State Route 87 between Fountain Hills, AZ and Payson, AZ is also known as "Beeline Highway". Originally, it was named that because folks in Phoenix could make a "beeline" to Payson to get out of the desert heat.
But today, it's appropriately named because they widened it to four lanes allowing motorcyclists to race at 100+ MPH along the 72 mile stretch.
You won't find tight twisties along the Beeline Highway, but you will find some really fun wide sweepers that weave in and out of Arizona's best display of desert flora. Mixtures of cactus including Saguaro, Cholla, Prickly Pear, Barrel and Hedgehog are easily visible from the highway. Unique rock formations and cliffs frame stunning views of mountain ranges and valleys as the highway crests and falls.
The road conditions are mostly smooth asphalt, with occasional rough spots where rocks have fallen, as well as tar snakes slithering in some random places.
Beeline Highway starts just north of Mesa, AZ, right where highways 202 and 87 intersect. Go north until you finally get out of Fountain Hills where it pours into Tonto National Forest for the show of scenery. The road gently climbs elevation as it runs along the Mazatzal Mountains until it reaches its crest just west of Mt. Ord, an elevation of 4,565 feet.
On a Thursday afternoon, Sash and I found minimal traffic. We noted several other motorcycle riders of various makes and models, many of which moving between 70mph to 90mph.
There's not many places for a potty break along the Beeline Highway, but I didn't spot any state troopers with radar guns either.
Once you get into Payson, drop by at The Pinon Cafe. Located at 1001 S. Beeline Highway, it used to be the old Knotty Pine Cafe, now owned and operated by a local family who's been in the Payson restaurant business for decades. They offer a full line of gluten-free dishes, including breakfast all day. Open from 6:00am to 3:00pm.
After lunch, Sash and I continued on to Holbrook, taking in Highways 260, 277, 377, and 77. As we got into the Sitgreaves National Forest, the temperature really drops and the landscape changes to pine trees and signs warning you of elk crossings. But as we diverted onto highway 277, it changed to grasslands and cattle pastures.
Eventually we crossed Interstate 40 and found our way into Holbrook, one of those towns that saw better days during the height of Route 66.
For Day 5, the plan is Petrified National Forest, Painted Desert, and then on to Farmington, NM.
|Sash leaning into a curve along the Beeline Highway|
|Capturing Sash in my mirrors|
|Taking a rest stop along the side of the highway|
|We raced with this Goldwing up the Beeline Highway, notice the two cupholders on the right handlebar, and a third by the passenger.|
|The Pinon Cafe in Payson offers great local eats in a family-run restaurant.|
|The Cutrano AZ Troop Run is Saturday, April 26, 2014, at The Steel Horse Saloon, 8:00am, and benefits children of fallen soldiers.|
|State Highway 377, Heber Road, north towards Holbrook.|