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postheadericon Of Prescott Twisties to Jerome to AZ Rim Country and Home

The scenery as you approach Prescott on Route 89 is beautiful

In addition to our Sedona trip the past June, my wife and I also went there in May of 2010. On that occasion, we got there by going through Sedona via AZ Highways 89 and 89A from Wickenburg to Prescott then through Jerome and Cottonwood to Sedona. At the time, I talked about how awesome it would be to ride some of those roads on a scooter, knowing that it would probably never happen. It just seemed too far to ride from Tucson and I would need to rope someone into coming with me if I were going to bring it up in the back of my van.

I recently decided to ride it anyway. Since I am writing in two slightly different blogs, this one will be the technical aspect of the ride. This will include road conditions, speeds, etc so that if someone wants to replicate all or part of this ride, they will know some of what to expect. My other blog (In The Desert Scootin) will be more about how I felt, the fun parts, scary parts etc. I shot some video and will try to put some video in both posts.

Looking up at Jerome when it’s NOT raining.

The sections of road I most wanted to ride were Route 89, from Congress to Prescott, and Route 89A, from Prescott Valley to Clarkdale. The shortest route from Tucson to Jerome (the furthest point away) is just over 225 miles and that is taking I-10 and I-17 and does not include any of “the good parts” that I wanted to ride. so, no matter what, I knew I was looking at at least a 500 mile ride, but how to get there? We’ve already established that interstate travel is not generally my preferred method of scooting from point A to point B.

I love Google Maps. I put my start points and desired ends points, then started “pulling” then lines around to various streets, trying to find the most efficient route as well as one that helped me avoid trouble spots, like the entire Phoenix metro area. Additionally, I love to ride or drive roads that I’ve never been on before. There are few options when leaving Tucson going north, but once you get as far as Case Grande or Florence, you options open a bit.

I decided to do a clockwise loop, heading toward Prescott first. Here is the what the first segment of my journey, from Tucson to Prescott, looked like. I initially planned on riding the access road from Tucson to Picacho, but looked over at the interstate and traffic was light. I decided to make up time where I could, so I hopped on the interstate and rode to the Toltec exit then moved over to Arizona 84 into downtown Casa Grande. If If you want to go to Casa Grande, but don’t or can’t take the interstate, do this.

Picacho Peak, impressive, but looks the same as in my Kelvin highway post.

I had decided that the best way to avoid Phoenix traffic was to skirt around to the southwest, then find my way to US Highway 60. I saw that 51st St goes very far to the south. In order to get there I made my way to Maricopa, AZ along the Casa grande-Maricopa Highway. This road is straight and flat, but if you like agriculture and/or livestock you’ll have an interesting and odor-filled ride. From there it was to AZ 347 to Riggs Rd. 347 was probably the the fastest road I rode on. The speed limit is 55-65, however, most folks were driving closer to 75. It’s only about 10 miles to Riggs, so hang in there if you want to try this route.

Riggs turns in to Beltline, which becomes 51st. I took 51st, toward Phoenix, up to Buckeye Rd, then turned left, to get to the west side. This part of town is filled with warehouses and traffic was very light. There aren’t very many stoplights either so I moved quickly. I didn’t realize Buckeye went all the way to Cotton, aka Loop 303, so I turned north on Dysart to Van Buren then west again to Cotton.

Check out the sign at the base of this massive climb.

Click on the pic to make it bigger, then look in the middle and you can see the road climbing along the face of the mountain going from left to right.

Cotton quickly changed from warehouses back into farm land, but I moved quickly to US60, then northwest toward Wickenburg. I hadn’t done thorough research on fuel stops before heading out this time. I had filled up in Casa Grande and it was about 110 miles to Wickenburg, so I filled again. I was now getting very close to the first section of road that was my goal.

Elevation increased steadily and rapidly as I left the Phoenix area. I climbed 1000 feet in the 15 miles along US60 to Wickenburg, then 1000 more  in the 10 miles from Wickenburg to Congress. As I left Congress (Now on AZ-89) I saw a formidable range of mountains, the Weavers, rising before me. This climb reminded me of the early climb of Mount Lemmon. The road climbs about 1500 feet in about 5 miles. AZ89 is divided highway, 2 lanes each way, during this climb and is fairly scooter safe.

Here is how i set up the Go-Pro.

After reaching the top, I stopped in Peeple’s Valley and attached the Go-Pro. I had never put it on the RV250 and it was much more difficult than I anticipated. With it placed as good as I good get it, I set off again. Once I saw a road sign that said “No vehicles more than 40 feet long 7 miles ahead” I knew I was about to reach the first stretch I had been anticipating for over a year.

I started shooting 1 minute long videos after passing Wilhoit. This 15 mile stretch of road is some of the twistiest I have ever ridden. The curves come fast and furious. As soon as I exited one corner, it was time to set up for the next. It was great! I passed several motorcycle along the way.  The clouds had been thickening as I rode and, by the time I got to Prescott, it had started to sprinkle.

A Simba, electric stand up thingy and a Mad-Ass all in one place.

As I was crossing Prescott, a scooter store caught my eye and I stopped at Scooter & Auto Source and talked with Mark Tetreau for a bit. If you live anywhere from Phoenix to Flagstaff, you ought to go check them out. He had a great selection of scoots and, uh, other things.

Black storm moving in on the Black Hills

Rain looked like it was moving in, so made my stop brief and rode toward the next stretch of highway I was looking forward to crossing the Black Hills to Jerome. The hills were especially black because an enormous thunder storm cell was moving in there as well. I knew I was fixing to get wet.

Looking through the rain toward Jerome, down into the valley

This section is as good as the earlier one, even if dry. It not as twisty and it climbs from 5000 to 7000 feet, then descends steeply, so speeds are kept down. Add the fact that it was raining steadily so I was being pretty careful. It was still a whole lot of fun. By the time I got to Jerome, it was pouring. I would have liked to have seen a bit more of Jerome but I just cruised on through, trying to see where I was going. From the cliffs above Jerome, I could see sunlight down near Cottonwood, so I was looking forward to getting down there and drying out.

I had completed riding my goals and now just had to get home. The shortest route was to take interstate. As established, I don’t care for interstate and I-17 from Camp Verde to Phoenix is some of my least favorite. High speeds, steep downhills and some tricky curves make for dangerous riding. No thanks. I noticed, though, that taking AZ-260 to Payson, then 188 to Globe and back to Tucson, only added 30 miles to my total. I had never been on most of 260 and none of Route 188, so my choice was simple.

Even little Camp Verde has a Starbucks

I had hoped to dry off in Cottonwood, but every time I slowed down, the rain caught up with me. I decided to continue to Camp Verde. I knew I would fuel by then as well. I gassed and grabbed a snack and it had just started to rain as I pulled out.

I was surprised at how much climbing I did coming out of Camp Verde. CV is right at 3000 feet and a few miles down the road, I was back at 7000 feet. I was down to 35 mph at times as well.I made it to Strawberry and was relieved, because I knew it was mostly downhill from there. I had a great time exploring Arizona Rim Country on my last trip this way, so I enjoyed this trip as well.

Storm cell near Roosevelt Lake

AZ-188 was new to me as well. I was tired and a bit hungry at this point, but the ride past Roosevelt Lake was inspiring. Road quality remained high. There a bit more climbing from the lake to Globe. I stopped for fuel and food again in Globe. By the time I started on the final leg toward Tucson, it was dusk. I HATE riding at dusk. I would have pulled over and stopped to wait until full darkness, but I had been on the road too long.

A scoot, a bridge, a lake and a storm

The worst road quality I hit on this ride was between Winkelman and Oracle on AZ-77. Heavy trucks and rain had created debris in the road and small sections where the asphalt was crumbling and rough. This was made worse by the darkness.

Edit: Here are the “official” stats according to My Track – Android app:

  • Total Distance – 556 miles
  • Max Speed –           75.03 mph
  • Avg  Speed –           47.98 mph
  • Total Time –            15:09
  • Elev Gain –              23,025 feet
  • Min Elev –                       951 feet – In Goodyear, AZ
  • Max Elev –                 7,071 feet – Mingus Mtn
  • Min grade –                      -12.3%
  • Max grade –                       10.8%

Sorry for the length of this post, but it was a long ride. I hope you have the opportunity ride some or all of this ride. It was amazing.

Howard

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6 Responses to “Of Prescott Twisties to Jerome to AZ Rim Country and Home”

  • Jim:

    Howard, I enjoyed the video of the trip down AZ 89 – a fun, virtual experience.

  • Sean L.:

    Man, look like an awesome ride! Call me envious! I’d have loved to take that run, but I fear it would have killed my old Riva and after 6500 miles, I’ve worn out the Vespa’s rear tire. I just need to figure out how to discreetly set aside a bunch ‘o Bens and get myself a blue Yager!

  • Joanne Crocker:

    Howard, I enjoyed the blog and thought of your trip several times during the day. Wish I could of been there. Sorry it rained so much! Love the pic of the scooter and the bridge, wish you would crop out the parking lot. See you soon.

  • Thanks for the comment, Michael. I’ll be posting more soon, although it will likely be on my other blog. stay tuned.

    Howard

  • Very cool! Saw your tweet & was hoping to see more about the ride down off the rim above strawberry, but maybe you already did that? Still, very cool. – m

  • Hi Howard
    Great trip great photos and video
    Thanks ever so much for them
    Take care
    Yours Hank

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