Go Back  Bike Forums > Bike Forums > Touring
Reload this Page >

USA north to south- any good non-coastal routes?

Notices
Touring Have a dream to ride a bike across your state, across the country, or around the world? Self-contained or fully supported? Trade ideas, adventures, and more in our bicycle touring forum.

USA north to south- any good non-coastal routes?

Old 10-13-16, 07:42 PM
  #1  
Upgrading my engine
Thread Starter
 
DXchulo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Alamogordo
Posts: 6,218
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
USA north to south- any good non-coastal routes?

Are there any routes beginning or finishing in AZ, NM, or TX?

Anybody know if 191 is bike friendly at all? How about 93?
DXchulo is offline  
Old 10-14-16, 08:12 AM
  #2  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: North of Boston
Posts: 5,721

Bikes: Kona Dawg, Surly 1x1, Karate Monkey, Rockhopper, Crosscheck , Burley Runabout,

Liked 111 Times in 66 Posts
Checked out the great divide trail/ride? Adventure cycling has all kinds of info and maps.
Leebo is offline  
Old 10-14-16, 08:26 AM
  #3  
Senior Member
 
boomhauer's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Posts: 782
Liked 45 Times in 32 Posts
I used much of these two roads when I traveled from El Paso to Alberta.
However, i used parallel routes when encountering populated tourist spots such as Mooab, UT and Yellowstone. For the most part it is excellent bike riding and very remote in Arizona. I used these two highways as more of a general guide. Once you get out there you can find better (less traffic) routes.
Not much of a shoulder in Montana, if I recall correctly.
boomhauer is offline  
Old 10-14-16, 08:50 AM
  #4  
don't try this at home.
 
rm -rf's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: N. KY
Posts: 6,008
Liked 554 Times in 377 Posts
Originally Posted by DXchulo
Are there any routes beginning or finishing in AZ, NM, or TX?

Anybody know if 191 is bike friendly at all? How about 93?
(It helps if you mention some towns, to help locate your area on a map. And to get more views of your question, include the location in the title.)

Strava Heat Map
I like the Strava Heat Map to help plan routes where I'm not familiar with the area. It's a year of uploaded GPS recordings, with the most popular roads in red, somewhat popular in blue. Note--it can quite easily include gravel roads or trails, especially out west. Roads near towns and cities get more riders, so those are colored in more.

It's a good way to prospect for a possible route. But then, you need to check on road surfaces with Street View or Satellite View if possible, and decide if there's enough water stops, too.

I also look for faint blue roads with nearby red roads. Those are roads that the cyclists are avoiding!

Here's the eastern Arizona area. Click "Toggle Labels" to show towns and road names. The URL changes as you pan and zoom, so you can bookmark that view.

It looks like U.S. 191, (through Morenci) is quite popular. Of course, there's not a lot of other roads as an alternative.

Strava Route Builder
The Route Builder uses the heat map data to choose the best route. It'll avoid a direct route that google maps might use if there's more popular roads nearby. It's fast and easy to use. You need a free Strava login to use it.

It may pick gravel roads, so check out the route it makes.

I reviewed it in this post.

Last edited by rm -rf; 10-14-16 at 09:01 AM.
rm -rf is offline  
Old 10-14-16, 10:46 AM
  #5  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2011
Posts: 1,247
Likes: 0
Liked 17 Times in 16 Posts
Like was questioned above, what are you start points and finish points. That's makes a big difference in what someone would suggest. I would think of another but I have a strange feeling it is too far east for what your looking for since I don't know how limited of services you are willing to live/ride with and what your start and finish points are. US81/381 combo from Canada down to Big Bend. There are three spots back to back spors, I believe in eastern CO, where are 70 miles between towns. I have a feeling you won't find much traffic on that road around there. Probably your biggest areas of concern would be around Williston, ND, the Black Hills and Midland, TX otherwise it's pretty much a route in the middle of nowhere...no big cities or anything else. Given the route your biggest climbing would probably be the Black Hills and Big Bend areas.

Again, you didn't give any kind of specifics on start and finish points to work with.
bikenh is offline  
Old 10-14-16, 10:50 AM
  #6  
Newbie
 
Join Date: Jun 2016
Posts: 4

Bikes: Surly LHT

Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Definitely agree about Strava Heat Map, it's an excellent tool.

Also, this is way inland, but if you get the chance, check out US163 and US12 in Utah. They come recommended by a few riders I know. Maps are available here blogs/tasis-bikes/highlight-ride-bike-tour
the bikelist is offline  
Old 10-14-16, 11:47 AM
  #7  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: NH
Posts: 1,017
Liked 121 Times in 84 Posts
Here's a rough map of a trip I took N to S years ago. Regina SK to Las Vegas NM. Highlights included ND Badlands, Theodore Roosevelt NP, SD Black Hills and Badlands NP, NE Sand Hills, CO Rockies and Great Sand Dunes NP. I stopped for two weeks at Crested Butte CO during their annual "Fat Tire Bike Week". Most of the road trip was on secondary state highways with a few short dirt stretches.



BobG is offline  
Old 10-14-16, 02:40 PM
  #8  
Senior Member
 
boomhauer's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Posts: 782
Liked 45 Times in 32 Posts
https://greatplainstrail.wordpress.com/

This looks good.
I've ridden to most of these places already. I had no idea this thing existed. Can't find any journals of a bike rider doing the entire thing.
boomhauer is offline  
Old 10-14-16, 03:08 PM
  #9  
Nigel
 
nfmisso's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: San Jose, CA
Posts: 2,991

Bikes: 1980s and 1990s steel: CyclePro, Nishiki, Schwinn, SR, Trek........

Likes: 0
Liked 7 Times in 7 Posts
US191; I have driven Helper UT to Farson WY. Around Helper a bit tight as the road winds up through the hills; then opens up with wider shoulders. US40/191 Duchesne to Vernal - shoulders, quite a bit of oil patch truck traffic, including doubles. (They have kangaroo guards to protect the truck from cattle, etc). East/North bound they are empty and run FAST. West/South bound, loaded and very slow up hill. US191 Vernal to Rock Springs - little or no shoulder, narrow lane, increasing truck traffic. US191 Rock Springs to Farson - wide lanes, generally wide shoulder.
nfmisso is offline  
Old 10-14-16, 03:53 PM
  #10  
Senior Member
 
alan s's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Washington, DC
Posts: 6,977
Liked 191 Times in 130 Posts
Windsor, Canada to Mobile, Alabama is one of the shortest cross country routes.
alan s is offline  
Old 10-14-16, 04:19 PM
  #11  
Upgrading my engine
Thread Starter
 
DXchulo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Alamogordo
Posts: 6,218
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by nfmisso
US191; I have driven Helper UT to Farson WY. Around Helper a bit tight as the road winds up through the hills; then opens up with wider shoulders. US40/191 Duchesne to Vernal - shoulders, quite a bit of oil patch truck traffic, including doubles. (They have kangaroo guards to protect the truck from cattle, etc). East/North bound they are empty and run FAST. West/South bound, loaded and very slow up hill. US191 Vernal to Rock Springs - little or no shoulder, narrow lane, increasing truck traffic. US191 Rock Springs to Farson - wide lanes, generally wide shoulder.
Awesome. Thanks for that info. There were some roads I did in the southeast last summer that were great except for the logging trucks. That's the kind of info you can't really see on Google Maps or Strava.
DXchulo is offline  
Old 10-14-16, 04:31 PM
  #12  
Junior Member
 
redbagsrambler's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2016
Location: East Carolina, USA
Posts: 84

Bikes: Trek 520, Bianchi Volpe and too many more to name

Likes: 0
Liked 2 Times in 2 Posts
Doesn't involve the states you listed, but I've ridden from Duluth MN to Memphis, TN mostly along the River Road. I don't know if its still available, but Bob Robinson authored Bicycling Guide to the Mississippi River Trail with good descriptions of the route.
redbagsrambler is offline  
Old 10-14-16, 04:38 PM
  #13  
Upgrading my engine
Thread Starter
 
DXchulo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Alamogordo
Posts: 6,218
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
As for start/finish points, I don't have them yet. I just know I want to be west of the Rockies. I'm in the very early planning stages, so I'm open to ideas.

I'll probably want to avoid Yellowstone because I've done Bozeman to SLC before.
DXchulo is offline  
Old 10-14-16, 04:50 PM
  #14  
 
BigAura's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Chapin, SC
Posts: 3,423

Bikes: all steel stable: surly world troller, paris sport fixed, fuji ss

Liked 55 Times in 33 Posts
Originally Posted by rm -rf
I like the Strava Heat Map to help plan routes where I'm not familiar with the area.
Nice! I like this concept.
BigAura is offline  
Old 10-14-16, 04:59 PM
  #15  
deleteme
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: PNW lifer
Posts: 581

Bikes: deleteme

Likes: 0
Liked 2 Times in 2 Posts
Lots of good late summer early fall routes from the Columbia River to Reno/CA gold country. From there, NV hwy 50 to UT or South to Yosemite.
escii_35 is offline  
Old 10-14-16, 05:58 PM
  #16  
Nigel
 
nfmisso's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: San Jose, CA
Posts: 2,991

Bikes: 1980s and 1990s steel: CyclePro, Nishiki, Schwinn, SR, Trek........

Likes: 0
Liked 7 Times in 7 Posts
Originally Posted by DXchulo
Awesome. Thanks for that info. There were some roads I did in the southeast last summer that were great except for the logging trucks. That's the kind of info you can't really see on Google Maps or Strava.
Glad to be of assistance.

Couple more items, after re-reading some of the above posts:
* Duchesne to Vernal - some paved alternate routes with much less traffic.
* Vernal to WY border - practically no alternate routes, some partial routes that are mud/dirt/sand/gravel.
* WY border to Rock Springs - some alternate routes, not paved, many involve fording a stream or a few.
* Rock Springs to Farson - no paved alternate routes.

Gazetteers are useful. https://shop.delorme.com/OA_HTML/DEL...?section=10096
nfmisso is offline  
Old 10-14-16, 06:51 PM
  #17  
Upgrading my engine
Thread Starter
 
DXchulo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Alamogordo
Posts: 6,218
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by escii_35
Lots of good late summer early fall routes from the Columbia River to Reno/CA gold country. From there, NV hwy 50 to UT or South to Yosemite.
Too close to home for me. Might be good for somebody else, though.
DXchulo is offline  
Old 10-14-16, 07:03 PM
  #18  
Upgrading my engine
Thread Starter
 
DXchulo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Alamogordo
Posts: 6,218
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
A couple quick and dirty ideas:

#1

#2


For the first one, the southern NV portion isn't ideal.

For the second one, the WY and MT portion might be too flat. It may be better to go through Yellowstone again. It's not like it was a boring area. Plus, there are slightly different routes to take.

Last edited by DXchulo; 10-16-16 at 11:34 AM. Reason: Fixed links
DXchulo is offline  
Old 10-14-16, 07:46 PM
  #19  
mev
bicycle tourist
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Austin, Texas, USA
Posts: 2,323

Bikes: Trek 520, Lightfoot Ranger, Trek 4500

Liked 276 Times in 186 Posts
Originally Posted by DXchulo
For the second one, the WY and MT portion might be too flat. It may be better to go through Yellowstone again. It's not like it was a boring area. Plus, there are slightly different routes to take.
A few generic comments and then some more specific ones on portions of what you posted on your second route:

1. I have found that searching either a number e.g. "191" or a specific town on Crazy Guy on a Bike has given me valuable information. On my current trip, I came via Banff/Yellowstone/Rawlins/Alamosa/Santa Fe/Socorro before turning west. I didn't have the complete plan but instead adapted based on weather (e.g. staying high/low based on fronts) or on reports I discovered (e.g. US 287 in MT near Townsend or US 285 in northern NM). As long as you have the rough endpoints, there is still likely some ability to switch off.

2. A lot of US highways in the west seem to be reasonable. I've found that biggest differences come (a) crossing along or through major population centers (b) between jurisdictions such as states or indian reservations. Bike friendly varies between people but in general I'm ok with either lower vehicle counts OR shoulders but the combination of many vehicles and no real shoulders can be unpleasant. Fortunately several of the states including CO on your list publish state bicycle maps that have rough shoulder/vehicle count information.

Now on the more specific parts of your second route that I've ridden:
- Grass Range to Billings; remember this not having much shoulders but also not being terribly busy - so fine.
- Billings to Thermopolis; I was US 310/US 30 instead (I didn't necessarily consider your option just had different one); Not much climbing but route overall was reasonable so route I picked would also be an alternative that could work.
- Thermopolis to Shoshone; remember it being somewhat desolate but otherwise fine to ride.
- Sweetwater Station to Rawlins; this is part of the Transamerica route and I did this one just this past year. Again, a reasonable route where the key issue will likely be wind more than anything else.
- Leadville to Antonito; also did this just a month or two ago. Reasonable cycling. Shoulders sometimes hit/miss but traffic not so severe - and some parts with big shoulders.
- Antonito to Santa Fe; I went via Taos instead after reading CGOAB stories about US285 not having reliable shoulders (also this year). I didn't ride both but I suspect that choice is a likely a wash. Cycling to Taos was nice - but after that definitely had some busy parts without much shoulders - so not sure it is better or worse than reports I read about.
- Santa Fe southbound - I cycled further west. Not sure I would recommend it over what you have though.

Overall conclusion; I think you could make the second choice work - but I would also recommend using it as a rough guideline starting point and then adjusting (either in advance or on the fly depending on your style) based on state bicycle maps and a periodic check of CGOAB for others who have ridden similar bits.

I haven't ridden enough of your first choice to make a valid comparison.
mev is offline  
Old 10-17-16, 09:06 PM
  #20  
Used to be fast
 
surfjimc's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: So Cal
Posts: 580

Bikes: 85 Specialized Expedition, 07 Motobecane Immortal Spirit built up with Dura ace and Mavic Ksyriums, '85 Bianchi Track Bike, '90 Fisher Procaliber, '96 Landshark TwinDirt Shark Tandem, '88 Curtlo

Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I think riding the Mississippi River Trail, or just following end to end would be fun. I am planning on canoeing the entire length of the river from Lake Itasca to the Gulf in the summer of 2018.
surfjimc is offline  
Old 10-28-16, 02:02 PM
  #21  
Upgrading my engine
Thread Starter
 
DXchulo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Alamogordo
Posts: 6,218
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
https://ridewithgps.com/routes/17397532

I'm leaning towards this. I would like to go through Glacier NP, but the time restrictions on the road will probably prevent me from doing that.
DXchulo is offline  
Old 11-02-16, 08:36 PM
  #22  
Uber Goober
 
StephenH's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Dallas area, Texas
Posts: 11,758
Liked 42 Times in 33 Posts
A year and a half ago, we rode from north Texas to Canada on a series of randonneuring permanents. Most of them were 150 miles/day, we had one long day at 200 miles.
Routes were:
https://ridewithgps.com/routes/4767210
https://ridewithgps.com/routes/6874403
https://ridewithgps.com/routes/7089976
https://ridewithgps.com/routes/7404142
https://ridewithgps.com/routes/1563325
https://ridewithgps.com/routes/7048270
https://ridewithgps.com/routes/6988312
https://ridewithgps.com/routes/6969733
https://ridewithgps.com/routes/6988334
Note: some of these routes have various versions on RWGPS, and I'm not positive which one we followed.
Also note that these routes were set up for riding the full distance, and if you break them into 50-60 mile days, you may not find motels or even services where you need them. We did have an escort van for Sag service, but I think for the most part, services were close enough together to get food and water.
Sometime prior to this trip, I had started working on some routes from Harlingen to the Dallas area. Down on the south end, there aren't many through paved roads, so you're either riding on highways or not riding, and it just comes down to picking the least busy highway. I did find one 50-mile section with zero services, and couldn't find good motels when I got up around Leakey, and abandoned the routing for other reasons prior to proceeding farther.
One thing to beware of: It's HOT down south at the same time it's COLD up north, so be careful what time of year you try this, or you'll be baking on the south end or freezing on the north. Obviously spring is most promising!
__________________
"be careful this rando stuff is addictive and dan's the 'pusher'."
StephenH is offline  
Old 11-02-16, 08:50 PM
  #23  
Senior Member
 
jefnvk's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2015
Location: Metro Detroit/AA
Posts: 8,206

Bikes: 2016 Novara Mazama

Liked 81 Times in 51 Posts
Originally Posted by alan s
Windsor, Canada to Mobile, Alabama is one of the shortest cross country routes.
I see no point in starting in Windsor, as there is no way to get a bike across the border without using a vehicle unless you go north to the ferry near Sarnia/Port Huron.

Unless you're planning the trip in 2019-2020, that is.
jefnvk is offline  
Old 11-02-16, 08:58 PM
  #24  
Senior Member
 
alan s's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Washington, DC
Posts: 6,977
Liked 191 Times in 130 Posts
Originally Posted by jefnvk
I see no point in starting in Windsor, as there is no way to get a bike across the border without using a vehicle unless you go north to the ferry near Sarnia/Port Huron.

Unless you're planning the trip in 2019-2020, that is.
It can be done.

usa - Can I take a bicycle on the Windsor/Detroit truck ferry? - Travel Stack Exchange
alan s is offline  
Old 11-02-16, 09:20 PM
  #25  
Senior Member
 
jefnvk's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2015
Location: Metro Detroit/AA
Posts: 8,206

Bikes: 2016 Novara Mazama

Liked 81 Times in 51 Posts
That backs up exactly what I said. I have never heard of the truck ferry, and it doesn't appear to really be an option, from that link (other than the insider fellow that managed it 12 years ago). Yes, you can also disassemble/pack the bike and take a bus or taxi through the tunnel or over the bridge, but there would be little point in starting in Canada instead of just starting in Detroit for the work any of that entailed. There is the ferry north of Lake St Clair, that I mentioned, but you're talking 60 or so miles north and the same back south just to get across the river.

Bike the Bridge is useless for meaningful crossing, the bridge is shut down, you cross as a group, and never go through immigration/customs on the other side before being collected as a group and immediately sent back (it alternates what side it starts on every year).

The new Gordie Howe bridge will have accommodations for cyclists and pedestrians, but that won't be open til the end of the decade. There has been talk and some trial runs of a pedestrian/bike ferry service downtown, but nothing in the actual works yet.

Always welcome to hear if there is sustained success stories about doing it on the truck ferry, though.

Last edited by jefnvk; 11-02-16 at 10:00 PM. Reason: My grammar sucks
jefnvk is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service - Your Privacy Choices -

Copyright © 2024 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.