San Francisco to Las Vegas route help requested

Discussion in 'West – California, the desert southwest and whatev' started by tlwood99, Sep 21, 2017.

  1. tlwood99

    tlwood99 Been here awhile

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    Hi all,

    I'm doing a ride around the West on the installment plan. Starting in Dallas, I went to Denver, up through Wyoming, Montana, Alberta, BC, Seattle, and then south along the Oregon and Northern California coast. The bike is now in a storage unit in Belmont, CA just south of SF. I'm coming back in a couple of weeks for another 3-4 days to get to Las Vegas, where I will store the bike and fly back to Dallas. I've been averaging around 325 miles a day and mostly tent camping.

    Looking for a combination of good riding roads and scenery. Here is the route I have put together:

    https://www.google.com/maps/dir/Bel...9a3!2m2!1d-115.1398296!2d36.1699412!3e0?hl=en

    The ride above is roughly 800 miles. Gives me a more leisurely ride with time to camp in Yosemite hopefully as well as Sequoia, and of course see Death Valley.

    For you guys experienced in this part of the country, is this a good route? Any thoughts, suggested additions, deletions, places to camp, etc. would be most appreciated.

    Thanks in advance,

    Tom W.
    #1
  2. sealsam

    sealsam Sam...I am.

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    After Sacramento, turn south on 49, enter Yos NP on 120, BUT, as of yesterday all the Sierra passes are closed due to snow. This does not mean they won't reopen 120(Tioga Pass)back up. This time of year it is not uncommon for Tioga to close and reopen.

    Just south of Lone Pine(395)take the 136 toward DV. Right at that intersection is a visitor center that is a MUST stop! Just west of Lone Pine is the Alabama Hills, do not miss that. The visitor center will give you a map of the Alabama Hills and what to see. Lone Pine is a great town, could be a great overnighter for ya. The pizza joint is fantastic. That being said, just north of there is Independence, for some Copper Top BBQ.

    Between Ind & LP is the Manzanar Relocation Camp, worth the stop.

    On 190 after you enter DVNP, in and around the Father Crowley lookout point, is some of the finest riding imho! It is just a wonderful road.

    Just west of Vegas is the great little one-way loop of Red Rock Canyon, well well worth the time. North of Vegas is Valley of Fire, almost Martian type of terrain through there!

    You'll have a great time, all the best on your trip!
    #2
    tlwood99, villageidiot, NSFW and 2 others like this.
  3. tlwood99

    tlwood99 Been here awhile

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    This is great! And thank you!
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  4. nvklr

    nvklr Been here awhile

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    My suggestions, FWIW, are to take hwy 88 instead of 50, but that's just a personal choice, nothing really wrong with 50, but that is if you chose not to follow Sam's recommendations. You can still go up to lake tahoe from Hope Valley via SR89 north. There are several camping areas along hwy 50 and 88 in the El Dorado NF however I'm not sure if they will be open that late, may depend on snow, or maybe seasonal. North on the 120 near Lee Vining there are numerous camping area, again, not sure if they are seasonal or when they open/close.

    I agree with Sam about Yosemite NP, (and Death Valley) and for sure check road conditions before going any of these routes. For sure pass through Death Valley and explore there as much as you have time for. Should be plenty of available camping there. I would guess that most camping in the higher elevations in Yosemite will be closed for the season, however there should be plenty of camping available in the valley.

    Should be a lot of fun what ever way you decide.
    #4
  5. High Country Herb

    High Country Herb Adventure Connoiseur

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    I personally like the section of 89 through Markleeville. Hwy 50 isn't bad, but tends to be the alternate route for Bay Area people so has more traffic. 88 is the route Central CA people use as the others begin to close for the season.

    If you stick to your route, you might want to ride out to Virginia City NV before heading south. It's a sleepy little old west town with lots of bars and characters. It sounds like you might arrive just a week too late for Street Vibrations, which is VC's version of Sturgis. The following week is the outhouse races.
    http://www.visitvirginiacitynv.com/events/street-vibrations.html

    Further south, the ghost town of Bodie is probably the best preserved in the west. There are also some good hot springs in that general area.
    #5
  6. tlwood99

    tlwood99 Been here awhile

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    Thanks guys for all the help. So I've changed the route quite a bit.

    From Belmont, I am going to do the Skyline Drive (Alice's Restaurant) up the 1, back through San Francisco, to Sacramento and then to Auburn, with the idea of doing some of the forest roads in El Dorado National Forest (and some of the "paved mountain roads" mentioned in the Butler Map, e.g., CA-23, CA-96, CA-22)), likely ending up in one of the camp sites in an around Lake Tahoe. From there I will double back to Auburn or head to Placerville to pick up 49, then south to 120, and do a little exploring along the way (around Jackson, CA-140, etc.). Take 120 to Lee Vining, detour north to see Bodie, then back south down 395. I'm planning a stop at Manzanar, then south to Lone Pine, 136, and 190. I plan to do the Red Rock Canyon and Valley of Fire as well if time permits.

    I'm starting out Friday afternoon so getting out of SF may be pretty ugly and I might not make much progress the first day, but I have until Tuesday afternoon to store the bike and catch a plane home.

    I know to watch for road and camp closings. So far on this trip I've been lucky but if not then I will hit the motels until I find a way to DV.

    All thoughts are appreciated!!!
    #6
  7. avejoe

    avejoe Been here awhile

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    Just my opinion, but while the riding around Auburn is good, the riding on the east side of the sierras is outstanding. I'd recommend heading over Tioga or Sonora Passes if they are open. Lots of good campsites near Bridgeport if they are still open. Bodie is a must do, but come into it from the north via Chembug Mine and exit out the south. Mono Lake, June Lake, Mammoth, Manzanar, Bristlecone Pine Forest, yada, yada, yada. All great.

    Also, spend some time in Death Valley. It's incredible this time of year.

    What type of bike you riding?
    #7
  8. tlwood99

    tlwood99 Been here awhile

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    Thanks Joe,

    Just leaving Folsom (on an R1200GS ADV with K60 tires). I do plan on seeing some of DV, and would love to hear suggestions. Particularly any backroad, forest roads etc. in Yosemite and DV. I have until Tuesday morning (need to be in LV by around 11 am).
    #8
  9. tlwood99

    tlwood99 Been here awhile

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    The bike is in Henderson NV and I'm back in Dallas. I had just a great ride. First stop was Alice's Restaurant, up the coast line past Sacramento and into Folsom. Some grinding rush hour traffic out of SF. You guys that split lanes have some balls.

    I did some riding in the Tahoe National Forest which I enjoyed quite a bit that would be epic anywhere else, but as Joe suggested, paled by comparison to what was to come. I went down 49 from Placerville, camped outside of Angel Camp in a real nice campground there (Ironhorse Campground overlooking New Melones Lake). Did Sonora Pass, Bodie's, and Tioga Pass. Manazar was worth the stop and Alabama Hills were really cool. Would have liked to have camped there but I had to be in LV by noon the next day so chose to stay in a motel in Lone Pine. Beautiful ride through DV as Sam suggested. Stopped by Amagosa Hotel and Opera House in DV Junction which was definitely worth the stop.

    Thanks for all of the suggestions. It really helped!
    #9
  10. High Country Herb

    High Country Herb Adventure Connoiseur

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    Sounds like a great ride! I'm glad you caught the passes open. We have had a couple of short term closures lately.

    I read too late that you were leaving SF on Friday, or I would have mentioned the lane splitting thing. Sounds like you figured it out. The SF Bay Area is about the only place I split lanes. Heading east, it isn't too bad if you do it sanely. Much of that traffic is blue collar workers heading to their homes outside the Bay Area, and they are becoming aware that lane splitting is fully legal now.

    In the South Bay, there are a lot more high tech drivers that are more interested in their internet/texting devices than in driving. You have to be very aggressive about defensive driving down there.

    From what I read, there is still quite a bit of road rage associated with lane splitting near Los Angeles.
    #10