ATV Trails: A Grand Canyon Adventure
It wasn’t that long ago that we witnessed the first production 2014 Honda Pioneer roll off the assembly line in South Carolina. We took a test unit home and have spent a good bit of time behind the wheel of the Pioneer, but we recently had a great opportunity to ride the new Side-by-Side in one of the most majestic areas of the United States, the Grand Canyon.
Flying into the Las Vegas airport you cross the Grand Canyon and it’s simply amazing to see it from 25,000 feet, but knowing I was just hours away from being deep in the canyon was even more exciting. Honda picked us up from the airport and took a group of media, via a small turbo prop plane, to the remote landing strip at the Bar 10 Ranch.
Discuss this at our Honda Pioneer Forum.
Gavin Heaton runs the adventure side of the Bar 10 facility and he was quick to point out that it wasn’t a chance encounter that brought us media types in the hands of the Heaton Family at Bar 10. It was actually an article in Honda’s own publication that caught their attention and attracted Vision Airlines owners to begin flying adventure seekers to the ranch using the Bar 10 airstrip. The location is so remote yet so close to some of the best views of the canyon’s powerful scenery. The land here is rich with history and the Heaton family has made it their mission to share it with anyone willing to lose touch with technology, listen to the silence near the campfire as the owls and coyotes sing to one another and enjoy their home. This is where the west really stays wild!
It’s easy to take a step back from your normal, hectic life and just relax at the Bar 10 Ranch.
Our ride for the trip into the canyon would be the 2014 Honda Pioneer 700 and Pioneer 700-4. Without hesitation jumped headlong into a day sure to be filled with excitement to see what nature had in store for us. The Honda Pioneer is steadily becoming the new face of Honda’s Side-by-Side market. At a price of only $9,999 for the two-seater, Honda has broken many barriers for potential consumers as well as several “entry level” price-point manufacturers’ hearts.
Read our review of the 2014 Honda Pioneer 700-4
Powering the Pioneer is a 675cc single-cylinder engine that is liquid cooled and fuel injected. This means it is easy to start and has the power to work and play. Honda’s automotive-style transmission gives the driver the ability to slip the dash-mounted shift lever into Drive, Neutral and Reverse for very simple operation. With three forward gears the Pioneer shifts as it needs to, depending on the terrain and speed of the vehicle. The Pioneer will roll out at a comfortable 40 mph top speed and this seems to be plenty.
Combining off-road riding and exploring one of the wonders of the world is a pretty tough combination to beat.
If you need a more aggressive driveline you can just shift the additional dash mounted 2WD, 4WD and 4WD diff lock lever into position for your terrain conditions. This makes the Honda Pioneer very versatile and gives you confidence knowing you will have the lugging power should you need it. Understanding also that the Pioneer is built for adventure, but is very capable of work will put your partner’s mind at ease should you need explain your purchase! Hauling an incredible 1,000 lbs in the bed or towing a whopping 1,500 lbs, the Honda Pioneer is a stout worker and with a fuel capacity of 8.2 gallons you have plenty of push water to get the machine motivated all day long!
Back to our adventure in the Honda Pioneer, we traveled off into the mysterious canyon. For the morning ride we headed northwest into the section of the canyon called Whitmore Point. This gave me my first look at the sheer size of the Grand Canyon. Whitmore Point is about 5,400 feet in elevation and this lowlander had to take an extra breath or two. Our fuel-injected Pioneer had no problems, though. It was apparent that we had gained altitude, but the red-winged adventurer kept right on truckin! The terrain is very rough on some of the roads around the canyon and even though there was at least one flat in our group, the vast majority of the Pioneer’s tough factory tires handled the sharp rocks with no issues.
Thanks to electronic fuel injection, climbing up to 5,400 feet at Whitmore Point was no problem for our Honda Pioneer 700.
Turning around at the overlook we headed back to the ranch for a lunch break. Uncle Ned had made our lunch and kept a smile for anyone who entered the cabin. Uncle Ned’s story is he had answered an ad in a local newspaper for an ATV guide job and has been at the ranch for many years now. Uncle Ned cooked our breakfast, lunch, and dinner each day and it was absolutely incredible. He kept us entertained with stories, including one where he was being attacked by a bear as a boy. It ended well for talented storyteller and if you get out to the Bar 10 be sure to ask him about it. Sharing the story of the Arizona strip and the development of the area in the north rim, Uncle Ned gave us all insight as to just how tough life was in the dry canyon.
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After a short lunch break it was time to get back in our Pioneers and back on the trail as this time we were off to see the Colorado River flowing through the Grand Canyon. This short ride of only about 10 miles took us to the site of a 180,000-year-old lava dam that once crossed the Grand Canyon and dammed up the Colorado River. The Whitmore Wash lava dam has been gone for many years now, but remnants of the flow can be seen here.
The cool water of the Colorado River is enticing on a hot and dry ride, but it’s a lot farther away than it seems.
It was while at the Whitmore Wash that several of us decided to try and get our hands in the water of the Colorado River. Unfortunately as many have discovered before us, the distance to the river is much farther than expected. After climbing down sheer rock walls and trudging narrow rocky trails on foot we realized the river seemed to be getting farther away instead of closer. Our only option was to return to the top of the trail where our Honda Pioneers could give us some relaxation in the comfy seats!
While taking in the whole Grand Canyon experience, it really dawned on us just how grand an opportunity this has been. Life is so fast paced now days and in places like Bar 10 you can find such solace and serenity. Our trusty Honda Pioneer 700 gave us the chance to see the far outreaches of this majestic place with confidence in knowing we had a dependable ride to anyplace we wanted to go.
We were quite pleased to take in the Grand Canyon experience in the Honda Pioneer.
So if you get a chance to take a ride in the new Honda Pioneer do not pass it up as it will leave you wanting to go even farther down the trail every time. Maybe you will get to ride the Honda Pioneer down to the Grand Canyon from Bar 10. And if you do get a chance to head out to the ranch, be sure to chat with Uncle Ned or Gavin about the beautiful place they call home. Don’t forget Riley, the friendly chocolate Lab, that will greet you usually around meal time as he loves treats left over from the dinner table.
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If you have a chance, get up early and sit at one of the picnic tables outside at the ranch and listen to the prevailing winds driving in from the southwest as the canyon begins to heat up for the day. Then maybe that night you can talk Uncle Ned into building a big campfire under the stars and sharing the history that we found so fascinating while dining on some prime Bar 10 beef.
More by Rick Sosebee