I left Moab heading south on US 191 with an eventual destination of Monument Valley in mind. First however, there were a couple of parks that I wanted to check out.
The above is Wilson Arch, one comes up on it shortly after
leaving Moab while on US 191
I turned West on State Road 95 headed towards the Natural Bridges National Monument. Turns out, it was Utah's first National Monument as well.
The park, and its touted bridges, turned out for me to be a big disappointment in terms being able to pose one's motorcycle by landmarks. It's definitely a hiker's kind of a park as its just short hikes to the underside locations of the below bridges. From the overlook, they were OK but just that.
So, somewhat miffed at the park but mostly at myself for not doing the research beforehand; I left the park and soon reached UT 261 which I took south towards US163 and the small town of Mexican Hat. The detour I'd taken to visit Natural Bridges had taken me a long way away from Mexican Hat I thought and the occasional free range cattle alongside the road added no joy to the ride south.
Turns out though, there was a surprise for me at the end of the straight and boring road. It was the Moki Dugway that presented itself to me as I saw signs saying that the pavement was turning into dirt. I'd learned of this mountainside road from Gary France's blog of his travel through the USA with his Harley Davidson, the Leading Ladies. Now, it was my chance to ride this fabled road.
Nice surprise at the southern end of UT261
Cruising down the Moki Dugway
I thought the formation in the distance was the remnants of
a volcanic cinder cone.
I estimate the wall heights were about ten stories tall at least
Moki Dugway, is really not bad at all. It was sure a lot easier than Shafer's Road back at Canyonlands National Park! Once back on pavement I passed by what I thought had been an extinct cinder cone, as you can see below, not quite.
Looking back at the heights from which I descended via
the Moki Dugway.
Gooseneck Park is the site of some of the more memorable scenery in John Ford's classic "Fort Apache" which starred John Wayne. It's also the park where Martha fell and broke her foot while pregnant with our second son Miles. She's never seen the below scenery with her own eyes.
Last time I was here, I was riding Maria, my 2004 BMW R1150RT,
and I was stuck to the parking lot only.
Panoramic view from the main observation point
Being on three wheels, I wandered off to the side of the park, and I was able to capture this side view of the above rock formation.
A view from the side
Next stop was fuel and a hot dog at the gas station in nearby Mexican Hat after cruising up to and around the town's namesake:
The above picture can only be obtained by going up a short but
rather technical rocky trail. There was this huge hole in the middle of the
road which forced me to hug the side of the trail......upon reflection I
should have just settled for the first view. Oh well.
Mexican Hat's bridge over the San Juan River
All fueled up again, I headed south again across the above bridge and towards Monument Valley! I'd tried to get to this place before on Natasha, my 2006 Ural Sportsman, but that ended in a dismal failure.
Today though, Valencia and I would ride triumphant into the Monument Valley area:
The road that takes you into the valley is very rough in spots, lots of very loose sand
that causes one's wheels to wash out from under you!
Luckily, I have three! I didn't even have to engage 2WD.
Above and Below
It was quite a lot of fun three-wheeling through Monument Valley, besides the gravel and the rock outcroppings, there were long patches of very loose sand. I had to ride standing up on the pegs a lot and I imagine I was quite the sight to the carload of cagers taking in the sights.
The Seven Totems
The above is how most folks chose to get around though there
were quite a few cagers in their own vehicles raising dust all over.
The tour drivers must get paid by the tour because there was no dawdling on the road with one of these behind you. Narrow as the road was, sandy and rocky as it was, they'd still try and pass you!
Rock formation right before Artist's Point
Valencia at Artist Point parking lot.
The clouds moved in at this point and covered the valley with a misty look that proved quite crappy for photography. Sorry but a lot of my pictures just didn't come out right.
Sunset at Monument Valley
Of course, waiting for sunset meant I got back to the campsite at the Goulding's RV Park in the dark. The town's one restaurant was packed so I went to the the nearby grocery store instead for sandwich fixings. Yep, the life of a moto-blogger, cold sandwiches while processing pictures in the dark at a campsite. Thrilling stuff.
Had myself a brief scare near the end of the riding within Monument Valley. All of a sudden, I couldn't pull the clutch lever all the way back and so quickly lost engine control. This of course happened on a really sandy portion of a hill leading to the parking lot!
Luckily, I got the clutch lever going enough to get me to the parking lot. Upon examination, I noticed that the clutch lever was somehow hitting part of the heated grip cable assembly. Weird. Then, I recalled how the left grip had started rotating while I was riding the sandy road. Dang thing had come loose and started rotating!
A simple turn of the gripand I was now able to actuate the clutch lever fully! Wheeew! I thought the clutch mechanism had become clogged with dust or something from all the dirt riding.