By Koz Mraz
In a world quarantined, as masses huddle behind closed doors, the open road calls to all who hear her beckoning. Yeah, I’m six feet away from other people, full face helmet, armored leather jacket, gloves, pants and boots. The virus has us socially distanced but not sequestered, almost anywhere you live, you can ride. And what a ride it is, open roads, fresh air, it’s your safe space, helmet time, your personal place to live life on your terms.
Sedona outdoor hiking trails are closed. Bell Rock, Cathedral and a dozen other world famous trails are closed to locals and tourists alike, but the roads are wide open. There are amazing day trips that all start in Sedona and we’ll ride them all.
Meet Mike Whitlatch, (we call him “The Animal”) Sedona EagleRider owner who refuses to ride out the lockdown indoors. We have some of the most beautiful motorcycling in America and no traffic, no tourists and all the time in the world so Let’s Ride!
Since restaurants may be closed everywhere we go, we picked up lunch from the Hideaway House Restaurant on 179 in Sedona. The Hideaway House offers great food, great views and a wide variety of burgers and sandwiches to-go. Mike and I vow to keep our social distancing on this ride.
Our 217 mile ride begins right through the heart of Sedona’s majestic red rocks on 89A. Without a doubt, it’s a magnificent start point for all your Sedona Eagle Rider Adventures. Only 27 miles away, Jerome is worlds apart. One of the richest copper mines ever found, Jerome was proclaimed to be “The Wickedest Town in the West.” Known for its ghost tours, it now actually is a virtual ghost town. Everything is closed during the pandemic, no food, no gas, no lodging at the infamous Grand Jerome Hotel and Asylum, which lies empty. (There never was a mental asylum located here, just tourist ghost stories.)
89A winds its asphalt snake for hundreds of twists and turns, most with 20 mph speed limits. Riders relish in the raucous romp to Prescott. Halfway through the twisties “The Animal” pulled off the hard road onto a dirt road winding through the mountain forests just for fun. It’s here that we had lunch and enjoyed the view. Not a stop on the suggested tour; I now understand his nickname.
At the base of Mingus Mountain we veered off 89A to the 10 South through Iron Springs with a stop at Skull Valley. It’s here we chatted with a few other Harley riders enjoying the road all to themselves. Further down the road is the Kirkland Bar and Steakhouse. First built in the late 1800’s, it was everything from a stagecoach and rail stop to a post office and hotel. Another closed watering hole. As we rode on it became apparent that motorcycles ruled the road here and it began to feel like Arizona bike week.
Back onto the 89 we rolled through Yarnell to one of the best vistas of this ride. It became a one way mountain road with big sweepers and perfectly banked curves and at the bottom a U-turn revealed another one way road that took riders back up to the mountain top. With almost zero cars, it was like a freakin motorcycle racetrack. Riders just looped that road over and over. What a hoot! It made our day. While there, get a selfie at twelve-foot-tall Frog Rock near the bottom of the loop.
Here at the top of this racetrack loop lies Granite Mountain Hotshots Memorial State Park. Dedicated in 2016 to memorialize the nineteen members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots who died fighting the Yarnell Hill fire on June 30, 2013. You can hike the Hotshots Trail from the parking lot trailhead up to the overlook where you’ll see sweeping views in every direction or continue your hike down the Memorial Trail, where you can pay your respects at the site where the Hotshots were recovered. The hike is approximately 3.5 miles long from the trailhead to the Fatality Site, for a full length of about seven miles.
Heading back through Yarnell we stopped at Gilligan’s Bar & Pizza. It was just too nice of a day for riders to not gather for a cold beer.
Continuing back north to Prescott on 89A the road dropped down into grand vistas, through surreal Salvador Dali-like rock formations and finally into a lush green picturesque rolling mountain range providing endless twisties. Truly a sweet ride back. Old Town Prescott (pronounced “Preskitt”) was also a ghost town, not a soul to be seen nor drink to be had on its famous (or infamous) Whiskey Row.
Winding back through Mingus Mountains to Jerome some of the most spectacular vistas will appear before you but, there’s no place to stop and soak in the incredible views. They pass in a blink of an eye but wait for it …Sedona’s red rock spires soon welcome you home to whence you came.
These are very challenging times and motorcycling may be one of the few options we riders have to get out and breathe in your own personal space. Stay tuned for part 2 of “Sequestered in Sedona”.
Sedona EagleRider https://www.eaglerider.com/sedona