Touring the Sierra Nevadas on Motorcycle

SR-108, Sonora Pass, June 2011Some of the most amazing motorcycle riding in the United States lies in California, along the Sierra Nevada mountain range.  Numerous state highways cross over the nearly 400 mile long range starting from SR-178 in th...

motorcycle sonora pass
SR-108, Sonora Pass, June 2011

Some of the most amazing motorcycle riding in the United States lies in California, along the Sierra Nevada mountain range. 

Numerous state highways cross over the nearly 400 mile long range starting from SR-178 in the south to SR-36 in the north. In between there a number of highways that take you up over 9,000 feet elevation, including the very technical, single laned, Ebbetts Pass.

For the most part, you’ll find smooth pavement along a number of highways, with sweeping curves, tight twisties, and gorgeous vistas that beckon you for panoramic shots.

My friend Larry and I took a 3-day weekend in June 2011 to ride several of these passes on our sport touring bikes. We started from the south in Temecula, CA and went as far north as Topaz Lake by the California/Nevada stateline.

Tent camping was the planned accommodations, with the first night in Mammoth Lakes off of US-395, and the second night at Dos Pedros Reservoir off of SR-49.

The route also included a tour along the Gold Country Highway (SR-49), into gold mining towns of Coulterville and Mariposa.  It takes a scenic bypass through the western foothills of the Sierra Nevadas past tiny towns of Bass Lake, North Fork, and Auberry, before dropping us into the San Joaquin Valley.

Then we made our way back up into the Sierra Nevadas, into Kings Canyon National Park and Sequoia National Park, before we finally finished the tour with a long trek back to home via freeways.

  • Day 1, Temecula to Mammoth Lakes
  • Temecula to Hesperia, I-15
  • Hesperia to Mojave, SR-138, SR-14
  • Mojave to Caliente, SR-58
  • Caliente to Kernville, Caliente Bodfish Rd
  • Kernville to Mammoth Lakes, SR-178, US-395, SR-203
  • Day 2, Mammoth Lakes to Jamestown
    • Mammoth Lakes to Topaz, SR-203, US-395
    • Topaz to Woodfords, SR-89
    • Woodfords to Jackson, SR-88
    • Jackson to Angels Camp, SR-49
    • Angels Camp to Topaz, SR-4, SR-89
    • Topaz to Jamestown, US-395, SR-108
  • Day 3, Jamestown to Temecula
    • Jamestown to Oakhurst, SR-49
    • Oakhurst to Bass Lake, SR-41, Bass Lake Rd
    • Bass Lake to North Fork, Bass Lake Rd, Malum Ridge Rd
    • North Fork to Kerkhoff Lake, Rd 222
    • Kerkhoff Lake to Auberry, Powerhouse Rd
    • Auberry to Sanger, Auberry Rd, SR-168, Academy Rd
    • Sanger to Kings Canyon National Park, SR-180
    • Kings Canyon National Park to Sequoia National Park, SR-180, SR-198
    • Sequoia National Park to Exeter, SR-198, SR-65
    • Exeter to Bakersfield, SR-65
    • Bakersfield to Santa Clarita, SR-99, I-5
    • Santa Clarita to Temecula, I-210, SR-57, SR-73, SR-60, I-215

    Passes we crossed over:

    caliente bodfish road
    Day 1, Caliente Bodfish Road in Kern County is laden with oaks and gets very twisty.
    kern river brewing company
    Day 1, Me and Larry at Kern River Brewing Company, Kernville, CA
    Lake Isabella
    Day 1, Lake Isabella along Sierra Way
    shady rest campground mammoth
    Day 1, Camping at Shady Rest, Mammoth Lakes, CA
    slocums grill bar
    Day 1, Relaxing with a beer at Slocum’s Grill & Bar, Mammoth Lakes
    us-395 motorcycles
    Day 2, Larry following behind along US-395 north of Mammoth Lakes
    monitor pass
    Day 2, Monitor Pass, SR-89, east of Topaz Lake
    carson pass highway 89
    Day 2, heading up Carson Pass, SR-89
    highway 4 california
    Day 2, Larry leading the way up SR-4 towards Ebbetts Pass

    ebbetts pass
    Day 2, Ebbetts Pass, SR-4, a single lane serves both directions of traffic, and gets very twisty.
    sonora pass california
    Day 2, SR-108, Sonora Pass, one of the most beautiful vistas along the Sierra Nevada highways.
    highway 108 california
    Day 2, along SR-108 west of Sonora Pass
    camping don pedro reservoir
    Day 2, Larry and I putting up our tents at Don Pedro Reservoir, just south of Jamestown, CA
    willow steakhouse saloon jamestown
    Day 2, relaxing with a beer at Willow Steakhouse Saloon, Jamestown, CA
    kings canyon national park motorcycle
    Day 3, SR-180 through Kings Canyon National Park.
    kings river kings canyon
    Day 3, Larry sucking down a beer along Kings River in Kings Canyon National Park
    sequoia national park highway 198
    Day 3, SR-198 through Sequoia National Park