Author Topic: Can I Cycle the Sierra Cascades route in March?  (Read 3518 times)

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Offline PeanutButterShammyCream

Can I Cycle the Sierra Cascades route in March?
« on: January 24, 2017, 05:33:26 am »
What's up guys. I want to ride from Monterey, Ca east to Yosemite, and then over Lake Tahoe and onto highway 50 in Nevada. Do you guys think that the roads will be open in the middle of March? Or will there still be too much snow???

If you guys don't think that is possible, what about riding through SF and along the Western Express to US 50???

« Last Edit: January 24, 2017, 05:56:33 am by PeanutButterShammyCream »

Offline staehpj1

Re: Can I Cycle the Sierra Cascades route in March?
« Reply #1 on: January 24, 2017, 06:53:35 am »
Tioga Pass would certainly be closed.  Large amounts of snow pack at higher elevations elsewhere are likely. Fresh snowfall is likely at higher elevations.  Camp grounds would be closed most places.  The year I did it the facilities in Yosemite, other than in the valley were all closed until July.  Tioga Pass opened in June that year, some year it opens a bit earlier or later.  I wouldn't try it in March unless it was a VERY low snowpack year and probably not even then.

I am less familiar with the WE, my guess is that it would have similar issues, but I think it does stay lower than the SC so may be passible earlier.  I doubt that it would be doable March.  Others with a better familiarity of the WE will hopefully speak up.

Offline zzzz

Re: Can I Cycle the Sierra Cascades route in March?
« Reply #2 on: January 24, 2017, 08:38:07 am »
You should be able to get over the Sierras on the the Western Express route. It crosses the mountains at Carson Pass which the state tries to keep open year round. There's currently 10' of snow up there and it's open now.

Carson is at 8500' and US50 goes over quite a few smaller passes (6000'-7000') in Nevada so you will be at some significant elevation several times. Make sure you have enough clothes with you to stay warm. And keep an eye on the weather as it can change for the worse in a hurry.

There's 2 very high passes in Utah (outside of Cedar City & Boulder) and 2 more in Colorado (Lizard Head Pass & Monarch) but you don't indicate how far you're planning on riding the route.

pm


Offline jamawani

Re: Can I Cycle the Sierra Cascades route in March?
« Reply #3 on: January 24, 2017, 10:10:35 am »
1. No.
2. Why?

Offline RussSeaton

Re: Can I Cycle the Sierra Cascades route in March?
« Reply #4 on: January 24, 2017, 02:50:32 pm »
You should be able to get over the Sierras on the the Western Express route. It crosses the mountains at Carson Pass which the state tries to keep open year round. There's currently 10' of snow up there and it's open now.

This kind of sounds like someone in Louisiana or Florida, two days after the big hurricane goes through, saying its 80 degrees and sunny.  Come on down!  Just ignore the fact every building within 100 miles is flooded and destroyed, roads and bridges are all washed out, no electricity, no stores.  But its 80 degrees and sunny!  Blizzard last night, snow plows just cleared the roads, 10 feet snow walls along the road.  But the road is open, good riding!

Offline zzzz

Re: Can I Cycle the Sierra Cascades route in March?
« Reply #5 on: January 24, 2017, 03:55:49 pm »
The difference is that I recognize that some folks, including myself, have a very specific window that they can get away from job/family/whatever. I assumed what he had was March and that's what he wants to see. The SC is out but I'd do the WE in March if thats the only time I could get away.

pm

edit : I thought about this some more and Russ is right. I have done many things others have considered ill advised and they have worked out okay for me often enough that I have a natural optimism about these things. But when they haven't worked out, I've been stuck in a couple of ugly situations. I shouldn't have assumed that you were okay with that possibility.

The road may be dry but the most likely scenario is that you will have lots of snow melt all around you and the attendant spray from the cars for many miles at a time, or worse, snow melt which then re-freezes as black ice.

If you're stuck with March, best to pick another route

Offline staehpj1

Re: Can I Cycle the Sierra Cascades route in March?
« Reply #6 on: January 24, 2017, 05:28:25 pm »
The difference is that I recognize that some folks, including myself, have a very specific window that they can get away from job/family/whatever. I assumed what he had was March and that's what he wants to see. The SC is out but I'd do the WE in March if thats the only time I could get away.

pm
Some of how well that works may have to do with how open ended the schedule is.  There may be fresh snow and a delay while snow melts or roads are cleared.

FWIW, the Southern Tier isn't my favorite route, but if I had to go in February or March, I'd most likely ride the ST again.  Even there there could be a delay if fresh snow falls, but the roads will typically be clear pretty soon.

Offline PeanutButterShammyCream

Re: Can I Cycle the Sierra Cascades route in March?
« Reply #7 on: January 24, 2017, 06:02:21 pm »
You should be able to get over the Sierras on the the Western Express route. It crosses the mountains at Carson Pass which the state tries to keep open year round. There's currently 10' of snow up there and it's open now.

Carson is at 8500' and US50 goes over quite a few smaller passes (6000'-7000') in Nevada so you will be at some significant elevation several times. Make sure you have enough clothes with you to stay warm. And keep an eye on the weather as it can change for the worse in a hurry.

There's 2 very high passes in Utah (outside of Cedar City & Boulder) and 2 more in Colorado (Lizard Head Pass & Monarch) but you don't indicate how far you're planning on riding the route.

pm

I am planning on riding all the way across the country. After Utah, I would like to see Lizard Head Pass and Monarch. That will be in the middle of April....

You seem to know a lot about this route. Have you ridden it before?????

Offline zzzz

Re: Can I Cycle the Sierra Cascades route in March?
« Reply #8 on: January 24, 2017, 07:30:42 pm »
Yes, I rode the WE to Pueblo and picked up the transam in September of 2013 and I rode the SC in September of 2015 so I am personally familiar w both the routes.

And when I first answered your post I was thinking of what Carson Pass looked like when I went skiing at Kirkwood in March a number of years ago. And the road looked pretty good then, but that was one time.

Is there anyway you can postpone your trip by a month? March is quite early. As I mentioned in the mea culpa edit to my second post, the chances are pretty good of some pretty unplesant road conditions, even when the skies are blue.

pm

Offline PeanutButterShammyCream

Re: Can I Cycle the Sierra Cascades route in March?
« Reply #9 on: January 24, 2017, 10:57:11 pm »
Yes, I rode the WE to Pueblo and picked up the transam in September of 2013 and I rode the SC in September of 2015 so I am personally familiar w both the routes.

And when I first answered your post I was thinking of what Carson Pass looked like when I went skiing at Kirkwood in March a number of years ago. And the road looked pretty good then, but that was one time.

Is there anyway you can postpone your trip by a month? March is quite early. As I mentioned in the mea culpa edit to my second post, the chances are pretty good of some pretty unplesant road conditions, even when the skies are blue.

pm

Thanks for your response. Well I was really hoping to leave in March because of my time frame. Do you think there will be times when I wont be able to ride because of snow???
When you say unpleasant road conditions, do you mean ice?? Snow????

Offline zzzz

Re: Can I Cycle the Sierra Cascades route in March?
« Reply #10 on: January 25, 2017, 09:26:18 am »
I understand the time frame thing as I deal w them myself. The road will likely be wet and gritty and narrow anywhere there's still a lot of standing snow and Ca got a lot of snow this year. Speaking for myself, I would still go with my fingers crossed, hoping for the best . What made me backtrack from saying it could be done is the idea of you running into black ice in the morning. That could lead to you going down very hard.

I was thinking about this quite a bit last night. As an alternative, I give you this option to consider:

Leave from San Diego in March on the Southern Tier. It passes within a 100 miles± of the Grand Canyon. Go up to the Grand Canyon. If you're up for it you can take the hike down to the bottom, it's very cool. ACA has a route map called the "Grand Canyon Connecter". Take that route north to Zion NP (my favorite of the National Parks). The scenery between the 2 is like riding thru an old western movie. From Zion you can go directly to Bryce Canyon and join the WE or you can go in to Cedar City and join the WE there. There is a 10600' climb out of Cedar City that has Cedar Breaks at the top which is definitely worth seeing but you can check road conditions to see if its free of snow when you get there.

The advantage of the ride as described above as that you can leave when you want to. You will get to see the GC and Zion without the intense crowds that are there a little later in the year. And you will get the very best of southern Utah, which is the best of the WE. That is Bryce, Grand Staircase, Capital Reef. It's 2 or 300 miles of almost unbroken eye candy.


Alternatively, if you leave from SF and take the WE the whole way, my opinion was there isn't anything great on that whole first map from the Pacific to Fallon Nv. Once I got to the Great Basin area I thought it was fantastic, like riding on another planet, so I'm sorry I can't be more encouraging in coming up with a way for you to ride it.

pm
« Last Edit: January 25, 2017, 09:28:09 am by zzzz »

indyfabz

  • Guest
Re: Can I Cycle the Sierra Cascades route in March?
« Reply #11 on: January 25, 2017, 01:14:09 pm »

I am planning on riding all the way across the country. After Utah, I would like to see Lizard Head Pass..... That will be in the middle of April....
[/quote]
The average nightly low for Telluride through all of April is 22. Clayton Campground, south of the pass, doesn't open until early May. Matterhorn, north of the pass, doesn't open until mid-May. I suspect the same is true of Sunshine Campground.

I camped at Matterhorn riding south from Telluride after I got caught in a thunderstorm climbing Lizard Head and was borderline hypothermic. Did I mention that was in mid-July?

Bring your long underwear and some warm mittens! Happy trails!