Houston to San Francisco
America is a land intrinsically linked with the automobile, and whilst the United States cannot lay a claim to being the ones that invented the contraption that we are all obsessed with, thanks to the likes of Ford and Durant et al. the motor car became something that would touch the lives of many and not just a few. It is a country that has inspired many, with its tall tales, cities that reach up to the heavens, huge landscapes and its all-encompassing skies. There is a long tradition of travel and a pull to enjoy life on the road, whether that be mounted on a Hogg on route 66, cruising in a Cadillac on the road to nowhere on highway 3 or following in the footsteps of Kerouac, Moriarty and Ginsberg, on the road is very much a way of life.
Our own On the Road adventure will take us from Houston to San Francisco, on a route that heads almost all the way north to the Canadian border and then back down to the city by the bay. As always with our adventures the route will take us on roads less travelled and whilst to see America is to cruise the freeways and highways, the roads that beckon those who choose to take on this trip will be an altogether less straight forward affair, giving us all the pleasure of seeing an America that many eyes never get to see. As Kerouac himself said, “There is nowhere to go, but everywhere.”
Over 21 days and thousands of miles our adventure will find our America, it will introduce us to a land of contrasts, some expected and some unexpected. Cowboy territory and the great plains will give way to the Rocky Mountains and high altitude passes, as well as tumultuous river crossings as we forge our own route across the great divide. Gravel roads will often be our friends, as we retrace the footsteps of the first pioneers that crossed these great lands, national parks will be our solace against the dust of the plains and deserts, offering a luscious oasis of green flora amongst fast flowing rivers and spectacular wildlife. For those with a head for heights the mighty Teton range will leave us breathless, and the venerable and ancient trees of the Klamath Forest will leave us humbled.
The event is open for vintageant cars built before 1948 and for Classic cars of a type built before 1986. Cars of a later date but unchanged mechanical specification will be considered at the Organisers’ discretion. Classes based on engine size will subdivide these categories.
The event is suitable for both novice and more experienced crews. Many roads are good tarmac and gravel, with competition on more remote roads, private land or race circuits. An easy to follow tulip route book will be supplied. Our experienced team of officials will be at your disposal at all times to support you and we will provide hints and tips on navigation.
This event is open to HERO-ERA Club, Premier and Heritage Members
Premier Members benefit from up to 10% off event entry fees, early sign-up opportunities, 10% savings on rally vehicle hire, preferential rates from our insurance partners and much more!
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Houston is the most populated city in Texas, although we plan to begin our adventure just north of the city itself allowing us to get on with the serious business of rallying and enjoying the open road, instead of sitting in the metropolis’ traffic. The countryside around here is real Cowboy territory, not the plastic movie portrayal, but a place where good ol’ boys still sport Stetson’s like they mean it. Day one will end near to the Fort Worth Stockyards, the gateway to the west and as authentic as Texas gets.
Leave your Tony Christie jokes at home, our way to Amarillo will take us through a gravel covered wilderness on roads that will put paid to any worries that America is endless miles of arrow straight blacktop. There aren’t that many roads around here, but if you do drift off route, try no to get to close to Pantex, the only Nuclear Weapons construction facility in the country.
The day will begin with a visit to the famous Cadillac Ranch, but here is where the similarities to the 2018 trip will end, as the roads take us across the state line into New Mexico and up into the Southern Rockies. The first of many mountain roads will bring us up, and then down to the evening’s terminus at Taos, a ski town that sits in New Mexico’s high desert.
Colorado beckons our travelling band today, but the state line won’t be the only thing we will cross, as the route will take us over the mighty Rio Grande. The traditional route of freedom for Texan slaves, we travel across in thankfully much better educated times and today the river and gorge serve as a wonder of nature and is something we can all enjoy. The landscape will change too, as we leave the high desert and head into greener pastures, finishing in the spa town of Pagosa, home to the world’s deepest geothermal spring.
It’s time to weaken the mixture as the altitude will increase exponentially on the fifth day of our adventure. High mountain passes with romantic names will be our companions, with the likes of ‘Wolf Creek Pass’ and ‘Wagon Wheel Gap’ providing the corridors on which we will travel, as well as the equally breath-taking prospect of ‘Spring Creek’ and ‘Slumgullion’ Passes at 10,901 and 11,361 feet respectively. The historical mining town of Gunnison will provide us with a place to rest, but still at a heady height of 7700 feet above sea level!
The high-altitude roads continue as the rally approaches its first rest day in the large and diverse city of Colorado Springs. The likes of the Cottonwood Pass at 12,126 feet will guide us in, as we traverse a route through the San Isabella National Forest to the edge of the Rocky Mountains, on an easterly route towards ‘Little London’, the nickname afforded to Colorado Springs.
Whilst many of us may wish to take a break from driving, for a lot of us the call of the famous Pikes Peak Mountain Toll Road may prove too much of a draw to ignore. The most famous hill-climb of them all is not to be missed, you could even take a bus or the 'Cog Railway' if you really didn’t want to drive it…
Nothing better to blow away the lethargy of a rest day than a long day rallying with a healthy injection of gravel! That’s exactly what will be prescribed as the competition resumes with a lengthy run to Rawlins, home of the Wyoming State Penitentiary. This is the first stop in Wyoming, a state of high plains and mountains, which will provide us with some of the most incredible rallying yet.
The ninth day of adventure will see us wake early with another long, but mouth-watering leg in prospect. It will see the rally cross the Great Divide Basin, in Wyoming’s Red Desert. Rainfall here never makes it to the ocean, although we will be hoping the same fate does not befall any of our travelling party as we head on our truncated path to the Pacific. Whilst the wilderness of Wyoming’s plains will accompany us for much of the day, as the sun continues to move west in the sky the route will see us head towards to the Teton Mountain Range, and our refuge for the evening, Jackson.
After two long days (709 miles) a second rest day. Visited by 2012’s event, an interesting town with loads of restaurants and a good vibe. For the more adventurous, head over to the nearby Jackson Hole Mountain Resort (20mins) and take a Paragliding flight or maybe the cable car to the mountain top café.
After three days in Wyoming we will wave goodbye to the state and head across the border into Montana. The famous Yellowstone Park will provide our playground, the natural wonder of the parkland, with its geysers and waterfalls, inspiring us on in our journey as it has inspired so many visitors beforehand. There are few places that tell the story of this part of America the way in which Yellowstone does, so this will be a day to be savoured and undoubtedly a trip highlight.
Leaving the University town of Bozeman the route takes our adventure further north to Great Falls, via the Helena-Lewis and Clarke National Park and the Big Belt and Little Belt Mountains. From alpine ridges to great forest, it is sure to be another breath-taking day at the wheel. Great Falls itself sits on the Missouri River and takes its name from the number of falls, which these days have their huge power harnessed for the generation of hydro-electricity.
The only way is up on day thirteen of the journey, as the rally skirts the edge of the Northern Great Plains and traverse part of the Blackfeet Indian Reservation before tackling the famous ‘Going to The Sun Mountain Road’. The Logan Pass, the highest point of the ‘Going to the Sun’ road, will guide us on our route through the Glacier National Park. This particular part of the road is only open in the summer and often experiences snow drifts to a depth of 30 metres! The winter sports resort town of Whitefish will welcome us for the evening.
The degrees of Latitude on this year’s Trans America will reach their greatest number today, as we take in the most northerly most part of the route, passing through Eureka OR, just 7 miles from the Canadian border. A run through the Kootenai and Kaniksu National Forests will signal our about turn south and west towards Coeur d’Alene. Not that far south from the famous Banff National Park, the scenery today will be very ‘Northern Rockies’. A paradise of green tipped peaks and swathes of thick trees, as well as some incredible driving, naturally.
CDA is all about the outdoors. Relax, hire a boat, go rafting, fish or take a guided ATV (quad bike) or UTV (buggy) trip into the wilderness.
Heading directly south for the first time and into Oregon, the event passes through the Palouse Hills and along the Snake River Canyon to Le Grande. Site of Evel Knievel’s famous canyon jump, the landscape of the Magic Valley is a mixture of scrubland, deep red rock and rolling hills before we climb again through the Umatilla National Forest to La Grande.
West is best today, with a run across Oregon’s plains and hills to Madras, via Fossil. The landscape out here is as vast as the skies that cover it, with uninterrupted driving on a route where it is possible to travel for hours and not see another soul.
The high peaks of the Cascade Mountains welcome the rally on the eighteenth day of competition. The range is home to Mount Ranier, Mount Hood and Mount St. Helens, although we should be a fair way south from its most dangerous volcanic peaks, we will very much be travelling in the snow-capped shadow of Mount Hood, an 11,000 ft active Stratovolcano! The beauty of the ranges will surely put any thoughts of impending doom to the back of one’s mind though, this really is an area of astounding landscapes, constantly evolving and changing as the rally gains sight of the Pacific Ocean for the first time.
The famous Pacific Highway, or Route 101 carries us south for at least the first part of day nineteen. It will see us safely down to North Bend before turning South East to head back into the mountains, to play in the Coast Range on our way to Grants Pass. Famous for its Vineyards, the route will see a mixture of landscapes, as it traverses mountain ranges, as well as dropping through wine-making country, as we find ourselves within touching distance of California.
The penultimate day of action and one that takes us to our final state line of the adventure, and into a land many have sought refuge in before us – California. The route south winds a way through the famous Klamath National Forest, a collection of grand old trees under a canopy of green, before turning towards Eureka CA and the shimmering Pacific once again. If the prospect of the Klamath was impressive, then the run through Great Redwood Trees in the Avenue of Giants, on the way to Fort Bragg, will likely leave you in a state of astonishment.
An early finish beckons on this last morning of adventure, but there is still a competition to be settled as the cars run South along the world famous Highway 1, and despite us squeezing in just a few last scenic spots on our run to the Golden Gate Bridge and ‘Frisco’s famous bay, you won’t want to lose concentration if you are in the running for some prizes! Upon our arrival though it will be time to relax and ponder all of the incredible things that have been seen, as we have navigated our route across this incredible collection of States.
*Itinerary subject to change