Motorcycle Touring in California: Checklist for Safety and Legal Preparedness

Motorcycle Touring in California: Checklist for Safety and Legal Preparedness

Roaring engines, wind in your hair, and the open road stretching out before you – there’s nothing quite like embarking on a long motorcycle tour through California’s diverse landscapes. From the rugged coastline to the towering mountains and enchanting deserts, the Golden State offers motorcyclists an exhilarating journey like no other.

Whether you’re a seasoned rider or a newcomer to the world of two-wheeled adventures, this guide will help you prepare for an unforgettable motorcycle touring in California.

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The Best Motorcycle Roads in California

California, a state famed for its stunning landscapes of tricky mountain passes, canyon roads, coastal highways, and mountain vistas offer motorcyclists an array of exhilarating roads to explore.

We’ve compiled a list of some of the most thrilling and scenic routes in the Golden State, each promising a journey filled with breathtaking vistas, exhilarating twists and turns, and unforgettable moments. So, rev up your engine and get ready to embark on these incredible rides:

Highway 1 (655 miles)

Known as the Pacific Coast Highway, this iconic route stretches along the stunning California coastline. With the Pacific Ocean on one side and majestic cliffs on the other, riders will witness breathtaking ocean views, charming coastal towns, and winding roads that seem to merge with the sea. Experience this unforgettable journey as you travel along Highway 1, which runs from the southern border of California in San Diego up to the northern city of San Francisco, passing by notable landmarks like Lake Elsinore, the Redwood Forest, and Humboldt Redwoods State Park.

Redwood Highway (192 miles)

Prepare to be awed as you ride through the towering giants of the Redwood National and State Parks, including the awe-inspiring Redwood Forest. The scent of ancient forests and the shade of these enormous trees create an enchanting atmosphere you won’t forget.

Pacific Beach to La Jolla (14 miles)

For a taste of Southern California’s laid-back charm and stunning coastal beauty, hop on your motorcycle and cruise along the picturesque route from Pacific Beach to La Jolla in San Diego. This scenic ride captures the essence of the region’s beach culture, offering a mix of oceanfront views, sandy shores, and vibrant neighborhoods.

Death Valley (158 miles)

Venture into one of the hottest and driest places on Earth. Death Valley national park’s dramatic desert landscapes, vast sand dunes, and otherworldly rock formations create a surreal backdrop for an unforgettable ride.

Generals Hwy to Kings Canyon (87 miles)

Experience the scenic roads of Kings Canyon National Park as you navigate this winding mountain pass, full of majestic sequoias and breathtaking vistas.

Ortega Highway (62 miles) 

Feel the adrenaline as you tackle the twists and turns of the Ortega Highway route, formerly known as Highway 74, ascending through the Santa Ana Mountains with stunning views of canyons and valleys.

Klamath River Highway (62 miles)

Follow the meandering Klamath River through lush forests and serene landscapes, immersing yourself in the beauty of Northern California, including the Humboldt Redwoods State Park.

Route 33 (70 miles)

Known as the Ojai to Maricopa Highway, this route offers an exhilarating ride through the Los Padres National Forest, boasting dramatic scenery and thrilling curves.

Joshua Tree National Park (62 miles)

Ride through the otherworldly landscapes of Joshua Tree, where unique rock formations and the iconic Joshua Trees themselves create a surreal environment.

Angeles Crest Highway (60 miles)

Ascending into the San Gabriel Mountains, this twisty road offers sweeping views of Los Angeles, along with challenging curves that will delight any rider.

The Golden Gate Loop (20 miles)

The Golden Gate Loop in San Francisco offers a unique urban twist to your motorcycle adventure, combining breathtaking views, urban energy, and a touch of nostalgia.

Highway 20 (32 miles)

This route connects Fort Bragg to Willits, guiding you through thick redwood forests, including the beloved Jackson State Demonstration Forest. You’ll pass by gentle creeks and navigate twisting mountain roads along the way.

Other routes that you might want to check, include those going through the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway 190 to Furnace Creek Road, the Dantes View Road, Bixby Creek Bridge, Morro Bay, and a lot more. 

Each of these routes promises a unique and unforgettable experience, showcasing the incredible diversity of landscapes and the thrill of motorcycle touring in California. Before you embark on your journey, ensure you’re well-prepared with the right gear, knowledge of local road laws, and emergency contacts at hand. So, fuel up, gear up, and hit the road to create memories that will last a lifetime on California’s best motorcycle rides! 

motorcycle touring in california

Choosing the Right Gear

Before starting your road riding adventure, make sure you’re geared up for a safe and comfortable ride. Here’s a checklist to ensure you’ve got the motorcycle must-haves, including:

  • Helmet: Safety first! Invest in a quality DOT-approved helmet to protect your head.
  • Riding Jacket and Pants: Opt for durable, weather-resistant gear that provides protection in case of a spill.
  • Gloves: Choose gloves with good grip and insulation to keep your hands comfortable.
  • Boots: Sturdy, non-slip boots offer crucial ankle support and protection.
  • Eyewear: Sunglasses or a visor-equipped helmet will shield your eyes from the sun and debris.

Understanding California’s Road Laws

Each state has its own set of road rules, and California is no exception. Familiarize yourself with these key regulations before you set off:

  • California Vehicle Code Section 21658.1: California is one of the few states where lane splitting is legal, allowing motorcyclists to ride between lanes of traffic. However, do so cautiously and within reasonable speeds.
  • California Vehicle Code Section 27803: All riders and passengers are required to wear helmets, regardless of age.
  • California Traffic Laws: According to California’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), all vehicles, including motorcycles, should obey all traffic signals and signs.
  • Vehicle Code 16056: All motorcycle riders should carry the minimum liability insurance coverage required by the state.
    • $15,000 coverage for bodily injury to a single individual
    • $30,000 coverage for bodily injury to multiple individuals
    • $5,000 coverage for damage to third-party property

Emergency Contacts

While we hope for the best, it’s wise to be prepared for the unexpected. Have these contacts in case of emergency during your ride:

  • Emergency Services: Dial 911 in case of an accident or medical emergency.
  • Motorcycle Accident Lawyer: Keep contact information for a local motorcycle accident lawyer, in case you need legal assistance on filing claims or representation for a lawsuit. They can also help you in finding the best medical experts and local repair shops.

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Travel Essentials for Your Next California Motorcycle Tour

Almost ready for an exciting motorcycle trip? Don’t forget to pack the important things that will make your adventure safe and fun. Let’s explore the essential items you’ll need for your upcoming journey on two wheels.

What to Bring on Your Travel

Don’t forget to pack the essentials for a comfortable journey:

  • Map or GPS: Even in the age of smartphones, it’s a good idea to have a backup navigation method.
  • First Aid Kit: Be prepared to handle minor injuries on the road.
  • Snacks and Water: Stay energized and hydrated during long stretches between stops.
  • Chargers: Keep your devices juiced up for navigation and communication.

Weather and Climate Considerations

California’s climate can vary greatly depending on the region and time of year. Before you set out, research the weather conditions for your chosen route and pack accordingly:

  • Coastal Areas: Coastal regions can experience fog and cooler temperatures, especially in the mornings and evenings. Bring layers to stay comfortable.
  • Deserts: Deserts can get scorching hot during the day and surprisingly chilly at night. Dress in lightweight, breathable clothing and carry a jacket for cooler evenings.
  • Mountain Passes: Higher elevations mean cooler temperatures. Pack warm clothing and rain gear to stay prepared for sudden weather changes.

Fuel, Rest Stops, Camping, and Accommodation

Long stretches of road may mean limited gas stations and rest areas. Plan your fuel stops and take regular breaks to stretch your legs and stay refreshed. Carry a refillable water bottle to stay hydrated.

For the adventurous souls, camping can be a fantastic way to immerse yourself in California’s natural beauty. Many national and state parks offer camping facilities. If you prefer a more comfortable stay, research accommodations along your route in advance to secure a place to rest for the night.

Document Your Journey

Capture the magic of your California motorcycle tour by documenting your experiences. You can capture the moment using:

  • Camera or Smartphone: Take stunning photos of the scenery, your bike, and fellow riders to cherish the memories.
  • Journal: Jot down your thoughts, encounters, and highlights each day to create a personalized travelogue.
  • Social Media: Share your journey on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, or your favorite social media platform or a travel blog to inspire others and keep loved ones updated.

Keep Safe While Enjoying The Ride

A motorcycle tour through California is a thrilling adventure that promises breathtaking landscapes, unforgettable experiences, and the freedom of the open road. By preparing well, respecting local laws, staying safe, and embracing the diverse cultures and climates, you’ll create a journey that leaves you with cherished memories for years to come.

So, gear up, follow our checklist, and get ready to embark on the ride of a lifetime. The roads are waiting – it’s time to make your California motorcycle tour dreams a reality!

If you have been involved in any accident during your trip, we are here to help. Motorcyclist Attorney has a team of legal and medical experts to help you get through an accident. Call us at (844) 284-9437 for a free consultation.


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