Author Topic: San Francisco to Vegas and onwards to WE/TA  (Read 3362 times)

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Offline backpacktobikerack

San Francisco to Vegas and onwards to WE/TA
« on: February 17, 2012, 07:33:42 pm »
Hi there,

I see there is no ACA Route from SF to Vegas but as I am from the UK and probably won't return to California in the foreseeable future I am keen to visit Yosemite, Sequoia and Death Valley NPs on my way to Vegas (and then the Hoover Dam and Grand Canyon on my way to NYC). I then plan on joining the Western Express after the Canyon, and then onto the TA.

Has anyone done this? Can you recommend a route?

Thanks,
Alex

Offline Fred Hiltz

Re: San Francisco to Vegas and onwards to WE/TA
« Reply #1 on: February 17, 2012, 09:23:06 pm »
What time of year, Alex? It makes a huge difference in our western mountains. I rode straight east from SF (actually its Berkeley suburb) to Yosemite in early June with overnights in Manteca and Groveland. The flat central valley was dull, but easy riding; a good way to start getting in shape for the mountains to come. From my log entry at Groveland, "The transition from the valley to the Sierra foothills is abrupt, climbing 1900' in 5.5 miles. I took 1:45, all in granny 1 with many stops to prevent overheating. Since the ascent began at mile 57, it made a tough day. The climb looks like L’Alp d’Huez transplanted into a background from an MGM western."

Later in the summer, the valley gets really hot.

The Sierra Cascades route is a pretty way to go south through Sequoia NP and close to Death Valley, where it gets really, really, really hot. Tourists die there from heat, one or two per year.

Check out the National Park Service web sites of each park. They brim with good information.

Fred


Offline Tim

Re: San Francisco to Vegas and onwards to WE/TA
« Reply #2 on: February 17, 2012, 09:34:55 pm »
Alex
Check out a recent tour I did that may shed a little light on taking a variation (hwy 108) instead of the 120 through Yosemite. 

http://www.opawakening.com/Pages/TrainingRides.aspx

If you do go through Yosemite and Tuolomne Meadows becareful of the RV's and tiny shoulders.  Once your on the eastern side of the Sierra head south on the 395.  Be sure to stop at the hot tubs just off Benton Crossing road.  They have books you can pick up to find the exact location(s). 

My route in April will take me in that general direction. 
http://www.opawakening.com/Pages/PHASELINE3AKeverneInfo.aspx

edit - I started my ride at the Dublin Pleasentan train platform.  Its a great ride all the way to Yosemite (big shoulders and smooth pavement).

I'm sure someone with way more experience than I, may have a better line. 
« Last Edit: February 17, 2012, 09:36:28 pm by Tim »
A Ride Dedicated
to
The Unconditional Sacrifices Made Every Day.
www.opawakening.com

Offline backpacktobikerack

Re: San Francisco to Vegas and onwards to WE/TA
« Reply #3 on: February 18, 2012, 04:01:41 am »
Wow - Fred, Tim: such quick replies, thanks!

I am arriving in L.A. on March 20th and aim to have ridden up the coast to San Fran by April 5th (very easy going, 25-50 miles a day). So I guess I'm looking at early April start with 50-80 mile days, ideally. This trip has been planned on the move (travelling round-the-world at the moment) so my training has been minimal at best. I figure it's more mental strength and good planning that will enable me to get to New York.

Is it possible to cycle across Death Valley to Vegas or would I have to go round?

Offline Fred Hiltz

Re: San Francisco to Vegas and onwards to WE/TA
« Reply #4 on: February 18, 2012, 06:57:21 am »
... Is it possible to cycle across Death Valley to Vegas or would I have to go round?

It certainly is. You'd be there by when, about mid-May? Winter is best, spring and fall are OK with good planning and a great deal of water on the bike. The driest, lowest, and hottest place in the hemisphere will be getting hot, though.

Bogiesan and Aggie will probably chime in soon. They have both done it. I have only hiked and car-toured there. Meanwhile, you can find posts by them and others with a search for Death Valley from the main page that lists our discussion groups.

You will be in shape, well equipped and well planned. The tourists who die seem to be mostly those who go out with none of those advantages and those who try to hike from a disabled vehicle.

Fred

Offline SarahCyclist

Re: San Francisco to Vegas and onwards to WE/TA
« Reply #5 on: February 29, 2012, 06:38:20 pm »
Hey Alex,

I saw your other post about your TransAmerican trip - I am planning a similar route this summer and we should coordinate. Shoot me an email (I'm not sure how constant your internet connection is as you're backpacking! ha!)

Sarah

Offline bbarrettx

Re: San Francisco to Vegas and onwards to WE/TA
« Reply #6 on: March 04, 2012, 10:23:27 pm »
I can help from Yosemite forward as I've done the TA on to NJ and a large western loop that included Yosemite and into CO.

From Yosemite take 120 across to hwy 6 and then 264/266 south and east in NV. Then 95 down to Vegas. From Vegas you can follow the road just west of Lake Mead until you get up to Glendale and I-15. You'll be on I-15 to St George, UT. Big shoulders on the interstate so no problems.

From St George head over to Zion NP (incredible). Head east out of Zion and down into northern AZ and the lightly visited North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Head back into UT and to Bryce Canyon NP. Then over to Capitol Reef NP, over to Hanksville, up to Green River and a short jaunt on I-70 and then down to Moab and Arches NP. All of these parks are worth at least a day of exploring with the possible exception of Cap Reef. You'll want to be out of UT no later than June 10 unless you really like the heat.

From Moab head south to La Sal Jct and then east into Colorado. Head to Telluride, another area to take a day to check out. Then head north to Montrose and east from there to Gunnison. If you have time, Crested Butte is 20 miles north of there and another great CO town. From Gunnison continue over Monarch Pass and down to the TA in Canon City. The above might actually be the Western Express, I've never seen the maps or route as I did these routes well before AC put that route together.

When I rode the TA I finished in my then home town on the Jersey Shore not far from NYC. You can ride into that area without dealing with crazy traffic and then ferry to Lower Manhattan. The route I took involved cutting off the TA when it headed east of the Shenandoah Valley in VA. Instead you continue north on highway 11 through Harrisonburg and up through a small slice of WV and MD and across the Potomac into PA. In PA you'll want to get a good map and follow smaller roads south of Highway 30 making your way into Philadelphia. From Philly you'll cross the bridge into Camden NJ and hook up with NJ537 just east of there. It's a mainly rural road travelling through horse country which will take you to Little Silver, NJ where you'll take a right on Rumson Rd and to the Atlantic Ocean in Sea Bright. From Sea Bright you'll head a few miles north on Ocean Ave and over to Highlands where you can catch the SeaStreak ferry to Lower Manhattan. This will help you avoid the congestion of North Jersey.

Sounds like a great trip. Just watch out for headwinds on your way up the CA coast as the prevailing wind is most always from the north. Enjoy and let me know if you want more detail.

Brian B.  Boulder, CO

Offline backpacktobikerack

Re: San Francisco to Vegas and onwards to WE/TA
« Reply #7 on: March 06, 2012, 03:39:50 am »
Brian, what an excellent reply. Thank you. I will study it further and come back with any questions.

Sarah - I've replied to your private email :)

Offline backpacktobikerack

Re: San Francisco to Vegas and onwards to WE/TA
« Reply #8 on: April 11, 2012, 01:35:36 am »
So I'm in SF now, but the bike is in the shop until Saturday (14th). I plan to get the Amtrak to Merced on Sunday and then cycle into Yosemite for a couple of days of hiking then back out again (as the 120 will be shut for a good while yet). My question is: should I go North towards Reno/Tahoe and then down the 395 and through Death Valley to Vegas, or head South to Lake Isabella and round the Southern end of the Sierras straight to Vegas? Or any alternative suggestions? Thanks, Alex

Offline valygrl

Re: San Francisco to Vegas and onwards to WE/TA
« Reply #9 on: April 11, 2012, 08:24:48 am »
Check the weather - my sister told me it's pouring in SF which *might* mean snowing in Tahoe.

Offline backpacktobikerack

Re: San Francisco to Vegas and onwards to WE/TA
« Reply #10 on: April 11, 2012, 09:24:07 pm »
Oh, and one more thing, with Furnace Creek Campsite closed for the time being. I think it might be best to avoid Death Valley completely. Can anyone persuade me otherwise?

Offline Fred Hiltz

Re: San Francisco to Vegas and onwards to WE/TA
« Reply #11 on: April 11, 2012, 10:15:49 pm »
I'd think the other campgrounds would have plenty of room at this time of year. Call the Death Valley NP to check. My first thought would be Stovepipe Wells, where there are plenty of services and only 19 km further to Las Vegas than from Furnace Creek, but you'd go past Panamint Springs and Emigrant as well. When we were there on June 19, 2010, Stovepipe Wells CG was about 1/10 filled, as I recall.

If your budget permits, though, Death Valley would be the first place to consider splurging on an air-conditioned room.

And if your time permits a day to explore, consider a daybreak hike in one of the canyons when it is comfortable and beautiful.

It would be a shame to skip Death Valley. There are few places like it on Earth.

Fred

Offline backpacktobikerack

Re: San Francisco to Vegas and onwards to WE/TA
« Reply #12 on: June 06, 2012, 10:27:39 pm »
Just to fill you in on what happened:

I rode out of Yosemite on the 49? to Jackson and then up the 88 over Carson Pass, the 89 over Monitor Pass and took the 395 down into Lone Pine where I headed East into Death Valley early in the morning of Apr 28. Got to Panamint Springs at lunchtime and hung out there for the rest of the day. Up before dawn to go over Towne Pass by 8am, and then freewheeled pretty much into Furnace Creek , where I ate ice cream all afternoon. A dawn escape from Texas Spring campsite got me to Death Valley Junction for lunch, and then into Pahrump in the evening. Care: the road to Death Valley Junction is deceptive. It's a 3000' climb in 30 miles at an imperceptible gradient! Need a strong mind for this part.

It was a blast and I'm so glad I did it!

I'm now on the TA, in Leoti, KS. I've got 41 days to get to NYC - any suggestions on how to make the route more direct than just following the TA to Richmond, VA and then the Atlantic Coast route through DC to New York? That works out at around 65 miles/day, I'd like to get that closer to 50 if possible!

Offline Fred Hiltz

Re: San Francisco to Vegas and onwards to WE/TA
« Reply #13 on: June 06, 2012, 11:19:14 pm »
Just to fill you in on what happened: ... Death Valley ... It was a blast and I'm so glad I did it!

Yay! You will remember this for the rest of your life. I guarantee it. Congratulations.

Fred