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3 months is plenty of time to hit all 48 lower states!! Coming up thru Mexico, I would enter the US through the Algodones port of entry. On a bike, you just scoot through the auto line to the front, and do your business, and you're in the US. (It's easy for me to say 'cause I'm a US citizen, and I usually walk across at that crossing to buy the necessities such as cheap tequila and cartons of cigarettes (for my wife, not me)). But I know that travelers have used that entry as I have seen them write about it.
The downside is you will be as far east in California as you can get before the Arizona state line. (About 150 miles/240 Km's from San Diego. (The other alternative is to "bite the bullet" and cross at Tijuana, which might not be as bad as I have heard it is, but someone who has done it would have to tell you first hand).
To get to San Francisco, there are many alternate routes, but the most straightforward is up Interstate 5. I 5 runs from the US/Mexican border in California (Tijuana port of entry), and goes all the way up thru Calif., through Oregon, thru Washington (state), and to the US/Canadian border. It will take you through San Francisco, too.
As this will take you less than a week to do, even with the L.A. traffic, lol, you can plan a route eastward, too. I have suggested to people before to try the Arizona sights in the northern part of this US state. If you were to come out of Mexico at Algondones, turn right and ride for about 10 miles on Interstate 8. At Highway 95 (be careful, there are two) go left and follow that one up for 150 miles. You will follow the Colorado River which is a nice sight to see. When you reach Lake Havasu, if you are homesick, you can take in "London Bridge" which is that transplanted bridge from your side of the pond!
A little to the north of Havasu is Interstate 40. Go east a couple of hours to the turnoff to the Grand Canyon. It is about an hour's drive from I 40 to the Grand Canyon, but is a great sight to see. A few hours east of the Grand Canyon is Canyon de Chelly (Chelly is pronounced "shay") This is, to me, a much better canyon than the Grand Canyon. It is not as deep, but is much more intimate, and not as many people are here. Worth a look.
Not too far is Monument Valley. That is well worth a look, too. You will recognize the rock formations from many a movie and from advertisements.
Then, find the road to Page, at Lake Powell. It is a man-made lake, but very nice. Head out of Page and to the northern side of the Grand Canyon which is supposed to be the better side to see it on. Keep going west thru Utah, which will lead you to Vegas. (You know you want to go back!!)
After Vegas, you can make your way further west to San Francisco. and then cut up north. But like I said before, 3 months will allow you plenty of time to see pretty much any part of the country as you wanted to. Maybe I misunderstood, and you only have 3 months total time, but you can take in the sights I mentioned in a week's time, including the time it takes you to get through California north of San Francisco, through Oregon, and through Washington. As I have never been north of SFran, perhaps someone could give you the sights to see from northern California upwards.
One thing we are blessed with in the US, and the Canadians are, too, is a good highway system. If you stick to the major routes, you can make very good times.
1) Don't ride any of the Interstate highways in the U.S., unless you have to get through major cities or need to get somewhere in a hurry. But, you're guaranteed not to see anything (like, don't ride up I-5 to get from California to Washington - it sucks). Ride the "red" highways (2 lane on US maps) or solid black roads (paved) on US maps. Its slower, but more interesting, and you'll run across much more interesting food, places to stay, things to stop and look at then you'll find at any freeway exit.
2) Plan to hit as many National Parks as possible. To me, that's the good stuff in America. If you're going to ride up the 2-lane highways from Arizona up along the California/Nevada border, try hitting the Grand Canyon, Redwoods, Yosemite, Lassen, Crater Lake, Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Rainier etc. Buy a National Park Pass at the first one you hit - $50 - but its good for a year. Gets you into NP's and some others (National Monuments) where a daily vehicle fee is required (which is usually $5 a day minimum -camping is extra).
Riding the California, Oregon and Washington coast is also good, but it tends to be cooler and wetter than the interior, but certainly an enjoyable and interesting ride the whole way.
3) You can't go wrong just riding the west for scenery - from the front range of the Rockies (Denver) to the Pacific. Back and forth, up and down - you'll see some damn impressive country everywhere you go.
4) For American history - its the east coast. Some good scenery there as well in the Apalachians, but it's where the U.S. has all its most important historical stuff related to the colonies, the revolt from Britain, the U.S. Civil War battlefields, oldest architecture (nothing even close to Europe), etc.
5) A good way to see America if you are camping is doing BMW motorcycle ralleys (other brands may also have similar - I'm familiar with BMW's). You don't need a BMW to attend their rallies. What's great about them is, they are camping ralleys, and you'll have secure camping (to leave your gear behind while you are out riding the local area during the day), showers and other facilities (shelters), some meals (dinners and maybe some breakfast food) and the like for a modest price (like around $50/person, for showing up Thursday or Friday, departing Sunday weekend). You can get info on the BMWMOA website (www.bmwmoa.org) of where rallies take place, plan routes to each one accordingly to take advantage of your interests. Its a cheap, easy way to see a small area of the country (usually good motorcycle roads) with lots of people to offer suggestions of what to see, where to ride.
6) Drink only at micro-breweries -you can find them just about everywhere. Forget those major brands - piss water.
In 3 months you can just about see the whole lower 48. Use the interstates in the flat boring northern middle section and to get back west if you spend too long in the east.
As someone else said, unless you need to make time backroad it. We have LOTS of backroads that are 60mph.
In the south east, St Augustine Florida, Atlanta Georgia, New Orleans Louisiana, Fontana Dam, Deal's Gap North Carolina, Cheraholwa Skyway, Blue Ridge Parkway, drift north on the backroads to Maine, loop through Vermont, New Hampshire, into northern New York. In Michigan, the Mackinaw Bridge. Take at least a pass through West Virginia.
I tend to eat miles so I might not be the best to gauge how long a trip takes, but, 3 months would be enough for me to make 3 or 4 loops around the lower 48.
Yuma Simon 'ol buddy, you really should stay in your own sphere of knowledge here bud. Highway 5 is truly cruel advice for a stranger. Are you Irish? Do you hate the English? BTW, Hiway 5 comes 70 miles from San Fran at its nearest. But it is great when you really need to just GET THERE.
Actually, some of my best friends are British...
Yeah, I messed up with my highway/freeway geography, but 70 miles can be done in about an hour. Plus, the 5 was only an option as I wasn't sure how much time he had in the US. (Total of 3 months for the entire trip, or 3 months for the US part?) If he needed to "get there" then the 5 is an alternate. If he has some leisure time in the States, then, by all means, and by the grace of God, avoid any of the freeways/highways/interstates pretty much anywhere in the US, but California in particular!! (Take the backroads/biways/frontage roads)
BTW, if you read his trip through Africa, then you will probably agree that he will end up moving to Vegas, if he can help it...
I rode in the area you are discussing, from Yuma to San Diego then north up R5 to Los Angeles then Malibu. I then cut inland to Barstow and Las Vegas. After a few days, I headed west into Death Valley calling in at Badwater (one of the lowest places on the Earth's crust) staying the night at Stovepipe Wells (118f at 4pm), then on to Tioga Pass and Yosemite for a few days then on to San Francisco. I then headed down the R1 to Big Sur, a superb road but overtaking possibilities reduced by the speed limits and double yellow lines.
If your gonna be on the west coast around San Fran then you'll have to see the redwoods, crater lake then ride the Oregon coast from Goldbeach to Newport. Try to see as many of the parks as possible; Gran Canyon, Zion, Arches, Yellowstone, Glacier/Waterton all must do's. Just do like I do and get the N.P. pass for $50, it'll save you in the long run.
If you are in my little corner of the world (WAshington State) I would say that you shouldn't miss seeing Mt. St. Helens from the Windy Ridge stopoff as well as the Olympic National Park. Both are easily accessible from the main Interstate I-5 although I wouldn't recommend using I-5 for your travels (if that makes any sense). I-5 has way too much traffic, especially north of Olympia. Try to avoid this route but you may have to cross over it to get from say Windy Ridge on Mt. St. Helens to Olympic National Park. Don't miss these locations. Also try to hit the San Juan islands.
If you need more info, once you are up here feel free to contact me via email or PM.
Originally Posted by Sime66
I'm just starting to plan a bike trip from Argentina to Canada. The US bit of the trip is tricky to plan because of the 3 month visa limit. (UK passport)
What would you say was unmissable in
1. West coast USA
2. The middle bit
3. East Coast
I've been to New York, LA and Las Vegas before. I really wanna go to San Francisco, and I need to enter Canada somewhere near Vancouver. Maybe up through Seattle.
Hi , I will recommand the West states more than the East coast as the scenery will be so much more interesting , you can forget Florida state ( big long boring state , I live there), the mid west is full of incredible park and the riding will be easy if you are in the right season, if you can enter Canada close to Vancouver and then after a visit to the city head north for some incredible riding.You can buy a book from National geografic about the most scenicroad in the US , I use it many time and never been disapointed.
I don't claim to have been everywhere or done everthing,but I have ridden 250,000 miles or so here.I,ve ridden to the western states and loved them for what they are,and had agreat ride in NEW Jersey of all places.
As long as you stick to the back roads,the curvey ones it's all good.
So if your route brings you close Kentucky give me a shout, I can show you a world class ride in any direction from my home.And if you need aplace to stay you'll be welcome.I'm a farmer so most of May& June are pretty busy but you could check out my cows and tobacco crops.
As for a whistle wetter try Kentucky Ales Bourbon Barrel, it's real tasty.
Don't miss this one, Mt Rushmore pales into insignificance compared to Crazy Horse in the Black Hills of South Dakota. It blew me away!
Following is a quote from the web site "When completed the Crazy Horse mountain carving will be 641 feet long by 563 feet high. Crazy Horse's completed head is 87 feet 6 inches high. The horse's head, currently the focus of work on the mountain, is 219 feet or 22 stories high"
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