Author Topic: 2 month bike trip Bozeman-Las Vegas in July-August 2016  (Read 7754 times)

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Offline alessandra

2 month bike trip Bozeman-Las Vegas in July-August 2016
« on: January 25, 2016, 10:01:59 am »
Hello,
I'm Italian and lookng for a great bike trip in the USA in July and August 2016. I have about 6 weeks to ride and I would like to see some National Park and as much as country as possible. I don't go very fast, about 70 KM per day. My first choice is for the instant the Sierra Cascades, from Seattle to Yosemite (planning to go back to SF by train or coach: is it possible?). But I don't know if 6 weeks are enough knowing that I would like to spend some time in the different parks.
I also hesitate because my dream would be to see Yellowstone.
Can you suggest me a likely trip that includes Yellowstone and grand scenaries all around, and possibly not too difficult to manage with the intercontinental flights?
Thank you in advance and see you on the roads  ;)
alessandra
« Last Edit: May 25, 2016, 03:04:51 pm by alessandra »

Offline staehpj1

Re: Look for 2 month bike trip in the USA this summer
« Reply #1 on: January 25, 2016, 10:36:57 am »
I have not done the northern portion of the Sierra Cascades route, but did do the southern part.  Having done the TA I have also ridden through Yellowstone.  I found I enjoyed Yosemite more than Yellowstone.  I found Yosemite worth taking a week to do hikes and tourist stuff.  Yellowstone was nice, the geothermal features were interesting, and the wildlife viewing was interesting, but if I had to choose between them Yosemite would win out.

As far as how much time to allow, the SC route is exceedingly difficult; you will need to be in good form and will likely need to allow more time than you would on almost any other tours.  That said it is exceedingly beautiful and worth the effort.

There is amtrak service to Yosemite from San Francisco (part bus part train).

There is also bus service using Greyhound and YARTS buses.

http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/publictransportation.htm

Offline alessandra

Re: Look for 2 month bike trip in the USA this summer
« Reply #2 on: January 25, 2016, 11:09:00 am »
Well, thank you very much for this first reply. I hadn't figured that SC would be SO difficult. I was just about to  but the ACA guide to have a more precise idea of what I'll have to face.
I'll take note about your impressions about Yellowstone vs Yosemite: my only source of information is what I can read about it from Europe, it's difficult to have a picture of what you'll really see.
I'm still open to suggestions on other breathtaking trips, but always 6 weeks during the summer.

 

Online jamawani

Re: Look for 2 month bike trip in the USA this summer
« Reply #3 on: January 25, 2016, 12:09:53 pm »
Hi Alessandra -

Not sure about your touring experience and with your backcountry experience.
Also, 50 miles/80 km is not very far in remote parts of the West.
There are ACA routes with more than 80 miles/130 km between services.
And if you make your own routes, possibly further.

July 7 through August 20 is an ideal time for touring in the West.
That is the driest season for the Pacific Coast, but with this winter's rain, fire danger should be low.
Same goes for the Cascades and Sierras - excellent weather and low fire risk this year.
The Southwest and much of Nevada and Utah is usually extremely hot then.
But the Northern Rockies are beautiful - covered in wildflowers.

One of the issues is the amount of time it will take to get to the start and finish point.
You will have more options if you fly from Rome to Chicago -
Since Chicago has more connections to the West than eastern cities like New York.

If you can do a tour in both the U.S. and Canada there is a fabulous option -
Riding from Salt Lake City to Yellowstone to Glacier and thru the Canadian national parks.
Some of the finest riding in the world.

There are plenty of services and you will bump into other riders -
I think that might be important for a woman riding solo.

Another option is to ride from Santa Fe, New Mexico up to Glacier N.P.
This would keep you in the U.S. entirely.
You could start with the ancient Puebloan cultures of the Southwest, like Taos,
Then take in the parks of the Rockies in Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana.

Both of these can be all pavement - usually with low traffic -
Or you can include some dirt road options depending on your wishes.
Here's a journal with a section where I road north from Santa Fe to Glacier -

https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/page/?o=tS&page_id=26398&v=Os

You can click for additional pages all the way up to Canada -
So it really covers both routes I outlined above.

The all-U.S. trip would be about 1500 miles / 2400 km or 400 km per week - molto probabile.
The U.S.-Canada trip would be also about 1500 miles / 2400 km.
That would give you plenty of time to explore or hike.

Best - J

Photo - Lake Josephine, Glacier N.P.


Offline RussSeaton

Re: Look for 2 month bike trip in the USA this summer
« Reply #4 on: January 25, 2016, 12:11:59 pm »
I've driven in the northwest US a bit, but not biked there.  I'd suggest flying to Seattle or Portland.  Get on the Pacific Coast highway route and go down to San Francisco.  You would see the redwood forests.  Then cross the Sierras over to the central valley in California.  Near Sacramento.  Head north.  Sequoia Park is somewhere in there I think.  Ride near the mountains in California and Oregon and Washington.  Rainier Mountain in Washington.  Then back to Seattle.  Make a small loop in the northwest on both sides of the mountains.  Cross them once or twice.  Tailwind on the Pacific Coast going south.  Six weeks might be enough time.  It is very scenic in that part of the US.  Yellowstone has a lot of traffic and there are only a few roads in the park.  So all the cars are on those roads with your bicycle.  Its worth seeing Yellowstone.  But drive there, not bike.

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Look for 2 month bike trip in the USA this summer
« Reply #5 on: January 25, 2016, 12:18:01 pm »
Yosemite to Yellowstone isn't on a (reasonably direct) Adventure Cycling route, but you could pick your own route.  The difficult part of a direct route is probably going to be potable water; you may have to face stretches where it's more than 70 km between towns.  Google maps looks like you could make the trip in about three weeks, if you don't mind routing yourself.

IMHO, Yosemite is striking, but after two days in the valley and perhaps a day going over the pass, I would think you'd have seen it all.  (Unless you're taking lots of pictures, and want to capture five different features/angles each at sunset or sunrise.)

Yellowstone has a day or two of geothermal features, but the north and northeast quadrants are much more scenic than the southwest leg the TransAm takes you on.  You'll be so close to the Tetons it'd be a shame to miss that.  A week's sightseeing in Yellowstone and the Tetons seems reasonable, with short day hikes and different scenery every day.  The tough part is getting out of there; the Jackson airport is perhaps the best choice up to Bozeman or Billings to catch a bus a distant second choice.

Offline John Nelson

Re: Look for 2 month bike trip in the USA this summer
« Reply #6 on: January 25, 2016, 01:20:03 pm »
Yellowstone is truly spectacular. Many Americans consider Yellowstone to be less exciting because they've probably been there several times already, and everybody they know has been there too. But for a European, it may be more exciting.

Europeans typically find the Native American culture of the American southwest to be particularly fascinating.

The Pacific Coast Route is truly spectacular, but in my opinion it does not expose you much to what is uniquely American.

The American National Park system does contain the jewels of American scenery, but they are very popular and you won't feel alone there unless you backpack into the back country. Nevertheless, I put top priority on stopping at National Parks whenever I travel.

You obviously cannot see much of America in only 6 weeks on a bicycle without also using other transportation modes. If you travel exclusively or mostly by bicycle, then you'll have to prioritize. Do you want to see the best scenery? Do you want to see what is uniquely American? Do you want to experience American people and culture? Do you want to see the most famous places? Do you want to meet other touring cyclists? Do you want a physically challenging route? Would you like a remote experience? Do you want other experiences, such as white-water rafting, climbing mountains, exploring cliff dwellings, hiking through the woods? Do you need to avoid the heat, or do you love the heat?

Offline staehpj1

Re: Look for 2 month bike trip in the USA this summer
« Reply #7 on: January 25, 2016, 01:35:44 pm »
IMHO, Yosemite is striking, but after two days in the valley and perhaps a day going over the pass, I would think you'd have seen it all.  (Unless you're taking lots of pictures, and want to capture five different features/angles each at sunset or sunrise.)

I almost never stop for an extra day anywhere, but stayed a week in Yosemite doing various side hikes as well as seeing some of the exhibits in the valley.  I thought it was well worth the time.

Yellowstone has a day or two of geothermal features, but the north and northeast quadrants are much more scenic than the southwest leg the TransAm takes you on.  You'll be so close to the Tetons it'd be a shame to miss that.  A week's sightseeing in Yellowstone and the Tetons seems reasonable, with short day hikes and different scenery every day.  The tough part is getting out of there; the Jackson airport is perhaps the best choice up to Bozeman or Billings to catch a bus a distant second choice.

We were pretty satisfied with a hour hike here and there while riding through Yellowstone so were were only two nights there.  To be fair, we didn't do the parts the TA doesn't go through.  We also didn't do the Tetons spur.  You get a pretty good look at the Tetons on the TA main route.  I have since driven the spur in the car.  It was very pretty but didn't make me think we made a mistake by skipping the spur, in part because I am not inclined to do out and back detours and in part because there were similar (but less sweeping) views from the TA.

Offline alessandra

Re: Look for 2 month bike trip in the USA this summer
« Reply #8 on: January 26, 2016, 12:22:12 pm »
Thanks you very much John for helping make my ideas clearer about the trip:

Do you want to see the best scenery? YES!
Do you want to see what is uniquely American? Not a priority. I mean, non especially native American, but I'm eager to be in the USA and share for some time your beautiful country
Do you want to experience American people and culture? Yes, but i nthe sense that I would like to meet people all along my trip
Do you want to see the most famous places? Well, some
Do you want to meet other touring cyclists? YES. I wish I won't come alone, but I would appreciate to ride regularly with people met along my route.
Do you want a physically challenging route? NO!!! I like biking and I've often been on bike holidays but in Germany or France. It's not exactly the same as riding across the USA. Anyway I'll start cool, and I know that in a bout a week I'll grind more and more miles a day
Would you like a remote experience? I don't like car when I'm on my bike. I love being in te wilderness, but I don't like being noso to nose with a bear (anybody does?). Obviously the perfect track would be car-free, with extra views but regularly passing thru towns or services. I can manage some days of backcountry camping, but I don't want to be alone all the time.
Do you want other experiences, such as white-water rafting, climbing mountains, exploring cliff dwellings, hiking through the woods? Well, I would love to paddle on the Green or the Noth Payette... but I can't afford taking a kayak on my bike :D As for hiking, yes, in the parks, to explore some spots that cannot be reached by bike, or just for fun.
Do you need to avoid the heat, or do you love the heat? I don't like heat, I wouldn't go in the Death valley in the summertime. but I'll take what will come.

Thank you all for your precious advice. I'll think about mixing up Sierra Cascades and Pacific Coast or to restrain the tour around Yellowstone, Wyoming/Montana/Idaho using the ACA network.
I've already been in the Candaian Rockies to hike, from Banff to Jasper, that's why I was rather interested in discovering the USA Rockies.
If you have more suggestions, that helps me a lot :D

Offline alessandra

Re: Look for 2 month bike trip in the USA this summer
« Reply #9 on: May 25, 2016, 08:00:59 am »
Well, time to get started!
I finally found a way to arrive in Bozeman and to leavre from Las VEgas.
That allows me to ride a 2200km/2 month trip from Bozeman thru Yellowstone-Grand Teton-Salt Lake City and the Utah-Arizona parks-GCNP-Las Vegas (by bus?).

2 problems:
1) Heat, even if I think I'll just ride in Zion, Brice, Grand Canyon, but not in the Monument Valley: do you think that on the high plateau temperature will be bearable in August?
2) The trip: until SLC, no problem. After SLC, I hesitate. As I cannot cross the Colorado in the GCNP, I could just stay on the north rim (coming down from SLC, thru Bryce and Zion), and from there going towards Capitol Reef and Moab. Or I could go from SLC to Moab (by bus?), stay in Moab some says to visit Arches and Canyonlands.
To see Gooseneck and Monument valley I think I'll hire a car in Moab.
Any suggestion to include the South rim? It would be easier from there to hike down to the Colorado and back, but it seems very demanding in terms of miles.

Every advise and hint about things to see or do is very welcome!

Offline alessandra

Re: Look for 2 month bike trip in the USA this summer
« Reply #10 on: May 25, 2016, 08:04:43 am »
I forgot to ask for campgrounds issue: where is it possible to camp outside official campgrounds? Is it possible to ask people to camp in their garden or under their porch (in Europe you can try...).
I'm a bit afraid about encounters with the wildlife!

Offline zzzz

Re: Look for 2 month bike trip in the USA this summer
« Reply #11 on: May 25, 2016, 10:55:09 am »
Hi:

You've picked a beautiful route. I road down from Spokane,Wa last September and wrapped up in Flagstaff, Az so I covered the route you're taking almost exactly I believe. If you haven't already I would pick up the ACA maps Western Express #3 and the Grand Canyon connector. You'll have to fudge it in some places but 400 or 500 miles will be an exact match and it will be a real help to have them.

I wish I could give you a great way to get from SLC to Moab but I can't. I will leave that section of your trip for someone else to comment on. I know the way that I came down (191) was the worst part of my 2500 mile trip. Busy highway but it did have a decent shoulder (at least until the Green River to Moab section). It would be your baptism by fire.

There is an alternate thru Dinosaur (a very cool place) and down western Colorado but I have not ridden it myself. Or you can start your bike trip with a car rental and drop off the car in Moab.

Moab is a very cool town and a destination in and of itself. Both Arches and Canyonlands are big climbs up to the sights. I'm sure you've seen the photos of Arches and so no need to explain further why it's a worthwhile stop. If you're just going to Canyonlands for the the day you probably want to go to Dead Horse State Park. It's what you'll hit first on the road and the vistas are similar and just as spectacular.

From Moab you go back on 191 north to 70 (I-70 is not bad here), go west two exits and then drop down to Hanksville. In Hanksville you pick up the Western Express route which is like no place else on earth for the next few hundred miles. Through Capital Reef and Grand Staircase you will have 1 extraordinary vista after another. If you block off a day to hike at Bryce Canyon I think you will have seen much of what it has to offer.

Then a big downhill and get off the WE route and make a left on 89S and head down to Zion. Zion was the highlight of my trip. I considered that place magic. I would block off 3 days and do the 3 iconic hikes there. Observation Point, Angel's Landing, and The Narrows. The Narrows Hike is highly dependent on the river level and in fact it was too high when I was there to do anything other than hike in a mile or so. Hopefully you will have more luck. Also, you say you want to hike down to the river when you get to the Grand Canyon. That hike is unique but these hikes in Zion are pretty stout & will tell you if you're capable of the big GC hike.

Go back out of Zion the way you came and get back on 89S and down to the North Rim. It is nominally nicer than the South Rim and nominally less crowded so it is worth going up the 90 mile round trip dead end road. It is still really crowded. Then over to the South Rim, 230 miles on the road to go 20 miles if you hiked it but it's not wasted time. After the big descent from the North Rim you'll be riding by Vermillion Cliffs and surrounded by buttes for miles.

South Rim of the Grand Canyon will be Very Crowded. And the park service will warn you that if you hike down to the bottom of the canyon and back in one day you will die. Here's the strategy for doing it safely. Leave very early, first bus to the South Kaibob Trailhead was at 5:30 in the morning when I was there, be on it. The trail is wide and easy to follow, even in the dark with a head lamp. Stop at "ooh/ahh" point on your way down and soak up the sunrise lighting up the canyon. You should be down at the river by 9, load up with water and go back up Bright Angel Trail which unlike S. Kaibob has water along the way at least one place, maybe two. You do not want to be at the bottom of the canyon hiking out in the heat of the day. That's when people get in serious trouble.

For this entire trip I would make it a point to start early, like dawn. It will likely be very hot except when you are at elevation. In addition to the 2 water bottles on my bike I had two 2 liter poly bags that when I had a long way between stops I would fill up. There was 1 95 mile day where the wind was up and I went thru all 6 liters of water I was carrying. You will fortunately not be doing that particular stretch on your trip but there will be several 50-60 mile stretches between supplies. You do not want to run out of water out there.

Don't let any of what I've written above intimidate you. Be aware of your limits and respect them.You are going to have a trip that you will remember for a lifetime

Pete

Offline alessandra

Re: Look for 2 month bike trip in the USA this summer
« Reply #12 on: May 25, 2016, 11:45:16 am »
Pete, thank you so much. I'm not indimidated, your message made me just much more eager to be there!

I was just looking at the maps: I think it would be interesting to go from SLC to Zion-Bryce-North Rim-Capitol Reef and end up in Moab. Stay in Moab to visit Canyonlands and Arches, hire a car to go back to Las Vegas and stop in Goosenecks, Monument Valley, Lake Powell and South Rim, if I have enough time.
That would also solve the problem of going back to LV ,and it might be cheaper than buses with bike transportation.
And  I could shunt the road from SLC to Moab.

Wow, I can't wait!


Offline zzzz

Re: Look for 2 month bike trip in the USA this summer
« Reply #13 on: May 25, 2016, 01:02:51 pm »
I should have been more careful. I originally read your tour as starting in SLC.

To give you some help on your specific questions:

• Many places you will be passing thru do not have houses dotting the landscape between towns so knocking on someone's door to see if you can pitch a tent is frequently not an option. And when your in town there's frequently camping available.

• You may want to download an app on your phone called "AllStays" as it seams to list every campground in the US.

• Encounters with dangerous wildlife (bears) once you're south of the Tetons are pretty unlikely. And actually pretty unlikely when you're there as well. Take the normal precautions and then put it out of your mind.

• The route on your last post makes the most directional sense to me. Go due south from SLC to Zion (via Cedar Breaks/ Cedar City?) then Bryce, Grand Staircase, Capital Reef, Moab all  lay out in succession. Rent a car in Moab and go south from there to the Arizona stuff.

As for the Grand Canyon and particularly the South Rim, you will be a spec in part of a teaming mass of humanity. I still found it to be worth it. And if you decide to hike to the bottom you will be almost all by yourself until you get within a mile of the top. It's about 10 miles down and 4500' so a 20 mile day with 9000' of elevation change. And as they say "going down is optional, coming back up is mandatory".

pm




Offline alessandra

Re: 2 month bike trip Bozeman-Las Vegas in July-August 2016
« Reply #14 on: May 31, 2016, 08:40:57 am »
I'm taking a look at the route more in details, and I find a major hurdle approaching Zion.
To avoid I-15 (no services and much traffic) I thought that going down on the US 89 (SLC-Provo-RIchfield-Panguitch) would be the best: more services, and forests to get some shade and shelter.
But I arrive east from Zion NP. It would be easy if I could ride the Mt. Carmel TUnnel, but it's closed to bikes, and apparently it's not easy to hitch-hike. I would not spend a whole day looking at RV and cars passing by...

Any suggestion to enter Zion? Googlemaps suggests the East Mesa Trail, but I guess it's a joke, it's not suitable for a loaded travel bike.

From Zion I plan to go south towards Grand Canyon North Rim: any hint for the best route?