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Route Planning Where to go, when, what are the interesting places to see
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  #1  
Old 19 Sep 2010
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Death Valley in July?

Hello community,

I just found this forum in the huge WEB and therefore I will introduce myself first:

My name is Lutz and I am a German citizen, currently living in Mexico. Next year in July I will return to Germany and my plan is to travel with my R1200RT, purchased in Mexico, from Mexico via USA to Canada. From Canada I plan to return to Germany by airplane and I would like to ship my motorcycle by air or sea freight from Canada to Germany as well.

Currently, my tour plan is the following: Puebla-Guanajuato-Mazatlán-Baja California-Tijuana-Los Angeles-Death Valley-Las Vegas-Zion National Park-Bryce Canyon-Salt Lake City-Idaho Falls-Yellowstone-Edmonton-Jasper-Banff-Vancouver

Roundabout 8000km/5000miles in approx three weeks!

I am aware that I will pass lots of different climate zones but I am especially concerned about passing the Death Valley in July. It would be nice if you could post your experiences or recommendations. Is it too hot for bike and biker during daylight? Is it better to ride in the night or morning hours? Is it better to think about an alternative route?

Unfortunately, I have only three weeks for the whole tour and every detail needs to be planned in advance.

Best regards,

Lutz
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  #2  
Old 21 Sep 2010
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DO IT !
Death Valley is totally enjoyable on a motorcycle in July. I know whiners will claim otherwise ,as they spend their lives in refrigerated cubicles.
It is an experience to savour, ride through in the daytime, bring lots of drinking water and drink whenever you feel thirsty. Buy a liter-or two- of cold drinks at the stores in Stovepipe Wells Scotty' s Jct, and wherever.
If you hit a warm spell the temp may rise to 50C and higher but you can cope with it all.
I have done it multiple times in all months of the year and summer heat is a special feature I enjoy . Busloads of tourists ride through, they step out of the air conditioned coach just to experience the heat.
Just remember to drink water and keep your skin covered from sun exposure. Even spray water on your clothes , wet cloth acts like an ac as it dries.. You will not sweat- any perspiration evaporates right away. Keep your head out of the wind- the hot air will ADD heat to your body, just like a hair dryer.
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  #3  
Old 21 Sep 2010
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Death Valley will be very hot in July, but it is a dry heat - zero humidity. As Sjoerd said, drink LOTS of water.

Most people visit January - March, when the desert flowers are in bloom and the heat isn't too bad.

On your way up north you may want to see Glacier National Park. Yellowstone is beautiful, but Glacier is stunningly beautiful - especially the "Going to the Sun road" and the Logan Pass area, where you can hike across a small glacier field and some of the most beautiful vistas in North America.
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  #4  
Old 22 Sep 2010
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Lived in that heat for a few years did some riding in it. You can sweat 1 gallon(almost 4 liters) of water a day gust standing still. I will drink near 2 gallons a day. You can see temps hit 120f to 130f or 55c in the shade in the day so it gets plenty hot and it can last months.

Some things that will help and I use are cooling vests they hold water in a gel that cools you as you ride. Hydration bags help keep you hydrated, little hint have them in the shade or the water gets hot. Sports drinks you are sweating more than you think. Ride in the early morning it is much cooler. Do not eat as much, your body will be tying to cool you food will not help. No coffee or alcohol both make you pee. Drink before you get thirsty in that heat and wind your body will not know when to drink. If you stop sweating get in the shade and get water in you now.

Some things you want to think about. Can you pick up bike if you drop it in the heat you may find it harder. Will any one come and look for you if you are late? If your bike fails stay with it, it is much faster to find a bike on a road than a person. Bring more water than you need.

People die every year in the desert thinking there is no problems do not underestimate it. But with a little planing there is no problems.

A little help from the US
CDC Extreme Heat | A Prevention Guide to Promote Your Personal Health and Safety
the cdc
Big Bend National Park - How NOT to die in the Desert (U.S. National Park Service)
how not to die a good thing to know.
Death Valley National Park (U.S. National Park Service)
all about the park.

have fun but stay safe.
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  #5  
Old 22 Sep 2010
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Thank you for all the recommendations, which I have received so far.
I have been in the Death Valley for several times, but never in summer and always with air conditioned vehicles. My highest temperature there has been 48°C/118°F.

Here in Mexico I am used to high temperatures as well. Occasionally I am passing dessert zones with temperatures up to 42°C/107°F and I know how it feels when you are riding a bike in hot and dry areas for several hours - of course not that hot than it could be in the Death Valley in July

@Sjoerd Bakker: Thx for the tip with the wet cloth

@Bain Dramage: Glacier National Park is already on my tour list. I just added your recommendation about the "Going to the Sun road" and the Logan Pass area to my planning.

@DLbiten: Thx for the helpful links

Thanks to your feedback, I already know that the Death Valley will definitely be on my route.

I am really looking forward to this trip. However, this will be my last tour in America for a while and I already know that I for sure will miss the (theoretical) possibility to ride a bike 365 days a year after my return to Germany

Saludos,

Lutz
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  #6  
Old 8 Nov 2010
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Hello Lutz:

The only time I have been in Death Valley has been to carry out hot-weather testing of aircraft.

The place is damn hot, that is for sure. But, it's not exactly a huge area - I mean, it's not like you will be crossing the Sahara desert.

My suggestion is that you purchase a "Camelback" water bag, fill the thing up, then keep it filled up as you ride in the hot weather. I use one of these things when I am riding in Spain in the summer.

Provided that you do not get off the paved highways, there will be sufficient traffic around to help you out if you have a breakdown or get into any trouble.

Be aware that hotels and lodges in the Valley are quite expensive.

Michael
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  #7  
Old 8 Nov 2010
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Sorry, this is a bit off the record...

Lutz, do take lots of photos and visit nextyear's HU meeting in Germany when you're back here. There is one in early summer and another in autumn.

Hans
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  #8  
Old 8 Nov 2010
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Unless you're doing dirt roads and harder routes in Death Valley, you'll only be there for a short time. With ample water and some desert skills you'll be fine.

Personally I'd be more concerned about Baja, where temperatures will probably be scorching every day, day after day--and there may be no escape if you find yourself getting sick. Riding around in the heat for a few hours is different from riding all day long. I'd think carefully about this, and consider continuing north through the mainland mountains instead.

Hope that helps.

Mark
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  #9  
Old 9 Nov 2010
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Thanks for your suggestions. I own a R1200RT and therefore I don't intend to get of the paved roads. Using a Camelback sounds like a good idea.

About the Baja I am not that concerned because I am used to make long distance trips in the area of Veracruz and Acapulco (=> high temperature and high humidity).

@Hans (vaufi): I will take lots of photos and of course I would like to visit nextyear's HU meeting in Germany. Can you send me the dates or could you tell me, where to find more information about that here in the forum (I am not yet familiar with the HU-forum)?

Saludos,

Lutz
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  #10  
Old 16 Nov 2010
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Talking It's not to be feared

Hi,

As mentioned above, DO IT! I did it a few years ago on an R1100RT with my girlfriend riding pillion. We rode from San Francisco (where I picked her up) via Yosemite, King's Canyon and Sequoia National Parks and on to Vegas (where I dropped her off again to fly home). We rode through in June, coming in from the west and left by the south exit (which is still tarmac but there was very little traffic past Badwater). Yes it was hot, you will need plenty of water as already mentioned but it was fantastic and well worth the "hardship".

I agree with the post about having to visit Glacier National Park too - it is stunningly beautiful up there.

Have fun!
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  #11  
Old 17 Dec 2010
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Bring a camelbak, 2 liters of extra water per person, electrolytes and sunscreen, you will be fine. In that kind of heat I like to wear a long sleeve shirt that is soaked in water, it's like A/C.
The danger is in Mexico within 200 miles of the border. don't ride at night and once you hit Ensenada, stay on the toll road and don't stop moving until you are over the border.
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  #12  
Old 19 Dec 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by worthydog View Post
The danger is in Mexico within 200 miles of the border. don't ride at night and once you hit Ensenada, stay on the toll road and don't stop moving until you are over the border.
Yes, you are right! Fortunately, some of my Mexican friends join us until the border.

Originally, my son Dennis planned, to come with me as a pillion rider but for a few weeks he has now a drivers license and he owns a motorcycle, a BMW F650GS.
Under the slogan RidingHome! he is no writing on his bilingual website, about his experiences and the preparations regarding our tour.
I would like to invite you to visit his website at http://www.ridinghome.de . Since he will be posting personal information about himself, he would appreciate it a lot if you sign in with your real name.
Registered users will be informed regularly about the project RidingHome! by newsletter.

I wish all of you a merry Christmas and a happy new year.

Saludos,
Lutz
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  #13  
Old 29 Jan 2011
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Gas

Good luck Lutz, I believe we met in Nakusp but my wife says I'm often wrong...
A question about Death Valley though, I was thinking of riding through there myself in June coming down from Reno headed to Las Vegas and I was hoping to find out distances between gas stations since my DL 1000 V-Strom only gets about 300-350 km a tank; whether or not filling up in Bishop CA or Long Pine CA or the Visitor's Centre??? will give me enough juice to get to Vegas or will I need to rig up a jerrycan?
With thanks,
Mark aka Lerxst
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  #14  
Old 30 Jan 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lerxst View Post
Good luck Lutz, I believe we met in Nakusp but my wife says I'm often wrong...
A question about Death Valley though, I was thinking of riding through there myself in June coming down from Reno headed to Las Vegas and I was hoping to find out distances between gas stations since my DL 1000 V-Strom only gets about 300-350 km a tank; whether or not filling up in Bishop CA or Long Pine CA or the Visitor's Centre??? will give me enough juice to get to Vegas or will I need to rig up a jerrycan?
With thanks,
Mark aka Lerxst
Lerxst I did that ride in July many years back on a Honda CX500 - tank range approx 200km. You will have no problems on a DL.
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  #15  
Old 30 Jan 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lerxst View Post
Good luck Lutz, I believe we met in Nakusp but my wife says I'm often wrong...
A question about Death Valley though, I was thinking of riding through there myself in June coming down from Reno headed to Las Vegas and I was hoping to find out distances between gas stations since my DL 1000 V-Strom only gets about 300-350 km a tank; whether or not filling up in Bishop CA or Long Pine CA or the Visitor's Centre??? will give me enough juice to get to Vegas or will I need to rig up a jerrycan?
With thanks,
Mark aka Lerxst
Hi, I did that trip with a pillion on a BMW R1100RT, and we did not just ride through, we also "looked around a bit". Getting gas really was not an issue - there is a gas station in Death Valley (if you really need it - expensive!), although we didn't. So no worries on that front.

Rob
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