Author Topic: Getting Across The Desert  (Read 6667 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Stevenp

Getting Across The Desert
« on: January 16, 2011, 05:48:25 pm »
I am in the process of planning my first trip across the United States and am fishing for hints and tips. The biggest question on my mind, at this point, is in regards to the desert travel.

I will be leaving the Pacific Coast some time in July/August. Now, I know it's HOT and I imagine there will need to be some night travel, but I am wanting to hear what anyone has to say that might help me in thinking through my desert travel at that time of the year.

I will leave Pacific coast towards Nevada in about late July, which to me means I will be going through the desert around August.

Questions I have:
1. best route to take through Nevada
2. Traveling strategy through the desert
3. Do's and Dont's
4. Anything at all you can tell me to help me think this through further.

Thanks for any information you can give me!

Stevenp

Offline aggie

Re: Getting Across The Desert
« Reply #1 on: January 16, 2011, 05:52:00 pm »
What part of Nevada are you planning to cross?  If it is the Western Express Route you can do a search to see what has been said already.  You can do a search by the Route or road number (Hwy 50).

Offline Stevenp

Re: Getting Across The Desert
« Reply #2 on: January 16, 2011, 06:08:32 pm »
I think I want to travel more towards where Nevada and Arizona come together. I plan on going through several of the California parks and then down towards Death Valley and through Lake Mead.

So the route would be to head down California, through the parks, then in through where Nevada and Arizona meet. There is no "official route" where I would like to go.

That is what I am thinking for now.

Thanks!

Offline tonythomson

Re: Getting Across The Desert
« Reply #3 on: January 16, 2011, 06:48:52 pm »
Good luck that time of the year, but having ridden several desert areas my only advice is that you plan, and plan some more.  Know exactly where the next water supply is.  And know how much to carry between places.  Cover up - that includes legs.  Try and avoid the hottest part of the day around 2-3 in the afternoon.  Take plenty of shade breaks and just be aware of what your body is telling and not push through feeling a bit "off" because if that is the start of heat exhaustion you wont ride it off. Take plenty of hydration tabs - but don't rely solely on Gator Aid - water is far superior and at the most one GA (foul stuff  ;) ) per day.  Remember Death Valley has recorded the hottest (might be second hottest) temperature in the world so be sensible with the time of year you are going.

Watch out for your feet getting really hot as the heat reflects up and can be uncomfortable.

It gets cold at night so you will need a warm sleeping bag.

Good luck I love deserts and planning the Nullabar in September.
Just starting to record my trips  www.tonystravels.com

Offline jamawani

Re: Getting Across The Desert
« Reply #4 on: January 16, 2011, 08:14:03 pm »
Who was it that said "Mad dogs and Englishmen"??

I believe that your desire to cycle in Death Valley and the Mojave Desert in August to be profoundly unwise.
It seems that you have never been in the American West before -
You don't say how much cycling experience you have.

A good friend worked at Phantom Ranch at the bottom of G.and Canyon for many years.
Her park ranger friend was tired of all the medical evacuations and deaths.
Inexperienced people who were unaware of the deadly dangers of heat and sun.

There are lots of other spectacular places in the West that are at their best in August.

Offline Stevenp

Re: Getting Across The Desert
« Reply #5 on: January 16, 2011, 09:48:38 pm »
As for experience, I really don't have any heat or desert experience.

The desert and heat are a scary part of the challenge to me, but also an intriguing part of the challenge. I am really hoping to do the desert, but if I conclude it unwise and unreasonable, I will change my route.

I need help from experienced  pros on this!

Where are some of the MUST SEEs that I can't miss on my trip?

I picture those places where I can sit for hours thinking about life and finding answers to my deepest thoughts. Those inspiring places that I must encounter on my trip, where are some that you would recommend to me? I'm looking to hit some places along the way that are the very fingerprint of God. I would be interested in hearing your recommendations—and also more tips on desert travel!

Thanks for your help!

p.s. what is Nullabar?
« Last Edit: January 16, 2011, 10:05:14 pm by Stevenp »

Offline tonythomson

Re: Getting Across The Desert
« Reply #6 on: January 16, 2011, 10:51:52 pm »
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nullarbor_Plain

Aborigine for no trees - it's my planned crossing of Australia in September.  But certainly wont be doing it during their summer as like other poster said you just don't go into these places at the height of the summer.  Best places I would recommend is up into the mountains,  I cycled The Rockies a few years ago, plenty of places to sit and contemplate your navel.

Wait for the right time before heading for deserts - they wont go away.

Have fun
Just starting to record my trips  www.tonystravels.com

Offline staehpj1

Re: Getting Across The Desert
« Reply #7 on: January 17, 2011, 07:17:06 am »
Where are some of the MUST SEEs that I can't miss on my trip?
It is tough to say about "must sees".  The problem is that there are so many that you can't possibly do them all.

As far as route goes I'd advise something farther north in the west.  Oregon was probably my favorite state on my ride across the US, but everywhere we went had it's own charm.  I would suggest that the Trans America would be a good choice.  It really does a good job of sampling the varied geography of the US.

If you want to pick and choose your own way, I'd cross still cross Oregon, but try to maybe hit Glacier NP, then work my way down to Yellowstone NP, and then see the Colorado Rockies before heading east.

I'd skip the southern desert until you can do a trip in the cool months.  You will see enough desert in eastern Oregon.

Offline aggie

Re: Getting Across The Desert
« Reply #8 on: January 17, 2011, 10:31:35 am »
Getting through Death Valley in the summer is doable but it is bound to be very hot during the day (110 F) and as a general rule isn't advised.  You will need the ability to carry lots of water. 

If you insist in going through Death Valley (it got that name for a reason) I recommend the following route.  From Yosemite NP take the 120 east to the 395 south (you may want to take a look at Mono Lake before heading south).  There will be plenty of stops until to get to just south of Lone Pine and the turn off to Death Valley (136/190).  You can then follow 190 past Furnace Creek  and Badwater (these names should give you a hint of what to expect).  Then take state line road to Pahrump and follow 160 into Las Vegas.  You could then work your way over to Lake Mead  Then take 167 (in the park) past Valley of Fire State Park then connect to 169 which will take you to Interstate 15.  You can then take that north to St. George, Utah.

This isn't a route that has a lot of services.  You can expect it to be very hot and sunny (lots of sunscreen).  It is not a good idea to do it in the summer, especially if you aren't familiar with desert traveling.  You can ride at night with lights to make a little more bearable or ride very early in the day until it gets too hot to ride. 

I've ridden this area and I wouldn't do it in the summer.

Offline popeyespal

Re: Getting Across The Desert
« Reply #9 on: January 17, 2011, 11:14:52 am »
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nullarbor_Plain

Aborigine for no trees -

I think you're joking here? Right? Nullarbor is far from an Aboriginal term. It is a combination of two Latin words.

Null = zero    http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/null

Arbor = trees http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/arbor

You've got the definition correct it just wasn't the locals that named it.


My 2 cents towards the actual thread topic is that in the planning of my perimeter trip I gathered enough feedback to cause me to completely abandoned any idea of crossing the desert at the height of summer. Las Vegas is where my brother lives and has to be one of my stops. Just not at that time.
« Last Edit: January 17, 2011, 11:21:21 am by popeyespal »

Offline Galloper

Re: Getting Across The Desert
« Reply #10 on: January 17, 2011, 02:55:11 pm »
As a must see, can I recommend southern Utah, it has some of the most spectacular scenery anywhere in the world and lots of marvellous parks.

Plus you can take a side trip to Moab and hook up with some great mountain biking :)

Offline valygrl

Re: Getting Across The Desert
« Reply #11 on: January 17, 2011, 03:26:09 pm »
Horrible idea.   Desert in spring and fall is awesome and awe-inspiring.  In summer, it will be a battle just to survive.  Not fun.  Not even a remotely good idea.

In July & August, I would be in OR, WA, MT, WY, CO or on the coast in CA.  I would NOT be in southern CA desert, UT, NM, AZ or TX.

In fact if you must "cross" the USA in July/August, I think the best route would be an north/south crossing on the spine of the Rockies, the "Great Parks" A.C.A. route.  All mountains, all the time, gorgeous scenery, national parks, lots of opportunity to wild camp, great weather, plenty of water.  Second best would be Northern Tier or Lewis and Clark.  I started a L&C / random northern route combo from the west on 8/1 and had awesome weather the whole way.

Where are you from?

Personally, I think east/west USA crossings are over-rated, because there's that big prairie in the middle that is so un-interesting.  It's one of those things that's super-cool to SAY but not that awesome to DO.   But I'm weird that way, I think many would not agree.

Offline MrBent

Re: Getting Across The Desert
« Reply #12 on: January 17, 2011, 06:00:08 pm »
Listen to Valygrl!  The deserts you propose to ride during the HOTTEST time of the year--with, as you say, no experience--is in my opinion courting misery at the best and disaster at the worst.  I've toured through Death Valley many times but always in mid-winter or early spring.  At that time (or late, late fall), the place can be dreamy beautiful.  Keep in mind, during the summer in DV, daytime highs are frequently in the 115 to 120 deg. F. range.  It is, literally, the hottest place on earth.  Oh, but you can ride at night?  The lows in the summer are usually in the 90's.  And there are monster climbs to get in and out of there.  As an added bonus, as you head into AZ, the conditions don't get much better.

Crossing NV along Hwy 50 is more reasonable but still pretty dang hot, but, being higher and further north, good riding can be had early and late in the day.  You'll still suffer plenty, but your odds of surviving are high so long as you plan accordingly: Lots o' water, laying low during the heat of the day, etc.  It's one thing to romanticize about the rigors of the road while sitting in front of a computer, something else entirely to feel your skin burn and the heat waves rising up off of pavement that is close to 200 deg. F.  Plan on riding that country in mid-late Nov./early December, and you'll have a blast.

When I was close to finishing a cross country ride a few years ago, I spent the night in Needles.  This was the first week of Nov.  The next day, I had temps in the low 80's--pretty nice.  Do some weather history searches by month for the different areas you are interested in riding and plan accordingly.  Freaky weather can always hit--like the time we were riding Death Valley in early Jan. and temps climbed into the low 80's!--so be ready for the unexpected.

Planning, planning, and more planning.

Best of luck on your tour!

Scott

Offline tonythomson

Re: Getting Across The Desert
« Reply #13 on: January 17, 2011, 08:33:33 pm »

I think you're joking here? Right? Nullarbor is far from an Aboriginal term. It is a combination of two Latin words.

Null = zero    http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/null

Arbor = trees http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/arbor

You've got the definition correct it just wasn't the locals that named it.

Hey popeyspal - thanks for putting me right, should have known better than to trust those Oz's - good to see we have some scholars around  ;D

As for the thread, you could ride at night but surely would defeat the object of being there, to see the amazing scenery of DV and if you fund somewhere to stay would you end up paying  two night in hotel? i imagine it would be unbearable being in a tent during the day time, like everyone says give it a miss at that time of the year.
Just starting to record my trips  www.tonystravels.com

Offline jamawani

Re: Getting Across The Desert
« Reply #14 on: January 17, 2011, 10:33:09 pm »
But I'm weird that way, I think many would not agree.

I agree.

I think the best tour starts where YOU want to start and goes to where YOU want to go and ends where YOU want to end.  If that means starting on the coast of Oregon and ending at Big Bend National Park in Texas and winding every which way in between - - well, why not?

If one is planning a gross-country tour starting in August, I think it far better to ride west to east starting in the Pacific Northwest.  This would be a perfect time frame to ride from Puget Sound to Glacier National Park(Possibly the Northern Tier or a lower elevation crossing) - then down the Rockies as you suggest - perhaps exiting the Rockies into South Dakota and the Black Hills before continuing east.  (By late September it is best to skedaddle into lower elevations.)