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The Roads of Pashnit Motorcycle Tours 

California is a very diverse place. There's a terrain variety here unlike any other place you may have been. Coastal mountains butt up against miles of wineries. The Sierra Nevada Mountains stretch up into the sky punctuated by an endless series of twisty roads through river valleys and across the tops of mountainous ridges. Clear skies and endless sun for months on end make for perfect riding weather. Riders are often surprised that local motorists will pull over regularily for our tours to pass on by and enjoy the twisty roads with a smile and a wave!

The roads, the terrain, the climate- all make California a unique motorcyclist's paradise.

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NorCal Tour - Lamcreek Grade, aka Forest Rd 1, in Northern California

Northern California Motorcycle Roads

Northern California is a place the locals would prefer to keep to themselves.The majority of it is mountainous wilderness territory.

The 400 mile (640 km) long Central Valley narrows and gently ends, evolving from rolling hills before giving in to mountainous terrain in all directions although mostly under 8000 feet peaks.

The Pacific Ocean defines the western side of Northern California, a climate unto its own. This is the land of the Coastal Redwoods, and rains can be present year round creating a rain forest of brilliant green. Further inland, mountainous wilderness dominates. Towns, even people are rare. The roads are often deserted. A favorite of motorcyclists, Highway 36, weaves and twists for 140 miles (224 km). This ride has often been called the Best Motorcycle Road in the State of California.

Memorial Day NorCal Tour - Mattole Rd on The Lost Coast near Ferndale, CA

The central portion is dominated by 14,162 ft. (4248 m) Mount Shasta, a cinder cone volcano that pushes up from the surrounding land into the sky, high enough to create its own weather. The mountain is so high, on the clearest of days, it can be seen from the Bay Area 200 miles away. The nearby 10,457 ft. (3137 m) Mount Lassen is even considered an active volcano, with its last eruption less than 100 years ago. The area is also home to Lava Beds National Monument- a little known park in the northeast corner of the state. The area is beautiful and often punctuated with thrilling vistas from area mountain tops.

Northern California has just the right mix of foothills, mountains, ocean, and Wine Country. Come experience this motorcycle thrill ground on our Northern California Tours.

NorCal Tour - Bay Hill Rd at Bodega Bay, CA
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The Grand Tour, Labor Day Weekend - Yosemite National Park as seen from Glacier Point

Motorcycle Roads in the Sierra Nevada Mountains

Whoever designed this range of mountains had motorcycles on the mind! The Sierra Nevada Mountains that define the eastern border of California are a narrow band of tall peaks that stretch for several hundred miles.

The Sierra Nevada Mountains from the motorcyclist's perspective are defined by a series of mountain passes. Each one is different from the last and we'll ride several of them in our High Sierra Tour and The Grand Tour which covers the Southern Sierra. The views from these heights stretch off into the horizon and snow capped granite peaks thrust above the tree line.

During winter months, these peaks are often visible from the other side of the state! One of them is 14,491 ft. (4347 m) Mt. Whitney, the highest peak in the Lower 48.

This is the home of Yosemite National Park known for its granite spires, amazing water falls, El Capitan, and Half Dome. One of our favorite places ot visit on The Grand Tour is Glacier Point for a birds eye view of the entire Yosemite Valley. Also on The Grand Tour during the Labor Day holiday weekend is the nearby Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park which lay claim to the Giant Sequoias, said to be the largest living things on earth. Nearby on the tallest peaks are the Bristlecone Pines, some of which are over 4200 years old.

The High Sierra Nevada Tour - Sheep along Bodie Rd

The roads here are joyous affairs through mountain valleys and alpine meadows. Often times the roads break through forests of pines to reveal a view that stretches off for miles across mountain peaks. Other times, you'll encounter not a single soul, and you'll realize you are completely alone on some of the lesser known passes. Tioga Pass is the highest paved road across the Sierra Nevada at 9945 feet (2983 m) and we'll explore this ride in our Sierra Nevada Tour.

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High Sierra Tour  - Winery near Fairplay, CA

There's an area of California just north of San Francisco that is the haven of Bay Area motorcyclists. The list of fantastic roads to ride is endless. During our Wine Country Tour, you'll be looking over the list of roads in your pre-ride packet, and be somewhat flabbergasted.Take your pick of main highways through mountainous valleys or back mountain roads.

The Coastal Mountains are low here, several thousand feet in elevation at best, but this is one of the best prescriptions for great motorcycle roads.

Much like the Sierra Nevada Mountains, this low range is punctuated with numerous mountain passes that start from the Pacific Ocean and work their way inland. At times, mere one lane roads, while others are twisted up-and-over affairs. There are several of these low ranges running north-south. In between the ridgelines are broad valleys that are home to an endless stream of wineries.

The High Sierra Tour - Vineyards along Hwy E16 in the Shenadoah Valley near Plymouth, CA

While there are numerous areas of California that are wine producing, the Napa and Sonoma Valley are probably the most widely recognized. During our Wine Tour together, we'll explore a winery, learn how wine is produced, and ride alongside hillsides covered in grape vines. Experience the Napa Wine Train, take a hot air balloon ride on a crisp early morning, or explore a winery from the back of an open air Jeep. This area is of course home to numerous spa's, gourmet restaurants, and great shopping too!

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Central Coast 3-Day Tour - Hwy 1 Big Sur near Lucia, CA

If there's one thing that Californians take for granted, it's the Pacific Ocean which offers over 700 miles (1120 km) of stunning coastline.

Highway 1 along the Big Sur Pacific Coastline has often been called one of the most scenic drives in the world. Once you ride it on your motorcycle, you'll quickly see why, and whole heartily agree. North of San Luis Obispo, Highway 1 heads into a section of coastline so rugged, it was decades before road crews were able to cut a road into the mountain sides which often drop abruptly into the sea.

Highway 1 flows along at sea level, and other times climbs hundreds of feet above the ocean. When we stop for a break, you'll be able to hear the crashing of the waves far below. Occasionally, the ride will cut briefly away from the ocean into forests of sweet smelling eucalyptus trees that line the road.

Northern California Tour - Hwy 1 near Westport, CA

Then a few miles north beyond Santa Cruz lies the Santa Cruz Mountains, a favorite playground of Bay Area motorcyclists. Highway 1 is often the destination of many visitors to California, but only a few miles inland lies a series of roads that were clearly designed for motorcyclists.

Central Coast Tour - Hwy 1 Big Sur near Ragged Point, CA

These roads are easily passed over by the unaware. Up and over low mountains, across broad plains of ranches devoid of any signs of life, Coastal California is an environment unto itself which we'll explore on the California Backroads Tour. Roads such as Highway 58 and Highway 25 are rides that are often specific destinations despite being somewhat "in the middle of nowhere". Californians ravel to this part of the state just to ride the roads!

California Backroads Tour - Hwy 1 near Jenner, CA
North of San Francisco the coastline continues to evolve. As fun as Big Sur was, the northern portion of Hwy 1 is even better! Lighthouses warn of dangerous rocks and at times the wind coming off the ocean can be brisk, even in the middle of Summer. The northern portion of Highway 1 is often overlooked but offers some of the twistiest portions of road for miles. Grazing lands and even hay fields sit atop some very expensive real estate on bluffs overlooking the ocean.

Further north, Coastal California evolves into the Redwood Empire where redwood trees reign dominance. These areas even enjoy their own separate climate from the rest of California. Historic Victorian homes built by lumber barons and wealthy sea captains are on the list of things to explore, along with visiting one of the largest lumber companies on the West Coast.

The entire western edge of California boasts some of the most spectacular riding along the Pacific Coast of the United States. Come experience the awe of the Pacific Ocean.

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On the western side of the Sierra Nevada Mountains is a narrow band of rolling hills that range between 2000-4000 feet (600-1200 m) in elevation called the California Foothills. This is an area where the Gold Rush took place 150 years ago. Argonauts poured across the mountains or came in from the sea converging on this area of California from all parts of the world.

Pleasant Valley Rd near Nevada City, CA

Early pioneers would stop at nothing to reach California as they poured westward across the United States in the largest mass migration in the world's history. And pour they did, carving out paths into the sides of mountains and flowing across alpine meadows in their quest to reach the allure of gold.

Theater in Volcano, CA

These roads are up above the Central Valley and below the snow line of the Sierra Nevada Mountains offering a motorcycle playground of year-round riding. Roads are often short bursts no longer than 15 to 30 miles in length. And you'll find this is rather perfect for all types of riders. We'll ride the road, gather at the end, smile silly child-like grins at one another and wonder aloud if we should ride it back the other way! The roads are also very lightly traveled.

Like much of California, this area is riddled with historic sites. We'll take the opportunity to stay the night in some historic hotels, some of which have been taking in guests for 150 years. Nearly every town is a preserved museum of Gold Rush History. One in particular is Columbia where the entire town is registered as a Historic Monument. This region of California was once home to the likes of author Mark Twain, Black Bart and the Outlaw Joaquin Murieta.
French Creek Rd near Shingle Springs, CA

Deeper into the mountains above 3000 feet (600 m) is a foothill region above the crowds where traffic is rare. These higher elevations have roads that are often defined by plunging into river valleys 1000 feet (300 m) below, then right back up the other side in a twisted affair of rapid fire curves. Next stop is mountain wilderness where there are few roads above 4000 feet (1200 m) except the mountain passes.

You could spend weeks exploring these roads and still not ride them all. And if you'd like to explore on your own, we'll point you the way, tell you what to expect and then await your stories of the day's ride over dinner together.

Click to learn even more about California Motorcycle Roads !!

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