We have arrived in Las Vegas!
The final riding day took us from the cool and spectacular mountains in Zion down into the heat of the City of Lights!
The temperatures rose with every mile, until the thermometer finally showed 100F/37C!
The highlights of the day: Valley of Fire, Lake Mead, Hoover Dam - and of course: Las Vegas!
We ended the tour with a great farewell dinner - and a late night walk to the famous Las Vegas Boulevard, aka The Strip!
Day 8: Bryce Canyon - Zion N.P.
After 6 days of riding in the sun, we tried to watch the sunrise in Bryce Canyon - and then the sun was hidden behind clouds... But when we returned with full stomachs, courtesy of the huge breakfast buffet at Ruby's Inn, the sun was out and Bryce Canyon started to glow!
Afterwards we continued to the next and last National Park of the tour: Zion. The sun was out, so the mountains were glowing in all colors. First we rode through the park, then we parked the bikes at our hotel, changed into more comfortable clothes and returned to do some more hiking in the park.
Did somebody say during the welcome briefing that it never rains in the Southwest? If so, he was lying! The day started wet, so we had to find some "condoms" for the suitcases, which were loaded on the back of our truck...
After about one hour in the rain, the sun slowly and intermittently appeared again. Just in time, because we had reached our fourth National Park of the tour: Capitol Reef. The huge rock walls were quite impressive, just as amazing as the petroglyphs that were painted on these walls hundreds of years ago.
Soon we continued, as our plan was to reach Bryce Canyon before sunset, so that we could take some great pictures. But first we had to stop for lunch - and even in the smallest towns in America you find awesome food, like in Boulder, Utah.
On an incredibly twisty and scenic road through the Dixie National Forest we continued to our destination. Unfortunately, the sunset was spoiled by a huge thunderstorm that hovered right over Bryce Canyon. But flexible as the group is, we quickly changed the plan - forget the sunset, let's have boot beer instead!
Finally a rest day! We have ridden quite a few miles on this motorcycle tour of the Southwest so far, more than 1000 to be exact. But then, when you are so close to a spectacular National Park like Arches, you can't really rest! At least we could sleep one extra hour in the morning, before three quarters of the group took off to explore the park. The arches which gave the park it's name, are incredibly amazing. How can these huge structures withstand the forces of nature?
The other quarter of the group explored Moab in the morning, did the mandatory shopping, and headed to Arches in the afternoon. The plan was to hike to the most beautiful arch in the park, the one that you see on the Utah license plates: Delicate Arch. The three mile hike is rewarded by close views of this national landmark - highly recommended!
The fourth riding day was definitely one of the best so far, but day 5 started with another great sight - spectacular, but strangely familiar. Even if you have never been to Monument Valley, you have probably seen it in cigarette ads, "Easy Rider" or "Once upon a time in the west". To see it in real life is something completely different - the colors, the endless horizon, the sheer size of the rock formations... To make this experience even more unique, we decided to go on a guided tour directly into the valley - even more incrdible views waited for us!
After leaving the Monuments behind us, the landscape stayed just as beautiful. We passed Mexican Hat and stopped for a great lunch (and an excellent dessert) in Bluff. And then we continued to our destination, Moab. This is the gateway to Arches National Park, but Wilson Arch greeted us even before we rode into town.
Breathtaking - this word barely describes the scenery today! Grand Canyon, Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon were the highlights of the day. It was quite a long day, with all the photo stops - but every minute was worth it!
Now we are in Kayenta, just short of the next highlight: Monument Valley.
Today was the Route 66 day. The section from the Alrizona/California border via Oatman to Kingman is probably one of the most beautiful parts of the whole route. After a few foto opportunities we stopped in Oatman, where you feel like you stepped back in time.
Then we crossed Sitgreaves Pass (incredible views!) and continued to the next mandatory stop: lunch at Mr. D'z Diner in Kingman. The next stop was just as famous: Seligman.
Finally we reached our destination, Williams - also located on the Route 66. Day over?...not with this group of enthusiastic motorcyclists. As the Grand Canyon is just around the corner (only 50 miles one-way), they decided to take a few fotos at sunset... Even though this little sidetrip added 100 miles to the 220 we had already done - the views were worth it!
Day 2 started with a shock - the temperatures had actually dropped to less than 10°C...quite unusual after yesterdays hot weather. But as Big Bear Lake is a ski town high up in the mountains, this was not really unexpected. And after a few miles, the winding mountain road descended down into the valley and the temperatures rose again. And they kept rising all day, until they finally reached 33°C!
Our first stop today was the old "Western" town Pioneertown.
Afterwards we headed towards our first National Park: Joshua Tree N.P. The park is famous for the abundance of Joshua Trees - and the great views over the desert!
Now it was time for lunch - so close to the border, it had to be Mexican food today. And then the ride through the desert started with a threatening sign: No services for 100 miles! We made it, and at the end of the long and lonely stretch the green valley of the Colorado river waited for us - Fata Morgana?
From here, it was only a few more miles to Lake Havasu. Our hotel was right at the foot of the famous London Bridge, which was bought in England and rebuilt at the Lake in 1971.
Let's go for a ride! Our group of eleven Europeans (Austrian, German and Italian) is on its way to explore one of the most beautiful regions of the United States: the Southwest.
We started today under clear blue skies in Santa Monica. After a short ride along the shore of the Pacific we reached the famous Sunset Blvd, which took us all the way to Beverly Hills and Hollywood. We explored the Walk of Fame and the Chinese Theater, before we continued to Griffith Park. The views from the Observatory are spectacular!
Now we had enough of city riding - the mountains were calling. We left L.A. behind and started to climb up into the San Gabriel Mountains. The famous Angeles Crest Highway is a perfect motorcycle road. Endless turns took us high above the busy city, the elevation change cools the air a little bit - what a ride!
After lunch we continued eastbound towards Big Bear Lake. The landscape changed continuously, from high mountains to huge burnt areas and finally even to lakes!
In the late afternoon we finally reached today's destination, Big Bear Lake. The high elevation made the air feel fresh - you could even call it cool...quite a change after the heat down in L.A.!