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Old 12-17-2012, 01:01 PM   #1
gxshrimp OP
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West USA Loop - Route Advice

Hello all

I'm looking to do my first big motorcycle trip next year. Looking for some help planning the route. Here's the details:

- Can get 3-6 weeks off
- Leaving and returning to Vancouver, BC
- Riding a DRZ400SM (~100 mile gas tank, but can carry a bit extra)
- Looking for nice twisty route, mostly pavement
- Mostly Camping
- thinking of going south thru Utah and back north on PCH
- kinda wanna stop for a few days and surf somewhere... where would be best? california? baja? oregon?

I'm thinking something roughly like this: http://goo.gl/maps/CRWUu

My questions and advice I'm looking for:

1) What are some can`t miss roads on this loop? Any good resources for trips in this area? Feel free to edit my google map :)
2) What would be the best time of year to run it?


Thanks!
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Old 12-17-2012, 01:56 PM   #2
High Country Herb
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You will definitely need some extra fuel for a few of those sections. One or two of the large MSR fuel bottles should do the trick.

Ocean sports: You might want to find a good website for surf conditions, and decide where to surf based on conditions as you pass. San Diego through Ventura, while having some popular surf beaches, is a lot of city traffic. Your SM will be good for that sort of thing, but you will want to lock your bike up very well if you plan to leave it anywhere in a California city. San Diego, Ventura, Santa Barbara, and Santa Cruz all have surf boards for rent. In the Mendocino area, you can kayak in and out of sea caves.

Cultural: There is a pretty cool motorcycle museum in Solvang, CA, a little Danish town near Santa Barbara. There are also a few outstanding micro-breweries in CA if you like that sort of thing. Stone Brewery in San Diego, Firestone Brewery in Paso Robles (some nice sweepers along Hwy 46 between the coast and P.R.), and my personal favorite Lagunitas Brewery in Petaluma (there is a clean cheap motel 2 doors away!).

Riding roads: The Pacific Coast Highway (Hwy 1) near Big Sur is really amazing, and shouldn't be missed. The wine country area (Petaluma, Sonoma, and Napa) not only have good wine tasting, but also good country roads. Once away from the main towns, the little highways that connect these valleys have some of the best supermoto friendly roads on the California coast. (there are better roads in the Sierras, but that's a bit off your route.)

The Route: Your route through the northern states looks pretty interesting, but there are a few things you will miss in southern Utah: Moab, Arches National Park, and the Glen Canyon Bridge. I don't know if you would be more interested in those than the route you've chosen, but they are worth a Google investigation to decide. During the summer months, the whole Utah and Arizona areas will be scorching hot (as in close your helmet shield to cool your face, kinda hot). You could avoid some of the worst by cutting west at Flagstaff and heading straight for Santa Monica, but you would miss San Diego and L.A. Either way, you'll need a Camel Back watering system of some sort to keep hydrated (no joke). It sounds like an epic trip, and I hope you enjoy it!
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Old 12-17-2012, 03:44 PM   #3
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I would definately stop in San Diego great place for motorcycling. Some pretty good beaches and then it also gives you a good base to go from south to north and see how much California changes. Hit me up when you do it and if i around i am sure i can show you some roads. :) or if you have any questions about the area i will do my best to answer them
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Old 12-17-2012, 07:53 PM   #4
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Hwy 12, Utah.

Get this map at AAA...



You have good timing also. Pick up the Feb '13 issue of RoadRUNNER magazine. There is an article by Nicole Espinosa(an inmate here)traveling the Southwest on her DRZ400. But she missed alot of good stuff too, but she didn't ask.

More details later, we gotta get some more folks weighing in.
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Old 12-17-2012, 08:16 PM   #5
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I'd try to hit Moab, UT but be sure to keep Monument Valley. If it was me, I'd make sure I got to western Colorado and Highway 141, the Unaweep-Tabeguache Scenic Highway and stop at the Gateway Auto Museum. World class auto museum out in the middle of the Colorado Plateau, and you've got one of the best motorcycle roads in the country to get to and from. Tough choices for sure, but western Colorado, the San Juan mountains around Ouray, Ridgeway, Durango, Telluride. Awesome places.

Also, on the Oregon coast, scoot over to catch Crater Lake National Park. Amazing sight and you will otherwise have plenty of (slow moving) PCH from what you have mapped out.

Check the California State Highways website before your travels, there is often summer construction on the PCH. Last year, I think, they had some slide repair work in the Big Sur area, so you couldn't really get to the best of Big Sur. Ditto for any state. Check their DOT websites, they are all pretty decent and do a good job of showing you where the summer construction is and it is often VERY GOOD to avoid these areas. Chip seal jobs are hell on motorcycles.

Since you're going right by it, stop at the Muir Woods north of San Francisco. Lovely park. When in San Francisco, rent a Segway to ride in Golden Gate Park. Fun.

http://maps.google.ca/maps?saddr=van...,11,12&t=m&z=6
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munchmeister screwed with this post 12-17-2012 at 08:25 PM Reason: Google map
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Old 12-17-2012, 11:02 PM   #6
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Wow thanks everyone, exactly the type of info I'm looking for.

Timing wise, I'm thinking I could either leave in June or wait until September to avoid the heat. Any reason to prefer one over the other? Obviously I'd like good weather but I don't want to be cooked either. I do have a camelpak haha.


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Old 12-18-2012, 09:13 AM   #7
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I think if you left in August and got into the soutwest in September you should be alright. The weather in that area stays pretty conistant until you get in October and the later winter months that is when it gets chilly and wet.
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Old 12-18-2012, 09:57 AM   #8
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definitely september...

check out butler maps in the vendor section for maps

you might want to spend more time in the sierras and cascades.... criss-crossing those mt ranges is lotsa fun imho
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Old 12-18-2012, 10:04 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gxshrimp View Post

Timing wise, I'm thinking I could either leave in June or wait until September to avoid the heat. Any reason to prefer one over the other?
If I were you, I would leave in late August or early September. That way, you will miss out on a lot of the crowds. Also, the west coast is generally a lot better in September than in June or July -- less fog, fewer people.

A little stretch that you might want to add into your west coast sojourn is the Lost Coast, a section in northern California, that starts at Weott (at hiway 101) and then goes through Petrolia and Ferndale, and ends at Fortuna on hiway 101.

And +1 on Hiway 12 in Utah.
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Old 12-18-2012, 01:12 PM   #10
High Country Herb
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Quote:
Originally Posted by munchmeister View Post
Since you're going right by it, stop at the Muir Woods north of San Francisco. Lovely park. When in San Francisco, rent a Segway to ride in Golden Gate Park. Fun.
This is a pretty unique area, and one of the best places to stay near the SF Bay Area (north of the Golden Gate Bridge). There is a HI Youth Hostel in the Marin Headlands that is housed in an old military base. It is cheap, and safe for your motorcycle. To get there, you travel through a one-way tunnel (traffic light at each end). It is the best place I know to hear your own vehicle under wide open throttle . Also in the Muir Woods is a little bed & breakfast called The Pelican Inn. They have a little English Pub and restaurant.

I try to do the Segway tours whenever possible. Goofy as they look, they are fun, and they are too expensive to own.
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Old 12-18-2012, 01:40 PM   #11
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Keep it coming guys. I'm going to throw together another route with your guys' advice when I get some time in the evenings.

OK so late summer sounds like the time to go. Maybe I should do the route counter clockwise to get warmer temps on the coast in late August/early September, then inland it'll be a bit cooler towards mid-late Setptember?
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Old 12-18-2012, 02:40 PM   #12
High Country Herb
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Originally Posted by gxshrimp View Post
OK so late summer sounds like the time to go. Maybe I should do the route counter clockwise to get warmer temps on the coast in late August/early September, then inland it'll be a bit cooler towards mid-late Setptember?
I'm not sure the temps will be that much different June vs. early September in Arizona and Utah. What do you desert folks think?

The California coast will benefit more from the later trip, I would think, as the heat of summer causes foggy conditions. Also, I like having things to look forward to on trips. As you are heading through the hot desert, riding dusty trails in Moab, you will be looking forward to surfing the CA coast, with a bucket of icy Corona waiting on the shore....OK, now I wanna go with you.
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Old 12-18-2012, 05:16 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by High Country Herb View Post
I'm not sure the temps will be that much different June vs. early September in Arizona and Utah. What do you desert folks think?

The California coast will benefit more from the later trip, I would think, as the heat of summer causes foggy conditions. Also, I like having things to look forward to on trips. As you are heading through the hot desert, riding dusty trails in Moab, you will be looking forward to surfing the CA coast, with a bucket of icy Corona waiting on the shore....OK, now I wanna go with you.
That's a good point. I think I'll still with the clockwise route, leaving late August, returning late September/early October. Should give me plenty of time.
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Old 12-18-2012, 07:00 PM   #14
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Ah, don't fret the heat. I have many years & miles in the heat of the west. Skin exposure is the key imho! Don't do it. Long sleeve shirts or jacket, gloves etc. A wet scarf around your neck or the like. You get the idea, hide the skin!!

Obviously you have to keep hydrated with liquid(my choice is sport drinks, water just doesn't do it in the extreme heat for me). Snacking of nuts or trail mix seems to work best for me. Here on ADV you can search out some great threads on traveling in the heat.

Wet your appetite...

Capitol Reef, UT


Burr Trail, UT


Glacier Pt, Yosemite
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Old 12-18-2012, 11:32 PM   #15
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Thanks guys. OK here's my latest http://goo.gl/maps/DDxeS

I think the coast part is pretty set. Could any local Utah/Colorado guys take a look in that area and see if there's any can't miss roads I'm missing? I'm ok with some off road suggestions or another loop if there's some interesting sights.

Am I missing anything by not actually going through Moab?

I'm not that interested in going through Las Vegas, maybe a route out through Arizona would be better?
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