Pacific Coast - Van

Trip Dates:
Sep 20, 2016 -- Oct 30, 2016
Bellingham, WA - San Diego, CA
Booking Status:
(Full) Waiting list

Join us for this golden opportunity to ride from Canada to Mexico on one of America’s premier cycling routes: the Pacific Coast Route. This tour is so popular that it sells out in a few weeks; so if you’re interested, don’t hesitate to sign up.

And why so popular? We’ll experience some of the finest terrain and tour some of the coolest cities in the world! Following a quick jaunt from Bellingham, WA, to our northern border, we’ll turn and head south, skirting Puget Sound and the lush forests of western Washington before meeting the Columbia River and following this impressive watercourse to the Oregon coast. Here we’ll be dazzled by the sights, smells, and sounds of the Pacific Ocean, and for the next 400 miles, we’ll encounter some of most pristine coastline and nicest state parks in the country. Farther south, we’ll enter California and head inland to cycle amidst majestic redwood forests, including the Avenue of the Giants. After visiting San Francisco, we’ll spin back to the coast to enjoy the Monterey Peninsula, Big Sur, and Santa Barbara. Continuing south, we’ll pass more great beaches and cycle to the Mexican border before ending our tour in lively San Diego.

Start Date: Sep 20, 2016 End Date: Oct 30, 2016
Start Location: Bellingham, WA End Location: San Diego, CA
Total Days: 41 Riding Days: 36
Rest Days: 5 Miles: 1845
Average Daily Mileage: 51.2 Surface: Paved
Riders: 13 Elevation Alert: Significant cumulative gains
Airport: Bellingham Int'l, WA; San Diego Int'l, CA Tour Leader: Paul Osika , Sarah Burch
Meals: Shared cooking Accommodations: Camping/Indoor
Type: Supported Physical Difficulty: Advanced
Level of Support: Van Supported Cost: $4,699.00

Week 1

We’ll set sail, from our traditional start point in Bellingham, WA, with a quick spin up to the Canadian border before heading south from the 49th parallel. We’ll flirt with the waters of Puget Sound for many miles, going from Anacortes to Whidbey Island and then on to the Victorian splendor of Port Townsend, perched at the northeast edge of the Olympic Peninsula. After passing through the shipbuilding center of Bremerton, we'll leave Puget Sound behind to trace a delightful series of back roads through the inland region of southwestern Washington. At the end of the week, we'll find ourselves in the vicinity of Lewis and Clark State Park, situated some forty miles northwest of Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument.

Week 2

Upon merging with the Columbia River in the Kelso/Longview area, we'll turn west to follow the mighty river to its mouth at the Pacific Ocean, riding first on the Washington side, and then from Puget Sound, crossing over to the Oregon side (on the only working ferry on the lower Columbia). After a layover day in hilly and historic Astoria—where we can visit the world-class Columbia River Maritime Museum—we'll continue through a chain of charming resort towns that include Seaside, Cannon Beach, and Nehalem. In Tillamook, we won't want to miss taking in a tour of the famous Tillamook Cheese Factory. Fueled by one of the dairy's legendary ice cream cones (which come in 38 flavors!), the 3 Capes Scenic Drive will take us back to the Pacific Ocean in spectacular fashion. We'll stick close to the beach all the way to Florence, located midway along the Oregon coast (and one of the end-points for the TransAmerica Bicycle Trail).

Week 3

You might begin to think that Oregon's incredible coastline goes on forever as we continue riding south. Quaint towns, such as Bandon and Port Orford, boast salt-water taffy shops, bays inhabited by seagulls and lovable harbor seals, and small cafes dishing up some of the best clam chowder and wave watching anywhere. Separating the villages are stretches of pristine beach that simply boggle the mind in their beauty and scope. South of Gold Beach, where the storied Rogue River empties into the Pacific, we'll enter California near Crescent City before visiting Redwood National Park, home to giant trees over 2,000 years old and 300 feet tall.

Week 4

After riding a rugged and forested inland route south of Eureka and Arcata, we'll regain the Pacific at Cape Vizcaino north of Westport. We'll likely enjoy a layover day in the Fort Bragg/Mendocino area, a bountiful and beautiful mix of oceanfront real estate, redwood forests, wine making, and excellent food and microbrews, ending the week almost within shouting range of the City by the Bay. Among the highlights north of San Francisco are Point Reyes National Seashore and the wild Sonoma coast. Now, after having cycled through that portion of the Golden State lying south of the Oregon border and north of San Francisco, you'll understand why the residents here distinguish themselves as being Northern Californians: the communities in the wild and largely rural north feel about as far from Hollywood as they could possibly be.

Week 5

This week we'll enjoy a layover day in the cultural and culinary paradise of San Francisco, arguably the most beautiful city in the U.S. South of here, we'll continue riding along the coast, visiting other places with names known worldwide, such as Monterey, Big Sur, and San Simeon, home to the Hearst Castle. Nicknamed the "Middle Kingdom," this region encompasses some of California's most spectacular ocean vistas. It also harbors some outstanding wildlife habitat, including Point Piedras Blancas (not far north of the Hearst Castle) where hundreds and sometimes thousands of giant elephant seals arrive each winter to breed and give birth.

Week 6

We'll take a largely inland route from Morro Bay to Santa Barbara, situated on an east-west trending stretch of coastline—a rare if not unique geographical aspect along our route between Canada and Mexico. South of Santa Barbara, we'll again remain close to the Pacific, even through the urban sprawl of the City of Angels. We'll camp at several more great state beaches before making our final approach to the Mexican border and our ultimate destination of the funky, but chic, Point Loma Hostel in San Diego. It’s a stunning finish to an extraordinary trip—from the cool, green Canadian border to the golden sands of Southern California.

"This whole tour was just like a fairytale."

2012 Tour Participant

"Our tour leaders were very good, likable and helpful. We benefitted from their bike repair knowledge."

2013 Tour Participant

"This ride is the most photogenic I've seen."

2011 Tour Participant

"This tour made me realize how blessed I am to be where I am, and be able to ride a bike in such a scenic part of the world. I am very thankful to ACA for having this tour in their lineup."

2013 Tour Participant

Photo by Mark Johnson