Touring - Western Americe route help/suggestions (LA - Oregon coast - Helena, Montana - BC)
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09-02-10, 08:17 AM
I'm planning a tour in America next year (I'm from the UK) and although I have a very vague route planned out I was hoping people might give me some suggestions - I've never been to north America. I'll be starting in March so have decided to head N to S to try and get some of the warmer weather in the north. My current vague route (with specific questions!) is something like:
-start in LA (is it worth and easy to get a bus down to the border so I can say I rode from Mexico to Canada?)
- head eastwards to cycle through Death Valley (is this a really stupid idea? I can't find much information but there seems to be some organised trips this time of year)
- somehow back to the coast via Yosemite
- head north along the coast in Oregon
- somehow get over the Cascades into Montana to make a stop in Helena
- head north again through Glacier national park and to Banff/Jasper direction
If anyone has ANY kind of suggestions or places not-to (or to) miss I would be grateful! I'll be camping most of the time. Thanks!
09-02-10, 08:58 AM
Great locations! The timing is a little off, though. I'll just add some information for you to think about. If you do go ahead with your plan, make sure to bring wet & cold weather clothes and plenty of time for a flexible route. If you have flexible dates, I would say you would have a better trip if you went a slightly different time.
I would push the whole thing out to start in mid- or late-April, or reverse it and start in July in Canada. The latter is pretty much what I did on my first tour, and I had great weather. I started July 4 in Colorado, road up to Jasper, then across British Colombia, then down the Oregon & WAshington coast to end in NOrthern California.
March/April is too early for the Sierra (California mountains, Yosemite, Tahoe), the ridable passes from the east side over Yosemite to the west side don't open until end of May. (Look up Tioga Road opening dates.) It's still the end of ski season in March, you might have OK weather, but you could still have snow on the mountain passes.
Southern California, Arizona and New Mexico are good that time of year. Death Valley is not a bad idea - I haven't done it so I don't have much to add, but people do ride there. Be aware of long distances between water sources and plan accordingly. GO to Joshua Tree National Park near Los Angeles too, if you head that way. Watch out if you think about going to the Grand Canyon or the Adventure Cycling Western Express Route through St. George, those are high elevation places and will get snow and cold weather still in March/April.
Montana and Wyoming are still spring conditions as late as the start of June, and I would have to guess that it's a little on the early side for Banff/Jasper as well. Take a look at the opening dates for Going to the Sun ROad (GLacier) - the last 2 years were late June.
Oregon/Washington/BC is still going to be rainy in March/April. The Pacific Coast (CA/OR/WA) typically has a northwest wind, so heading north on the coast means headwind. Most people ride south.
I really don't mean to be a bummer here, but if you can shift your dates around that would be better. Or change your plans to start in Southern California and ride in AZ/NM/Utah until a little later in the season, then maybe get onto the Adventure Cycling Great Parks route in June/July. Your original locations are nicer country (especially given your username!), but you may as well be realistic about the weather.
09-02-10, 10:10 AM
Check the route maps Adventure Cycling Association has to offer. They cover some/many of the places you mention and they have a wealth of information on them, such as campground locations.
Agree with Valygrl about your timing being off.
09-02-10, 11:40 PM
Wow, thanks for the informative response valygrl! I guess I had done more wishful looking at a map than all the weather charts research... I was leaving that for the winter evenings. I'm fairly happy and sorted for kit in the cold (I live in the Alps right now) and originally from Scotland so am used to rain, but I think it would be better going later as you said. Somehow I forgot (!?) that I was planning to go to Australia for a trip before I get to the US so that will push my start date back to early April or later. Because eventually I would like to aim quite far north (either Canada or Alaska, visa depending) I have decided to start in the south otherwise it would have to get pushed back quite far in the year.
I just saw some pictures of an amazing geological formation in Utah in a bookshop yesterday (the wave?) so maybe I'll extend my LA to the Oregon coast loop out further east through Utah/Arizona until it warms up. I don't really want to start later and I am really keen to do the Oregon Coast into Montana part of the trip, but am pretty flexible on how long it takes (I'm leaving my job) so can ride around the south for a while until it warms up quite happily.
But I am happy to consider any other suggestions still.
09-03-10, 12:19 AM
Just a remark , prevailing winds in summer are from the north, here, winter, storms come from the south..
so cycling north you will meet headwinds pretty consistently.
and the ocean will always be across the road from you with oncoming traffic to contend with crossing the road .
as we drive on the other side of the road..
Mountains in the west are holding a snow pack quite a while , some passes take till quite late in the spring to open.
some years the 6th month is called June-uary around here ..
took most of the summer to get a week or 2 of sunny days a day or 2 at a time.
09-03-10, 09:28 AM
I concur with Valygirl. I grew up in northwest Washington. The Washington/Oregon coast is one of the rainiest regions on earth. However, I've ridden it twice in July and August and only got a tiny bit of rain. That's when I'd want to be there. Also, the west coast route is much nicer north to south. You'll have the wind at your back, a wider shoulder to ride on, and a better view of the ocean beaches.
I haven't ridden the entire way from L.A. to the Mexican border, but I have ridden in the Newport Beach/San Onofre area. It was nice, but Highway 1 was very congested with almost no shoulder in places. It wasn't a very fun ride. I'd skip that section if it was me, but I'm the kind of person who often doesn't care about things like saying, "I rode from Mexico to Canada." If you like that sort of thing, go for it.
I rode over the North Cascades Highway on the Northern Tier route, all the way to Glacier National Park. It was a fantastic ride, although the mountain passes were challenging for me. There are a couple of ways to get through the Puget Sound region of Washington, and it's a beautiful place. You might even consider a side trip to the San Juan Islands if you go that way.
09-03-10, 11:37 AM
Glad to be of help alpine girl. I'll hit you up for info whenever I manage to get over there, I am desperate to tour the mountains of Europe!
Utah is spectacular - Zion, Bryce, Grand Staircase/Escalante, Moab/Arches/Canyonlands. Spring can be windy, but not too cold after March.
"I just saw some pictures of an amazing geological formation in Utah in a bookshop yesterday (the wave?)"
I rode past the turn off road (dirt forest road going up a hill). You need a permit. That and it is out in the middle of a desert. No water or food, and you can't camp there so you need to get on your bike and find a place to camp. After a full day of hiking.
Check out tour operators in that area.
The Oregon Coast can definitely be rainy any time of the year but you will have more luck in the mid to late summer. I've ridden the length of it (north to south) three times -once in July and twice in September and never got rained on.
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