the road, 75 but the time we hit Roswell, and into the upper 80 by the time we made the state line. Lots of this....


Some dual sport roots started popping up in Perry's riding style.


As we crossed the state line the wind picked up out of the southwest. That meant we would have crosswinds of 20-25 from mid morning to late afternoon when we finally got to make the turn east at HWY29 in Llano. Blowing dust and sand would be the rule of the day. I've said it before, I'll say it again, I do not like riding west Texas. I don't like this part of our wonderful state. Apologies to those forum members who, by whatever circumstances, are stuck living out there. Love Big Bend and the southwest. I can handle the panhandle. Lamesa, Big Spring (recently renamed dry spring), Sand Angelo and the areas between there and Roswell, NM; no thanks. But it got us home. To make the most of our time I shifted into a semi-iron butt mode; stopping only when the tank was too empty to make the next fuel stop. And, stopping for lunch at a buffet for quick service. Chinese buffet in Sand Angelo, on US87 going south out of town. Quite tasty with a great selection of meats and seafood.


The group peeled off one by one going our separate ways as we got closer to home. I pulled into the home garage in P'ville just before 8 pm.

Miles for the day: 585


Total trip miles: 2844

Final results; one filthy bike and one wore out rear tire. I got about 16k miles out of this one so no complaints.


Thanks Perry and Chris for riding along. Thanks to the Mrs. for understanding the need to go and for the warm welcome upon the return. Until next time :rider:

Texas T

Forum Supporter
Nov 7, 2004
Sun Lakes & Show Low, Arizona
Thank you so much for this! I really want to make this trip, from Austin to the Grand Canyon.
Tough call, deal with the cold at higher elevations or deal with the heat of west Texas. blah. It's never just nice in both locations.
The North Rim road normally opens around the middle of May. If you leave Texas toward the middle/end of May you will still catch cool temps on the north rim but you won't be facing the blast furnace when you get back home.

The South Rim is always open, but it is too touristy for me. It's good if you have never been to the Canyon before, but after you've been there once or twice you'll grow to appreciate the smaller crowds on the north side, and the views are just as good.
Oct 6, 2011
Austin, TX
The Bruce said:
Just do it. Other than gas (I don't have the bill for that yet) I only spent a couple hundred cash. Six days, just about anyone could fit that in. But wait till next year. Winter is settling in out there at higher elevations.
Not this year, anyway - I already took a couple weeks off in September for Burning Man (and drove a lot of the same route, but hauling a trailer behind a car). But this is a strong blip on my radar and will happen.
Dec 18, 2008
Pflugerville Tx
Great job on the report Bruce. I had a great time. We packed a lot into 6 days. Like you I budgeted about $600 for the trip and had some left over even after steak and shrimp at the Claim Jumper. $300 of it was for gas. Sharing campsites and rooms really helps too.
Apr 20, 2004
That is really close to the trip I've been wanting to take. Great report and pictures! Thank you. :rider:
Oct 19, 2006
Between a Rock and a weird place, Pflugerville, TX
Great job on the report Bruce. I had a great time. We packed a lot into 6 days. Like you I budgeted about $600 for the trip and had some left over even after steak and shrimp at the Claim Jumper. $300 of it was for gas. Sharing campsites and rooms really helps too.
Budget? What's that? :lol2: You probably spent more because of the peanut m&ms and beef sticks. Thanks for sharing :eat: