Looking for new undiscovered roads. Try some of these.
1. Fort Grant
The ride from Sierra Vista to Safford has always included about 12 miles of I-10. No way to get around it. Not any more. It turns out the Ft Grant-Bonita Road north out of Wilcox to AZ Highway 266 is now paved. You’ll ride by some serious greenhouses north of Wilcox. Hwy 266 runs through the foot hills and brings you back to Hwy 191 about 17 miles from Safford. A long cut that is a way around the freeway and worth it.
2. Old US 80 from Gila Bend to Salome
Old Highway 80 that connects Gila Bend on Interstate 8 to Interstate 10. Hwy 85 between Gila Bend and I-10 is known by all, especially truckers who are skirting Phoenix. Old Highway 80 runs parallel to Hwy 85 and has way less traffic. You cross over the Gila River at the now defunct Gillespie Dam on a very old riveted metal bridge built before most of us SEAT members were born. You can continue on Salome road, going over Courthouse Road to Harquahula Rd and onto Salome Road to Salome. A more interesting and actually shorter way to Salome and avoid freeways.
3. To and from Wickenburg off the freeway.
Take Old Hwy 80 out of Gila Bend (See #2 above). When you get on Salome road heading toward Tonopah, acouple of miles down the road turn right on 355th Ave north to Vulture Mine Road. All paved, Vulture Mine Road will take you into the back door of Wickenburg on a very motorcycle friendly road that passes the old Vulture Mine. Little to no traffic and a couple of nice roadside pull outs to stop and smell the roses.
4. (From Stan Thibaut) A nice 221 mile ride the other day. We rode Mission Rd. to the mine; then took Continental Rd to the frontage road; and on to Wisdom's for lunch. When we got to Nogales, I could not remember the short cut around Nogales, so we rode into the city and got on Hwy 82 to Patagonia. When we got to the Santa Cruz River, we back tracked on River Rd to find the route.
On the street signs is says South River Rd, but on the sign out on Hwy 82 it just said River Rd. Basically we went northwest until we got to Via Frontera, turned right, then a short distance later, turned left on Ruby Rd. Ruby Rd then takes you over to I-19, north of Nogales at Exit 12, the Pena Blanca Lake and Ruby Road exit. So if you are coming from Sonoita you would use the way I just listed- right on River Rd., to right on Via Frontera, to left on Ruby Rd, then north on I-19.
6. Coming into Arizona from her most north eastern corner can be a bit boring. Hwy 160 and Hwy 191 aren’t the most scenic rides. With plenty of open space you can rip right along, still…not the best route around.
An alternative is to take Indian Route 13 that comes into Arizona south of Shiprock, New Mexico. Taking Hwy 491 south out of Shiprock you can see the Shiprock monument off to the west. As the road goes from four lanes to two lanes, you’ll find Indian Route 13 heading west. It will take you through Red Rock and Lukachukai, Arizona. You wind through some nice mountain roads.
IR 13 meets IR 12 just past Lukachukai. From here take IR 12 south to Tsaile where you can pick up Indian Route 64 and ride along the north rim of Canyon de Chelley. Nice ride with a couple of scenic views of the canyon.
If Chinle isn’t your destination, IR12 is paved all the way down to Window Rock and I-40. A narrow Indian road, do pay attention as there can be cattle, horses, drunks and who knows what else is on the road.
7 . Oracle to San Manuel By Bill Schink
For those of you attending the luncheon in San Manuel here are some options. GS’ers coming from the south can head east on I-10 at Benson, get off at exit 306 towards Pomerene and come up the San Pedro River road. It’s paved to Three Forks road and dirt the remainder.
For GS’ers in Tucson, head out Tanque Verde and on over Reddington Road. I’ll travel both just prior to the luncheon and give last minute road conditions report. They are not blading them very often of late.
For the rest of you I’m happy to report that the road from Oracle to San Manuel has been paved and is a far more scenic route than Hwy. 77. Get off 77 at Oracle, follow American Blvd, to just past the Library and Community church, hang a right (used to be a “Y”) and follow the Mt. Lemmon road until you see the end of pavement coming up and take the left, on pavement across the cattle guard. About a couple of miles down take care with two “S” curves marked 20 MPH. The second leg of the “S” for both is blind and decreasing radius. Fortunately, traffic is very light on this road. At Veterans Mem. Blvd (stop sign) turn left back towards 77 to arrive at the Golf Course.