My 2014 Utah Moto Adventures

Crazyjeeper

NickGyver
DONOR
Joined
Nov 29, 2006
Messages
7,876
Location
Dallas, TX
Car(s)
F150, CJ7, Mustang GT, Tenere, Griso, GL1000
My favorite time of year was here again, it was time to go back to Moab. After the usual 11 month wait it was time to go back and have more fun that should be allowed. The last 2 years I had stayed in Utah a little longer after the dirt riding to do some other things, but this time, we were riding thursday-saturday instead of the usual monday-wednesday. Since we were riding at the end of the week I decided to head down a little early and see some other people as well.

Day 1 - Williston to Salt Lake City

Loaded up the trusty F150 with my Yamaha Super Tenere and Honda XR650L and drove 870 miles to Salt Lake to see my friends Dave and Tiffany. Took about 14.5 hours.

Day 2 - Salt Lake to Duchesne and back via Wolf Creek Pass

The plan for today was to take a nice day ride and run over Utah SH-35 aka Wolf Creek Pass. After unloading my motorcycles and eating an excellent breakfast at a small cafe in Salt Lake we hit the road. Dave was on his Honda VFR and Tiffany was on her Ducati Monster. I was on the Super Tenere today. It was an absolutely perfect day for riding, the sun was shining, the temperature was moderate and the road was empty. We were planning on meeting an old friend of mine who lives in Vernal for a late lunch in Duchesne. We had plenty of time so we stopped on the pass for lots of pictures. We made it to the summit and stopped to admire the 6 foot snowbanks. Some other riders pulled in and before we knew it we had been standing on the top of the pass for about an hour and our plenty of time was gone and then some. We made good time and pulled into Duchense. Turns out my friend Brent whom we were meeting was also running late so we all got there about the same time. After a filling lunch at Cowan's Cafe we blasted back over the pass and back towards Salt Lake. At the last gas stop I swapped with Dave and I rode his VFR the last leg from Kamas to Salt Lake. Now, my friend Dave is a smart man, and after the first 2 miles on the VFR I figured out the real reason he wanted to swap. The VFR's riding position for a tall person such as my self or Dave somewhat resembles the fetal position. My Tenere on the other hand is like a kitchen chair. The contrast was quite striking and I don't know how he rides the VFR as far as he does. I'll be sticking with my big Yamaha for long rides. All in all we rode about 230 miles and the weather couldn't have been better.

The road beckons


Dave and Myself


Dave and Tiff


The summit


You could say it was a little snowy up top still


The sun, it burns!



Day 3 - Salt Lake to Vernal

Today was another travel day with a bonus. In the morning we headed to the gun range with Dave's brother Eric who is a firearms enthusiast. After a fun morning of plinking and an another excellent lunch, I reloaded the bikes and hit the road for Vernal to stay with my old friend Brent for a few days and to do some more riding.

Shooting the M1 Garand


Getting the bikes loaded back up


Day 4 - Dutch John and back

Time to change it up. Brent would be riding his CB500X so I decided to ride my XR650L instead of the Tenere since I figured it would be way more fun on the tight switchbacks heading up 191 out of Vernal. I also wanted to see on the XR would perform at altitude before getting to Moab since I have never adjusted the carb. Luckily CV carbs seem to adapt fine and the XR ran flawlessly. Even on knobbies the XR was super fun to blast up the mountain with it cranked over like a supermoto. After some stops along the Flaming Gorge Reservoir for pictures, we headed back to town.

Myself with the XR650L at the top of the switchbacks


Brent with his CB500X


Bridge on the flaming gorge reservoir




Flaming Gorge Reservoir




Flaming Gorge Dam


Day 5 - Jones Hole Road

Today was going to be a short scenic ride up Jones Hole Road down to the national fish hatchery. The road was paved but very narrow and rough, perfect for upright bikes like my Tenere and the CB500X. Only problem was the wind. Now, living in North Dakota I'm used to riding in wind but up on top of the Mesa this wind was appalling. Brent was at WOT in 3rd to maintain 65mph and the Tenere was often cranked over 10-15 degrees just to stay going straight. I also had foolishly not fitted my large touring screen so in addition to that I was getting tons of wind blast in the cockpit. Still, it was overall a very good day riding and the scenery was awesome as usual for Utah.

On the way up the Mesa


Nice view




The Jones Hole canyon


The road


At this point the wind was over 30mph


We got to the bottom and swapped bikes for a blast up the switchbacks.

Little bikes are fun!




Day 6 - Vernal to Moab via Grand Junction

All driving today. I left Vernal a bit late as usual and picked up my Dad at the airport in Grand Junction and drove down to Moab. Now it's time to get dirty!

On the way to Grand Junction




- - - Updated - - -

Day 7 - Behind the Rocks and Hurrah Pass

If you've read any of my previous reports, the cast of characters for this years dirt riding was mostly the same with 2 total newbies. Our group totaled 11 this time, 10 dirt bikes and my dad on the ATV as usual. Now, first off we started with one of my favorite scenic trails, Behind the rocks. It also has the bonus of a small sand dune area which is always fun to rip around on. Unlike most dirt riders, I actually like riding in sand. Compared to the loose gravel on top of hard pack I ride on up in North Dakota, sand is relatively predictable. After a relaxed breakfast we hit the road for the trailhead. We got unloaded and headed out for the dunes. I had been looking forward to riding in the dunes again. Last time I was there was in 2012 and I sunk my Yamaha WR250F rental by stopping in the wrong spot. This year I was riding my much heavier Honda XR650L and I was not about to make that mistake again. Turns out I made a much worse one. After a few minutes of riding around, I headed for the top of a dune which of course was a nearly vertical drop off the otherside. To make things worse my buddy Brent had fallen down on that hill and I nearly ran over the top of him on my way down to crash at the bottom. 15 minutes after leaving the truck on the first day and I already crashed. What a great way to start the trip. Well, luckily sand is nice to crash in and both I and the XRL were unhurt so I picked the fat pig up and continued on to our lunch stop at the huge rock. After lunch we continued onto the canyon rim that overlooks kane creek. Since it was still early in the day we decided to head back to the trucks and head over to Hurrah Pass and ride that as well. We headed back without incident, loaded up and hit the road. Hurrah Pass is one of my favorite trails. The road to it is fast and open through a canyon and then ride to the top is just tight enough to be fun without being horrible on the big heavy XR. After a stop at the top for pictures we then headed over to the catacombs. It was getting to be a long day in the saddle so I didn't hike around in my heavy boots very much this time. We finished checking out the caves and deadheaded it back to the trucks. A cold beer and the hot tub were calling us.

Behind the Rocks staging area




Lunch stop


At this large rock


Yup, that there is one BIG rock




Our fearless leader on his trusty XR400


The overlook looking down on Kane Creek






Myself and the BWP (big white pig) XR650L on top of Hurrah Pass


Potash pools


And, can't go somewhere secenic and gorgeous without screwing around with the camera




Big gravel pile near the river on the otherside of Hurrah


My dad blasting up the hill on his ATV


Brent on his rental WR250F


Lots of Yamahas


Behind my XRL and to the left is the catacombs rock


Inside the catacombs


And the otherside of Hurrah Pass heading back to the truck


Dune Crash

Behind the rocks from the overlook back to the staging area.

Hurrah Pass

Day 8 - Onion Creek and Polar Mesa

Time to ride another fun one. If you aren't familiar with Onion Creek Road, it is one of the most fun roads in Moab in my opinion. There are something like 30 creek crossings and lots of excellent scenery for the first 8 miles. After that you head up the mesa to a gorgeous overlook. After that you just keep climbing up to over 8000 feet near some abandonded uranium mines. We unloaded and headed up the creek. I was the lead rider this time and I rode at a nice relaxed pace, just admiring the scenery which was a new thing for me on this trail. I usually ride it as fast as possible and get a fantastic view of the road and nothing else. This time I decided to actually look around and boy was I surprised. I had never realised just how much the landscape changed on that first 8 mile stretch with all of the creek crossings. At the top of that section is a flat straight road were I wound the XRL out to some MPH. The nice thing about riding a big 650 dual sport among little 250s is that they hit a gear limited top speed much lower than the big XR is capable of. Of course they are laughing at me wrestling the pig on tight trails so it is a trade off. We continued up the Mesa and ended up at a lovely spot overlooking a meadow. It was a great spot, and coming down, things got a little too interesting. The road to the overlook was very rutted and very difficult. It was a real challenge to get the XRL through some of the sections but I made it. Now, the main body of the group decided to go some other way down. I was tired and I just wanted to head back and I thought they knew that. Turns out they didn't. I rode down the way we came and stopped for some pictures along the way. I stopped at a T in the road to wait for the group. Two others had come the same way is me and after I saw them I figured everybody else was close behind. Turns out I was wrong. They headed for the trucks and I followed. About 12 miles from the truck was a gate. I decided that no matter how long it took I would wait for the rest of the group at that gate to make sure it got closed again. I waited, and waited and waited. After 20 minutes it hit me like a ton of bricks. They did not realise that I had gone the direct way and they were waiting farther up the mountain for me. I jumped back on the XRL and flogged it in the direction of the others. Turns out they had done a loop of the Mesa and since they didn't find me, they correctly assumed I was farther down. I encountered them 20 minutes from the gate up the hill. They were understandably miffed that I went off on my own. Lesson learned, make sure somebody knows where the heck I'm going so they don't wait and look for me. Now it was getting late so I pointed the bike at the trucks and beat it like a rented mule the rest of the way down.

Top top of the first 8 miles of Onion Creek




Heading into the next Canyon


Going down




Lunch spot




Dad with the ATV and an old mine headframe up near Polar Mesa


This was the end of the line for us


What a view.




Time for plan X?


Apparently the main flight path from DFW to SLC runs right over this Mesa


La Sal Mountains


The infamous T-junction where we should have waited


And I did, just not nearly long enough


The gate where I actually waited


View from the staging area for Onion Creek at the end of the day


Onion Creek Road

Day 9 - Beef Basin

Before we knew it, it was here. The last day of dirt riding. Now, my Dad had to have his rental ATV turned in by 6pm so of course this was the day to ride the trail that required driving an hour out of town first. After the miscommunication the previous day I was going to hang back and sit in the middle of the group this time. My dad wasn't the only one on a rental so a group of 5 of us hung back and stuck to our own schedule. We rode in until about 1pm and then turned around. The rest of the group continued on and rode the full trail. Apparently we turned around right before the good part, which was unfortunant. Next time we will do Beef Basin on the 2nd day so we all have time to run the whole thing. Still, I enjoyed it. It was a mostly open run through a canyon with a climb up to 8000 feet. Last year we ran this trail and it was extremly muddy. This year it was mercifuly dry. We made our way back to the trucks loaded up and made it back to the rental place with time to spare.

Dad is ready to roll


This was a fun open road


I gave somebody my camera to take an action shot, this was the first frame.


And the second


I guess the XRL made the jump to light speed too fast!

We tried again and did a little better


Lunch stop


On the way back down






And away I go


Beef Basin Road heading down

Day 10 - Moab to Rawlins, WY

I thought I was done with the excitement. The plan was original to make it to at least Gillette. Mother nature had other ideas. Around Rifle, CO, it was raining. By the time I made it to Craig it was snowing. Once I crossed the Wyoming border it was only getting worse. They were closing highways left and right. When I got on I-80 there was only one lane clear of snow and traffic was going maybe 35mph. We crawled into Rawlins so I made a break for the first hotel I saw and secured a room. Shortly after I got off the interstate the Wyoming DOT closed it completely. So much for spring weather, it was looking way more like winter than spring this day.

Near Craig, CO


Near Baggs, WY


Safe and sound at the Hotel in Rawlins


Day 11 - Rawlins, WY to Williston

The storm had passed, the highways were clear and I had an uneventful drive back to Williston. There was no snow on the ground north of Casper and it was infinitely better than the previous day. All in all it was just a minor setback and I pulled into Williston that evening. Total distance driven in the pickup was just a hair shy of 2500 miles.

All in all it was another very succesful trip and I'm already looking forward to next year!

Thanks for reading!

I'm in the process of editing and uploading videos, I will post when I've completed them.
 
Last edited:
Reactions: lip

NotLaw

Active Member
DONOR
Joined
Mar 18, 2008
Messages
444
Location
Cedar City, UT
Car(s)
'90 Saab SPG, '84 K5 Blazer, '67 Fairlane 500
Nice trip report, Wolf Creek is one of my favorite drives to go on in the Fairlane, though I haven't been able to make the drive for a few years now.

I had no idea that the Jones Hole road even existed, my dad's never talked about it, and he's ridden his bmw k1200 on damn near every road in this state; It looks fun though, I'll definitely have to add it to my list.

As for Moab, the pictures look great, and it looks like you had a great time. I've been meaning to get my K5 out there for some offroading for ages now, but one thing leads to another, and it's just not worked out yet.

I'm looking forward to seeing the videos.
 

tigger

Forum Addict
Joined
Dec 11, 2006
Messages
5,737
Car(s)
'88 Vic Wagon, '92 Honda VFR
Looks like an epic trip as always man, thanks for sharing. I got to spend some time last summer in Tucson riding dirtbikes with my brother, had a blast, but it's so damned arid and sandy there. Utah looks ... greener. And quite a bit cooler I imagine.

Anyhow, is the XR650 that much more of a handful in the tight stuff than the smaller bikes? Does the power and longer gears make it more fun? Only enduro's I've had offroad are smaller ones, so I'm curious.
 

Kiki

Registered Bone Marrow
DONOR
Joined
Nov 14, 2009
Messages
1,204
Car(s)
'13 Ford Taurus, '11 Ducati M696, '15 Yamaha R3
Aw, awesome writeup and pics CJ! Thanks to your recommendation - Onion Creek has become one of my favorite trails in that it's just plain gorgeous. This thread is making me want to go to Moab. :)


Can't wait for next year!
 

Crazyjeeper

NickGyver
DONOR
Joined
Nov 29, 2006
Messages
7,876
Location
Dallas, TX
Car(s)
F150, CJ7, Mustang GT, Tenere, Griso, GL1000
Nice trip report, Wolf Creek is one of my favorite drives to go on in the Fairlane, though I haven't been able to make the drive for a few years now.

I had no idea that the Jones Hole road even existed, my dad's never talked about it, and he's ridden his bmw k1200 on damn near every road in this state; It looks fun though, I'll definitely have to add it to my list.

As for Moab, the pictures look great, and it looks like you had a great time. I've been meaning to get my K5 out there for some offroading for ages now, but one thing leads to another, and it's just not worked out yet.

I'm looking forward to seeing the videos.
Jones Hole was very interesting for sure. Lots of great views from on top of the mesas. Though I have to say, the most fun I had on those Vernal area rides were running up the switchbacks on 191 20 minutes north of town.

Videos are in progress right now. I've got them cut and I'm working on getting them uploaded. I've got one done which I've added to the end of the Day 7 portion of the first post.

Looks like an epic trip as always man, thanks for sharing. I got to spend some time last summer in Tucson riding dirtbikes with my brother, had a blast, but it's so damned arid and sandy there. Utah looks ... greener. And quite a bit cooler I imagine.

Anyhow, is the XR650 that much more of a handful in the tight stuff than the smaller bikes? Does the power and longer gears make it more fun? Only enduro's I've had offroad are smaller ones, so I'm curious.
I wouldn't have believed it, but yeah, the XR650L really is that much worse in the tight stuff. Weight is the enemy and the XRL has plenty of it. Stock is 347 pounds wet, add the huge fuel tank I have and some accessories, more like 360 pounds. Comparatively a new CRF250x is 254 pounds ready to ride. When you are creeping up a rutted trail that extra 100+ pounds makes a huge difference. Another problem with the XRL is the gearing. I can go a lot slower on my XR350R in tight stuff. Of course the XR650L can do 80+mph and the XR350R is tapped out in 6th gear at 65. That said I still was happy with my choice. In the faster more open trails the huge torque and long gearing made the XRL a ton of fun and the little bikes didn't stand a chance.

Aw, awesome writeup and pics CJ! Thanks to your recommendation - Onion Creek has become one of my favorite trails in that it's just plain gorgeous. This thread is making me want to go to Moab. :)


Can't wait for next year!
Thanks! And a big thanks to you and Blind for hosting me. I had an awesome time as usual. Next time lets do something other than wolf creek though. :lol:
 

Kiki

Registered Bone Marrow
DONOR
Joined
Nov 14, 2009
Messages
1,204
Car(s)
'13 Ford Taurus, '11 Ducati M696, '15 Yamaha R3
For sure! If you plan to come a little bit later in the season, we'll be able to hit more roads. Blind and I are going down to UT SR12 in a few weeks, so we can scout that out for a multiday trip next year. :)
 

Blind_Io

"Be The Match" Registered
DONOR
Joined
Apr 5, 2006
Messages
21,484
Location
Utah, USA
Car(s)
06 Nissan XTerra Off Road, 00 VFR800, 07 ST1300
You know you are welcome here.

Hey, did you end up with the photo of me on the VFR in front of the snowbank?
 

Crazyjeeper

NickGyver
DONOR
Joined
Nov 29, 2006
Messages
7,876
Location
Dallas, TX
Car(s)
F150, CJ7, Mustang GT, Tenere, Griso, GL1000
For sure! If you plan to come a little bit later in the season, we'll be able to hit more roads. Blind and I are going down to UT SR12 in a few weeks, so we can scout that out for a multiday trip next year. :)
Sounds like a plan! Y'all should do a ride report when you get back.

You know you are welcome here.

Hey, did you end up with the photo of me on the VFR in front of the snowbank?
Thanks, much appreciated.

Here is the pic.

 

Crazyjeeper

NickGyver
DONOR
Joined
Nov 29, 2006
Messages
7,876
Location
Dallas, TX
Car(s)
F150, CJ7, Mustang GT, Tenere, Griso, GL1000
All videos are uploaded and embedded at the end of the corresponding day (#'s 7-9).
 
Top