« on: February 02, 2008, 11:39:56 pm »
Quite a trip you've got planned. I replied to your 2/2/07 inquiry before seeing this one, so I'll pass on some more thoughts. I live in southeast Arizona and have ridden or driven the roads I'll mention.
There are no good routes eastwardly from Organ Pipe NM. AZ-86 has heavy traffic, with many RVs. I wouldn't ride on it east of east of Three Points. Unless you have a particular reason to go to Organ Pipe (such as to reach the Mexico border) I would skip it. The terrain and vegetation (except for the Organ Pipe Cactus) are the same as much of SW Arizona. Also, I'd advise against steath camping anywhere south of I-8 or Tucson, because of extensive traffic of drug smugglers and illegal aliens.
If Organ Pipe is one of your objectives, here's the route I'd take from there to get to the Mogollon Rim: AZ-85 to Gila Bend, Maricopa Road (paved) through Maricopa to Casa Grande, secondary roads to Florence, AZ-79 to AZ-77 (I've ridden all those), and AZ-77 to Globe. That roundabout route avoids the steep climb, very heavy traffic, and tunnel on narrow US-60 between Florence Junction and Globe. I can't imagine why that route is on the Southern Tier.
There are two routes to the Rim from Globe -- (1) AZ-77 to Show Low and (2) AZ-88, AZ-188, and AZ-87 to Payson (which I've ridden). AZ-77 is 87 miles of essentially no civilization, except a store at the bottom of the Salt River Canyon, a steep 2,000 foot down-and-up mini-Grand Canyon about midway. That would test your "any hill is okay" statement. You can Google the canyon for a description.
The other route, past Roosevelt Lake, has much less climbing and scattered points of civilization.
The gravel road along the Rim, all in pine forest, between Strawberry and Forest Lakes has a few National Forest campgrounds, some of which have drinking water.
It's a long way from the Petrified Forest/Painted Desert to the Grand Canyon. The Navaho Reservation contains vast distances between anything but very scattered dwellings and trading posts. Most of the places named on the map have little or nothing. Getting to the Grand Canyon from Cameron is a 32-mile, 3,000 foot climb. For a less grueling and more scenic route, I suggest you consider skipping the Petrified Forest and Painted Desert and riding from the Rim to Flagstaff, via Mormon Lake, then take US-180 and AZ-64 to the canyon. The time saved would enable you to take in Zion and Bryce Canyon NPs (both spectacular) in Utah enroute to Cedar City (and make the ride to Cameron downhill). Getting to Kanab from Cameron is about 170 miles of desert on US-89, with services only at Page, or about the same distance and 4,000 feet of climbing to Jacob Lake, followed by a great downhill.
Once in Utah, US-89 is a great riding road all the way to Provo.
I've gone on way too long. If you've got any questions, e-mail me.