We recently organized our own “supported” camping trip. We left Chandler (Phoenix area) bright and early (for us) and drove to Payson, then up onto the Mogollon Rim, off the Rim down to Camp Verde, up through Jerome, then through Sedona and Oak Creek Canyon to Flagstaff. That’s about a 250 mile “warm up” ride so that we could rendevous with the support truck and another rider.
We then set out for the Grand Canyon (South Rim) — about 80 miles through pouring rain and hail — to go camping! (map)
The weather actually cleared before we set camp and we spent a beautiful night under a spectacularly star-studded sky. Although some of our gear had gotten wet in the bed of the truck, we had enough extras for everyone and were ready for day 2.
We struck camp and headed for the North Rim for another night of camping. Now you have to understand that the Grand Canyon is only about 10 miles across, so our camping destination is about 13 miles away as the Evel Knievel jumps… That translates to about 211 miles of driving, 160 miles through the desert. In July. In storm season. Wow!
Once we got up on the Kaibab Plateau it was spectacular — forest and meadow at 8500 ft elevation. Buffalo roaming (OK, about 20 of them) within the national park.
Another beautiful night under an even brighter sky (higher altitude, less pollution) and we were ready to head home to Chandler. The transition from forest to desert happens even quicker on the way down than the way up because of the vistas.
375 (mostly desert) miles later we were home. What did we learn after about 1000 miles in 3 days?
Camping is an activity in and of itself. Even with my Eagle Scout son driving the support vehicle and helping the novice campers,it still takes a lot of time and is really not as time-effective as staying in a motel for a single night. We camped SO that we could stay inside the parks to increase sightseeing time, but gave up some time for camping setup and take-down. This may have been exacerbated by the fact that 2 of the 3 riders had not camped in 30+ years…
Sag wagons do NOT travel as fast as motorcycles. They DO, however, carry lots of water and a trailer makes a great rest area on a road where the next services are 100 miles away.
Hot weather riding gear is a great advantage. Our LD Comfort sleeves worked marvelously on the big open stretches of desert highway. Having all that water easily accessible on the trailer meant that a 10 minutes stop gave us 30-45 minutes of comfortable cruising, even wearing full gear!
Communications gear helps the miles fly by. Our Cardo G9 systems allowed us to coordinate and act as blockers for the truck pulling the trailer. The lead could let the sweep know when it was safe to pass, then the sweep could wave other drivers around. We could also discuss where we wanted to stop or even just listen to music. Very nice!
What would I do differently next time? I would plan 2 nights of camping at each location to give us the time to really enjoy the sightseeing. If I don’t want to camp, I would need to call 6-12 months in advance for a hotel or cabin in those primo locations.