Day 3: July 8, 2004
Humboldt-Toiyabe NF to Grand Canyon NP, AZ (360 miles, 130 mi dirt)

Highest elevation: 9400 ft, outside Zion National Park

After sleeping, I felt much more confident on the dirt road. The mountainous part of this road was actually one of the most fun unpaved roads on this trip.

unpaved road to Hiko, NV

Unpaved road to Hiko, NV

I took an amazing road from UT-14 near Cedar City to UT-9 near La Verkin. This was by far the most amazingly scenic road that I took on the trip. The first 10 miles were paved, winding back and forth almost straight up a cliff overlooking a valley. It climbed from around 4000 to around 8000 feet, and at the top you could look down and see the entire valley and the mountains on the other side, maybe 50 miles away.

The second stage of this road was around 30 miles long, unpaved, and 8000-9000 ft in elevation. It was all rolling hills, and the pavement was awesome hard packed dirt with very few rocky or gravelley sections. I finally started to get confident turning on unpaved roads. This brief section of altitude also brought some relief from the sweltering heat of the desert.

The thrid stage of this road was paved and went through Zion national park, dropping me from 9000 down to 4000 ft elevation. The views were amazing -- they took my breath away. Pictures can't even begin to do justice to the majestic panoramic scenery, but I've included a few anyway.

If you're planning a trip in the area, I can't recommend this road highly enough. It rules!

Unpaved road Cedar City - La Verkin, UT

Zion NP, UT

Zion NP, UT

Zion NP, UT

Zion NP, UT

After recovering from the last beautiful road, I started out on a 60-mile unpaved road across the desert to get to Tuweep Overlook (also called Toroweap) in the Grand Canyon. This overlook and campsite can only be reached by 60 miles of unpaved road, but I had read that the views are the best in the Grand Canyon, and its remoteness promised that it wouldn't be overcrowded. I was not disappointed. But getting there cost me: there was a 70-foot section of road that had literally been turned to dust. The 4-8 inches of dust covered ruts in the road up to a foot deep. Amazingly, I made it to within 10 feet of safety, only to fall into a deep rut and be thrown off at around 30 mph. Luckily I escaped with only a mild headache, and my bike made off with a bent passenger footpeg.

dust trap on unpaved road to tuweep, Grand Canyon, AZ

unpaved road to tuweep, Grand Canyon, AZ

The campsite at this overlook was sweet! There was an enormous rock overhanging my site, and I took the opportunity to sleep under the stars, tentless for my first time. While I didn't sleep very well, it was definitely a novel experience, one that I hope to repeat. This was also the only developed campground that I stayed at on this trip. Thankfully there was only one other group camping here.

campsite at tuweep, Grand Canyon, AZ (July 9)

sunrise at tuweep, Grand Canyon, AZ

rocks by my campsite at Tuweep

The next morning I went to the overlook and took some pictures. The views were spectacular -- I looked over the edge of the grand canyon, over 4000 feet straight down to the colorado river below. Just looking down turned my stomach -- one wrong move and you'd fall to certain death.

tuweep, Grand Canyon, AZ

tuweep, Grand Canyon, AZ

mountain goat (?) at tuweep

human (?) at tuweep

Next: Day 4 Tuweep to Grand Staircase - Escalante NP, UT

Day 1: San Francisco to Monitor Pass, CA
Day 2: to Humboldt-Toiyabe NF, NV
Day 3: to Tuweep, Grand Canyon NP, AZ
Day 4: to Grand Staircase - Escalante NM, UT
Day 5: to Owl Creek Pass, CO
Day 6: to Broomfield, CO

Return trip: Days 11-13: Broomfield, CO to San Francisco, CA