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  1. #1

    Default From Montreal to California on a motorcycle

    Hello everyone,
    I'm currently planning a road-trip from Montreal to California (Oakland) on my motorcycle.
    I will be leaving Montreal on May 28th and the best arrival date for me in Oakland would be June 15th (19 days total).

    I'm finding myself a bit overwhelmed about which beautiful routes to take in order to get to Oakland without taking huge highways which are totally boring, especially on a motorbike.
    So I was hoping for a few advices and interesting roads to take to make this road-trip one of the best moments of my life !

    I have made a really rough roadmap just to get a first idea of the mileage / duration :
    During my research, I saw a few road names popping up like Ausable Chasm and the Tail of the Dragon, that's why I specifically added them.
    I don't know if going to New-Orleans is really a must, I just thought it would be great, but it definitely adds miles ...

    I won't be camping, I'll try to find a few couchsurfing hosts in specific places I know I'll reach (like New-Orleans for example), and the rest in motels / not too expensive hotels.
    On the motorcycle side, I pretty much know everything I have to pack and still have to buy to be ready.
    I plan on getting a data plan from Roam Mobility to be able to use the my phone's GPS (Google Maps probably), I won't be buy a standalone GPS.

    I'm really open to ideas / advices of any kind / etc ...

    Thank you very much,

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    Welcome to RTA!

    You're looking at around 4,000 miles, if I do my math correctly, which means you could drive this in about 7-8 days on a 'cycle. So having 3 weeks gives you plenty of time to stop and see things.

    If you check a paper map, you might find some things along the way to interest you. Just jumping out at me: Shenandoah National Park (VA), Carlsbad Caverns National Park (NM), Big Bend National Park wouldn't be all that far off your track (TX), Globe (AZ) Historic District, Vulture Mine (AZ), Joshua Tree National Park (SoCA), just to name a few.

    Not too expensive hotels ... my husband and I have found that using coupon books on weekdays, the kind you find at state information and visitor centers, and occasionally at truck stops, are worthwhile. (They don't generally work on weekends, especially near tourist-laden places.)


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default A Few Suggested Tweaks

    You've done a good job setting up a relaxed motorcycle RoadTrip. It's especially nice when planning to travel by bike that you find routes like NY-26 that let you follow a single highway for significant periods of time. I would, however, caution you against relying on routes like the one you have mapped out between Apalachin NY and Rome PA. Trying to follow un-numbered local roads or even high-digit county roads, e.g. 1040, 1049, etc., presents a difficult enough challenge in a car with a navigator and a GPS. On a bike I think you're just asking to get lost. Roads like Skyline Drive and the Blue Ridge Parkway, while un-numbered, are obviously well-marked through, though slow, routes. One other specific word of caution: The Tail of the Dragon was a route made famous by its twists and turns and notorious by the reckless abandon with which bikers rode it. It is now subjected to very strict enforcement, so keep things under control at all times.

    To that end, I'm just going to point out a few longer through scenic routes that you may have overlooked. Perhaps the biggest omission I see is that you're not using the Natchez Trace Parkway to continue southwest after getting to Tennessee. Once you're done with US-129, pick up US-64 and take that west through southern Tennessee (bypassing Chattanooga if possible) to just west of Lawrenceburg where you'd pick up the Trace and take that all the way down to Natchez. Another route, actually a collection of roads, to consider is the Creole Nature Trail through southwestern Louisiana.

    Another spot where I'd change your route (you may certainly disagree) is in Arizona, specifically after Payson. While AZ-87 is a great motorcycle road (There's a YouTube of a biker taking this route.) but the cost is high. If you use that route you are committing yourself to driving on the Phoenix expressways. It's not a compromise I'd make. Instead look at taking AZ-260 west out of Payson through Camp Verde to Cottonwood where a 'detour' up to Sedona and back might be in order. Then take Alt-AZ-89 through Jerome to Prescott and AZ-89/AZ-71 down to US-60 at Aguila.

    Finally, any route up the Central Valley of California is going to be a bit on the mundane side as you ride past flat farm after flat farm. For a bit more adventurous way north, look at US-395 north up the east side of the sierra Nevada, crossing the mountains on CA-120 over Tioga Pass, through Yosemite National park, and then down into the Bay Area.

    Last edited by AZBuck; 03-28-2016 at 06:25 PM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    Another highly recommended option in California is take the coast highway (CA-1).

  5. #5


    Waow, I definitely made the right choice by coming on this forum !
    I want to thank each 3 of you with your very detailed answers, I'll look into everything you wrote more in detail this week or next week-end and I'll get back to you !

    Thanks Donna for the tip about the hotels coupons, I'll definitely check them out.

    AZBucks, thanks again for you very detailed answer ! Almost all the routes showed on the Google Maps link I put here are set by default because I checked boxes to avoid highways and exchangers so it may have set the course on tiny roads that I surely won't take.
    Thanks also for the warning about the Tail of the Dragon, I can't agree more with you about the probable danger a rider can face on this road, I won't be reckless, no need to add any more useless risks.
    As I said, I'll look in detail all the routes you wrote about !

    Thanks glc for your input, indeed that's the road I'm probably going to take, I already went there about 10 years ago and I remember it being very beautiful !

    If anyone wants to give more tips, they're very welcome !

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Further afield.

    As you have a good amount of time I am just going to have to throw Colorado and Southern Utah into the mix as an option. The ride along the 'Million dollar highway' [US550] is spectacular and you could do a complete loop of the 'San Juan skyway' which incorporates the Million dollar highway and goes through the mountain towns of Silverton, Ouray and a small detour to Telluride, Cortez and Durango. One way to get there would be US50, a pleasant ride over Monarch pass, through Currecanti Nat Rec area and past Black canyon, or from the Roswell area cut up through Santa Fe to Pagosa Springs. In southern Utah you could head towards Moab and check out Cayonlands and Arches and then ride US163 through that iconic setting of Monument valley, or you could take UT24/Scenic 12 through Capitol Reef and the Escalante to Bryce canyon. Then there is the Grand canyon to consider and a popular stretch of route 66 with bikers through Seligman to Peach Springs and Kingman. I too would also recommend the ride over Tioga Pass into Yosemite, spectacular high country !

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Ft. Collins, CO.


    Sounds like a fun opportunity! Hopefully you have good experience with travelling on the moto and have clothing and raingear all worked out. (I had a lot to learn when I did my first overnighter at the beginning of a 6 week moto trip. I went in April and May and was cold almost the entire time).

    May can be a bit early for good weather in the Colorado mountains and some mountain routes such as Trail Ridge Road across Rocky Mountain National Park aren't plowed open yet (or may close on a daily basis due to thunderstorms dropping snow at elevation)

    From other moto boards the Tail of the Dragon is best done on a weekday and done carefully. But there are many other roads just as good but not as popular. I recall zooming up and down the hollows in West Virginia enjoying the curvy roads but being wary of the black coal dust left by the coal trucks along the black roadside edges.....

  8. #8


    Hello everyone !

    Excuse me for my late reply to your very detailed posts, I've been very busy these last few weeks with the planning of the road-trip, mechanical parts to order, accessories, getting back the bike etc ...

    I think that what Southwest_Dave and noFanofCB suggested won't be the roads I pick because going to Colorado and Utah would bring me to go north while I planned on going to New-Orleans and this would take a few extra hours/days that I could use to go somewhere I don't know, because I went a few years ago to Grand Canyon, Death Valley, etc ...

    Glc, thanks you for your input, I also took the road you mentionned a few years ago and I will probably go with Tioga Pass and Yosemite instead.

    Thanks a lot Donna and AZBuck, I've mostly followed your inputs and came up with a few Google Maps itinerary for now :

    Blue Ridge Parkway - 1
    Blue Ridge Parkway - 2
    Tail of the Dragon - Natchez Trace - New Orleans
    AZ to California

    What I have left to plan is the part from Montreal to Shenandoah Park and the part between New Orleans and Arizona.

    The Creole Nature Trail looks awesome to leave Louisiana, I'll definitely take it !
    Carlsbad looks very nice too.

    If anyone has input for these left parts, that would be awesome !

    I'll get to the preparation of the bike this weekend, installing the tank and tail bag, the air cushion for the seat, USB connectors plugged to the battery, etc ...

    4 weeks to go :)

    Thank you once again,

  9. #9


    Here is a more detailed list that I made today of the whole itinerary :

    D1 – Montreal to Central Bridge (454 km)
    D2 – Central Bridge to Elizabethville (455 km)
    D3 – Elizabethville to Simmons Gap (422 km)
    D4 – Simmons Gap to Roaring Gap (425 km)
    D5 – Roaring Gap to Waynesville (392 km)
    D6 – Waynesville to Monteagle (431 km)
    D7 – Monteagle to French Camp (510 km)
    D8 – French Camp to New Orleans (433 km)
    D9 – New-Orleans
    D10 – New-Orleans to Houston (629 km)
    D11 – Houston to Fredericksburg (392 km)
    D12 – Fredericksburg to Big Spring (374 km)
    D13 – Big Spring to Artesia (395 km)
    D14 – Artesia to Silver City (478 km)
    D15 – Silver City to Payson (439 km)
    D16 – Payson to Blythe (520 km)
    D17 – Blythe to Shoshone (481 km)
    D18 – Shoshone to Mammoth Lakes (422 km)
    D19 – Mammoth Lakes to Oakland (415 km)
    D20 – Drive around California
    D21 – Drive around / bring motorcycle to transport
    D22 – Camping
    D23 – Camping
    D24 – Flight back to Montreal

    I'm taking the whole Blue Ridge Parway and it might smarter to not do that since it's taking a lot of time in the end.

    I put New-Orleans to Houston on one block but I don't think that's doable, it's just that I'm struggling to divide everything.

    What do you think ?
    Thanks !

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Doable, even off interstates.

    Quote Originally Posted by Croustibat View Post
    I put New-Orleans to Houston on one block but I don't think that's doable, it's just that I'm struggling to divide everything.
    At 350 miles (560 km) this is quite doable even on a bike. Probably less than 7 hours on the road using interstates. I recall doing this mostly on the old highways, e.g. US90, and found it a comfortable drive.


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