Author Topic: route advice :Western tour  (Read 1971 times)

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Offline preston uk

route advice :Western tour
« on: July 28, 2018, 01:47:12 pm »
Greetings,
I am planning a trip from  San Francisco , down to Yosemite, giant redwoods , across Death Valley , on to the Grand Canyon, Bryce and Arches then either across to Denver or up to Portland.
Timing is my big issue. When is the earliest I could start ? I really want to be out of the Arches by mid/end of May. Is this possible ? I generally ride 50 to 80 miles a day ( depending on terrain , temperature and winds).
I'll be camping or warm showers. Can anyone recommend reasonable campsites ?
Are dogs a problem ?
Finally , what roads are to be avoided ? ( I did the Transam 2 years ago and the concrete roads drove me nuts - bump , bump , bump ,bump for mile after long , long mile).
Many thanks.

Offline aggie

Re: route advice :Western tour
« Reply #1 on: July 28, 2018, 04:14:28 pm »
One issue will be going from Yosemite to Death Valley.  Hwy 120 from Yosemite to Lee Vining isn't plowed during the winter so depending on snowfall the pass can remain closed through the end of May or later.  You could head south from Yosemite to hwy 178 and follow it to hwy 190 into Death Valley.  You could do this in March or April although it will be cold at elevation.  The up side is most of what you want to see is very arid and hot is the summer so going during the spring (or fall) is best.  Do you want to go to the north or south rim of the Grand Canyon?  The north rim is closed during the winter and I'm not sure when it usually opens but the south rim is open year round.  How much time do you have?  It may be a little difficult to make a large loop with going back over some of the same roads.  Not sure of best roads/route from Arches to Portland.  Lots of beautiful country even if some services will be far apart.

Offline zzzz

Re: route advice :Western tour
« Reply #2 on: July 29, 2018, 10:29:47 am »
I have ridden thru all the places you’ve listed except Death Valley and this will be a great ride. It seems to me the biggest impediment to a route that makes sense is starting in SF. Can you start in Las Vegas?
If you start in Vegas you can do a short out and back to DV. Then you can ride to the south rim of the Grand Canyon. Then ride to Moab/Arches/canyonlands via Monument Valley 160/163). Then you go up and around to Hanksville and get on ACA’s Western Express (24/12)route and ride thru Capital Reef NP and Grand Escalante and Bryce. Once you get to 89 you go south to Zion. From Zion ride up to Cedar City and get back on the WE and cross Nevada on 50.when you hit 395 at Carson City take it south until you can cross over to Lake Isabella on 178. From there pick up ACA’s Sierra cascades route thru Giant Sequoia/Kings Canyon/Yosemite.
What you do from there is a bit of a coin toss. You could ride to SF and head up the coast although there is a strong consensus that the prevailing north/south wind will make that very tough riding. Or you could continue north on the SC route after Yosemite. Lake Tahoe is nice and the stretch after Tahoe and up to Mt Shasta is pleasant enough but the sceanery is not nearly as nice at what’s before or after that stretch. Once you get to Shasta (and off of 89) things start to improve dramatically and the SC route thru Oregon is great.

What I’ve described allows you to start much earlier in the year and you won’t be facing really tough heat in Arizona and Southern Utah and the big passes in the sierras should be clear when you get there.

 As for dogs, I don’t remember a single encounter so they couldn’t have been bad. Road conditions, as always, will be a mixed bag.

Good luck.

Offline aggie

Re: route advice :Western tour
« Reply #3 on: July 29, 2018, 11:43:38 am »
ZZZZ has a pretty good route that highlights some of the best scenery in the west.  Just a couple of notes based on my riding the area.  I wasn't too crazy about riding through Monument Valley (gorgeous scenery though) .  It had no shoulder and there were lots of RV's in a big hurry.  Zion is a beautiful park but it has a tunnel you can not ride through.  As per the info on the web site you will have to find a ride through the tunnel, rangers are not permitted to give you a lift.  I've heard it's not usually a problem finding a ride although it may take a little while to find a truck or car with a bike rack willing to give you a lift.  The park operates a shuttle at the time you would be there and you are required to pull over if a shuttle comes up behind you.  If you decide not to go through Zion you can save a few miles by going directly to Cedar City from Bryce.  Instead of taking Hwy 50 all the way to Carson City I would take Hwy 95 south from Fallon and connect to 359/167 out of Hawthorne as it saves a few miles although there aren't as many places with services.  It connects to Hwy 395 just north of Mono Lake.  Depending on when you get to Mono Lake Hwy 120 may be open and it will take you into Yosemite instead of going all the way south to Hwy 178.

Offline zzzz

Re: route advice :Western tour
« Reply #4 on: July 29, 2018, 08:15:10 pm »
Aggie brings up good points, some of which i’ll comment on.

1) He’s right, there are some stretches of road included which are not the best to be on. In addition to the road thru Monument Valley, 191 north of Moab (after the bike path ends) also has a very narrow shoulder and lots of rv traffic. And 89 north and south of Quincy,Ca carries a lot of logging trucks. Different riders have different comfort zones but I’m glad Aggie brought it up so the OP can consider where his comfort zone is.

2) There is a long tunnel to enter Zion that you will need to hitch a ride thru but that is very unlikely to be difficult. The traffic in the tunnel is run in only one direction at a time, about 15 minutes in one direction then 15 minutes in the opposite direction. Ride up to the mouth of the tunnel and stop and wait for the rangers to stop the traffic going your way. Then start walking back up the road towards the backing up traffic. Don’t even bother w the cars loaded to the gills or the rv’s. Look for pick ups w empty beds, make eye contact and stick out your thumb. I didn’t have any problem and the people I’ve assured it wouldn’t be a problem have never had a problem getting a ride from the first group of cars. I will also add, that in my opinion, Zion is the most extraordinary of the NP’s and I would not miss it for any reason.

3) Aggie is correct that you can take 120 from 395 up into Yosemite (aka Tioga Pass) long before you get to my suggested turn off at 178. And I loved that climb. But He may not of realized I was trying to get the OP down to see the Giant Sequoias which were on his original list and are all south of Yosemite.




Offline aggie

Re: route advice :Western tour
« Reply #5 on: July 29, 2018, 10:46:11 pm »
There are three groves of Giant Sequoias (Sequoiadendron giganteum) near the southern entrance to Yosemite so if hwy 120 is open it will be a little shorter.  However, Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks are nice to see. It is hard to imagine just how big the trees are.  If the OP wants to see one of the largest trees in the world (General Sherman) then make it a point to go through Sequoia NP.   If the OP wants to see the related species, Coastal Redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens), there are some groves south of SF and all along the coast north of SF.  I loved riding through the redwood parks in northern Calif.  No matter which way the OP ultimately goes it sounds like an awesome trip.  Make sure to take some time to hike some of the trails in the national parks to really see whats there.  Stop at the visitors center in each park and ask what are the must see attractions.  You won't be disappointed. 

Dead Horse Point State Park near Moab has a great view along with Canyonlands NP Island in the Sky.  Nice climb but worth the views.

Offline preston uk

Re: route advice :Western tour
« Reply #6 on: July 30, 2018, 01:09:10 pm »
Thanks  a lot for all the advice, your help is much appreciated. I'm going to take a good look at the suggested route out of las vagas which sounds like an excellent plan.  If I have any further queries I'll certainly be on the forum again. Best wishes from me to you all.