Bicycle Travel > Routes

The Western Southern Tier in the Winter (January-Feb)

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Thanks, staehpj1.

When I say southern tier I mean southern tier of states. I have cycled that ST a number of times. The interstate is not necessarily preferable to ACA's mapped route. The way I go follows the mapped route and departs from it off and on and off and on again. I used the interstates west of Las Cruces to Yuma, AZ. I would not really recommend it mainly because of the roughness of the surfaces and the debris in the bike lanes. It's just the way I go. On my last ST crossing I got on I-10 as far east as Junction, TX, and used interstates all the way to Yuma with forced uses of other roads in cities, and west of Van Horn going into El Paso. That sort of thing. Interstates are more direct and probably less hilly. There is often too much loud traffic though. On one ST trip I followed the extreme coastal routes from Florida to way down south to Port Isabel, TX and Brownsville, TX near Matamoros, Mexico, at the Gulf of Mexico. Then, I followed the border roads north to Van Horn, TX.

Bike Hermit:
I rode through Death Valley in February a few years ago and the weather was fantastic. We rode from Midland, TX to Big Bend and up to Austin in February one year too and the weather was fine, even though a little cold at night and it snowed the day I got to Austin. If you have time a detour to Big Bend is worthwhile although there was snow on the ground in Terlingua Ghost Town a few days ago.

I think AZ and NM might be the sketchiest for winter. If it was me I would get on Amtrack's Sunset Limited at Yuma or Phoenix, AZ  and ride it to Alpine, TX then ride down to Big Bend and back up to Marfa to continue to Austin. In fact that sounds really fun!

A friend and I did a variation of a portion of the ACA Southern Tier route in Jan 2012 that might be of interest to readers of this forum. We rode from Lordsburg, NM to Silver City on Hwy 90, stayed in Silver City for several days doing day rides to the west and north, & then headed east on Hwys 180/152 over Emory Pass, the high pt of the entire Southern Tier route at 8300'. Then continued south on Hwys 187 & 185 to Las Cruces, where our trip ended (1 of us then took a bus back to our vehicle in Lordsburg from Las Cruces). We stayed in motels mostly but did camp at Percha Dam St Pk along the Rio Grande (highly recommend staying at the Black Range Lodge at the eastern base of Emory Pass).

We avoided the route from 3-Way, AZ up & over the unnamed 6300' pass (Blackjack) on the AZ/NM border b/c it had snowed there at the start of our trip.....but it looked like a beautiful route on Hwys 78/180 to Silver City when we previewed it by car beforehand).

Conditions were very favorable--50s &60s during the days, 30s & 40s at night. No snow or rain for the entire week, & just a little residual snow along the shaded spots along the highway over 7000' approaching Emory Pass....but look for icy spots on the road during the day where snow has melted then refrozen over night.

Am planning to do another trip in the region later this month Jan/Feb 2013, but as this is an El Nino winter it's been colder & wetter in the SW, so may have to stay low and cycle-tour in the Deming, NM area....we'll see.

Happy riding!

Thanks for the thoughts, dscheese.

I'm in the middle of my route and was looking for some alternatives to heading over the unnamed (Blackjack) pass due to the weather and lack of hotels/services along the ACA route between Safford and Silver City. Originally I was going to camp along this section but it is just to darn cold for that this week!

My current plan is to go from Safford to Lordsburg, NM and then follow Highway 90 up to Silver City. The only concern I have at this point is the weather - I'll be in Silver City mid next week and it still looks cold but it doesn't look like it is going to snow. As long as any precipitation has not accumulated on the ground I think I'll be okay...

Thanks for the advice on where to stay. :)



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