frontpage350road Weekly Update
Greetings Riders,
Well, not much to say about the weather other than it is frickin’ HOT. This weekend we will see some of our hottest of the year at around 119 degrees. Could be worse, I heard Lake Havasu was expecting 123 degrees this weekend. Won’t be going there. . . When it comes to riding, it is pretty tough right now around here. So the only place to go is North to higher altitude if you have an itchy saddle. But you will have to leave way early and come home way early the next day or after sundown. But if you are going to ride, and need some ideas, I have a story below, that will at least point you in a cooler direction. Whatever you decide to do, STAY HYDRATED!
This week I have a ride that I did about 2 years ago that I called the Monument Tour. This ride is filled with nuggets that you probably drive by all the time and have never stopped. I know that was the case with me. I pulled out the Arizona map and started scouring it for locations that I haven't visited. Sure enough, I came up with 4 National Monuments that I had never been to, all within 160 miles of the I-17 and Loop 101. A lot of times National Monuments are pretty much a yawn, but these 4 that I am about to give are really good. They combine an overall good scenic ride with a short walk on three of them, and a little more strenuous walk on the other. As for me, I would rather be riding than hiking, so these are perfect.
The four National Monuments that I am going to outline for you are Montezuma Castle, Walnut Canyon, Sunset Crater Volcano and Wupatki National Monument. Normally I'm not a guy that seeks out National Monuments because a lot of times there is more hype than substance. But in these 4 it really combines a good ride with some surprisingly interesting facts and great scenery. You can mix and match or do them all at one time, but this would make a great long day ride or good leisurely over nighter.
Montezuma Castle National Monument

If you are coming from the Phoenix area I would suggest heading North on I-17 and making your first stop at Montezuma Castle NM. This is located just off of I-17 on the East side of the road at Exit 289. Ride East for approximately 1/2 mile to the blinking red light. Turn left on Montezuma Castle Road for about 4 miles to the visitor center where you willlearn about the castle and the people who used to inhabit it before you take a short walk.

On December 8, 1906, President Theodore Roosevelt celebrated the passage of the Antiquities Act by declaring four sites of historic and cultural significance as our nation's first National Monuments. Among these was Montezuma Castle, which the President identified as a place "of the greatest ethnological value and scientific interest." A paved, 1/3 mile loop allows you to gaze through the windows of the past into one of the best preserved cliff dwellings in North America. This 20 room high-rise apartment, nestled into a towering limestone cliff, tells a 1,000 year-old story of ingenuity and survival in an unforgiving desert landscape.

It is one of the best places I have been that actually gets across what a day in the life of the Sinagua Indian culture must have been like, allowing you to imagine how you might have survived in this same place. There is also several points of interest along the way and an interactive kiosk to help you learn about the life and times of the Sinagua people. Tourists are no longer allowed to go in the dwelling. Open daily 8am - 6pm June-August and till 5pm the rest of the year. $5 entry fee.

Walnut Canyon National Monument
After about an hour at Montezuma Castle, we hopped on the bikes heading North another 60 miles to Walnut Canyon National Monument, located just 9 miles East of I-17 off of I-40 at exit 204. I really had no preconceived idea of what this place was going to look like, but I was really surprised at how beautiful it was in this canyon setting. Walnut Canyon National Monument was established by President Woodrow Wilson on November 30, 1915, to preserve ancient cliff dwellings. Initially managed by the US Forest Service, the monument was transferred to the National Park Service in 1934. Today a variety of archeological and natural resources are preserved on approximately 3600 acres.

Once you are through the visitor center and pay your $5 fee, there is a choice of 2 trails to see the Cliff Dwellings. The Rim Trail is a .7 mile hike that gives you an easy overview of the canyon. But if you want to get up close and personal by actually going into the dwellings, you will have to take the Island Trail which is .9 miles long that takes you 185 feet down into the canyon via 240 steps. The trail takes you in a circle around the canyon allowing you to experience the rooms and the structures while enjoying the beauty of the canyon. If you are able to do so, this is really a wonderful little hike. However, climbing the 240 steps back up at an elevation of 6690ft can tax the heart and lungs. If you have bad knees, it might be a long hike. Bring water! This stop will probably take you about 1.5 hours to complete. But it is well worth the effort and my personal favorite of the National Monuments. Park hours are 8am - 5pm, May-Oct and opens at 9am Nov - April. Be sure and look at all the photos from this stop.

Sunset Crater Volcano/Wupatki National Monument Loop
From Walnut Canyon you are just 18 miles from Sunset Crater/Wupatki National Monument loop. Just go back to I-40, head West to Flagstaff to Hwy. 89 and go North about 12 miles to Forest Rd. 545. You will see the signs for the turn. Sunset Crater National Monument was established by President Herbert Hoover on May 26, 1930, to protect its geologic formations. In 1990 the name was changed to Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument. It occupies 3,040 acres surrounded by Coconino National Forest.

I will admit to not knowing much about the history of Sunset Crater, but it is a nice ride through here, that is what was important at the time. Apparently a volcano erupted here about 900 years ago and obviously wiped out civilization as they knew it, covering the area with a lava flow that you will see today. Vegetation has returned that give it aninteresting landscape combined with the lava landscape. 900 years later, Sunset Crater is still the youngest volcano on the Colorado Plateau. The volcano's red rim and the dark lava flows seem to have cooled and hardened to a jagged surface only yesterday. They have a visitor center as well, which we did not explore. It was more about the ride through here. 

Wupatki National Monument
About 20 miles into the 34 mile loop you will start to see the Painted Desert in front of you and will soon come upon the Wupatki National Monument which was established by President Calvin Coolidge on December 9, 1924, to preserve Citadel and Wupatki pueblos. It now includes additional pueblos and other archeological resources on a total of 35,422 acres. Wupatki represents a cultural crossroads, home to numerous groups of people over thousands of years. Less than 800 years ago, Wupatki Pueblo was the largest pueblo around. It flourished for a time as a meeting place of different cultures. Your first stop is the Wukoki Ruin which is one of the ancient pueblos ruins that were inhabited by the Sinaqua Indians from about 1100AD to 1250AD. Other pueblo sites within the Monument include Wupatki, Citadel, Nalakihu and Lomaki. This was the only one that we stopped at. The visitor center is just a couple of miles down the road.

Optional Stop - Arizona Snowbowl and Skyride 
We spent about 30 minutes at the Wukoki Ruins and were on our way back to the Flagstaff
 area where we made our way to the Arizona Snowbowl ski resort for a late lunch on the patio of the ski lodge and a trip on the Skyride which shuttles you to an elevation of 11,500 feet for panoramic views atop this extinct volcano. From this elevation, you can see over 70 miles of world-class scenery, including the Grand Canyon and downtown Flagstaff. The Skyride operates from 10am -4pm at a cost of $12 per person. The Arizona Snowbowl is located 7 miles northwest of Flagstaff on Highway 180. Turn right on Snowbowl Road and continue another 7 miles. Click for Directions. This ride up to and the experience at Snowbowl is really enjoyable. I would highly suggest Snowbowl as a day ride on its own merit. Not only that, you can relieve yourself in the highest toilet in Arizona, 11,500 feet!

The total mileage for the ride, assuming a start location from I-17 and Loop 101 is 388 miles, if you include the trip to Arizona Snowbowl. Taking Snowbowl out would lower the trip by 34 miles to 354. But remember that 250 of those miles will be on I-17 which of course moves at 75 mph.

So if you are looking for a ride this weekend that would be a combination of riding separated by a few short hikes to see some history, the Monument Tour would make for a great day, and it would get you out of the heat in the Valley. As usual, I went snap happy with the camera and have included 190 great photos for you to enjoy. HAVE FUN! Let me know if you go.

Tidbits and Updates:
The last Westgate Bike Night presented by Arrowhead HD and Ridenow Powersports is this Thursday night, June 27th. It has been a great Spring season, but it is time to shut it down for a couple of months. We plan to start it up again on Thursday, September 12th. I want to thank everyone who participated this year and made it one of our best and most fun seasons yet. This week we will close it out with Live Music by Chad Freeman and Redline 6-9 PM  and will feature some Rat Rods on display. Come visit one last time for this season.

This Week
Saturday, June 29th
Buddy Stubbs Hogs and Dogs. Buddy Stubbs Arizona Harley-Davidson helps you plan your next big ride during their monthly Hogs & Dogs! Join them on Saturday, June 29th, from 11AM to 2PM for FREE food, drinks, live music, a bikini bike wash and museum tours hosted by none other than Buddy! The Touring Workshop will be the fourth installment in their popular Educational Clinic Series taking place throughout the summer months. Their trained H-D personnel will provide tips and tricks as well as showcase great H-D products that are designed to help you take your riding beyond the city limits. Please RSVP early to reserve your space! Don’t miss this summertime escape at Buddy Stubbs Arizona Harley-Davidson! RSVP @ Buddy Stubbs AZ H-D is located at 13850 N. Cave Creek Road, Phoenix, AZ. You can also check them out on the web at .
Mid Week Updates will be made on the Facebook. New Easy to remember Facebook address. Go to Facebook. Over 4200 FANS!Take a look at all the new photos posted on the wall. If you are not on Facebook, you can still view the page, but you will not be able to post. There will be a link there for you to sign up for Facebook if you are inclined. Click the LIKE button!

These kids laugh is infectious. Who ever thought playing with rubber bands could be so funny. They really get going at the end. Click Here to View.

Video of the Week. Here is a good example of how NOT to test for a gas leak. Makes you go Hmmmm. Click Here to View. Click on the Video of the Week graphic on the page.
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Until Next Week,
Blessings and Safe Riding To All,

Barry Caraway
"The Road Is Yours - Take The Ride"

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