Spring of 2015, Dana and I left Collin at the Grandparents house and set out on the KTM 950 for a scenic two day dual sport motorcycle trip taking the dirt back roads to Moab UT. The route took us up the Unaweep Canyon into Gateway, CO, over the Manti La Sal Mountains and into Moab for the night via John Brown Canyon. The following day we went back to Grand Junction taking old highway 128 along the Colorado River, a detour to Thompson Springs, UT and then sections of the Kokopelli Trail into Colorado . Along the way we found ancient dinosaur prints, a large wall of pictographs/petroglyphs and saw some amazing scenery.
The paved sections of the Unaweep Canyon is certainly inspiring with large canyon walls, transforming into redrock cliffs closer to Gateway. Its especially fun on a motorcycle with plenty of nice sweeping curves. I must have been enjoying the ride, hence the reason for no pictures, and Dana must have felt she needed both hands to hang on!
Gateway is a very small town, now made famous by the Gateway Canyons Resort, which seems to cater to the very wealthy with amenities such of off-road race trucks, helicopter rides, etc. I find it somewhat sad and feel many of these amazing places were so interesting because much of the thrill of traveling though them was their remote nature. A lot of that is taken away when an uber-wealthy resort is plopped down right in the middle……I guess thats the way of the world. There is (or use to be anyway) a very cool car museum that featured the resort owner’s (also the owner of the Discovery Channel) personal car collection that is worth a stop.
Once through Gateway a quick right starts up John Brown Canyon and you are back into solitude. This easy maintained dirt road climbs up into the Manti La Sal mountains and offers some of the most stunning views looking back on the Dolores River valley and of Moab and the Colorado River valley as you travel west. Once on the west side check out the overlooks for drastic views of Castle Valley and also the prehistoric dinosaur prints!
The ride really is a contrast of opposites, going from red rocks and desert landscape to mountains and then back to desert and red rocks. Once into Moab we enjoyed a nice night at the Hotel Moab Downtown and of course we had to get a milkshake at Milts!
The following day we headed back out taking highway 128 back towards I-70. This route is a little longer, but such good scenery and honestly a lot of fun again on the motorcycle. Amazingly we don’t have any pictures of this section either! We made some quick detours and checkout out Onion Creek.
From there we headed up to Thompson Springs to find a panel of pictographs and petroglyphs. There is not much left of Thompson Springs after it was bypassed by I-70 but if you ever have time its a neat area to drive through with tons of 1960s persona and a few dilapidated diners and old building still standing.
After riding through Thompson Springs we stayed on Thompson Canyon Rd and headed into the Bookcliffs. A few miles up the Canyon there are several interesting and large panels of rock art. The area is fairly popular and the panels do have some vandalism, but its a very worthwhile side trip from I-70.
From there we headed back to the Cisco Boat Launch and got back to Grand Junction taking sections of the Kokopelli trail, which is pure fun on a bike dual sport motorcycle like the KTM 950. This picture is looking back at the Manti La Sal’s the same area we were at the day before on John Brown Canyon.
If this article was of interest to you we would love to hear any comments or questions you may have. There is nothing we would rather be doing than discussing some of our past adventures (other than being on a new one!). Please take a moment to leave a comment bellow.