Author Topic: Southern Tier Connection Advice (LA & NM)  (Read 4192 times)

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Offline Haven

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Southern Tier Connection Advice (LA & NM)
« on: November 15, 2012, 12:48:32 pm »
Hi! I'll be doing the Southern Tier this winter East->West, and was wondering if folks had advice/routes mapped for how to safely detour from the ACA route into (and back out of) New Orleans and Mescalero, New Mexico.  I'd also love to hear any favorite places folks would recommend in either area, and memorable places I should check out just off the route anywhere along the way.  I'm a huge fan of hiking, camping, and climbing (where there's equipment to rent-- hell if I'm going to haul all that gear on my bike!), especially in wilderness areas.

Thanks in advance!

Offline bobbys beard

Re: Southern Tier Connection Advice (LA & NM)
« Reply #1 on: November 15, 2012, 01:10:47 pm »
don't skip the gila wilderness loop in NM. it's easily the toughest climb of the whole southern tier, but by far my favourite section :)

Offline CMajernik

Re: Southern Tier Connection Advice (LA & NM)
« Reply #2 on: November 15, 2012, 01:44:30 pm »
On the Southern Tier section 5 map (which includes a spur into Baton Rouge), in the Riding Conditions text there is information on who to contact to get routing into New Orleans.
Carla Majernik
Routes and Mapping Program Director

Adventure Cycling Association
Inspiring people of all ages to travel by bicycle.
800/755-2453, 406/721-1776 x218, 406/721-8754 fax

Follow Routes & Mapping on Twitter: @acaroutes

Offline Westinghouse

Re: Southern Tier Connection Advice (LA & NM)
« Reply #3 on: November 18, 2012, 03:32:12 am »
90 will take you into N.O. It becomes Chef Mentour Highway. Follow the river route west to get out.

Offline Westinghouse

Re: Southern Tier Connection Advice (LA & NM)
« Reply #4 on: November 18, 2012, 03:36:23 am »
New Orleans:  Hostels.  French Quarter.  Dixieland Jazz.  Preservation Hall.  Antebellum plantation house. Cruise of the big muddy. Ferry across the big muddy. Bourbon Street.

There are quite a few places to go, things to see, and things to do in New Orleans. Have fun.

Offline nalanpog

Re: Southern Tier Connection Advice (LA & NM)
« Reply #5 on: November 29, 2012, 11:51:07 am »
I did the southern tier from east to west in spring 2011 starting in New Orleans.  I'm unfamiliar with the ACA route east of New Orleans, but if you get a chance to ride along the coast of Mississippi Buccaneer State Park is a nice camping spot with a decent beach.  You can then follow two-lane highways with decent shoulders into New Orleans East.  Stop at the Vietnamese sandwich shop--Duong Phong Bakery--on your way through.  Here's roughly the route I used for my trip out to Buccaneer Park and back

You can see maps for my route I used to go west out of New Orleans on
« Last Edit: November 29, 2012, 11:52:48 am by nalanpog »

Offline nalanpog

Re: Southern Tier Connection Advice (LA & NM)
« Reply #6 on: November 29, 2012, 11:54:17 am »
I wouldn't recommend crossing the Texas/Louisiana border anywhere but where the southern tier route shows you should.  I crossed near Orange, TX and got clipped by a pick-up truck mirror in the county the cop told me has one of the highest DUI rates in the nation.  The crossing further south on the Gulf Coast involves a long, very dangerous bridge that another cyclist told me should be "avoided at all costs".

I just looked up where Mescalero is and might have some advice on getting there.  From Van Horn, TX, I departed from the southern tier route and headed straight north to Guadalupe Mountains National Park, then Carlsbad Caverns and Carlsbad, NM, then turned west to head up--and I mean up on a long, steady climb usually into the wind--to Cloudcroft, NM.  The descent from Cloudcroft to Alamogordo is wicked fun and includes I think the only road tunnel in New Mexico.  The contrast could not be greater between national-forest-surrounded Cloudcroft and desert-surrounded Alamogordo is stark.  From Alamogordo you could probably head up 70 to Tularosa then over to Mescalero.  Looks like there is another way to get there via S. Tularosa Canyon Road, but I have no idea what that road is like.

If you're into camping it might be worth sticking around Guadalupe Mountains park for a bit.  It's what's called a "backcountry" park, as there aren't roads into it.  There's a nice campground by the visitor's center--which has wifi!--and the rest of the park is trails.  Set up a base camp there and do some hiking.  Carlsbad Caverns is also amazing but requires a long climb up to the visitor's center.  Once you are in Cloudcroft you can head south on some hilly, mountain crest riding to the National Solar Observatory.  Not a must-see but beautiful views out across the basin and a cool place if you're into astronomy.

Alamogordo has a museum dedicated to space exploration which was quite fun.  The grounds around the building is littered with rockets and capsules and other fun things.  White Sands National Monument is worth a stop, but in both Alamogordo and White Sands beware dust storms.  They can appear quickly and reduce visibility to near zero.  Dust gets everywhere, too, so consider putting electronics in ziploc bags and not taking them out until you're out of the area.

You can see more on maps and things on the crazyguyonabike link above, under the "New Mexico" section.

And I second the advice to do the Gila Hot Springs loop.  There's a campground with hot springs water for soaking.

Offline geegee

Re: Southern Tier Connection Advice (LA & NM)
« Reply #7 on: November 30, 2012, 12:01:50 am »
I rode through Mescalero last May on my way to Dallas from San Diego. I used US380 to cross Texas, it's a good road throughout most of its entire length, with the exception where it goes through Denton (avoid University drive within the loop if you decide to take this route, use McKinney/Oak to get across this city). It gets pretty remote west of Bridgeport. Stock up on water in Tatum NM, there won't be anything to drink until Roswell.

US70 is awesome through Ruidoso and Mescalero. There are ample shoulders all the way to Las Cruces where you can hook up to the ST or opt for the I-10 corridor.

A few years ago I also rode from Florida to Houston via New Orleans. I used US90, and it was good with some short spotty sections through Mississippi. In downtown N.O., I took the ferry at the end of Canal Street to cross the big river and cruised along the levy pathways to connect back on to US90 towards Lafayette. I continued up to Opelousas and then went on US190 towards the Texas border, which has good shoulders except for a few miles through Kinder (which is not so kind :). I crossed into Texas at Deweyville.

If I were to connect my two tours, I would probably continue on US190 to Jasper, and then head for Lufkin, Tyler, Mineola and then hook up with US380 at Greenville. I would avoid cycling into Dallas/Fort Worth, unless you like bike-averse urban sprawl.
« Last Edit: November 30, 2012, 12:06:31 am by geegee »