Author Topic: starting Vancouver finishing Tucson  (Read 9128 times)

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Offline wollumbin

starting Vancouver finishing Tucson
« on: November 25, 2013, 04:48:49 pm »
Hi,  We are 2 Australians and we plan to fly into Vancouver in mid June 2014 then spend July, August and September cycling in the US (we love mountains, quiet roads, camping and National Parks). We thought we could follow the northern tier route from the West Coast, then join the Great Divide Route to cycle south. We'd like to make detours to check out Yellowstone, Grand Tetons & Rocky Mountain National Parks and finish the GDR at Antelope Wells. Following that we'll cycle across to Tucson (this reads as though it's a smaller, bike friendly place to finish with an air connection) to pick up a flight home via L.A.  (or could anyone suggest a better finishing point for transport back to L.A. eg with bikes on buses/trains?) Has anyone ridden a similar route from Vancouver to Antelope Wells or have and ideas/comments or spectacular detours that they could suggest? Any suggestions for this route or other riding in the US will be most welcome. Many thanks!

Offline John Nettles

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Re: starting Vancouver finishing Tucson
« Reply #1 on: November 25, 2013, 05:23:31 pm »
I would recommend you fly into Edmonton and ride over to Jasper then down to Banff to connect with the Great Divide.  The big drawback is it will be cool with possible snow.  Very very scenic however.

Once you are near the southern end of the GD, I would suggest you break off at Silver City (cool town) and ride to Lordsburg (get a train if you are running behind), then to Animas.  From there you can either ride south on  NM-338 to CR-3004 (Geronimo Trail) to Douglas, AZ (at the US/Mexico border)  OR you can ride another scenic road west to Portal, AZ; gravel to Chiricahua NP with a ton of hoo doos (eroded stone pillars); to Douglas (another neat town).  If you want to end up in Antelope Wells, you can take Mexico 2 from Antelope Wells to Douglas.

From Douglas, you can continue west on NM-92 to Montezuma Canyon Rd (very remote gravel) to Parker Canyon Lake to Sonoita via AZ-83 to Green Valley to Tucson.  If you are tired of gravel, take AZ-92 to Sierra Vista then over to Sonoita thru the Fort Huachuca and AZ-83.

Tucson is a good finish as it has planes or trains.  Amtrak, the US train service, has HUGE bike boxes.

For a detour, you might consider breaking off in Jackson, WY and heading south to Alpine, WY then take Greys River Rd./Emigrant/CR-306 to Kemmerer, WY.  From there head over to Manila, UT then toward Maybell, CO via Browns Park Rd./CO-318.  Between UT border and Maybell, head north on CR-10N to CR-25 just over WY border.  Head east on extremely remote CR-25/CR-4 (not scenic, to me at least) to Baggs, WY, then WY-70 to CR-129 where you reconnect with GD.  The roads between Alpine and Kemmerer are very beautiful and very quiet.  You miss a lot of the heat of the Great Basin but CR-25/CR-4 are just as wide open as the Great Basin (check streetview on Google maps).  Again, this alternate is very remote for long stretches.

If you want GPS routes or cue sheets, contact me privately and I will send to you in December.

Best wishes on your trip!

Offline wollumbin

Re: starting Vancouver finishing Tucson
« Reply #2 on: November 25, 2013, 08:07:38 pm »
Thanks so much for your really helpful reply John. I'll have to get my maps out and check out all the routes you suggested. We lived in Vancouver for one year and have already cycled the icefields highway (Jasper to Banff) twice. The reason we were planning to begin in Vancouver was to visit friends there and then cycle down to visit another friend in Bellingham, WA. before setting off south. But .... we're very flexible ... any responses/suggestions? Thanks again.

Offline jamawani

Re: starting Vancouver finishing Tucson
« Reply #3 on: November 26, 2013, 12:32:08 pm »
Wolly -

Have you considered south to north?
I have suggested that for years - although ACA has it north to south.

1. Still cool and rainy in north in June - plus much snow remains unmelted
2. Summer monsoon season begins in late June in south turning dirt roads into muck
3. Winds tend to be southerly - although in the mountains they are highly variable
4. You generally have the sun behind you - not in your eyes.

You could flip your initerary - fly into LA and take Amtrak to Tucson
Although El Paso is close to Antelope Wells with a lightly used road between
I would, however, caution against stealth camping on the US/Mex border.

Since it only takes about two months, max, to ride to the Canadian border -
Why not continue on thru the Canadian parks to Jasper - really spectacular.
(Unlike US national parks, Cdn parks have fireroads into the backcountry that permit bikes.)

I would guess that you would have enough time to ride on from Jasper to Prince Rupert on the coast -
Then take the ferry through the spectacular Inside Passage back to Vancouver Island -
With enough remaining time you could ride Vancouver or bus it to Vancouver airport.

Photo - Backcountry in Jasper National Park by Bicycle

Offline SlowAndSlower

Re: starting Vancouver finishing Tucson
« Reply #4 on: December 14, 2013, 12:30:32 pm »
There are numerous journals on for the Great Divide ride, both directions. Some to and from Tucson.

It may be possible to arrange a shuttle to or from Tucson which would be my recommendation.

Offline wollumbin

Re: starting Vancouver finishing Tucson
« Reply #5 on: December 15, 2013, 06:15:42 am »
I really appreciate your suggestions, we are flexible with dates so have considered riding south the north to get an earlier start on the trail. South to north sounds better for all the reasons that you've outlined as well jamawani; having cycled in Patagonia we know how unfavourable winds can affect your travels! I have cycled the Icefields Parkway from Banff to Jasper a couple of times so know what a beautiful ride that is. I'll check out the crazy guy entries as well - thanks for the tip.