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We're thinking about taking this ride via CA 120 and US 95 in October. Has anyone done this ride? If so, what is the ride like (scenery, weather at these higher altitudes in October)? Wife doesn't like the twistees, and she's apprehensive about this route.
 

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I've done those roads a number of times. The only real twisties you will hit on that route are on 120 through Yosemite, but the road is well engineered and shouldn't be much of a problem. The high country of Yosemite is spectacular.

Let me suggest a slight different route. Go through Yosemite and over Tioga Pass and when you get to 395, head south to Lone Pine and then take 136 and 190 through Death Valley before connecting up to 95 east of Death Valley.

I do a 1,000 mile loop every October with a bunch of other bikers following that route to Death Valley, and then we return on 178 though the southern Sierra until we get back into the Central Valley of California.

Yosemite is spectacular as is Death Valley. The temps are usually warm in Death Valley but not too bad. Once in awhile the temps will pass 100 but usually they are in the 90s or high 80's. A couple of years Tioga Pass was closed because of an early season snowstorm and it was cold in the Sierra (on alternate roads), but that is only occasionally and you can check by calling Caltrans road info at 800-GAS-ROAD.

I'll be doing the Death Valley Ride October 8-10th. What dates are you thinking about? The later into October you get, the more chance it will be cold and possibly snowy going over the Sierra but only in unusual years.

Let me know if you have any other questions.
 

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Mike is absolutely right about his selection of a new route for you. much more scenic .....I have seen snow on these roads in October several times but chances are you will be fine.

I am going to Vegas Oct 9-14, I will be coming down from Oregon. I am shopping a new route down myself.

Got to cut over to Nevada375 and see the Aliens......
 

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Michael,

We're going to an INDY car race in Las Vegas. I'm not sure of the dates, but I think its October 29th.

Thanks so much for the route suggestions!
 

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I used to hunt that high country a lot when younger and can tell you the farther your trip goes into October, the more dicier it gets. Awesomely beautiful country though. Good luck.
 

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Michael,

We're going to an INDY car race in Las Vegas. I'm not sure of the dates, but I think its October 29th.

Thanks so much for the route suggestions!
You are quite welcome.

One piece of advice on the route I mentioned. As you go south on 395, at one point you start to descend fairly quickly, from about 6,000 feet to 4,000 feet. Here you are entering the Owens Valley. Be careful on this stretch. It is straight and long and one's speed tends to creep up. The leos know this and patrol that section fairly constantly. You don't need an unintended speeding ticket.

And the route south along 395 gives you a spectacular view of the eastern escarpment of the Sierra. On the west side of the Sierra, there are foothills and it ascends gradually. The eastern side jumps right out of the ground. So you are looking at a 2,000 foot wall all the way from Mono Lake to Lone Pine, where you would turn east into Death Valley. At Lone Pine you can see Mt. Whitney, the highest peak in the continental 48.

More tidbits. Before you get into Death Valley, you have to go through the Panamint Valley. This is spectacular all by itself. But the road out of the Panamint, east along 178 is according to some calculations, the steepest road in America over that distance. It is modern and well engineered. The result is that when going east, you are going uphill at a steep angle. Your bike will allow you to go fast, and the hill will slow you down, meaning you can charge into the curves, and there are a bunch for a short stretch. If you find you are going too fast into the curve, there is no need to brake. Because of the steep angle of the road, all you have to do to reduce your speed considerably is to roll off the throttle and the bike will drop 20 mph quite quickly. There are also wide shoulders. It a place to have fun.

In Death Valley, try stopping at Zabriskie Point, about 5 miles east of Furnace Creek. It's a bit of a walk uphill once you park your bike (not long but steep) but you'll see a beautiful sight.
 

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Michael,

We're going to an INDY car race in Las Vegas. I'm not sure of the dates, but I think its October 29th.

Thanks so much for the route suggestions!
I want to mention another route possibility for the return trip or if the northern Sierra passes are closed or two cold you can get to Las Vegas this way. And that is Route 178 through the Kern River Canyon. You go south along 99 until you get to 178 in Bakersfield and then pick up 178 there. You take it to where it ends. The last 50 miles are through the Panamint Valley, which parallels Death Valley to the west, and at the end you pick up 190 into Death Valley and on to Las Vegas.

If you should happen to do what I recommended previously, 120 to 395 to Lone Pine and into Death Valley, on the way back there are a number of ways to get back to 178 for the ride through the southern Sierra and the Kern River Canyon. In the Kern River Canyon, it is narrow, curvy, with high walls of stone on both sides and the river right next to you. The same geological forces that created Yosemite Valley created the Kern River Canyon.

So, I hope you have a lot of fun exploring these roads either on this trip or future trips. Right now I am in Sierra City, about an hour north of Tahoe exploring the northern Sierra this weekend. This is all pretty close to Stockton, too.
 

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Michael,

More good information from you, thanks. We're actually going to make the trip on October 15 and return on the 17th. If you ever get near Elk Grove, CA (home) let me know and maybe we can get together for a ride.
 

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Michael,

More good information from you, thanks. We're actually going to make the trip on October 15 and return on the 17th. If you ever get near Elk Grove, CA (home) let me know and maybe we can get together for a ride.
WE may just wind up meeting someday. I spent the weekend riding around the Sierra just a bit north of where you are, along Route 49 near Sierra City. I put 600 most excellent miles on the bike, seeing the Sierra at its finest. I hope your trip to Las Vegas goes as well. The weekend before you go to LV I'll be making my annual trip to Death Valley along 120 - 395 - 136 - 190 and returning via 178 through the Kern River Canyon.
 

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Just stumbled across this thread while browsing around looking for something to read. Great stuff, Michael. Man, you sure make me homesick. Can't wait to get back out there. I love 395. I plan to make the 49 run up to Sierra City next spring, and a lot more. When you get a chance, Michael, how 'bout posting some more route descriptions on our thread we started awhile back.
 

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It's almost October and the first rains are about to hit California. They are predicting significant rain for Monday and Tuesday, October 3rd and 4th. That will probably mean some snow and possibly road closure through the Sierra passes for a day or two. With early snow and road closure, they still plow the roads and get them open in a day or so. I am hoping for that because on Saturday, October 8th I am scheduled to go over Tioga Pass in Yosemite on Route 120 on my way to Death Valley. So I'll have to keep my eye on the weather, as will the OP for his ride to Las Vegas later in the month.
 

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Man you guys are so lucky to live out there, Ive always wanted to ride out west, hope to make that trip some day.
 

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That whole area is in my backyard and I do most of my riding there, including an annual Oct run to Vegas. The guys have given you the best advice there is; check the forecast. Expect it to be cold in the morning (its high desert) and cold over the passes most of the time. Think deer, too, bro. Whichever route you take from 395, you'll dig 95. Wide open country, wide open road, and very little traffic.
 

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I've been following all these routes on the map. I may have to spend the whole summer out there next year. I'd sure like to, maybe I'll just stay. That's what I should have done 30 years ago.
 

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A fun ride to do is to see how many Sierra passes you can ride over in one weekend. There quite a few. It starts with Route 70 in the north through the Feather River Canyon. North of there it is the Cascade Range. In the south, it's I5 over the Grapevine over the southern Sierra. That would be the furthest one south. And there is a whole lot in between. There are way too many for one weekend, so this will take time. Happy riding!
 

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A fun ride to do is to see how many Sierra passes you can ride over in one weekend. There quite a few. It starts with Route 70 in the north through the Feather River Canyon. North of there it is the Cascade Range. In the south, it's I5 over the Grapevine over the southern Sierra. That would be the furthest one south. And there is a whole lot in between. There are way too many for one weekend, so this will take time. Happy riding!
Been on all of them. Some of them many times. I don't get too excited about the Grapevine or Donner (80) tho.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Thanks all for the great information. I've deceided to take the quickest route to Las Vegas instead of the scenic route this time because I need to get there in one day. So this time it will be interstates all the way. Hopefully, I'll have time to take the scenic route in a few months when I have more time. The wife will be along this trip and the weather in mid-October could be a problem in the high country. If I let her get too cold and tired she might never want to take another trip with me.
 

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My brother just bought a bike in Reno and rode over Donner Pass to get home to Oakhurst. He was having a lot of trouble with construction and weather. He thought he was going to have to pull over and wait for things to get better. Figured if he had to wait long he'd flag somebody down and eat 'em.
 

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Thanks all for the great information. I've deceided to take the quickest route to Las Vegas instead of the scenic route this time because I need to get there in one day. So this time it will be interstates all the way. Hopefully, I'll have time to take the scenic route in a few months when I have more time. The wife will be along this trip and the weather in mid-October could be a problem in the high country. If I let her get too cold and tired she might never want to take another trip with me.

So you'll be crossing the southern Sierra on 58 through Tahachapi and into the Mojave Desert and onto I15. You'll have a nice ride.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Michael, I was thinking that the fastest way would be 99 south to I15. Not very scenic, but I could move much faster.
 
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