TransAm - Van

Trip Dates:
May 17, 2015 -- Aug 07, 2015
Williamsburg, VA - Florence, OR
Booking Status:

Cyclists around the world dream of crossing the U.S. on the TransAmerica Trail. While some cyclists believe pedaling across the country self-supported is the only way to go, others say, “Haul all that gear? No way.” If you’re among the latter group, we’re still here for you, offering this special opportunity to ride the 4,230-mile TransAm Trail footloose and pannier-free.

Thousands of cyclists have pedaled this route and they’ll tell you they captured a lifetime’s worth of memories on their tour. From Virginia’s Historic Triangle, the “birthplace of America,” you’ll pedal westward through rolling hills into the steeper climbs of Kentucky, Illinois, and Missouri. After the windswept plains of Kansas and eastern Colorado, the remainder of the journey is primarily through the ranges of the Rocky Mountains and the broad valleys separating them.

Make this your summer for the bicycle adventure of a lifetime.

Start Date: May 17, 2015 End Date: Aug 07, 2015
Start Location: Williamsburg, VA End Location: Florence, OR
Total Days: 83 Riding Days: 72
Rest Days: 11 Miles: 4232
Average Daily Mileage: 58.8 Surface: Paved
Riders: 13 Elevation Alert: High point: 11,500'
Airport: Richmond, VA (RIC); Eugene, OR (EUG) Tour Leader: Mitch Bulthuis, Whitney Ford-Terry
Meals: Shared cooking Accommodations: Camping/Indoor
Type: Supported Physical Difficulty: Advanced
Level of Support: Van Supported Cost: $7,549.00

Week 1

The group will congregate in Yorktown, VA. From there, we'll ride through the forgiving terrain of the Tidewater region, a rolling plain that rises gradually to meet the Virginia Piedmont and its moderate hills. A rest day in Charlottesville will permit us to tour the pretty campus of the University of Virginia and, outside of town, Thomas Jefferson's memorable Monticello, with its resplendent gardens and hilltop location providing expansive views of the surrounding countryside.

Week 2

In Afton, we'll ride by the Bike House, once home to June Curry, the world-famous "Cookie Lady" who hosted more than 14,000 touring cyclists from 1976 until her death in 2012. From there, we'll inch our way up to the Blue Ridge Parkway and bicycle along that legendary roadway until commencing the four-mile descent into the town of Vesuvius. From here to Christiansburg, the route closely parallels the Natchez Trace, an ancient Native American trail at the base of the Blue Ridge that Stonewall Jackson marched troops along during the Civil War.

Week 3

We’ll cross into Kentucky at Breaks Interstate Park, one of only two parks in the nation shared by two states. The 4,500-acre preserve holds an enchanting expanse of forested mountains, as well as the “Grand Canyon of the South,” created by the erosive action of the Russell Fork of the Big Sandy River. Prior to crossing the state line, we can sign the "Across State Ride" book that Virginia officials are using to compile statistics they hope will one day result in improvements to U.S. Bike Route 76, established in 1982 and now part of the growing U.S. Bicycle Route System. Ahead lie the hilly, winding, and often densely vegetated roadways of the eastern Kentucky Appalachians. We'll ride just south of the Tug River Valley, which separates West Virginia and Kentucky, and where the long-running McCoy-Hatfield Feud erupted at the end of the Civil War. We’ll take a layover day in Berea to learn more about the feud and mountain culture in general at the Appalachian Museum and nearby Berea College.

Week 4

The Bluegrass Region of central Kentucky will greet us with its lush pastures, white-fenced farms, and tidy equestrian operations. After continuing through western Kentucky and towns like Bardstown, Utica, and Marion, we'll cross the Ohio River into southern Illinois, where we'll camp at Dixon Springs State Park. The ridges and valleys of the Little Ozarks will show us the way to Carbondale, home to Southern Illinois University and a perfect place for a layover day.

Week 5

In Chester, Illinois, we'll cross the mighty Mississippi on the Chester Bridge, a truss bridge that appeared in the opening scene of the 1967 movie, In the Heat of the Night. We'll then begin tackling the notoriously steep and seemingly never-ending hills of the Missouri Ozarks. Camping for a night at Johnson's Shut-Ins State Park, we'll explore the narrow gorges carved by streams into 1.5-billion-year-old igneous rhyolite. In Eminence, we might set our bicycles aside for the morning in order to enjoy a mellow canoe float down the crystal waters of the spring-fed Current River, a component of the Ozark National Scenic Riverways.

Week 6

Our first overnight in Kansas, the Jayhawk State, will be spent in Pittsburg, which was named after Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 1876. We’ll curse and praise the ever-present Kansas wind, depending upon whether it’s blowing at our backs or in our faces as we pedal amidst endless fields of grain and sunflowers. When we're still miles from Eureka, Newton, and a host of smaller towns, we'll spot the communities’ tall grain elevators standing like sentinels above the endless plains.

Week 7

As we make our way through central and western Kansas, we’ll leave the humidity behind, entering the arid West. The town of Larned is a living history lesson, with its hand-laid brick streets and museum dedicated to the Santa Fe Trail. You may be surprised that the mountains don't jut into the sky immediately after we cross into Colorado––in fact, there's quite a long piece of Kansas-like terrain separating the border and the Rockies.

Week 8

The city of Pueblo marks both the approximate halfway point in our adventure and the start of the Rocky Mountains. From the Royal Gorge, which is spanned by the world’s highest suspension bridge over water, we'll ride through the immense wide open of South Park. After climbing Hoosier Pass––at 11,542 feet above sea level, the highest point on the TransAm Trail — we'll descend into Summit County, a hotbed of Colorado recreation in both summer and winter. Just north of Walden, we'll ride into wild and often windy Wyoming. In the little mountain town of Saratoga, we'll soak our tired muscles in the free, community-owned Hobo Hot Pool. From there, we'll begin the high and dry ride through the sagebrush-and-pronghorn-filled Great Divide Basin.

Week 9

From Lander to Dubois, Wyoming, home of the National Bighorn Sheep Interpretive Center, we'll alternate between mountains and broad valleys. After climbing up and over Togwotee Pass, we'll free-fall into Jackson Hole and spectacular Grand Teton National Park. We'll spend some time in downtown Jackson and visit the elk antler arches crowning the town square. It's almost required that visitors down a beer or soda while sitting aboard a leather saddle stool in the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar. We'll end the week in West Yellowstone, Montana, after enjoying the inspiring beauty of Yellowstone National Park.

Week 10

After a layover day in West Yellowstone, Montana, and an optional van tour of Yellowstone National Park, we'll ride alongside the trout-abundant waters of the Madison River to Ennis. From there, we'll climb up and over the big hill to Virginia City, a well-preserved Victorian frontier town that was the site of a major 1860s gold strike and, for a short time, the capital of the Montana Territory. From there, it's on to the high lonesome of the Big Hole Valley, over Chief Joseph and Lost Trail passes, and into the bustling Bitterroot Valley. We'll enjoy a well-deserved layover in Adventure Cycling's hometown of Missoula, an oasis of culture and entertainment.

Week 11

Tracing the tracks of Lewis and Clark, we'll cross Lolo Pass and reenter Idaho, pedaling beside the sparkling waters of the Lochsa River as it cuts through an immense wilderness expanse. At Riggins, we might take a half-day commercial rafting trip through the whitewater rapids of the Salmon River's main fork. After crossing the Snake River into Oregon near the Hell's Canyon, the deepest river gorge in North America, we'll climb all the way to the charming little town of Halfway. We'll enjoy a layover day in Baker City, rich with gold-mining lore. The classic 1969 musical comedy, Paint Your Wagon was filmed in this area.

Week 12

After crossing a series of relatively minor mountain ranges and passing through towns like Prairie City, Prineville, and Sisters, we'll cross the Cascade Range amid the volcanic surroundings of McKenzie Pass, knowing that the Pacific Ocean, and the end of our adventure, is only a couple of days away. After pedaling from Coburg to Florence, we'll dip our wheels in the Pacific Ocean at Beachside State Park. After a celebration dinner in Florence, we'll say our farewells on the following day, formally wrapping up our crossing of the North American continent by bicycle.

"The scenery was awesome. Just amazing how vast and varied our great country is."

2014 Tour Participant

"The TransAm, while very challenging, has such great scenery that one forgets the hills. Every day is a new adventure.” “The group remained reasonably cohesive and the quality of the route, particularly in the latter states made the ride enjoyable as well as a challenge. At the end I did not want the ride to stop."

2011 Tour Participant

"I think ACA did everything right. The noon "picnic" and photo shoot at the Missoula ACA office was a real treat. Wonderful to meet ACA staff."

2014 Tour Participant

"This was a fun and amazing trip that had its ups and downs but turned out to be amazing in the end. I would suggest it to anyone looking to TransAm in a group."

2011 Tour Participant

Photo by Dennis Coello