Whatever it is you’re looking for in a long motorcycle trip, you’ll find it in some part of the USA. Every conceivable landscape is represented, from urban sprawl to snow-capped peaks, along with every conceivable type of person, from slavering, Bible-obsessed gun-nut to some of the friendliest human beings on the planet. If you stay off the interstates and stick to the back roads you’re pretty much guaranteed an amazing time; the former tend to be featureless slogs interspersed with strip malls, and the latter are where all the interesting/weird stuff happens. Las Vegas to San Francisco has it all…
Las Vegas NV
Both cities are easy to reach from overseas, and there’ll be no trouble hiring a motorcycle when you get there. Arriving in Vegas, it’s a good idea to have reserved a room online first; not because there’s often a shortage, but because there are some amazing deals to be had, especially out of season, for large, comfortable rooms right on the Strip. The Circus Circus casino hotel is a pretty good choice, having been spruced up fairly recently.
Hoover Dam & Lake Havasu City AZ
You’ll have to negotiate about a mile of slots and table games to actually leave the hotel – but that’s par for the course here. If you don’t want to get involved in the live gambling, or you just want to test your skill first, try a couple of hands at an online site Gamingclub; at least you can play for free there. If you have time, a 55km ride out to the Hoover Dam is well worth it. The sight of the old London Bridge resurrected in Lake Havasu City, 250km to the south, is very, very odd.
Death Valley CA
The next stage depends on what time of year you choose to visit. Out of high summer, head north-east for the entrance to Death Valley National Park. Whenever you go, check the weather – it’s not called Death Valley for nothing. In spring it can be very pleasantly cool, and if you go just after it rains you’ll find the desert in bloom.
Next stop – Mariposa, a small town with a fantastic bar (the 49er), tucked away in the backwoods south of Yosemite, and a useful stop for the National Park. There are a couple of great motel options here that won’t break the bank, and the Park entrance is about 15km away. Yosemite itself is one of the most stunning landscapes you could hope to find yourself in, so try and leave as much time as possible to fully experience it. You can ride around much of the park, but bear in mind that, up to early spring, some areas will be shut due to snow.
San Francisco CA
Mariposa to San Francisco is around 260km; try and enter the city on the Bay Bridge via Oakland if you can. It’s astonishingly cool crossing it on a bike – but not as cool as the Golden Gate Bridge, which – trust me – you’ll do again and again and again…
(Image: Craig Howell/Flickr)