Posts Tagged ‘Winkelman’
In Part I we had made it through wind and rain to our destination in Cottonwood, AZ. As night fell, so did the rain and the temperatures. I checked area forecasts (I love smart phones) and found that 1-2 inches of snow were forecast for Flagstaff and the top of Oak Creek Canyon. Rain with below freezing temps, followed by snow seemed like a potentially dangerous combination for save riding so I started looking at alternate routes.
The thought of skipping the ride up Oak Creek was saddening, but safety had to be taken into account. My fellow riders were gracious and said they were willing to ride whatever route I created. I didn’t want to just turn around and go back the way we came, but I needed to try to keep us to lower elevation, at least until we had gone south a ways. Once again, I came back to the trip I had taken the previous August, except that I wanted to make sure we at least rode through Sedona.
My route idea had one area of concern. It would require a 7 or 8 mile sprint down I-17 from Highway 179 to Camp Verde. I had to check with the other riders before committing us to riding interstate, especially where there is heavy traffic with lots of trucks and RV’s concerned. I asked and we all agreed that we could handle it. I did a few more checks and came up with this route back to Tucson:
View Larger Map
This route still took us up to 7000 feet, but at a point about 40 miles south of Flagstaff, plus it would be later in the day before we got there, thus giving the, inevitable, warming temperatures a chance to melt off any precipitation of the frozen persuasion.
To give it a chance to warm up a bit, we took our time getting on the bikes in the morning. We left Cottonwood around 8:30 and rode to Sedona for breakfast. The temperature was about 40 degrees and it was still windy and it looked like it would rain any minute. The drive/ride along Route 89A into Sedona was beautiful. As we were coming into Sedona, the sun was breaking through the clouds and “spotlighting” various rock formations. It was hard trying to catch it with my camera as were riding, but I gave it a shot.
We went to Sedona’s famous Coffee Pot Restaurant (Home of 101 Omelettes) for breakfast. There was quite a wait to get our table, but we all enjoyed our food. It was about 10:30am before we pulled out of Sedona but we were warm and full of tasty food. We went to Highway 179 and turned south toward the Village of Oak Creek. Hwy 179 is another very scenic road and is part of the Red Rock Scenic By-Way. It’s only 15 miles but there are many, many places where you will want to stop and take pictures.We pulled off at one such place and took a few pics.
We arrived at the junction with I-17, took a deep breath, opened our throttles and merged. I put Warren and his PCX in front so could set the pace. His little Honda had impressed me the day before and continued to do so on this day. We zoomed down to Camp Verde as fast as that little scooter would go.
At Camp Verde, we turned east, onto Route 260, aka the General Crook Trail. From here we climbed from 3600 feet to almost 7000 feet over the next 25 miles, until we were up on the Mogollon Rim. Although we still hadn’t been rained on, it was still cold and windy and once on the top of the rim, there were patches of snow on the side of the road. Brrrr! (You’ll have to trust me. It was too windy to try and take pics of the snow as we were riding.) Snow and wind aside, road quality on Route 260 and Highway 179 is very good.
Route 260 joins with Route 87 about 33 miles from Camp Verde. This was where we joined our originally planned route.After just a few miles on the top of the Rim, we began the steep descent toward the villages of Strawberry and Pine. Even though the sun had finally shown itself, we were getting pretty chilled, so we stopped in Pine to get fuel and something hot to drink. We stopped at HB’s Place where I had my first ever piece of Oatmeal Pie. Wow! It was exceptional.
Now that we were warm again, the sun was out and lower elevations were ahead, we rode out with smiles on our faces and hopes of a bit more adventure before getting back home. We followed Route 87 through Payson until we reached the Junction with Route 188, where we turned toward Roosevelt Lake. We made a brief stop in Pumpkin Center just prior to getting to the lake.
Once to Roosevelt Lake, we stopped at the dam for a rest and some pics. One of these days, I will ride down Route 88 from Roosevelt into Apache Junction. It is unpaved most of the way, so this day was not the day to do it. From the dam it is about 30 miles to Globe, where had decided we would eat our afternoon meal.
After a bit of hunting, we decided to eat at De Marcos, which is right off of Us-60 in Globe. It was dusk as we left the restaurant. One thing I have learned about myself is that I don’t like riding mountain roads at dusk or at night. Every shadow starts looking like a deer preparing to leap out at me. This can be quite terrifying at times.
Darkness fell as we turned onto Route 77 for the final stretch toward Tucson. Only 100 more miles to go. I had Warren take the lead again so I had tail lights to focus on rather than shadows. We took a break at Winkelman and had an uneventful ride the rest of the way into Tucson.
From door to door, my odometer showed a total mileage of about 640 miles over the two days. I had a blast and would do it again in a heartbeat. As a matter of fact, since we missed out on Oak Creek Canyon and Flagstaff, we are trying to figure out when we try this again.
Good friends and good rides make life good
A lot of my friends, both riders and non-riders, read this blog from time to time. One of the things that is really great about that is that I get occasional suggestions on places to go or roads on which to travel. This installment is the result of one of those suggestions. (Thanks, Craig.)
Have you ever heard of Young, AZ? Odds are that you haven’t, even if you’ve lived in Arizona for a very long time. It’s not because Young is small, although it is. It’s not because Young is located is micro-suburb hidden inside a city, quite the opposite. It certainly isn’t because Young is a forgotten ghost town or that it is “buried” under the waters of Lake Havasu. It is a living, thriving little community. This post is about how I found out about Young as well as how I got there and back.
One day, I got a Facebook message, from my friend Craig, asking me if I had ever been on AZ-288 from Roosevelt to Young, AZ. He was asking how I thought the road conditions would be for a street bike, since he had heard that the road was unpaved to Young was unpaved. I had to confess that I had never been on AZ-288. Actually, I had never even heard of it or this town called Young.
I quickly Googled it, found Young and AZ-288 in the middle of the Tonto National Forest. I mentally plotted a couple of potential routes there and back. My route to Young looked like this. Craig actually rode there 2 days later and told me a little about how beautiful it was, thus making sure that I would be riding there soon. It took a month before I could do it, but on a beautiful Thursday morning, another friend, Stan, and I headed out of Tucson headed for Young.
Young is located almost due north of Globe, so we took Route 77 out of Tucson. We have had decent rains this summer, so the trip up the San Pedro River Valley was absolutely beautiful. Once past the little town of Winkelman, Rt 77 begins to get more interesting. Over the next 24 miles, the road narrows, gets twisty and begins to climb. You will climb about 3000 feet until you reach Pinal Pass. From there it is a steady 8% down grade for about 9 miles until you reach the junction with US-60 about 3 miles east of Globe.
Globe is a really neat little town with a lot of great history. One of these days I will go there and take a bunch of pics just so Globe gets a proper write up. If you have the time, I recommend a little sight-seeing around the town.
We went through Globe until the turn-off to Route 188/Apache Trail. This is also the road to Roosevelt Lake. About 15 miles after turning onto Rt188, in the middle of a long downhill where there is an incredible view of Lake Roosevelt, we made the turn onto Route 288, also known as the “Desert to Tall Pines Highway.” (Much like the ”Florence-Kelvin Highway” the word “highway” here is being used in a very liberal sense.)
Route 288 is a scenically, fantastic road and is “paved” for the first 30 miles. Some of the “paving” has been recent, but they appear to have put down the world’s thinnest layer of asphalt. There were some new pot holes in the newly paved sections and the asphalt appears to be well under an inch in thickness. So, road quality for the first 30 miles is only fair, but it is well worth the trip.
If you want to turn around at the end of the pavement, you will still have taken a beautiful journey. Those first 30 miles climb about 3000 feet and there are beautiful views of Roosevelt Lake and inspiring mountain vistas as you continue to climb.
From the end of the paved area to Young, is about 18 miles. The road is fairly well maintained but it is far from smooth. Much of the road is over granite surfaces that cannot be grated smooth by heavy equipment. If it has rained recently, there will be a lot of debris in the roadway, so take the necessary precautions. Route 288 reaches a maximum elevation of almost 6400 feet before its descent to Young. Snow is not uncommon at this elevation during the winter.
ADVISORY – There is virtually no vehicular traffic along Rt-288 and patchy cell phone service. Make sure sure you and your vehicle are prepared for this journey.
If you enjoy camping, there are frequent pull-outs where people pull off the road and set up camp sites. I saw no notices regarding fees, so it may well be free, since there are no services. Do NOT, take my word for this.
A mile or two from Young, you will experience the return of asphalt and will experience a new appreciation for it.
Young is located in the middle of Pleasant Valley and it is, indeed, pleasant to look upon. When we visited, there was lush, green grass about as far as the eye could see, with stunning mountains in the distance, on all sides. We were hit by a rain squall as we dropped into the valley but it quickly dissipated and the sun returned.
Young may be small (population 666 in 2010) and isolated, but still has an interesting history. It was originally named Pleasant Valley and it wasn’t always very pleasant. From 1882 to 1892 a series of gunfights, ambushes and lynchings took place that collectively are known as the Pleasant Valley War. This “war” resembles the Lincoln County Wars of New Mexico because it was based on the conflict between cattlemen and sheep herders concerning water and grazing rights and maybe a little bit of rustling thrown in to add fuel to the fire. Like Lincoln County, the Pleasant Valley conflict included the use of “hired guns.” In this case, Tom Horn, later immortalized in a movie of the same name, was hired by one of the two sides.
The Pleasant Valley conflict was especially tragic because it resulted in the complete destruction of two local families, the Tewksburys and the Grahams. Grave markers and some places of note from the conflict can still be seen in and around Young. Pleasant Valley was renamed Young in 1890 in honor of the town’s first postmaster, Ola Beth Young.
Another interesting fact I learn about Young, is that they didn’t have outside electricity there until 1965. Isn’t that weird to think about? There is only one school in Young, appropriately named Young Public School. It is K-12, in one school and my source says that it is not unusual for there to be zero graduates in a given school year.
A quick internet search (good thing, because you’re not going to get data access in Young) indicated two restaurants in the city. I saw a fellow working in his yard and asked which of the two (Antlers or Alice’s) he preferred. He said “Antlers” so off we went.
Antlers did not disappoint. I cannot compare it to Alice’s, but I can say that the food I had at Antler’s was exceptional. I can honestly say it was the best chicken-fried steak I have had in the state of Arizona. The sides were very good and my dessert, peach-rhubarb cobbler was outstanding. The service was as good as the food. I don’t know if I will ever get to young again, but if I do, I will go back to Antler’s.
I hope you go to Young’s website during or after reading reading this piece. While there, read the entries on their guest book. One I found very interesting is by Phil Cody who says that he was in Young as a Hotshot fire fighter in 1975. At that time there were only three phone in the valley and two of those belonged to the forest service. Really? In 1975? I thought Roswell was behind the times. Oh, if you sign the guest book, please let them know you found it from the Sky Island Riders.
I would really have liked to have spent a bit of time exploring Young, but we were still planning another 300 miles of riding. If you come here and decide to stay, there is at least one little hotel, the Pleasant Valley Inn, at which to stay.
The Ride Map to this route has been posted on the Ride Maps tab for quite some time and I have mentioned it in at least one “Riding SoAZ” post. I recently rode it again and thought I would “flesh it out” a bit since this is such a great ride, especially if have any interest in AZ history.
Here is the overview taken directly from the Ride Maps page: “ 200 miles. Difficulty – Easy. This loop cruises through some beautiful country along the San Pedro River Valley. It includes the 177 spur from Winkleman to Superior. If you continue on to Globe on 77 you get to go through Top-of-the-World and it is only 26 more miles.” I would only add a couple of things. First, it is 200+ miles. Make sure you are dressed appropriately for weather conditions. Second, if you ride this as it is mapped, you have 15 miles of US-60 to ride. Speed limit there is 65mph. Others may (and will) disagree, but I think that any vehicle 125cc or better should be fine. Smaller than that and you likely feel pretty uncomfortable on that 15 mile stretch.
On to the route. I am going to describe this route in a counter-clockwise fashion because that’s the way I rode it. Feel free to be wild and crazy and go clockwise. If you do so, start at the end of this piece and read it backwards if you want to see all the things I did. Once out of Tucson, follow Route 77 toward Oracle. A few miles past the community of Catalina, you’ll see the sign for Biosphere 2. Once past Biosphere, you go past Oracle. If you want to actually see any of this little town, you’ll have to exit at American Ave, as there is virtually none of Oracle visible from Route 77.
Once past Oracle, you come to one of my favorite sections of the route. You start a 10 mile stretch of 8-9% down grade as you drop down in to the San Pedro River Valley. If it is a clear day, there are some great views down in to the valley. The road conditions here are very good and there are intermittent passing lanes as well. At the bottom of the hill, you pass through the community of Mammoth.
Like many AZ towns, Mammoth’s history is associated with mining. For years, it looked like Mammoth was fading away like so many other old mining towns. I was pleased to see a number of new buildings going up as I passed through. Many AZ mines are back in business now. Maybe that is what is fueling the growth I saw. Please keep in mind that the local police here are known for strictly enforcing the town speed limits. There is food and fuel available in Mammoth if you need it.
Once in the valley enjoy the trip through trees and farmland. There are also great views of the northern end of the Galiuro Mountains to the east of you. It is a little more than 20 miles from Mammoth to Winkelman. AS you get to the end of the valley, you arrive at the intersection of Route 77 and Route 177 Spur. This intersection is located in the tri-city area of Dudleyville, Winkelman and Hayden. (I found an excellent history of the area HERE.)
One point of interest here is Giorsetti’s Grocery, located 1 block north of Rt 177 on Giffith St. Giorsetti’s has been owned and operated by 4 generations of the Giorsetti family since it opened in 1910. My friend and I stopped in and bought ice-cold bottles of Coca-Cola and drank them before we continued on to Hayden.
Hayden shares a town boundary with Winkelman, so it doesn’t take long to get there. Go 1.5 miles from the Route 77 / Route 177 junction and turn north on Velasco Ave. Once up the hill, turn left on 4th and right on Hayden Ave to see the old downtown area. I especially enjoyed police headquarters which is now located in what used to be the bank. I looks like something straight out of an old gangster movie. Unlike Winkelman, Hayden was a true “company town.” Among other things, your housing was directly tied to your job at the mine. If you lost your job or even if you retired, you had to move.
Less than 10 miles east of Hayden is another community planned out by the mines. In 1958, the towns of Ray, Sonora and Barcelona were relocated because they were about to be swallowed by the the Ray open pit copper mine. The town of Kearney was established so that those people, most of whom worked at the mine, had a new home. There is a hotel, a couple of restaurants and fuel available. Kearney is where I finally caught a ride after my ill-fated ride on the Florence-Kelvin Highway.
Since leaving Winkelman, Route 177 meanders along between the Gila River and the foothills of the Dripping Spring Mountains. The scenery is very pleasant and there are some great opportunities for taking pictures. 7 miles past Kearney, you begin climbing up the mountains. As you begin the climb you can start to see down into the open pit mine. If you’ve never seen one before, they are quite impressive. The next 15 miles are twisty with a lot of climbs and steeps descents. The road is a bit narrower here as well, but there isn’t a lot of traffic. The city of Superior appear before you as you leave the mountains.
Superior is small, but I think it is a cool little town and it’s worth a visit (a short one.) The town sets at the base of some impressive cliffs. There is a road tunnel just east of town on US-60 that you must go through if you chose to get here by going through Globe. There are a couple of nice little diners here as well. I have eaten at the Cafe’ Piedra Roja as well as Buckboard City. Both were very good. there are other places here as well. Other points of interest are the Boyce Thompson Arboretum (oldest, largest botanical museum in the state) and, I’m sure you knew this, the World’s Smallest Museum!
As mentioned earlier, it is 15 miles down the 65mph US-60 to Route 79, aka the Florence Highway. The good news is that this is divided highway and it is in very good condition. From US-60, it is another 20 miles of mostly straight, flat road to get to Florence.
I believe I have written about Florence before. There are three state prisons located in Florence and the prison gift shop, located at the intersection of Route 79 and Butte Ave is one of my favorite places to stop here. Another mildly interesting place to check out is the old Pinal County Courthouse. If you look carefully at the clock on the tower, you will note that it says it is 11:44, regardless of what your watch says. Apparently, the original architect wanted a clock in the tower. The board of supervisors at the time decided that a clock was frivolous and wouldn’t pay for it. So, the architect painted one on there. That was in 1891 and it’s been there ever since.
This almost completes our loop. At this point it is about 60 miles back to Tucson via route 79. there are several food and fuel options in Florence, so use them if you need to. the route back. the first 20 miles out of Florence are some of the straightest road I’ve ever traveled. about 20 miles south of Florence you will pass one point of interest for those old enough, or interested in movie history enough to know who Tom Mix was. The site where he died, on October 11, 1940 is memorialized by a very nice statue and small picnic area.
A note of caution: people driving Route 79 between Florence and Tucson tend to do so very quickly. Watch you rear view mirror frequently for speed demons rapidly approaching your six.
By the time you finish this described route, you will have traveled more than 200 miles. You will have passed through some interesting, though lesser known Arizona places and will have seen some beauty as only a desert can provide.
I decided to make the best out of having several days off combined with days that still have quite a few hours of day light. After my enjoyable 550 mile ride the previous week, I was looking at some websites featuring roads for great motorcycle rides.
One site mentioned Route 78 which spans the AZ/NM border, connecting US-180 to US-191. The eastern end starts about 45 miles northwest of Silver City, NM. The western end can be found at Three Way, AZ, which is about 35 north east of Safford. Route 78 is approximately 35 miles in length. So, one week I rode 550 miles in order to ride 30, this particular week, I rode 515 miles, to ride 35. It sounds kind of crazy to me as I write this now, but it made a lot of sense at the time.
Once I read about this scenic road, I had to find a way to get there. I did my usual Google Map review. I looked for the shortest, but most scenic, loop possible. I came up with this: 463 miles and I figured it could be done in a shade less than 12 hours. That allowed time for food, rest and some photos.
This time, I rode with a friend, Lori P, who is another Sky Island Rider. After hearing about my previous 500 miler, she said, I wouldn’t mind doing something like that” and since I already had this ride planned, I invited her and her black RV-250, along for a long ride.
If you looked the link of the ride map above, you may be saying something like. “Hey, I thought Howard didn’t ride on interstate highways.” I mentioned many times, that I don’t care for interstate, however, sometimes it is necessary. I-10, from Vail to Lordsburg, NM, is about 135 miles and a little over two hours. I would have loved to have taken a nice back road to Lordsburg. However, here is what it would have looked like if I would have done so: MAP. Now it’s just over 200 miles and over 4 hours. If I were making this a two day trip, I would have done this, but I wasn’t, so I didn’t. Arizona just doesn’t have that many ways to get from Point A to Point B.
The weather forecast called for temps around 105 on the desert floor and a 30% chance of rain in the late afternoon. In an effort to avoid possibly getting caught in one of the afternoon rain squalls as well as to get off of I-10 before the traffic picked up, we left early, about 5:30am. It was dark and east bound traffic was very light as we left from our meet-up location at I-10 and Houghton Road.
The worst part of leaving this early were the bugs, mostly gnats. I pulled us off the road at The Thing! for a much needed cleaning of our face shields. We learned another thing (other than the fact that bugs are heavy around dawn) by the time we reached Willcox. I had been keeping our speed around 75mph, indicated, on my speedometer. When we fueled in Willcox, our usual 65mpg mileage, had plummeted to about 45mpg! our range was now closer to 120 miles on a tank, rather than the 200 miles I was accustomed to. Good thing we never had more than about 100 miles between towns.
Be advised, road quality on I-10 is less than ideal. I suppose it is because of the large number of tractor-trailers on it. Whatever the reason, the worst road we traveled on this day was I-10. The section between Willcox and the NM state line was the worst.
To my relief, we reached Lordsburg and were able to leave I-10 until, I thought, the return leg. We grabbed some fuel at the Love’s Travel Stop right off of Exit 20A and B. (For some reason, there are two exits here that both go to the same place: Motel Drive.) We then cruised to Main St then south to Kranberry’s Restaurant for some breakfast. The food and coffee were good and there was a pair of ladies who had a lot of questions about our scooters.
According to My Tracks, we did the following on this first leg:
- Total Dist – 154 mi
- Max speed- 74 mph
- Elev gain- 4528 ft
Unbeknownst to me, I had a phone issue, so I have no My Track data from Lordsburg to Silver City.
With full tank and full bellies, we turned, made our way to Route 90 toward Silver City. There was very little traffic on 90. We steadily climbed as we left Lordsburg. Route 90 gets a little more than 6000 feet on the way to Silver City. We drove around Silver City a bit and took in some of the sites from the scoots. The old downtown is especially picturesque, however, I didn’t get any pics myself. You should, though.
After our little tour, we found Route 180 and turned toward the town of Cliff. we hadn’t stopped in Silver City, so we stopped for a butt break and some liquid refreshment in Cliff’s only operating retail establishment that we could see: the “Mini Mart.” While we were there, a scooter pulled up and we talked for a while with a local resident named Walter Roth. It was a great little break. he had bought his scooter at Copper Country ATV & Cycle and was very pleased with the service he got there.
17 miles after leaving the mini-Mart, we reached “The Road,” Route 78. As mentioned on the Motorcycle Roads website, it starts as undulating road through some beautiful grassland, steadily climbing as we headed west. High speed sweepers start about the time we reached the pine forest.
The Arizona State line is, apparently, the signal to start downhill and into some serious twisties. These went on for 6-8 miles. gradually, we saw amazing views of the desert valley where Three-Way and Clifton are located. About the time I thought the curves were finished, we hit these incredible 180 degree, downhill sweepers! There several in combination and they were an absolute blast to ride.
It was a thrilling ride. If we didn’t have so far to go to get home, I would have turned around, gone back to the top, and ridden it again. Route 78 ends at Three Way, AZ. Three Way is so, I suppose, because of it’s four-way intersection of three roads, Route 78, US-191 and Route 75. There is a general store and a gas station at said intersection. I wasn’t sure if I could make it the rest of the way into Safford, so we gassed up in Three Way, got onto US-191 and headed toward Safford.
There is a significant climb as you leave Three Way. The road is in great shape and it is now divided highway. It was in Safford that my internal compass let me down. I hadn’t written down a bunch of directions like I did for the previous long ride. I failed to see the sign indicating the left turn near downtown to stay on 191. I didn’t recall needing to turn and was sure we were heading south. We had an enjoyable lunch at Jerry’s and headed out of town. We did need a bit of time to cool off as it was 111 degrees as we hit town.
It was my plan to head south on 191 then turn west onto Route 266 and ride to Fort Grant then hit I-10 in Willcox then ride back to Tucson. I was riding and having a grand time but started to feel a bit uneasy at not having seen the 266 intersection. We finally stopped at a nice rest area in the little town of Bylas. It was there that I asked directions and was told tat we were actually 35 miles west of Safford on US-70 headed toward Globe! The take home lesson here is that there are very few road signs out here. Make sure you’re on the right one.
I felt we were too far out of our way to turn around. Since US-70 would take us to Globe and from there we could take Route 77 back to Tucson, I decided to continue the way were going. We gassed up again in Peridot, on the reservation and climbed up to Globe. One remarkable thing we both noticed at we rode near Peridot was the unique odor of whatever was growing along the road. It smelled exactly like a fine pipe tobacco. It was quite pleasant, but I’ve never smelled it before.
We could see huge thunderheads to the south, as we approached Globe. As with my last ride, we stopped in Winkleman for a little rest. It was obvious we were going to get wet. I did discover in my last ride, that the RV-250 handles wet road quite well.
It started raining as we passed through Dudleyville.We hit severe weather at Mammoth but kept on going. It was late afternoon by this time and we had been in the saddles for more than 12 hours. Again, the RV-250 performed well. By the time we hit Catalina, precipitation was down to a sprinkle.
We rode together until we had to part ways to go to our respective homes. It was another awesome ride. I got the following ride data from My Tracks for the ride from Silver City to Tucson:
- Total Dist – 265 mi
- Max Speed – 66 mph
- Min Elev – 1945 ft
- Max Elev – 6219 ft
- Elev Gain – 10100 ft
- Max Grade – 11.8%
- min grade -9.3%
Our total distance covered was a tad over 500 miles. The RV-250 performed better on this ride than the last one. Mostly because elevation was mostly below 6000 feet.
It was a great ride and I thank Lori for coming along. It was my first long ride with a ride buddy. It’s fun to have someone to share a ride with.
This post has gotten way out of hand. Take care and ride safe.