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Old 04-22-11, 01:32 AM   #1
alpine girl
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Suggestions for a route east(ish) from LA

Hello, I hope everyone is having a nice Easter!

I have posted on here before asking for (and getting good) advice for a tour in the western States. I had a nice route planned but unfortunately got hit by a car running a red light a few weeks ago so have had to delay my trip. I'm hoping I can get going by the end of May so it'll be too hot for Death valley and Mojave like planned...

I want to head towards the Grand Canyon from LA, probably via the meteor crater near Flagstaff, so was wondering if anyone had suggestions for a nice route, or is it just the one road really? I won't really be in peak condition so recommendations for good stopping places would also interesting.

Thanks!
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Old 04-22-11, 06:08 PM   #2
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I did pretty much this exact tour a few years ago at the end of April. I encountered 100 plus degree temps in the desert and it was below freezing in the upper elevations. By the end of May, be prepared for extreme heat. I was very satisfied with the variety of my route...ocean, desert and mountains, but there's some pretty desolate stretches. Don't miss Hwy 64 (Grand Canyon Desert View) and Hwy 545 (Sunset Crater)! The only part I would consider changing is Hwy 76 going to Pauma Valley. 2 lane road with lots of casino traffic. Good Luck!

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Old 04-23-11, 01:34 PM   #3
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@ronzorini- looks like a pretty good route, avoids the chaos of the San Berdoo valley and the harsh desert of Lancaster and Barstow area. I'm pretty familiar with the desert portions of SB and Riverside counties and this is the route I'd take...hm...now you've got me thinking and planning.....
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Old 04-23-11, 05:19 PM   #4
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Thanks ronzorini, that looks like a nice route (especially since sam21 seems to agree) - I hadn't thought of dropping down that far south so I will look into temperatures/water access a bit more, but definately could be a nice way to go. Sunset crater also looks amazing. I've got a good warm sleeping bag so that should be fine, but will have to be careful with the heat.
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Old 04-23-11, 07:23 PM   #5
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I would change the route entirely to stay on the Pacific Coast. Wrong time of year for the desert. I'd just figure out how much time you have, plan on doing 250-300 mile/week, and pick your starting place to give you a mileage that gets you to Santa Barbara or LA.

Salton Sea temperatures were lovely in JANUARY. Not May.
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Old 04-23-11, 07:43 PM   #6
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Salton Sea temperatures were lovely in JANUARY. Not May.
I'm riding there next week (4/26 - 5-1), temps are supposed to range from 89 to 95F, lows around 62. Leaving from Newport, riding down to Cardiff, then turning inland towards Borrego Springs. Can't wait! Wouldn't want to do it a month from now, though.
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Old 04-24-11, 01:19 AM   #7
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Hmm... okay, I'll do a bit more research on the temperatures. I'm really very annoyed at the lady who ran a red light and has upset all my plans!

I'm starting from LA so need to plan a route to head away from there (and I've been recommended before that heading north on the coast is not very nice). I was hoping to head east towards the Grand Canyon then up through the parks in Utah then on northwards towards Yellowstone. So I think I need to head through the desert at some point, but if it's going to be too hot then I'll have to sort something else.
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Old 04-24-11, 09:54 AM   #8
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Another option is to take Amtrak from LA Union Station toward Chicago then get off at either Needles CA or Kingman AZ (about $60 US) if you want to experience some desert before climbing up to the cooler areas, or stay on the train to Flagstaff. I once researched Amtrak via Phoenix planning to ride south then getting on the train at PHX for the ride home but Flagstaff and Tucson are the closest actual train stops (there are Amtrak buses to other places though).

The way our weather has been this spring I wonder how bad the summer will be...yes it'll be hot and your reaction to the desert will depend on your fitness and experience with desert conditions. So far it's only moved into the mid 90's F a few days but of course someone could flip the switch from 'spring' to 'summer' and turn on the heat between now and mid-May.

Between G.C. and Zion is some pretty remote desert area also but shouldn't be bad in May. Taking US 89 through central Utah is a very nice ride, lots of farmland and friendly people, pretty good road w/o much traffic (compared to SoCal).
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Old 04-24-11, 02:21 PM   #9
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Another option is to take Amtrak from LA Union Station toward Chicago then get off at either Needles CA or Kingman AZ (about $60 US) if you want to experience some desert before climbing up to the cooler areas, or stay on the train to Flagstaff.
I think that's a smart compromise...the Flagstaff Amtrak Station is a cool small depot and good place to start your journey. In less than a day, you'll be up camping in the pine trees around Sunset Crater. I would probably bypass Kingman/Ashfork/Williams, since you have to ride busy I40. (you do get to see relics of Route 66, but there's actually not much to look at.) You would continue up 89 and take a detour to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, instead of the way more crowded South Rim.
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Old 04-26-11, 01:23 AM   #10
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Thanks again to both of you! that's a great idea I hadn't thought of. For some reason I think of the USA as a country without trains. I'll get planning...
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Old 04-26-11, 10:44 PM   #11
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The Amtrak folks at the LA Union Station are a little gruff on the outside but generally very friendly. For that trip you will have to check the bike...the baggage area where you have to box your own bike is a bit of a hassle to find and requires an elevator ride. Boxes are about $5-15 US, check the Amtrak site for the extra fee for hauling the bike but it's not much. The boxes are large enough that all you need to do is remove panniers and pedals, turn the handlebars sideways (or remove them) and roll the whole thing into the box. You should probably bring a role of 2" packing tape just in case the baggage people don't have some available. I usually check my panniers also, just use zip ties (cable ties) to hold the zippers closed and haven't had any theft problems after 6 or 7 train trips. Also don't mention anything about camping stoves, fuel bottles etc and they won't ask. Don't pack liquid fuel; easy to find in Flagstaff anyway.

Have a great trip!

Sam
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