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Old 04-12-07, 12:40 AM   #1
G. Hoffman
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Pheonix to Grand Canyon to Las Vegas

It turns out that, for the first time in about a decade, I'm getting a tax refund (it's actually a bad thing, because it means I made a less money last year than in previous years - but I may as well make lemonade, you know?), and between this and my frequent flyer miles with Northwest, I've decided I want to do a bit of a Southwest tour for the first two weeks next month (or there abouts) with the money.

So, my idea (and it's not quite a plan, yet, just an idea) is to fly into Phoenix and spend a day seeing the city and getting my LHT from UPS and putting it back together, ride up to the Grand Canyon, spend a few days seeing the Canyon and the Kaibab National Forest, and then ride west towards Las Vegas.

Now, I've never done any touring before (though I might get a weekender in before then around here, if it ever stops snowing ), and this would be a totally self-supported tour (the only kind that interests me, particularly as my financial means are rather limited). I've got the gear, and though I'm a bit out of practice, I've camped plenty. My (very rough and quick) calculation is that if I can manage about 50 miles a day, I should be able to do it, but I would like any comments others might have, as well as any recommended reading or maps (I've ordered the Adventure Cycle Grand Canyon map, which runs from Tempe to the Grand Canyon and on to Utah, so if that one is good, I really only need help planing the Grand Canyon to Las Vegas portion of the trip. If it is practical, I would LOVE to see Meteor Crater and the Hoover Dam (though the former would probably add a couple days), but I'm not sure about the timing of it. If I don't stay in too many hotels, and I keep my meals reasonable, I should be able to do it for almost exactly what I'm getting back from the government.

I work for my families business, so I'm not too concerned about the exact length of the trip, but I do need to use a frequent fly ticket, so I need to be pretty firm about the days of my flight. Also I can't extend the trip too much as I need to get back so I can make some money - and I'm kind of needed in the shop (at least, I like to think I'm needed!)

So, that is my general idea, and I'm wondering if anyone thinks I'm completely mad to consider this (well, my family does, but they don't understand my whole biking thing to begin with), and if anyone has any routes or sites I should make sure to see, or any I should make sure to avoid.


Gabriel
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Old 04-12-07, 10:09 AM   #2
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Since it's just a plan - nothing is written in stone yet, eh?

If you get your refund on May1 - I'm guessing that the tour is planned for later than that.
Phoenix gets awfully hot by then - plus there's a 6000 foot climb to the Grand Canyon.

My bet is to fly into Vegas and maybe take a shuttle up to St George so you don't have to deal with the Vegas traffic at all. From St. George you can do an incredible loop of all the parks depending on how long you have - the North Rim of the Grand Canyon - so much nicer - Zion, Bryce Canyon - even Canyonlands if you have time.

But your parameters on timeframe weren't there so I don't know if it's a week or two or - - ?
By mid May you should try to be in the higher country. Still beautiful.
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Old 04-12-07, 10:48 AM   #3
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jam's right, the Phoenix area in May could be well into the triple digits and there is some serious elevation gain between Phx and the Canyon. Even starting in Vegas and doing your planned tour in reverse would save you some climbing. I grew up in Phoenix and saw a lot of the state and the Southwest. It is beautiful country, but in May you might want to stay farther north than Phx. Northern AZ/Southern UT is at a much higher elevation and stays much cooler.

There's a lot to see in that region too. All of jam's recommendations are excellent. The AZ/UT border is some of the most impressive landscape you'll ever see; red rock, natural arches, and canyons galore. The North Rim is much less developed, has a fraction of the tourists, and offers the same impressive view (it's actually higher than the South Rim, so you get to look down even deeper. If you didn't go as far south as Phx you could certainly find the time for Meteor Crater, spend more time around Flagstaff, Sedona, and the likes, or even head east to the Petrified Forest and Painted Desert (petrified wood is AZ's state rock).

Southern AZ is pretty impressive as well. I love the Sonoran Desert. It's home to plants and animals you won't see anywhere else, but May might not be the time to see it. Growing up, May always marked the start night and sunrise rides.

Where does your Phx to Canyon route take you? Is early fall too late to use your flyer miles, say early-mid October? Phx can still see triple digit temps into October, but generally speaking it's cooler in the south and not quite cold in the north.
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Old 04-12-07, 01:07 PM   #4
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I like Jami and Phatt's ideas...

You can also avoid the Phoenix/Las Vegas heat (and start at a higher elevation) by making Flagstaff your "basecamp".

This guy did an excellent 2 week tour that starts and finishes in Flagstaff.

http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/p...ge_id=5299&v=7

If you are in the area north of Flagstaff, I really recommend taking a detour to visit Wupatki and Sunset Crater National Monuments. It's just perfect for biking...a quiet park road with great views, interesting Indian ruins, a volcano and a killer climb. What more could you ask for!

The South Rim from Grand Canyon Village to Desert View and then downhill to Cameron is a great ride too (and not much traffic once you get out of the Village). The vistas are amazing.
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Old 04-12-07, 02:14 PM   #5
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Just last week I drove that route. The thing I noticed was the 60 miles leading to the Hoover Dam has no businesses or homes anywhere. The roads for the most part have good shoulder to ride on but I would not want to ride it in hot weather. It was also very windy at the Grand Canyon.
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Old 04-12-07, 04:24 PM   #6
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Wow, good info for me, too. I'm planning a trip (not until September) from Salt Lake City though Cedar City, through the Grand Canyon. Someone here told me to watch out for the Salt Lake City area too early in the spring. Snow could be a problem. That's why I chose late summer/early fall.

jamawani, when you do it, report back! We'd be very interested in hearing about your trip. Happy riding!
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Old 04-12-07, 06:00 PM   #7
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I drove a 48 foot semi across the Hoover dam, I bet it would be an absolute kick in the pants to cycle it. I agree with the others, get out of Phoenix and up into the north. Canyonlands rocks.
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Old 04-13-07, 02:04 AM   #8
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A couple of additional points;

First, Phoenix is a must go, because a big part of the point is to spend a day or two visiting some friends there. I might think about doing the trip in reverse, except that would put me in Phoenix two weeks latter - weather wise that doesn't seem wise. Then again, there would be a lot more downhill riding going that way, so the wind would make up for SOME of the weather. I don't actually mind the weather too much, though, because I LIKE late night riding, and I would like to get myself used to waking up and riding early. Between the two, with a siesta in the afternoon, I SHOULD be OK. Drink lots of water, for sure, and lots of juices and eat lots of fruits as well.

Second, time wise I am thinking ABOUT two weeks. The flights I can get which seem to be best would get me in to Phoenix on a Monday night and leave two weeks later from Vegas very early on a Wednesday morning (1:00 A.M. - planes don't get to take off at that hour in Minneapolis). So, ideally, I would be arriving in Phoenix on April 30, and leaving Vegas on May 16th. That, however, would depend on the government actually getting me my check when they said they would. I'm not holding my breath over that one just yet.

Still, I may just go then anyway, and use my credit cards to be paid off with the refund. Come to think of it, doing it that way, I could almost just move the whole thing back a week to the 23rd of April to the 9th of May, which might help a bit with the weather too. Of course, then I would have to ship my bike out this week, but I can probably handle that if I must. It seems a bit soon to do the research I would kind of like to do, but that is probably a good thing as I have a bit of a tendency to over think things. (And yes, I do know that it is necessary to think things through when you are biking through the desert.)


Gabriel
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Old 04-13-07, 02:07 AM   #9
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Oh, and Vegas is NOT a must do thing, but I used to make a significant part of my living playing poker (which, after a while, gets pretty mind numbing, by the way), and yet I've never been to Las Vegas. It'd be fun to see. Then again, if I skipped Vegas, I could go from the Canyon to Flagstaff and head over to Meteor Crater, and that would be cool.

Gabriel
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Old 04-15-07, 11:37 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jharte
Wow, good info for me, too. I'm planning a trip (not until September) from Salt Lake City though Cedar City, through the Grand Canyon. Someone here told me to watch out for the Salt Lake City area too early in the spring. Snow could be a problem. That's why I chose late summer/early fall.

jamawani, when you do it, report back! We'd be very interested in hearing about your trip. Happy riding!
What is your route from SLC to Cedar?
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Old 04-15-07, 11:38 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by G. Hoffman
Oh, and Vegas is NOT a must do thing, but I used to make a significant part of my living playing poker (which, after a while, gets pretty mind numbing, by the way), and yet I've never been to Las Vegas. It'd be fun to see. Then again, if I skipped Vegas, I could go from the Canyon to Flagstaff and head over to Meteor Crater, and that would be cool.

Gabriel
If you get to Vegas, might be worth checking out Valley of Fire National Park. It's pretty close to Lake Mead.
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Old 04-17-07, 11:27 AM   #12
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Valley of fire is cool, especially if you are not used to red rocks…. Hoover dam is a spectacle itself, however the riding is not that pleasant around the dam and the lake. The traffic can be horrendous with huge rigs and there is often little to no shoulder. The ride from the canyon to vegas would be uninspiring IMHO also, especially compared to the areas around flagstaff and Sedona……
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