Author Topic: Best route from Pueblo, Colorado to San Francisco ? :)  (Read 4159 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Hugros

Best route from Pueblo, Colorado to San Francisco ? :)
« on: April 12, 2023, 06:14:33 am »
Hello !

My name is Hugo, from France, and I'm going to cross the USA this year (starting 14th of May from NYC and my flight back home from SF is the 30th of June, so about 45 days). I'm well trained and used to long distance cycling and bikepacking

My route is almost finallized but I still have some interrogations. To summarize, I'll start from Brooklyn, then I'll go to College State, Pittsburgh, Columbus, Cincinnati, Saint Louis and almost straight to Pueblo, Colorado. Then I have to options :

- Going North and mostly following the Western Express thought Utah and Nevada, US 50 etc... (1419 miles, 2271 km)
- Going South via Bryce Canyon, Zion Canyon, Vegas, Death Valley, Yosemite (if opened), and SF (1622 miles, 2596 km)
- Also a 3rd option, which I didn't trace yet, is to really follow the Western Express from Pueblo to SF (1631 miles, 2610 km)

If I'm late on my schedule, I'll take the shortest option (Option 1). But if I still have time to reach SF (and the temperatures are OK), i think it would be awesome to follow the second route as it looks more scenic.

But my main concern is about the traffic in this area as I know it is really touristic. Do you think it's ok to ride on those roads in June traffic wise ? Or should I stick with the first option, less scenic (in appearance), but also way more quiet I guess (and also with less really high temperature ?)

Hope my post is not too long

Thanks in advance to anyone taking his time to help me


Offline John Nettles

  • World Traveler
  • *****
  • Posts: 1915
  • I ride for smiles, not miles.
Re: Best route from Pueblo, Colorado to San Francisco ? :)
« Reply #1 on: April 12, 2023, 11:03:09 am »
Welcome to the ACA Forums!

I hope you have a wonderful trip.  My preference would be (in order) Option #2, #3, then #1. 

The reason is #1 has a lot of the same type of scenery, to me, from Meeker, Colorado, to Carson, Nevada with few definite differences along the way.  Look at various points along the way to see what I mean.  Sure there is some variety but generally a lot of brown somewhat boring landscape in the summertime.  Of course, with Nevada,  you will get brown no matter what :).

Options #2 has more scenery and variety BUT Zion and Bryce can be hectic in the early summer as that is when a lot of families go on holiday as school just got out.  Plus, it can be a bit expensive and/or difficult to secure last minute lodging in those areas. You don't say if you are camping or using indoor accommodations.  Note that in the USA, a lot of campgrounds do not accept tents as they are for the huge RVs that have taken over. 

The Western Express is a good route.  One huge positive for it is that ACA has really good maps geared for the cyclist and they show all the stuff we need like grocery stores, hotels, and campgrounds that accept tents.

A fourth option (but has more miles is to do the Western Express but if time permits, dip down into Zion National Park if you have time. 
You don't say what you consider a high temperature to be.  Check out for great historical climate data averages throughout the world.

Tailwinds, John

Offline Stefan_E

Re: Best route from Pueblo, Colorado to San Francisco ? :)
« Reply #2 on: April 12, 2023, 04:24:24 pm »
Hugo, you found the right place, a lot of friendly and very experienced cyclists are around. They helped me a lot planning my route for the same time next year. Let us know here how your trip has been, I would be very interested to hear impressions from another European cycling the US (I am from Munich, Germany).

Oh, and when you're in trouble finishing your trip, you might want to check Amtrak. They transport bicycles. It's only a skeletal network outside the Northeast, but most Europeans I talked about it didn't even know passenger trains exist in the US.

Have a good trip
« Last Edit: April 12, 2023, 04:31:40 pm by Stefan_E »

Offline jamawani

Re: Best route from Pueblo, Colorado to San Francisco ? :)
« Reply #3 on: April 12, 2023, 08:53:50 pm »
Bienvenue, Hugo -

Puis-je dire que 3800 miles (ou 5100 km) sont assez beaucoup particulairement en 45 jours.
Un jour pour preparer et un autre pour finir - possiblement 43 jours sur la route.
A mon avis, moins de miles = plus de plaisir.

Aussi - les programmes comme Komoot ou RWGPS ne sont pas votres amis.
Vraiment dan l'Ouest. Routes non-paves ou inexistantes. Prenez soin.

No. 2 est completement fous.
Au sud de Montrose, la route forestiere (nonpave) a recu plus de 300% de la neige annuaire.
On veut pas faire du velo a Death Valley au fin de juin. J'ai vu un mort de chaleur a Grand Canyon.
Et la Route 120 entre Mono Lake et Yosemite sera fermee jusqu'a juillet. Au moins.

No. 1 est comme ci, comme ca.
Particulierement dans l'est d'Utah. Terrain plat et amenage pour le gaz.
Il y'a d'autres meilleures possibilites. Au nord - le parc Dinosaur National Monument.

No. 3 - le meilleur choix.
Restez sur l'itineraire prevu Western Express.
La route 50 en Colorado a beaucoup de trafic, mais avec des accotements.
En Utah et Nevada, moins de trafic, vraiment moins de service - jusqu'a Carson City.
Bien sur, prennez l'ancienne route no. 722 entre Austin et Middlegate.

Bon voyage!

Photo - Le vide du Nevada
« Last Edit: April 12, 2023, 09:06:16 pm by jamawani »

Offline Hugros

Re: Best route from Pueblo, Colorado to San Francisco ? :)
« Reply #4 on: April 13, 2023, 06:26:04 am »
Thank tou all for your answers !

That's some great advices.

I think I'll stick with the official Western Express option :) Except if I'm late and need to take the shortest way which is my option 1.

I have another question for you guys. During the first half of my trip, east of the rockies, I have two options :

- Passing through cities like Pittsburgh, Columbus, Cincinnati, Saint-Louis and then to Pueblo. I know that those are really big cities with possibly a lot of traffic, but it looks like there ara some great bike trails (From Columbus to Cincinnati, the Katy trail after Saint-Louis, etc... on 3000km it's about 25% of bike trails which is a lot !). Also passing through cities is a way to cut my trip in smaller parts and have concrete objectives.

- The second option is to go more North to Fort Wayne Indiana and then South Iowa, South Nebraska, and to Boulder instead of Pueblo before passing the rockies. It's look like a more rural itinerary and I'm scared to get really bored. But I may be wrong and maybe there are nice things to see there ?

Offline John Nettles

  • World Traveler
  • *****
  • Posts: 1915
  • I ride for smiles, not miles.
Re: Best route from Pueblo, Colorado to San Francisco ? :)
« Reply #5 on: April 13, 2023, 10:35:58 am »
It depends.  Know that the Katy Trail is compacted crushed granite about 2-5mm in size.  It can get a bit slow when the trail is wet and May/early June can have some serious rain.  Plus, with the large amount of snow fall in the upper Missouri River region this year, there may be flooding along the Katy which will cause major detours. 

If you enjoy bike trails, might consider riding NY State's Empire trail north to Albany then west on the Erie Canal path (crushed granite) to Niagara Falls where you can connect to ACA's Lake Eric Connector then connect to ACA's Northern Tier to Muscatine, IA where you can forge your own route using Iowa bike maps and Nebraska's bike page
and Kansas's bike map (if needed)  Most other states have a similar "bicycle map" and/or "traffic count map".

You will be crossing the Great Plains wherever you go.  It is about a 10-day crossing and it is not too bad and can be actually be quite nice in places, especially in early June.

Tailwinds, John
edit: typos
« Last Edit: April 13, 2023, 12:14:25 pm by John Nettles »

Offline jamawani

Re: Best route from Pueblo, Colorado to San Francisco ? :)
« Reply #6 on: April 13, 2023, 12:46:35 pm »
Vous savez que le "Old Lincoln Highway" a ete le premier autoroute transcontinentale.
Entre New York et San Francisco, aussi.,and%20Rawlins%20to%20Granger%20Junction.

Remplace par quelques routes de numeros "U.S." et, puis, les autoroutes, "Interstates".
(Vous pouvez monter le velo sur les Interstates rurales dans l'Ouest - bien sur - mais pourquoi?)

Il y'a quelques choix en Ohio, Indiana, et Illinois des vielles routes de "Lincoln Highway" -
Jolies, peu trafic, et ... et directe. Entre Pittsburgh et au sud de le region de Chicago.

Les cartes ici sont super-directs, trafic modere, mais assez, parfois.
Il y'a de meilleures routes pratiquement sans traffic tout pres - 10% miles de plus.

J'ai croisse le continent (E.U. ou Canada) une douzaine de fois - une mauvaise habitude.

Photo - Terres agricoles et route vide en Indiana

Offline Hugros

Re: Best route from Pueblo, Colorado to San Francisco ? :)
« Reply #7 on: April 17, 2023, 11:33:18 am »
Thanks a lot for you answers (et pour l'effort de répondre en français :) )

I am still hesitating because I really love bike trails, just riding all day long without having to think about cars, but yes I know they can get quite slow if the conditions are bas. I'm riding a gravel bike with 700x40 tires so riding on compacted crushed granite should not be a problem for me.

BUT the option to go more North (thought Iowa and Nebraska), avoid big cities and maybe really bad conditions also looks great.

I believe that if I ride on small roads the traffic should not be a problem and I will not regret not riding on bike trails ?

Also even if I know that no one can predict the weather 1 month before, do you think it is "safer" to pass as north as possible to avoid big thunderstorms ? Or the conditions are very similar between Iowa/Nebraska and Missouri/Kansas ?

 I can also go to Pittsburgh and check the forecast there and choose my route accorging to it.

Offline John Nettles

  • World Traveler
  • *****
  • Posts: 1915
  • I ride for smiles, not miles.
Re: Best route from Pueblo, Colorado to San Francisco ? :)
« Reply #8 on: April 17, 2023, 01:00:21 pm »
The most "trail friendly" route is probably the Eastern TransAm Express from Washington to Walden, CO.  It uses rail trails from Washington, DC to Pittsburgh then the Katy Trail from St. Louis to Windsor, MO.  From there it continues briefly on the rail trail then is mostly, but not entirely, on fairly quiet county (country) roads to Walden. ACA has a digital map (app) and I believe GPS data if you want it. 

If you want more trail, you can go from Windsor to Kansas City on the Katy though you will have some city riding with bike lanes in KC.  I have routes that will connect you from Kansas City to the Flint Hills Nature Trail (rail trail) from Ottawa, KS, to Council Grove, KS, a lovely packed crushed granite trail.

From Council Grove, I have routes I can get you that take you to Rush Center, KS, where you can take ACA's TransAm into Pueblo, CO, on lower traffic count state highways.

The above Eastern Express to KC to Ottawa to Pueblo has the most trails.

As far as storms go, just pay attention to the locals and your favorite weather radar map because the weather service will send out an alert even though the storm is 25 miles away and headed in the wrong direction. Most violent storms are over with by mid-June in west of the Mississippi though they can still pop up. The "tornato alley" runs basically from Lubbock, TX, to Chicago (about a 700km wide swath) though Nebraska can get its fair share also.  However, again, most are done by mid-June when it starts to get hot.  Honestly, that would not be a big concern of mine at that time of year.

Tailwinds, John