Bucket List Check-off
Riding the California Coastline has been on my bucket list for decades and this tour did not disappoint.
I considered several options for the ride out to California. My first thought was to ride out in one day so I would have more time for California. I live in Colorado so a one day ride, straightest path, would be about 19.5 hours and 1200 miles.
I’ve done the 1000 mile riding challenge before (a couple times), I know I could do this, but it wouldn’t be a relaxing trip, it would be a challenge.
So the next option was to take two day’s to get out there, taking the shortest route, would be about 600 mile day’s, but then I would be traveling US-50, The Loneliest Road in America all by myself, and I might get lonely.
My last option was to take a Northern route via I-80 and travel parts of the country I’ve been in before. This is the route I was going to take, until I found out that another buddy of mine was going out to California on the same dates.
The final decision was to take the shortest route and arrive in California on day three. The over-night stops were Salina, UT and Carson City, NV which put me into my California destination after a short ride on day three.
Remember, the routes, time in route, and distances vary a little with stops for gas, breaks, and sight seeing pictures.
Golden, CO to Salina, UT – Depart at 6:30AM – 7h 10m / 436mi
This is a short ride, relatively speaking, but we wanted to get an early start so we would miss traffice and make it an easy day. The worst part of the day was going over the Continental Divide so early in the morning, about 7-7:30AM, it was COLD, even in July! Fortunately I learn from past mistakes and I was prepared for cold ride and wore insulated pants, insulated chaps, cold weather socks, heated gloves, long sleeve shirt, hoodie, coat and 3/4 helmet! Our first stop for gas was in Glenwood Springs, CO and the temps are comfortable enough to shed some layers finally. We made a second stop at the Black Dragon Canyon scenic overlook, near Green River, then we went on to get fuel and lunch in Green River, UT.
After fuel and lunch we headed to Salina, UT to finish off the first day ride. We stayed at the Quality Inn & Suites Salina National Forest Area
Address: 1400 South State Street, Salina, UT 84654, United States of America. They were very accommodating and friendly. They didn’t have breakfast, hot tub or pool open due to the COVID-19 but the Denny’s next door was open for dinner. I got a breakfast to go so I could warm it in the microwave before we took off the next morning. Day 1 in the books! Great Day!
Salina, UT to Carson City, NV – 6:30AM Departure – 8h 50m / 545mi
We fueled up the night before so we were ready to leave at 6:30AM headed for Carson City, NV.
WOW, what a beautiful morning for ride! The sun is beginning to crest the mountian tops, the sky is as clear as can be, and the temps are in the comfortable low 60’s!
We are riding US-50 today, The Loneliest Road in America, and if you haven’t done it yet, it’s worth the trip! This road take us all the way to Carson City, UT via several peaks and valleys. Mountain roads to summits as high as 7000ft with a bunch of fun twisties and valleys that were, well, kinda boring but the view of surrounding mountains was very scenic.
Well, we topped off our fuel before we left Salina, UT, so now we’ve stretched our fuel out enough and fortunately found fuel in Austin, NV. We left Austin in search of lunch, which during a pandemic is somewhat of a challenge. We finally got lunch in Silver Springs, NV then finished up the ride in Carson City, NV. I stayed at Super 8 by Wyndham Carson City
Address: 2829 South Carson Street , Carson City, NV 89701, United States of America. I had to pay a $200 deposit for a $85 / night room, which I didn’t understand and have never been asked for a deposit before. The only thing I don’t like about this is that it puts a hold on that amount until it clears the CC company which can take 3 to 7 business days. The motel did not have any breakfast, pool or hot tub and the bathtub in my room did not have a tub drain stopper so I couldn’t even soak my feet. I should have stayed at the Casino Hotel where my riding partners stayed, they had a restaraunt! Day 2 was a hot and tiring day on the lonely highway and in the desert, but still a great day on the road!
Carson City, NV to Petaluma, CA – 8AM Departure – 3h 50m / 210mi
We had breakfast at The Black Bear Diner, in the Casino/Hotel where my riding buddies stayed, then we got on the road by 8AM headed for Placerville, CA.
We topped off fuel in Placerville, CA and we said our good-bye’s. This is where my riding buddies start their California adventure and where I continue on to Petaluma, CA where I will stay a few nights so I can visit family and tour the Northern California area.
I continued on US-50 W to I-80 W to CA-37 then on to HWY-116 into Petaluma, CA.
Now time for some R&R with cold beverages and family. I will start my tour of Northern CA in the morning with some great advise from my family.
This is the first day of touring around Northern CA and I have some good pointers from my cousin to go on.
The original plan was to head up the coast first, then after some sound advice, I decided to head to Santa Rosa first. I’m glad I changed plans because the Coastal Highway was still very chilly, even in the afternoon. By the time I got down to Bodega Bay I had made several stops to add multiple layers so I wouldn’t freeze my butt off!
So, headed the opposite direction I went through Napa, cruised by the Petrified Forest and up to Calistoga, CA, where I began my ride through beautiful Robert Louis Stevenson State Park and enjoyed some great twisties and tall Redwoods!
I stayed on CA-29 N through Lower Lake, around Clear Lake and up to Upper Lake where picked up CA-20 W to Redwood Valley. At Redwood Valley I jumped onto US-101 N to Willits, CA where I picked up CA-20 W again. By this time the temps have reached the mid to upper 90’s! I topped off fuel in Willits and then headed to Fort Bragg, CA.
This was a great ride through tall Redwoods and some real nice curves! CA-20 N goes all the way to CA-1 and you take a right to go into the town of Fort Bragg, CA. I took a side road to the coast and took some pictures and video, so be sure to look at the Touring Videos page related to this tour.
This part of the ride today was about 135 miles from Fort Bragg to Petaluma and if I rode straight through with no stops, would take around 3.5 hours. When I arrived in Fort Bragg it was only 58 degrees! This was a very welcome change from the inland temps of upper 90’s. The only problem with this was that it just kept getting colder as I headed South down the coast! I have to stop 4 times to warm up and put on additional layers for warmth. I am really glad I took my cousins’ advise about bringing warm gear and riding the coast in the afternoon as apposed to riding the other direction on the route and doing the coast first thing in the morning!
I took CA-1 all the way back to Petaluma and I was able to get a ton of beautiful video that you can check out on the Touring Video’s Page.
This was a spectacular day 1 of touring California and I would recommend this to anybody thinking about visiting!
This was a shorter days’ ride but I’m looking forward to it because Sonoma County Harley Davidson is on the itinerary! Once again, if I didn’t make any stops for pictures, lunch, or the HD dealership, the ride would be less than 4 hours and 140 miles, but since I did make stops it took me over 6 hours to complete this route. It was a great day!
I ran into road construction on my way to the Point Reyes Lighthouse so I had to settle for Drakes Beach, which was a beautiful ride and a nice stop.
There is only one way in and one way out of the Point Reyes National Seashore area, so as much as I don’t like backtracking on the same roads, I have not choice.
Once I got back to CA-1, I headed North to take in the views of Tomales Bay on my way up to Hwy-116. I made a right on Hwy-116 and followed the Russian River all the way to Guerneville. This has been a great ride through beautiful Redwood Forests with a bunch of great peaks as the Russian River along the way. I left Hwy-116 to stay on River Road and follow the Russian River.
River Road took me to US-101 S to the Sonoma County Harley Davidson where I was able to score a new challenge coin, a couple T’s and chips! I got really lucky, I got The only and The LAST coin they had!
Once again, check out the Touring Video’s page on this site to see the great video I took on the ride!
Today we head South to Santa Barbara via CA-1 with a stop in Monteray Bay! I was really looking forward to this ride, going over the Golden gate Bridge and seeing Monterey Bay, but the whole trip, I was socked in fog! I was only able to see brief views of the Pacific the whole ride down to Monterey Bay!
Finally, in Monterey Bay I was able to see some ocean view but there was still a lot of fog in the area. Municipal Beach was the first part of the beach I could actually see something.
And here are some pictures from the road to Santa Barbara, CA
Take away the fog I had for half the day, it was a beautiful ride!
I checked into the Oasis Inn and Suites in Santa Barbara, CA.
It was very clean and comfortable and across the street from a shopping center with restaurants and a grocery store.
Saturday, depart Santa Barbara, CA for Las Vegas, NV. I wanted to collect some poker chips and hopefully challenge coins from Los Angeles, CA Harley dealerships, but it was already getting very hot, so I only went to 4 places. I only got poker chips, nobody in LA is carrying challenge coins anymore is what they are telling me.
I left LA and headed to Vegas via I-15 N for VERY HOT ride reaching 118 degrees by the time I stopped in Vegas!
I stayed at the Travelodge by Wyndham Las Vegas Center Strip, for the night. I was NOT happy with this place and I would NOT recommend to anybody. I managed to get some sleep but I left early in the morning for Delta, Colorado.
I left Las Vegas, NV for Delta, Colorado via I-15 E to I-70 E. It was a very pleasant day of travel. I got out of Nevada before the heat of the day and it was very comfortable when I arrived at the hotel in Delta, CO.
I stayed at the Value Lodge Inn, Delta, CO and I was very happy with this room. It was very clean, the staff was very nice, and the bed was very comfortable.
This is the final day of the tour and I will be taking a route through Gunnison, over Monarch Pass, to Poncha Springs, Fairplay, and over Kenosha Pass to get home.
I stopped in Gunnison, CO for fuel then raced the thunderstorms and rain back to the Denver Area without a stop! I caught a little rain as I approached Buena Vista, CO but that was it! I got lucky for sure! That was a 3.5 hour / 190 mile stretch without a break!
This Bucket List Tour totaled over 3400 miles, 9 days, and I rode through some AMAZING country! My bike is now ready for it’s 55,000 mile service and desperate for a wash! I was lucky to have the best weather, no mechanical issues, and met some great people along the way!
I’m also grateful for my riding buddies, Terry and Bobette for letting me ride with them out to California, thanks to them, the Loneliest Highway in America wasn’t so lonely! And I’m blessed to have wonderful family (Stacy and Dan) in California that allowed me to stay with them for 3 days which saved me a lot of money and gave me some great advice for riding and seeing the sights in CA.
Bucket List Tour – California Coast…CHECK!
It was a great trip and now I’m happy to be back in Colorado!
Questions, Comments, and Feedback are more than welcome, they are requested!
Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed taking the journey with me!
Be Safe, Have Fun and Ride On!