Pacific Coast or Great Parks (Rocky Mt.)
I was directed to this part of the forum for the following questions. Ive heard here are the right people to talk to.
I am doing a bike tour starting in West Canada (Vancouver) pretty soon. I ve done a lot of thinking about the route but I am having troubles to decide: Should I ride
1. down the pacific coast
2. the Great Parks Route as described here: http://www.adventurecycling.org/routes/greatparks.cfm
how remote is the route through the rockies regarding villages passing through etc.?
I love the mountains and outdoors but I would also like to get to know some people on this trip (coming from Germany and curious), maybe have a drink somewhere every other week.. is that possible on the Great parks route or would you rather recommend the pacific coast?
I heard that traffic can be heavy on both routes. How about scenery, sights..? Which route would you do?
thanks for all advice and help
I haven't ridden either in their entirety, but am familiar with the areas and have ridden parts of each. Both are beautiful rides and both will allow you to meet plenty of people.
At a glance it looks like the Great Parks route is the same as the TA from Missoula to Pueblo. Based on my ride on the TA I would say that there will be places where the towns will be as much as 40 miles apart, but most days you will see at least two small towns unless your daily mileage is quite short. We found that we met lots of local folks there as well as quite a few other riders.
The Pacific coast has more larger towns and also has great places to eat seafood.
As far as scenery and sights... That depends on what you like. Both are beautiful.
Do you like coastal scenery and busier towns with more services? If so the Pacific coast is hard to beat.
The Great Parks will have mountains, canyons, antelope, elk, moose, bison. It also has wide expanses of empty space, some of it breathtakingly beautiful. The towns will sometimes only have one little general store, but you will be able to get a drink at least every several days. If that sounds appealing the Great Parks route will be fun.
I have done the Pacific Coast, Great Parks North / South, and Western Express over three different trips. The time of year you plan to go is the most important factor, as each is beautiful in its own way. Ocean or mountain views? Hummm...
Weather on both routes can be pleasant or horrible, but going through Rocky Mountain Park on the Trail Ridge Road is nasty (and probably prohibited) if it is snowing (mid September through mid June). There are also at least 10 passes over 9000 feet that need to be taken seriously at any time of year. GPN is the same as the Trans Am from Missoula to the turnoff to Granby and from Silverthorne to Fairplay, but that's it. The Trans Am contends with Chief Joseph, Togwotee, and Hoosier passes, GPN&S hit a few more. All doable if the weather is reasonable and you are properly equipped.
Although the PC has its remote bits (south of Big Sur), nothing compares to the GPN / TA's 300 miles from Lander to Granby. Stealth camping will need to be considered, especially from Lander to Rawlins. On the WE, there are no services from Blanding to Hanksville (130 miles), except for a store that might be open at Hite Recreational Center. You need to carry two days of water in case the store is closed and again consider stealth camping.
GPN&S / WE are much, much longer and more difficult than the PC and you'll not see nearly as many local people, or cycling tourists once you're off the Trans Am. But there are still plenty of people who are willing and able to provide support in case of an emergency, even though sometimes you'll wonder where they buy their groceries. You'll see many wild animals, possibly including bears.
The PC (for the most part) will be replete with campgrounds and restaurants all spaced a cycle-tourist's distance apart. And there are many, many fellow cyclists.
Both routes are worthwhile. From Missoula GPN&S/WE to Grand Canyon Connector to the Southern Tier should take about two months. From Vancouver, PC should take about a month. Both thus end in San Diego. If I was coming from a foreign country and wasn't planning to do a second tour anytime soon, I'd do the Pacific Coast.
From a traffic stress point of view.... would not the Park route be much less so? At least that for me is a big consideration if your not really comfortable with lots of cars passing. I've only toured through Glacier and not the other parks on the bike and it was pretty relaxed. Then again.... Yellowstone has tons of traffic...
What one would be more relaxed? Reason I'm asking is I still haven't nailed down what route I'm doing next month. The idea of taking the train from Seattle to Glacier and starting the route keeps sounding more relaxing than the Pacific Coast.
Guess it's time to do some more google and CGOB searching.
While I didn't aim to follow the Adventure Cycling Great Parks route, I biked from Denver to Jasper (well, mostly), including 8 national parks. I also biked the coast from BC to LA (well, mostly) with a friend from Germany. I thoroughly enjoyed both. The actual cycling I did on the Rockies trip was my favorite among all of my North American bike trips. But based on what you wrote, X-alp, I would suggest you choose the Pacific coast route. It will be a much easier for you to meet other folks, especially other cyclists, and you'll see a landscape that differs more from what you have in Europe than the Rocky Mountain route would offer--Yellowstone NP being one notable exception. In much of the Rockies, civilization is indeed quite remote, and that can be part of the charm. On the Pacific coast route, however, you'll get to see Redwood NP and the Hoh rainforest in Olympic NP, and both are sublime. The northern California coast and Oregon coast are very nice. And you'll get to see San Francisco. I don't know how much time you'll have, but you might want to consider spending some time cycling on the Gulf Islands (British Columbia) & San Juan Islands (Washington) at the beginning of your trip.
well, I guess I really found the right people to talk to.
Some more details concerning my trip
start will be in mid July and at the end of september I have to be in Denver for a wedding. So that's how I came up with the idea to do the Rockies and cycle directly to Denver.
Ive done quite a few bike tours in the alps, but I guess distances in the US are not comparable.
Otherwise as described I would go down PC to SF and from there (by bike or other transportation) head towards Denver. I have once driven SF - Denver by car and I also still have great places in Utah in mind which would be worth to see again by bike.
If I do the PC then I would probably indeed have some time for the islands in BC and Washington. I will keep that in mind..
humm, decision is not easy.. Thanks for all of your advice!
If you are into socializing, the PCH is the one to do. At the time you are planning there will be many, many cyclists from all over the world going down the coast. Cycling groups evolve and dissipate spontaneously in a very social and friendly way. There are quaint little towns all along the route
One thing, though, the holiday traffic along this route is fairly heavy.
Either way, there will be lots of traffic in July - the remote parts of GPN / TA less so. RMP will be bumper to bumper, but motorists in NP tend to drive a bit more mellowly than locals in the hinterlands who have places to go and people to see. But if cars are encountering cyclists frequently, they will be watching for them and hopefully well-practiced in avoiding them too. Of course thats the optimistic view. Everyone has their idea of what constitutes "relaxing" and as for me, I couldn't really differentiate on that basis.
Originally Posted by kyakdiver
OP, if you are planning to go from SF to Denver by bike in August, you'll need to be prepared for serious desert. I haven't done the California and Nevada part of the Western Express, but the Utah part is pretty brutal. Serious grades and not much water.