Author Topic: Grand Canyon + Western Exp to Cali in February ?  (Read 12418 times)

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Offline bengarland

Grand Canyon + Western Exp to Cali in February ?
« on: September 30, 2006, 05:24:02 pm »
Hello all,

I notice that the route descriptions for the Grand Canyon and Western Express note that they should only be attempted during Summer to late Fall.

Is it possible to do them during February? Or is there too much snow (or something else I'm not aware of) ?

My plan is to take the Southern Tier from FL to AZ, then catch the Grand Canyon Connector up to the Western Express, then on to the Pacific Coast route north to Oregon.

Ideas? Suggestions? Warnings?

Thanks in advance,

Offline RussellSeaton

Grand Canyon + Western Exp to Cali in February ?
« Reply #1 on: October 01, 2006, 04:48:13 pm »
The Western Express route crosses the Sierra Nevada mountains between Sacramento and Lake Tahoe.  I think Lake Tahoe has many ski resorts.  I think Lake Tahoe is sort of the Nevada-California version of Colorado's Aspen-Vail.  I'm guessing any place that has lots of ski resorts has lots of snow in February.  I could be wrong.  But I'm guessing the people who invested millions and millions of dollars to build ski resorts in the Lake Tahoe area concluded there would be a high likelihood of snow in the winter.

The Grand Canyon route starts in Phoenix and ends up in the SW corner of Utah.  About halfway is Flagstaff and the Grand Canyon.  There are mountains, lots of mountains between Flagstaff and Phoenix.  The South Rim of the Grand Canyon is at something like 6,000 feet elevation.  On Thanksgiving weekend 1996 I drove from Las Vegas to a town 40 miles west of Flagstaff on I-40.  The next morning I woke up and there was snow on the ground.  I drove up to the South Rim and saw the Grand Canyon.  As I was driving east to get to the North Rim I drove into a blizzard.  Wind, snow, ice, slick roads, etc.  After 50 or so miles I was out of the bad weather and then it was just cold temperatures.

As for the Pacific Coast route, it rains every day north of San Francisco along the coast in the Fall.  Not sure if it rains every day in the Spring too.  The Redwood trees that only grow in that part of the world require lots and lots of rain.  I suspect there is also a recommended travel time for the Pacific Coast route too.

My suggestion is to cross the Sierra Nevada mountains in southern California in the winter.  Then take the Pacific Coast route to Oregon starting as far south as you can.

Offline valygrl

Grand Canyon + Western Exp to Cali in February ?
« Reply #2 on: October 01, 2006, 05:39:48 pm »
Russel is correct, the W.E. takes you over Carson Pass and right past Kirkwood, a ski resort.  You get up to about 8700 feet.  May would be about the earliest I would try that, and you could still get serious weather then.   Also, much of the trip across Neveda is at elevations over 5000', and it get's cold and windy there.  

I was at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon on New Years day 2005 (not by bike), and it was snowing.

while it's an exaggeration to say it rains every day north of SF in the fall (i live in the SF area), it is true that as you proceed north, there is more rain.  you may get nice weather on the coast in winter, but when a winter storm comes through, it rains hard and is cold.

I wish it was different, but bike touring in winter in the US is not very friendly.  Oh, and don't foget about the really short days.  There's a lot of tent time if it gets dark at 4:30pm and doesn't get light again until 7am.

If your timeframe is truely fixed, Feb-Mar-April are perfect touring time for the southern hemisphere.  New Zealand and Australia would be more fun.  (Yeah I know, hideously expensive plane ticket.)

Offline bengarland

Grand Canyon + Western Exp to Cali in February ?
« Reply #3 on: October 01, 2006, 07:52:07 pm »
Thanks for the advice... I was thinking it would be too crazy, and I guess I was right. I wish I could bike somewhere else during the winter (like NZ) but I actually have to get to a temporary job in Portland, and I have a couple months free time to get there. Looks like the Southern Tier + Pacific Coast will be my best bet. I'll have to save the Grand Canyon for another time.


Offline scott.laughlin

Grand Canyon + Western Exp to Cali in February ?
« Reply #4 on: March 14, 2007, 05:42:29 pm »
A word about weather at Grand Canyon.

My stoker and I have cycled from Williams to GC in mid summer.  Another time we took our pickup camper in mid June.  

We arrived in short pants and tee shirts.  It was wonderful.  The next morning there was six inces of snow and the temperature was at 20F.

No doubt you could find shelter, but you'd have to be tougher than me to call it fun.


Offline litespeed

Grand Canyon + Western Exp to Cali in February ?
« Reply #5 on: March 16, 2007, 05:09:49 pm »
I did San Francisco to my home here in Florida in November - December. I kept as far south as possible, down the west coast and skirting the Mexican border. Even that far south and with those low elevations I hit some freezing weather. It would have been even colder in the middle of winter.
It doesn't rain continuously on the west coast but storms usually roll through every few days October - March.
I lived and worked at Squaw Valley ski resort (near Tahoe) for over a year. Bicycling around there in the winter is probably possible - the roads are kept clear - but I wouldn't do it.