Do I Have the Right Motorcycle?

Wondering if you have the right motorcycle for the Carson / Tahoe Moto? If you ride it, the answer is yes, you do.

What’s the right motorcycle?

The right motorcycle for our event is the one you ride. Not the bike you wish you had but don’t. Not the one in your garage that you don’t want to get any bugs on. We designed our event for people who like to ride motorcycles. If you spend more time polishing the chrome on your bike than riding it then this might not be the place for you. And it’s definitely not the right event for those who decide on the right motorcycle by how it looks parked in front of a bar.

What's the right motorcycle for the Carson Valley Lake Tahoe Adventure Motorcycle Ride?

The right motorcycle for our event is the one you like to ride the most.


We feel very strongly that motorcycles are meant to be ridden. The right motorcycle, on the right road, on the right day is a thing of joy and beauty. For some riders, the right road is miles of smooth, twisty pavement. For others, it’s a scenic dirt road in the backcountry. For many, a great day of riding means some of each. We’re very fortunate to have a lot of great roads, both paved and dirt, within a short distance of our basecamp in Carson Valley, Nevada.

The right motorcycle for paved mountain twisties.

What’s the right motorcycle for our beautiful High Sierra mountain roads? That depends on how hard you want to ride and what you want to get out of a day on the bike. If you ride a sport bike and your tires don’t show any sign of chicken strips we’ve got some of the best curves in the Western US.

A high-performance sportbike is the right motorcycle for riders who like to go fast around corners.

Sport bikes on Monitor Pass


If you think the right motorcycle skews more toward comfort for long days in the saddle, maybe riding two up, then you’re probably riding something a little heavier, with more forgiving suspension, and a more upright riding position. Maybe with some luggage for carrying cameras and lunch, and a port to recharge your phone. The big adventure bikes are great for this sort of riding.

Two-up motorcycle ride in the High Sierra.

Two-up motorcycle ride in the High Sierra on a big adventure bike.


The right motorcycle for backcountry dirt.

The right motorcycle for our dirt routes is something that you feel comfortable riding on dirt. Most of our dirt rides are more about seeing remote backcountry and less about extreme technical challenges. So anything with dirt-friendly tires, a bit of ground clearance, and some protection for the vulnerable parts will be just fine. If you like to ride hard on the dirt you’ll probably bring one of the lighter dual-sport bikes. If you feel confident on a big machine on loose surfaces, then one of the big adventure bikes will be the right motorcycle for you.

What's the right motorcycle for backcountry adventure travel?

Checking the route in the backcountry. Two big adventure motorcycles and a smaller dual-sport bike.


Whatever you decide to ride, we’ve got some great routes that will leave you knowing you brought the right motorcycle, on the right day, for some of the best riding anywhere.

The 2014 Carson / Tahoe Moto is August 21-24. You can register here, or, sign up for our email newsletter.

Motorcycle Ride on Ebbetts Pass

A motorcycle ride on Ebbetts Pass is epic. California State Route 4 is one of the most beautiful roads over the Sierra Nevada. It’s a great way to get from the San Francisco Bay Area to Carson Valley or Lake Tahoe. And it is one of the least traveled of all the trans-Sierra passes.

Here’s a short four-minute video from our YouTube channel, taken on a motorcycle ride on Ebbetts Pass:


We’ve also written about other great motorcycle routes to Carson Valley. And we’ve got some information about when Ebbetts Pass, and the other Sierra passes, begin to open in the spring after being closed for winter.  For more, see the Ebbetts Pass Scenic Byway Association at

And here’s a motorcycle ride on Ebbetts Pass, via Google Maps.

C’mon up and ride with us.

Motorcycle Routes from Northern California

There’s a huge choice of motorcycle routes to get to Carson Valley, Nevada. Twisty, scenic backroads lead here from most of the major population centers in the West. Wherever you are, there’s probably a great ride that will get you here.

Here are some of our suggested rides from the Bay Area and Northern California.

Motorcycle Routes from the San Francisco Bay Area

Carson Pass, State Route 88

One of our favorite motorcycle rides from the Bay Area is California State Route 88. This route crosses the Sierra Nevada at Carson Pass at 8,574 feet (2,613 meters) above sea level. Carson Pass is one of the more dramatic trans-Sierra passes, has relatively light traffic, and is mostly open year-round. It closely follows the Emigrant Trail used by overland wagon trains headed for California beginning in 1848. More than 250,000 people crossed over the Sierra Crest between 1848 and 1869, when the Transcontinental Railroad opened. The new cross-country train trip only took seven days and cost about $69. The earlier journey, typically walking alongside a covered wagon loaded with a family’s household goods, took about six months.

The Carson Pass route offers spectacular views of several High Sierra lakes, volcanic rock formations near Kirkwood Ski Resort, and the rugged terrain around the Silver Fork of the American River and the North Fork of the Mokolumne River. State Route 88 begins at State Route 99 in Stockton, California and ends right near our headquarters in Minden, Nevada.

State Route 88 on Google Maps

View of Red Lake from just off State Route 88, at Carson Pass. One of the best motorcycle routes in the Sierra Nevada.

View of Red Lake from just off State Route 88, at Carson Pass.


Ebbetts Pass

State Route 4 over Ebbetts Pass is one of the most beautiful motorcycle routes in the Sierra Nevada. It is also one of the least traveled of all the trans-Sierra passes. The road climbs to 8,736 feet (2,663 meters) above sea level. Pick up the Ebbetts Pass route in Copperopolis, California and ride it 113 miles to our headquarters in Minden, Nevada. The Ebbetts Pass National Scenic Byway will make up 61 miles of your ride. The road was originally surveyed in the 1850s as a potential crossing for the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad Company. It became a booming toll route in 1861 filled with silver miners headed eastward for the Comstock Lode in Virginia City, Nevada. Today the highway is still raw and rugged, at times too narrow to support a painted center stripe. For more watch our Ebbetts Pass video, and see the Ebbetts Pass Scenic Byway Association at

Ebbetts Pass Route on Google Maps

Ebbetts Pass, California State Route 4. A great motorcycle route over the Sierra Nevada

Ebbetts Pass, California State Route 4 over the Sierra Nevada


Donner Pass

Most of the traffic over Donner Pass is on Interstate 80, one of the main east-west highways in the US. Although it has some great Sierra Nevada views, it would not be our first choice of roads. But some of the best motorcycling in the area is right nearby, on old US 40, another beautiful and historic road.

In 1844, the Stevens-Townsend-Murphy Party crossed the Sierra near what would later be known as Donner Pass, becoming the first group to bring wagons over the mountains. The party was led by Elisha Stephens who eventually settled near what is now Cupertino, California. Stevens Creek, and by extension Stevens Creek Boulevard, are named for him, although with some creative spelling along the way. Another leader of the group, Dr. John Townsend, also settled in the Bay Area. He was the first licensed physician in California, and served as Alcalde of San Francisco. Townsend Street, adjacent to the train station in San Francisco, is named for him.

From the west, access the old Donner Pass route via Hampshire Rocks Road at Cisco Grove, just off Interstate 80. The road ends near Donner Lake, in Truckee, California.

Old Donner Pass Route on Google Maps

Motorcycle riders on old Donner Pass highway, above Donner Lake. One of the best motorcycle routes in the Sierra Nevada.

Motorcycle riders on old Donner Pass highway, above Donner Lake.


Echo Summit, US 50

Driving US 50 over Echo Summit is the most popular way to get to the south shore of Lake Tahoe. It’s a beautiful road with some very dramatic views. On summer weekends, particularly on Fridays, it is often choked with cars and RVs headed for the mountains to escape the city life of the Bay Area or the heat of the Central Valley. If you can get away another time, this can be a very pleasant motorcycle route.

US 50 begins just west of Sacramento at Interstate 80. It ends more than 3,000 miles to the east in Ocean City, Maryland, on the Atlantic Ocean. The portion of US 50 that crosses Nevada is most famous as “The Loneliest Road in America.” If you are headed to or from Carson Valley across the Great Basin, this is an excellent motorcycle route. The road closely follows the route of the Pony Express that carried the mail between California and Missouri from April, 1860 to October, 1861. Genoa, on the western edge of Carson Valley, was the site of Station 165 of the 184 Pony Express stations along the 1,900-mile route. Woodford Station, in Woodfords, California, just to the south of Carson Valley, was Station 167.

Our preferred US 50 motorcycle route crosses the Sierra Nevada at Echo Summit (7,382 feet; 2,250 meters), then detours on State Route 89 over Luther Pass (7,740 feet; 2,359 meters) to avoid the thickest Lake Tahoe traffic.

US 50 and State Route 89 on Google Maps

Luther Pass is a great way to avoid Lake Tahoe traffic congestion on a US 50 motorcycle route.

A quick break on a motorcycle ride over Luther Pass, on State Route 89.


Great Motorcycle Event, Lower Prices

After our inaugural motorcycle event at Lake Tahoe in 2012 we got lots of great feedback. Suggestions and ideas for improvement came in from motorcyclists who came up to the mountains to ride with us. And from riders who were not able to attend. One of the recurring themes of that feedback was, “Great motorcycle event, needs lower prices.” You spoke; we listened. And we’re hard at work to make the 2013 Carson / Tahoe Adventure Moto another great motorcycle event, with lower prices.

Carson Valley / Lake Tahoe Adventure Motorcycle Ride. A great Nevada motorcycle event, with lower prices.

A great motorcycle event, with lower prices. In Carson Valley, Nevada.


We started by lowering the four-day registration fee to $225. Then we added in a pretty significant discount schedule to make it easy for you to decide to ride with us. That means you can save as much as $80 off the full four-day registration fee. Our 2013 motorcycle event is August 22-25. And we want to make it easy for you to plan your summer riding early. So we’re offering the biggest discounts for the earliest reservations. Here’s how it works:

  • Register by May 18, pay $145, save $80.
  • Register by June 11, pay $165, save $60.
  • Register by July 9, pay $185, save $40.
  • Register by August 6, pay $205, save $20.

Your four-day registration fee includes our welcome reception Thursday afternoon, the Friday night dinner, all the educational seminars, post-ride beer-and-bullshit sessions (free beer!), morning pre-ride coffee and donuts, ride route maps, admission to the vendor display area, and a souvenir motorcycle event t-shirt and sticker.

Want to bring along a pillion rider? Easy; that’s just $99 for another person for everything above, including another t-shirt.

Can’t be here for the entire motorcycle event? How about a day pass for Friday or for Saturday at just $95?

It gets even better. Our new location in Carson Valley means we can offer you really nice accommodations at really nice rates. And you can get your Carson / Tahoe Motorcycle Event tickets and book your hotel room right from our registration system.

Remember, you’ll get the biggest discount by booking as early as possible. So do it now and c’mon up and ride with us.