Author Topic: Am I crazy? Jackson, WY to Los Angeles, CA via UT & NV in June - July  (Read 3502 times)

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Offline cosmoSwiller

Myself and my wife are 2/3 of the way through our cross-country ride. You can have a look at what we've been doing at WWW.BIKEGANG.CC.

We are currently in Jackson Hole, WY. I have a perplexing decision to make and thought maybe some ACA members with experience of the area might have some input.

The situation is this: We had been planning to ride to the coast in Oregon finishing our trip and flying home to LA, then I went and googled the distance of a ride from Jackson, WY to Florence, OR: 870mi and a ride from Jackson, WY to Los Angeles, CA: 930mi. Only a 60mi difference, suddenly I'm thinking I should ride to LA and save the planet a couple of air trips, so on and forth. 

The route from Jackson, WY to Florence, OR would pass through Idaho Falls, Twin Falls, Boise, through to Bend, OR on HWY 20, Eugene and finally to Florence. I know there would be more scenic ways to get to Florence, via Montana and the TransAm trail but I'm looking to keep the distance to the coast as low as possible. The problem with this route is that besides maybe Bend and Eugene I'm not excited about anything on this route, and I'd have to fly back to LA which runs counter to the notion that all you need is a bike and time to get around the country. 

The other route from Jackson, WY to Los Angeles, CA would run through Logan, Salt Lake City, down Utah on I-15 (I've spent a lot of time recently riding on Interstates and don't find it entirely disagreeable), into Nevada, Las Vegas, Desert, Dry Stuff, Los Angeles. This route has more cities I'm excited to see but also has the challenge of a difficult terrain I know little about. Keep in mind that I am Australian and high temperatures don't entirely freak me out (We rode long days in 100+ weather in Kansas). But am I crazy? Is this route basically suicide in late June - early July? And how much distance could we expect between services in southern Utah and Nevada? My preference is to ride into Los Angeles the shortest route possible, and this seems to be it.

Any comments, concerned looks or offers of transportation to the closest sanatorium appreciated.   

Offline tsteven4

Its not suicide, but heat exhaustion and heat stroke are definite possibilities, especially if your are unlucky, unprepared, and ignorant of the desert.  We rode the western express in July once, temps up to 115.  Rode a lot at night.  many 85 miles stretches without any services or water.  We carried up to 2 gallons of water each.  You route would cross but wouldn't be on the western express, but I would expect plenty of heat and long stretches without services.  I really liked the WE but I don't think I would be at all tempted by the Jackson to LA route you mentioned.

Another idea is to get to the Oregon coast any way possible (ride,fly,bus,hitch ?) and ride the coast to LA.  Extremely beautiful.  State parks with hiker/biker sites abound.   Some wind like WY, but it should be blowing south! 

Or your original plan.

Best Wishes whatever you decide,

Offline litespeed

For your Idaho-Florence route I would recommend taking 26/126 between Vale and Sisters instead of 20. You climb over a lot of passes but it is more scenic with a lot more services, less traffic and a number of fine little towns with plenty of places to camp, sometimes for free. The traffic count is really low. Most of the time you have the road to yourself. This is one of my favorite bicycling roads.
« Last Edit: June 10, 2012, 07:45:27 pm by litespeed »

Offline aggie

It's doable if you don't mind the heat and carry a good supply of water (refill at every opportunity).  You might want to check out the following website for info on where you can ride a bike on I15 in Utah.

Offline jamawani

Not only heat - but headwinds.
Prevailing winds in southern Utah/southern Nev are southwesterly.
Also, Google miles are usually car miles on the Interstate.

If you want to do a cutoff to Calif -

Consider Jackson to Ontario, Oregon across Idaho -
Via Rexburg, Arco, Stanley, Emmett - it is very nice.
The Sawtooths are fabulous -

From Ontario you can take US 20 to Burns then cut down to Lakeview.
US 395 is stunningly remote with huge cliffs at Lake Abert

Then continue on US 395 to Alturas and cut down to Lassen Peak N.P.
If you choose to head down to Chico and Colusa -
You can cut over on Hwy 20 to Fort Bragg on the coast -
Then head down Hwy 1 on the to the Golden Gate Bridge.

(Hwy 299 out to the coast has heavy traffic - Hwy 36 is brutal.)

Then hop on Amtrak.
Or, if you have time - continue on down the coast.

PS - Are your pix from a REAL photo booth -
Or did you photoshop it to look like a photo booth?
They are hard to find anymore in the U.S.
« Last Edit: June 10, 2012, 11:53:14 pm by jamawani »

Offline cosmoSwiller

Thanks to everyone who took the time to reply. I've been speaking to people, via Warm Showers, who live in the area of Southern Utah that I plan on traveling through, and they have recommended I use Hwy89 instead of I-15. This route looks more elevated, thus cooler, and more scenic, thus better. I have now left Jackson  headed south. I'm not sure that I'll ride the stretch from St George to Las Vegas and also the stretch Las Vegas to Barstow. I'll make decisions at the time about the desert stretches.

I'll be updating the blog as I go so you can drop an 'I told you so' comment if I die.

Wish me luck! And thanks again.

Offline dfege

I don't have anything to say about the heat.  However, I once rode from Jackson Hole to SLC.  There was one stretch that was abosolutely gorgeous and I have never seen anyone write about it.  It is the road from Big (?) Bear Lake to Logan, Utah.  The highway hugs the river and the valley practically all the way to Logan.  The scenery was awesome!!  Also, be forewarned,  the raspberry shakes that everyone seems to rave about at Big Bear Lake simply weren't that good.  Have a good trip.