Author Topic: Trans Am or Northern Tier from eastern Iowa heading west  (Read 3125 times)

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Offline Wayne00001

Trans Am or Northern Tier from eastern Iowa heading west
« on: January 01, 2011, 12:57:12 pm »
Looking for suggestions. 

I live in Bettendorf, Ia.  About 5 miles south if where Interstate 80 crosses the Mississippi.  I'm going on a bike ride next year leaving in late May.  Don't have any plans or time constraints except wanting to be in Joshuatree, Ca. by late October or early November to sit out the winter of 2011-12 with my daughters family.

So,  what to do with the five months in between.  I am definitely going down the Pacific coast.  My problem is getting to Van Couver from here.  Do I take the Northern Tier which passes within 15 miles of my home.  Probably the shorter route.  Possibly cooler.  Or do I ride down the Mississippi and take the Katy trail across Missouri and pick up the Trans Am route going thru the Tetons And Yellowstone NP then picking up the Northern Tier.  Definitely longer and probably more scenic.

Probably won't make a final decission until the last minute because of things out of my control.  Like the Mississippi or Missouri flooding.  But would like to hear pluses and minuses of both routes.  Or other choices.

Thankyou for your time.


Offline John Nettles

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Re: Trans Am or Northern Tier from eastern Iowa heading west
« Reply #1 on: January 01, 2011, 01:41:08 pm »
Hi Wayne,

I have done the TA, NT, PC, & Katy Trail (among others).  I personally think the NT is not very scenic between Fargo to around the Red Wing area.  Since you have five months (you lucky dog!) to ride, I would probably ride to and do the entire Katy (end in Clinton, MO) and connect to the TransAm in Girard, KS.  Then ride to Missoula, MT and switch to Great Parks Route. Now you can take in the great scenery of Glacier National Park and do a loop counter-clock-wise to Waterton National Park (in Canada so you need a passport) to Roosville, MT.  After this, take the NT west to the end and then connect to the PC.  Got it?  ;D  This above route is roughly 5,500 miles which should very doable in 5 months with plenty of stops for sightseeing.

I can't help between the PC and Joshua Tree but be sure to ride thru the Big Sur area (fantastic!).  Maybe you could look into continue on to the end of the PC, ride over to the Sierra Cascades and up to closer to Joshua Tree?

Here is a link for a route that connects the Katy Trail to the TransAm in Girard.  I haven't ridden this in about 3.5 years and have had conflicting notes as to whether there are convenience stores (CS) still open between Nevada, MO and Arma, KS other than Liberal, MO.  If you want the GPS data for this route, email offline and I will get to you.

I really liked the variety of the TA route.  I loved the "Big Sky" of eastern Montana and especially northwestern Washington on the NT.  The coast is a classic also but definitely do it southbound.  I didn't and wouldn't recommend it.

Sounds like you are in for a heck of a great trip!

Offline staehpj1

Re: Trans Am or Northern Tier from eastern Iowa heading west
« Reply #2 on: January 01, 2011, 01:49:10 pm »
Given that you have lots of time I wouldn't worry much about picking a short route.  If it was me, I'd probably fly out to the east coast and start there.  I'd probably use the Trans America and would take a detour to see the Glacier NP area.  Also I personally would avoid bike trails in general and especially unpaved ones like the Katy.

All of this is personal preference though so it may not be the right choice for you.

Offline Wayne00001

Re: Trans Am or Northern Tier from eastern Iowa heading west
« Reply #3 on: January 03, 2011, 01:07:21 am »
You just haven't ridden the right rail trail yet.  Try the Elroy- Sparta Trail in Wisconsin.  Great views,  but bring REALLY good lights for going thru the tunnels.  Get into the middle of a couple of them and you can't see light from either end.