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Round trip: LA, Phoenix, Tucson, San Diego, LA. Route??

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Round trip: LA, Phoenix, Tucson, San Diego, LA. Route??

My husband & I are going to be travelling (2-up) on our Harley Roadking starting and ending in LA ('cos thats where we store the bike with friends) and want to take in Phoenix, Tucson and San Diego. Can you suggest some good routes/rides to make the trip more enjoyable? We like to avoid Interstates, but don't want pure dirt tracks either! We have a month to spend doing this but don't want to go as far as NM due to the time of year/weather. We dont mind which way round we do the trip, but don't want to re-cross our tracks if at all possible.

Can you also suggest somewhere to spend Thanksgiving as we don't know anyone at all and would like to be somewhere friendly to strangers!

Wednesbury, UK
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1. Re: Round trip: LA, Phoenix, Tucson, San Diego, LA. Route??

Hi Carole.

Just checking, have you have been to Grand Canyon, Sedona and some of the other locations in Northern Arizona? What about the southern Utah locations, Zion, Bryce, Moab even. In a month you have a lot of choice and can still take in the locations you identified and more? Obviously, bearing in mind that in November the weather could give some snow the further north or higher elevation you go to.

Edited: 30 August 2012, 22:19
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2. Re: Round trip: LA, Phoenix, Tucson, San Diego, LA. Route??

I have driven out the 10 to Phoenix and Palm Springs/Palm Desert is on the way. There are great outlets for shopping, but being on a bike, I do not know how much you could really do. We have also driven the 8 from Tucson to San Diego and there is not much at all along the way. There is Ocotillo (I think) San Dunes where people ride dirt bikes and what not near the state lines...and then you are pretty much in the boonies. You cross the Colorado River...and until you get to San Diego (area) there just is not much going on.

I agree with the PP about doing the Grand Circle Tour. It takes you up to Zion, Bryce, Canyonlands, Moab, Grand Canyon etc. Just look up Grand Circle. We are doing that loop (plus Mesa Verde, CO and Yellowstone and Grand Teton in 23 days next September).

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3. Re: Round trip: LA, Phoenix, Tucson, San Diego, LA. Route??

Have done the grand circle and all points north of Sedona, all the way up to Yosemite. Want to explore more south now.

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4. Re: Round trip: LA, Phoenix, Tucson, San Diego, LA. Route??

With a lot of time on your hands and trying to avoid the interstates as much as possible and making big zigzags you can do something like:

1. Take Pacific Coast highway south of LA sticking to the coast as much as possible (not always possible and maybe you have gps, but a good map is essential). Try a nice fishmeal for lunch.

2. From San Diego (El Cajun) you can take the scenic road along the Mex border (safe drive) called ca94. It's winding an beautiful. Just before you reach I8 turn left along the interstate, cross it by bridge and take very scenic Sunrise Highway all the way to Julian. Buy Apple pies in Julian. They are fantastic.

3. From Julian take 78 followed by the "S" Roads into Borrego Springs. S rd to 79 and 74. 74 is called Palms to Pines Highway and drops down steep and narrow to Coachella Valley. This road ends in Palm Desert.

4. Take 111 along Salton see till Niland and see Salvation Mountain. Also try to find Mud Volcanos. Then drive 78 to Imperial Sanddunes. No stops allowed but you can drive the paved road on top of the dunes called Osborne Overlook. Many sandbuggies and people staying in their trailers an the foot of the dunes. Continue the dips road 78 from there to the fertile Colorado River grounds and to Blythe. Fill your tank in Arizona just across the border.

5. Take I10 into Az till us60. Drive to Wickenburg and Prescott for a visit. Take 89A via Mingus Mountains to Jerome and to Sedona for a stay.

6. Via 179 to I17. Cross this interstate at Campe Verde and take beautiful 260 and then descend on 87 to Strawberry and Pine. Then visit Tonto Natural Bridge on the way to Payson. Drive down Beelline hw and take the exit to 188 to Lake Roosevelt. Visit its visitor center along the lake. You now can drive az88. That;s called Apache Trail and 20 miles of it are unpaved. Not to drive when wet. Washboard road but not that tough to drive in good weather. Its paved again till Tortilla Flat (The cafe there is a must stop, don't miss the Hanging Man) and the rest of the drive to Apache Junction also is paved and scenic. In Apache Junction you can visit Golf Field ghosttown.

If you don't want to drive unpaved roads just head to Globe and take 77 from there to Tucson. From Apache Junction take 60 to Superior (great Boyce Thompson Arboretum there) and take 177 to 77. Along Biosphere 2 or just take 79 from AJ to Tucson directly.

On the way back:

7 .You can drive the byways to Tombstone and Bisbee and visit Chiricahua NM. Also wineries in that area. From Willcox you can head up north to 191. Now if you really like winding an slow roads you can drive Coronado Trail (191) north to Eagar but it will take a long time. Another option is to drive 191 to Guthrie and take 78 into New Mexico. Steep and winding in Az and endless views and rolling hills in NM. You'll get to us180 another great drive with the Catwalk near Glenwood and another great drive to Alpine and to Eagar/Springerville eventually. Not much scenery in Eagar.

8. From Eagar take us60 to the exit for 61/180. That will get you to Petrified Forest NP, Painted desert and on I40 eventually.

R66 runs more or less along I40. We have taken every exit on that route but you must be an R66 buff then. Stop in Holbrook and see its Wigwam motel. In Winslow have something to eat at La Posada in its Turquoise Room. Winslow also has Standing on the Corner from the old Eagles song. The flatbed ford (a new one) is still there. You can visit Meteor Crater on the way to Flagstaff.

9. Flagstaff has lots of attractions and north of Flag you'll find Sunset Crater Volcano and Wupatki NM. You can make the loop and continue to Cameron for its Trading Post. Enter GC by its east entrance. Maybe you fancy a night at the rim. Leave GC by its south entrance on the way to Williams.

10. Now there still is a lot to see on the way to LA. See Seligman and take R66 between Seligman and Kingman. Grand Canyon Caverns, Peach Springs, Valentine and Hackberry are on your way. From Kingman take Oatman hw (R66) to Cool Springs, Sitgreaves Pass and Oatman. Continue to Topock and I40. Fill your tank again in Az. Follow I40 till the exit in Fenner (115) and drive National Trails hw (R66) along the ABC hamlets to Amboy for Amboy Crater and Roy's Cafe and continue to Ludlow. You can continue on National Trails Hw to Daggett but it's not that interesting so better take I40 to Barstow. You;ll find Bagdad Cafe in Newberry Springs (named after the movie) and Peggy Sue's dinner in Yermo. There also is Galico Ghosttown near Barstow if you are interested. Barstow also is an R66 town. Interesting for a drive through and you can continue to Victorville on NTH. You'll find R66 museums in places like Kingman, Victorville and Barstow. Beyond Victorville you still can take NTH and stop at another Wigwam motel in Rialto.

Hope I didnot confuse you. I tried to add as many scenic drives as possible. I left out Phoenix but you easily can get there if you keep following Beeline hw from Payson.

Tet

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5. Re: Round trip: LA, Phoenix, Tucson, San Diego, LA. Route??

Hi again.

I guess the clue you had already seen some of the west was in the clue that you stored the bike in LA.

Tet has given you some great suggestions and the only things I can add is maybe Organ Pipe Cactus NM, possibly if you have already been to the Prescott area, so you divert there on route from Blythe towards Tucson. Also. maybe the Parker Strip after Topock, and back up the US95 as a loop drive before the Nat Trails Hwy?

Edited: 31 August 2012, 11:50
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6. Re: Round trip: LA, Phoenix, Tucson, San Diego, LA. Route??

This is fabulous! Many thanks.

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7. Re: Round trip: LA, Phoenix, Tucson, San Diego, LA. Route??

Thanks for the suggestions. A lot of what Tet 14 suggests, we have already done, but Julian is new to me and I love Apple pie so will definately fit it in!

Our ideas so far are these....but we are still open to suggestions:

LA to Borregos Springs for the first night,stopping in Temecula for lunch. Then Blythe for a night; Wickenburg for a night; Prescott and Jerome as pit-stops on the way to Sedona for another night. Then head to Phoenix via Strawberry and Payson. Probably a couple of nights in Phoenix, using it as a base to go and see places such as Casa Grande ruinsNM; Boyce Arboretum; Apache junction/Superstition mountain/Lost Dutchman plus various museums and art galleries etc.

Then the 79 to Tucson via biodome 2. Probably longer in Tucson as I have a massive list of things to see in the area between the i-19/mex border/191/i-10.

Leave Tucson on the 86, heading to Organ Pipe Cactus Nm via Kitt Peak Nat Observatory. One night in Gila Bend, another in Yuma and then San Diego. Doing the trip this way round means we will be in SD for Thanksgiving, which I hope will be fun! Having been to SD before, we know we loved it and wanted more time here, so will spend a few days and then head back to LA.

If anyone can add/refine this, please let me know. We will be back again in the Spring!

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8. Re: Round trip: LA, Phoenix, Tucson, San Diego, LA. Route??

You can drive up to Kitt Peak via another winding road. The drive to Organ Pipe has millions of Saguaros but isn't very exciting imo. Organ Pipe is beautiful but the loop is unpaved. We stayed Ajo. A tiny community with snow white churches. For a desert experience I liked it better than Gila Bend plus Gila Bend to Yuma is just a short drive. Mind your speed in Gila Bend. There also is a borderpatrol checkpoint between Organ Pipe and Why. You'll pass Why, an ongoing joke on the forums like Why (Az) to Hell (MI) Good idea to spend time in Tucson, so many places to visit. And for I19. It's the only interstate in the USA that counts kilometers instead miles.... Don't miss Mission San Xavier del Bac. Often concerts on sunday. Also try to visit Tubac.

If you are interested, just north of Blythe are Blythe Intaglios but there isn't much to see. Have you already been to Vulture Mines in Wickenburg? Granite Dells Prescott?

Tet

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9. Re: Round trip: LA, Phoenix, Tucson, San Diego, LA. Route??

Not been to either of those last two, but will add them to my list, so thanks.

10. Re: Round trip: LA, Phoenix, Tucson, San Diego, LA. Route??

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