Koyote Ranch

The next day we left bright and early to head for Kerrville and Koyote Ranch campground to catch the tail end of the V Star 650 Texas Meet and Greet.  I had planned to get there Friday to meet up with everyone but due to a major crisis at work we got delayed and were arriving on Sunday instead and we had to hurry before everyone left.  When this thing was planned a year in advance it was going to be a big deal and at least 40 people from our little forum were going to show up but over time more and more people dropped out until there was just 5 besides us. Little did we know that despite several prepaying for cabins we would end up being the only ones to make it, although a few days late.

Koyote Ranch Pool

Because of the mad rush to get there to meet up with anyone who might still be there we didn’t have much time to stop and take pictures, not that there was anything to take pictures of besides cotton fields, wind farms and the West Texas scrub.   Halfway there we did have to pull over to rejet the bike. This was expected, my bike is jetted for high altitude and going down more than a mile in altitude is a lot worse for an engine than going up.  Going down that far really leans out the fuel mix and can cause overheating and engine damage, going up in altitude just makes it richer and robs power.  I’ve done this many times before but this time when I slapped the carb back together the bike would not start. I had to pull it all apart again and try again.

As we neared I-10 I wasn’t paying attention and our GPS led us off course.  It ended up taking us 40 miles further than I intended by not taking a more heavily travelled diagonal like I had wanted and instead took us down a series of back country ranch roads that in places were not much wider than a golf cart path.  As we approached civilization again and we were extremely low on fuel the Garmin glitched again and wanted us to go down a dirt trail through a locked gate in some barbed wire! This thing is useless!  I should go back to paper maps like we’ve always used.  Coasting into town on fumes we were able to fill up and get on the super slab, now more than an two hours behind schedule with the detours and jetting.

We were really looking forward to Highway 16 south of Kerrville, our friends have said that it had the craziest switchbacks in all of Texas and indeed the Koyote Ranch’s own website claims “Hwy 16 has consistently been placed on Texas Monthly’s “10 Most Scenic Drives in Texas” list.  The drive from Kerrville to Koyote Ranch includes much of this beauty, but it also includes almost 5 miles of switchback turns, which rival any mountain road in America.

The road was beautiful with some of the best scenery we’d seen all day and the switchbacks were a bit gnarly in places but nothing special compared to real mountain back roads that we were used to but all in all we were pleasantly surprised.   I’ve always had a pretty low opinion of the riding in TX and have been a bit skeptical with all the ravings of the hill country and three sisters riding. Is it actually as good as they say or just good for Texas?  Now with just a taste of the hill country and the surprise that Texas has any good riding at all we are ready to come back next year when hopefully more people besides us turn up.

There were many bike friendly establishments here including Thunder in the Hills Biker Church, where gritty clothes or an unclean past aren’t obstacles to those seeking God.  Really a biker church!   Nearby there’s also a motorcycle museum and several bike themed eateries that I found on google.  If work had not gotten in the way we would have had 2 days to explore the area, theres always next year.  If you are headed this way there are several websites devoted to the areas biker attractions to check out before coming, I found Hill Country Cruising to be one of the best.

Koyote Ranch will be our first motorcycle campground, its quite nice to not have to worry about your bike being too loud to disturb all the backpackers and pick-nickers as you idle to your site for a change.  We got there 20 mins past closing and had to find the management sites to let them know we were there and would pay in the morning. It was sunday but the place looked unusually dead for what’s supposed to be a very popular area, unfortunately we were informed by the nice managers (despite being interrupted getting dinner ready) that their well had gone out that morning and there was no water but we were still welcome to stay.

Koyote Ranch has a nice layout, RVs in the middle on a flat plain and various sized cabins surrounding on the hillsides with the tents down by the stream bed.  The cabins do seem to be a bit closely packed together, however, so it may not be the place to look for peace and quiet if the place is filled up with a bunch of bikers going through. I didn’t get to see inside any of the cabins but the pics online look nice. The prices on everything here seem to be a tad high but you do seem to be getting some quality cabins.

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Zion Ponderosa Ranch

We stayed at Zion Ponderosa Ranch, highly recommended if you go this way.  This place was a big unexpected surprise.   When I was making reservations before we left a week and a half prior everything was sold out in the Federal campgrounds in the park, there was one or two patches of dirt left and they wanted upwards of $40 for them, Ouch!  With a bit of searching I found Zion Ponderosa on the North Eastern corner of the park just outside the lesser used entrance and the prices for a spot here were cheap.

We were really blown away by the place. Compared to what we were used to at all our other campgrounds we were only expecting a small dirt plot to throw the tent and a bathroom somewhere close by and maybe if we were lucky a shower. The next day we saw the sold out campgrounds by the visitors center and thats exactly what they were for twice as much.  We were a bit shocked to find Zion Ponderosa was more like a resort than a campground, they have lots of cabins from basic to deluxe and have all sorts of activities available from adventure Unimog, Jeep or 4 wheeler tours to horseback riding to rock climbing and miniature golf, etc. etc.   The nice girls at the front desk seemed sad that we weren’t going to participate in any of their activities and were leaving first thing in the morning.

We’d only found out the day before that the road through the east entrance to Zion National Park was closed during the day. WTF?  Only through sheer luck did our campground happen to be on the same side of the road closure that we were coming from, otherwise I’m not sure what we would have done.  I wonder if the construction had anything to do with the prices being so much cheaper than everywhere else.

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The Rally

Veranda by Country Coach

Veranda by Country Coach

Next we went to The Rally, the biggest RV show in the country. RVers had completely filled the Balloon Fiesta grounds and all of the surrounding parks. They estimated 10,000 RVs had come into town for this event from all across the US and Canada. The Lujan building with the indoor vendors was jam packed with retirees not in any particular hurry to move anywhere. People were packed in there like sardines, all of the electric wheelchairs and such weren’t helping any. I don’t know what the max occupancy was for those buildings but I’m sure we were way over it. I’m never going to complain that those car and bike shows they have there are too crowded again.

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