Tuesday, May 24, 2016

SoCal Weekend Trips Part Three


SoCal Weekend Riding Trips Part Three

Yosemite National Park and San Luis Obispo, CA

Yosemite National Park's El Capitan
Story and Photos by Jim Foreman except where noted.

Once again, it’s time to present two more outstanding Southern California weekend riding destinations.  As teased in the last installment, we are featuring San Luis Obispo and Yosemite National Park for a weekend of fun!

This is also the 25th story we've published.

There are specific criteria for these weekend destinations.  First, the duration of the trip has to be within three days.  Typically referred to as Friday through Sunday.  Most people can take a Friday or Monday off.  Second, there should be no more than 400 miles traveled in a single day.  Many riders can comfortably ride much more than 400 miles in a day, however, to be inclusive of all types of bikes and riding styles, the cap is 400.  Lastly, the ride must be able to be done by 95% of riders out there.  The ride must be nearly entirely street based and within a certain level of difficulty to be inclusive.

If you are looking for tips and advice on how to travel overnight with your motorcycle, please enjoy this story featuring valuable insight.
Photo National Park Sercice.

Ah, Yosemite.  Getting to Yosemite from Los Angeles is a slog no matter how you look at it.  The route you take will largely depend if Highway 120, the Tioga Pass, is fully open.  Tioga Pass is a Butler Maps G-1 run.  You can check the National Park Service Yosemite Website for current information on whether roads are open or closed.
Half-Dome Vista Point on Tioga Pass

If Tioga Pass is open, I recommend traveling up Interstate 395 and staying in Mammoth Lakes or Bishop. 

If Tioga Pass is closed, (The eastern approach is closed) you're stuck on CA-99 or, Heaven forbid, I-5.  Overnight in Sonora, Angels Camp, Mariposa, or Oakhurst.

Regardless if Tioga Pass is open or closed, Yosemite is a great run.  Tioga and Big Oak Flat will lead you into the heart of most of Yosemite’s best attractions.  It’s best to spend a whole day riding and exploring the park.   

One strong recommendation for Yosemite is to pack mosquito repellent.  The little buggers are everywhere and most active at dawn and dusk. 

Yosemite does have its share of phenomenal roadways.  One should be respectful and not treat Yosemite as an alternative to the racetrack.  It's important to realize many animals live in Yosemite, and they are not as road wise as you might think.  Visitors from all over the world also visit Yosemite demonstrating a broad range of driving skills.  Remember, Right of Way does not exceed the law of physics.  Be mindful, slow down, and enjoy the breathtaking scenery.  If there are not too many cars, you can further enjoy some very scenic and exciting roads.  You’ll be able to visit El Capitan, Bridal Veil Falls, Half-Dome vista points, Yosemite Falls, and much more, all in one day.

Fortunately, by basing yourself in one of the nearby towns, recommended above you’ll also be able to enjoy great dining and a little history.
Yosemite Campground Map

Camping is very overrated in Yosemite.  Don’t listen to the people who foolishly boast that if you’re not camping, it’s not an adventure.  This mindset is short-sighted and very oblivious to reality.  That said, if you’re an experienced camper and camping appeals to you, please arrange, well in advance, campground reservations.  Remember, camping is not always ‘cheaper’ and after one buys all the expensive kit, it can be much more costly than a nice hotel with a private bathroom and hot shower.

If you do finish up Yosemite and have some spare hours of riding left in you, consider these noteworthy nearby Butler Maps rated highways.

Highway 4 from Angels Camp is spectacular, all the way to the end.  Take CA-88 or CA-108 back and you’ll have had a fantastic day of riding that you will brag about, to your friends!

The only downer you’ll experience going to Yosemite is heading back to Los Angeles.  It’s no secret that I-5 through the central valley is horribly annoying, at best.  One will desire to gnaw one’s fingers out of boredom.  If you’ve got some adventure or want to extend your trip, consider some of the incredible canyons off of I-5.  Del Puerto Canyon, (CA-130) west of Patterson, comes to mind.   It’ll drop you into San Jose, and you’ll be able to take I-101 or even the magnificent CA-1 Pacific Coast Highway back.  If you have the time, might as well!  If you don’t CA-99 is only slightly more interesting than I-5.  At least you do pass through towns.  If you can stand the stench of riding near Stockton, you’ll be OK.  I-5 and CA-99 meet south of Bakersfield at the base of the Grapevine.


San Luis Obispo is a charming town just inland from Morrow Bay.  Because it’s not on the seafront, it’s very affordable for overnight accommodations.  Dining is excellent and again, not priced for tourists.   Because of its central location, it makes a perfect weekend destination on a motorcycle. 
From Downtown Los Angeles, San Luis Obispo or SLO is 190 miles via the 101.   
If you want to have a truly enjoyable ride, consider the longer but more interesting back roads to SLO.  Make your way to Santa Paula and Ojai.  Continue to Taft.  The roadway north of Ojai is where the motorcycle magazines take many of their sexy motorcycle shots with the bike leaned over and stunning scenery.  Yes, you’re welcome.  Be sure to fuel up in the near ghost town of Taft.  There will not be gas for quite some time, from here.  

From Taft, continue north on the 33 until you reach CA 58.  Head west and take it all the way into SLO.  Signs will point the way.
Court Street in SLO

In SLO, don’t be afraid to bargain shop a little for lodging rates. 
Two similar hotels can vary by as much at $90 per night.  Remember, you’re just there to keep your stuff during the day and to enjoy romance with your partner, sleep and use the loo. 

Once settled in SLO, enjoy great dining ranging from hole in the wall to hole in your wallet. 

If after you pull into SLO and drop your kit off at the hotel, you are looking for a quick amazing and fun road, consider taking a run on Prefuma Canyon Road.  It’s not very long, but the roadway and sights are breathtaking.  It's also featured in the Butler Maps as a G-1 Roadway.  Be warned, there is a small two-mile section of hard-packed gravel.  Any bike, including super-sports, can do it, just fine.   It’s not a speed canyon, but rather a scenic technical canyon.
Prefuma Canyon

Prefuma Canyon is on the east side of town and is pretty easy to locate.  Consider taking it before dinner.

On Saturday, wake up early and enjoy a good breakfast because you're going up CA-1 (Pacific Coast Highway) to Monterey.

The 135 miles up Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) is considered one of the top 10 driving/riding roads in the world.  It does NOT disappoint.  It is better if you can run it during the week, but you will enjoy it no matter when you go.  Do consider stopping in Morro Bay, Big Sur, and Carmel before you enjoy lunch in Monterey.

After Lunch, turn around and head back on PCH for an equally pleasant trip back down the coast.  There will be numerous opportunities to stop and take photos.

On the final day, there are multiple ways to head home.  One can head back on CA-58 to the 33 south to the 166 west.  Make a left at  Hudson Ranch Road and ride through the Bitter Creek National Wildlife Refuge.  This road will continue all the way to Frazier Park and eventually, to I-5 for the final leg home. 

Of course, one could also take the interstate back.  This may not be a bad option unless you wait too late in the day and hit major traffic from Oxnard to the 405.
The choice is yours, but the weekend will be splendid, and you will be the envy of all your friends and co-workers, come Monday morning.

When you’re in Southern California, visit Irv Seaver BMW in Orange County.  Irv Seaver BMW, located on Katella Avenue, is just three minutes east of Anaheim Stadium and 8 minutes from Disneyland.

At Irv Seaver BMW, you'll find one of  the USA's biggest and best stocked BMW Motorrad dealer.  Irv Seaver BMW also features exceptional brands such as BMW Motorrad Apparel, Held USA, Schuberth, Butler Motorcycle Maps, Bull-It Jeans, Drayko Jeans, Shoei Helmets, Arai Helmets, Sidi Boots, and many more.
Yosemite Falls (NPS)
Bridal Veil Falls (NPS)
El Capitan (NPS)
Sunset in Yosemite (NPS)

Big Sur
Morro Bay
Looking at the view
Great riding on PCH
Great riding in Yosemite
Lots of Motorcyclists come to Yosemite
Hiking trail to Half Dome
Overlooking Pacific Coast Highway
Elaine and Danny Wassaner in a cafe on PCH
This is why PCH is a Butler Maps G-1 road
German motorcyclists who rented H-Ds to run PCH.  (Except for one who was grateful he insisted on a BMW)
Sea Lions on Morro Bay. 

 ©2016 Jim Foreman All Rights Reserved

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