Northern California

Santa Margarita to Taft

Central California

Highway 58

Quick Ride:Highway 58 has an air of reverence when mentioned in motorcycle conversation. Imagine a variety of curves, two low ranges, and high-speed straights coupled with amazing views of the Central Valley. It's a combination of all these, that middle of nowhere feeling, the big sky country, quality pavement and length- 72 miles of motorcycle nothingness that create those giddy childlike comments comprised of glee, excitement and wonderment.

RIDE IT on a PASHNIT TOUR


San Luis Obipo - COUNTY

72 Miles - LENGTH
Most Excellent, No guard rails - PAVEMENT
Mountain, Smooth - CURVES

Hwy 101 to Hwy 33 - CONNECTS

Atascadero, Santa Margarita, Taft  - GAS

CLICK FOR MORE INFO

Next Services 82 Miles

The Pashnit Tour group had only ridden the first forty miles. A stop for a breather and he came running up. He was wide-eyed, excited and grinning from ear to ear.

“How did you find this road?!”

The answer was little more than a knowing smile.

Highway 58 gains an air of reverence when mentioned in motorcycle conversations. Imagine a variety of curves, two low ranges, and high-speed straights coupled with an expansive view of the Central Valley. It's a combination of all these, that middle of nowhere feeling, the big sky country, quality pavement and length- 72 miles of motorcycle nothingness that create those giddy childlike comments comprised of glee, excitement and wonderment. It’s confirmation of why you bought that motorcycle in the first place. That, and the fact that the mapping program that is constantly trying to route around this road to keep me on the main roads like Hwy 46 to the north is simply a bonus.

Calf Canyon on Highway 58

Hwy 58 cuts across the entire state of California beginning from the Hwy 101 corridor 11 miles north of San Luis Obispo and 9 miles south of Atascadero. Altogether, it covers 241 miles on the way to Barstow. Large truck traffic in this portion is prohibited. The best part, arguably, lies between Santa Margarita and Hwy 33. Well-marked and easy to find, exit the 101 freeway, and ride into the tiny farming town of Santa Margarita. There is gas in Santa Margarita at Pintors Tire & Wheel and across the street is The Porch Café for breakfast. Business’ come and go in these small towns, so you may want to check ahead of time if this is your planned stop for gas and eats. On the east edge of Main Street, watch for the sign, 72 miles to McKittrick. Turn eastward over the railroad tracks and ride past Santa Margarita Park. The ride begins nearly immediately with a hard left at the edge of town. There is gas in Taft, but not McKittrick on the east end. If your bike only has a 100-mile range, plan accordingly. Do not ride off into these remote regions of the state without a plan for gas and a self-awareness of your range.

Known at Calf Canyon Highway on the western side, the actual Calf Canyon is a fun twisty section with excellent pavement wiggling up and over a low set of hills. Google calls Hwy 58 the Blue Star Memorial Highway, but I may have missed the sign for that. Blue Star Memorial Highways are roads in the United States that are marked to pay tribute to the U.S. armed forces.

 

A quick 90 degree left, a turn right and the ride wastes no time flowing out into the foothills. If it is springtime, these rolling hills are alive with color. In years that have heavy rain over the winter, meadows may be awash in wildflowers March through April.

Flow down a long straight past the Santa Margarita Cemetery, however, note that 1.6 miles later, Hwy 58 takes another left-hand turn that's easy to miss. If you do miss the left turn, you'll be on Pozo Rd headed off on another adventure the locals call the Pozo Loop. The turn is well marked and signed, but zipping down this long downhill straight invites a hazy focus when you should be focusing on making the turn left towards Bakersfield.

 

A blue sign appears, Next Services 82 Miles, another reminder to be gassed up. Also note the 82 mile sign assumes you are going straight to Taft from this sign vs looping around via Bitterwater or Soda Lake Rd neither of which have gas anywhere along these other routes. Also note, there is no gas at this 'Next Services' sign so add the 82 miles to the distance it took to get to this blue sign, whether you rode from Cambria, San Luis Obispo, Creston or Atascadero to get here. It's also worth noting that we've had more riders run out of gas in San Luis Obispo County than any other region of the state.

The Pozzo Loop: Park Hill Rd & Pozo Rd

Meeting up at the Pozo Saloon

No matter how many times we lecture a tour group to top off before leaving the main highway, there’s always that guy in the group that say yah, I can make it, I’ve got the Exxon Valdez here of a tank on this here bike. This same guy gets to the halfway point at Bitterwater, does a mileage range count and the ribbing starts from your buddies. Why didn’t you fill up genius? Err on the side of caution and top off despite that impressive range you keep mentioning.

The Pozo Loop

The Pozo Loop if you have the time is a combination of Pozo Rd and Park Hill Rd to form a loop back to Hwy 58 a few miles to the east. This loop is centered around the town (sort of) of Pozo and Santa Margarita Lake.  This lake is the drinking supply for the town of San Luis Obispo so no swimming is allowed, but boating and fishing are. There are also campgrounds around the lake. A local controversy erupted recently when it was proposed to raise the level of the lake by 15 feet to increase the capacity of the reservoir. The resultant water would flood some trees along the current lake edge.

Containing little more than a saloon, Pozo is the half way point of the loop when it heads back north and rejoins Hwy 58 as Parkhill Rd two miles away from where you started. Pozo is known best for the Pozo Saloon, in continuous operation since 1858, originally as a stage stop and today as a biker saloon. The Pozo Saloon has re-invented itself with musical concerts that have seen the likes of Willie Nelson, Dwight Yoakum, Snoop Dogg and Ziggy Marley. The venue is capable of accommodating more than 3,000 concertgoers.

 

The Pozo Loop is bisected by Las Pilitas Rd in the middle that is another can't-be-missed road. We call these creek bed roads as they follow the contours of the creek. Goaty, narrow, and best described as swoopy. Across Park Hill Rd on the east end of Las Pilitas is Huer Huero Rd, more super fun backroad goodness. We like to combine Huer Huero with Las Pilitas on many tours in the region.

A counter-clockwise sequence would be ride Hwy 58 westbound, then Huer Huero Rd, Las Pilitas Rd, back to Hwy 58, north on Hwy 229 - Rossi's Driveway into Creston. Best day ever. This sequence is seen in the slider below.

Slider of riding Huer Heuro - Las Pilitas Rd

The diehard goat trail fans should ride up to the FAA Radar tower on the summit of Black Mountain. The FAA search radar tracks civilian and military traffic with 250 miles and sends the information to air control centers at Fremont and Palmdale. Black Mountain Rd is a single lane narrow paved road. The ride is 7-miles, paved all the way to the top, but sandy and slow going with blind corners while climbing up to the radar site.

 

I was scolded one year for leading a motorcycle tour group to the 3625 ft summit. Some riders thought it was too sandy, too narrow, and too slow-going. If those adjectives got you excited, plan it into your day. The midsection rides a mountainous finger producing terrific photos (below) and there are expansive views at the top to the north, especially on a spring day without any haze. (Click the slider below)

 

Also note that some maps or GPS may show East Pozo Rd continuing to connect with Hwy 58 up and over the range as a main paved road. This is a dirt ranch road signed as FR 29S01 up and over 2650 ft Pozo Summit.

Slider of the ride up to FAA Radar Tower on Black Mountain Rd

A smooth ride ensues for the next 30 miles with not much in-between. A few ranches, the actual Calf Canyon, and two paved side roads- O'Donovan Rd and La Panza Rd. Both of which are connectors back to Creston and are largely uneventful and even relatively straight running parallel to the ridgelines. Creston is a tiny ranching town dating to1884 who's odd claim-to-fame is the location where L. Ron Hubbard, the inventor of Scientology, spent his last days. One road in particular though, Shell Creek Rd, is worth mentioning which runs due north from Hwy 58. By far just a rancher’s back road, it's paved, and connects 16 miles back to Shandon (no gas) and Hwy 46.

At the cross-roads with Shell Creek Rd is a large meadow on the north side of Hwy 58 that in spring is often painted in a colorful blanket of wildflowers. The amount of rain varies each winter, but every few years, the rains are ample and the spring wildflowers in March & April come out in force producing a local phenomenon called a super bloom. During those wet springs, there are so many wildflowers at Shell Creek Rd, there may be numerous cars parked on the side of the road with tourists milling about all taking pictures.

Western portion of Hwy 58 flows through rolling grasslands

The no gas is worth mentioning again as a reminder not to venture into these far-flung places without a full tank. Gas is only available on either ends of this ride in Taft (no gas in McKittrick) or along Hwy 101. If you're worried, carry an MSR Fuel Canister (google that) or an inexpensive hand pump available at any auto parts store. One of our riders in the photo below ran out of gas at just 90 miles in the middle of Hwy 58. We filled him up with our siphon hose, and on our merry way in minutes.

The Calf Canyon portion traverses this low range with a series of Ivy League School designed curves. The best minds in America carved out this portion of road with motorcyclists in mind.

 

Speeds are brisk, sight lines are excellent, and just a few off-camber left handers to contend with. Settle in with a comfortable pace, and enjoy the ride. There are several long straights in the first half of the ride over hill and dale. The ridgelines run north-south which means it's an up and down ride producing smooth high speed turns climbing over and then descending.

By May, the coastal fog has dissipated, the rain has left for the season, and the golden-brown slowly increases in intensity for the entire duration of the ride all the way to McKittrick. Summers can be very hot with temps easily over 100 degrees in these valleys between the ridgelines By the time you hit Hwy 33 now in the rain shadow of the Coast Range, terrain will be desert-like. All in the span of 72 miles.

Highway 58 includes some long straights

Pashnit Riders on the south end of Bitterwater Rd ready to head north

Bitterwater Road

The halfway mark is Bitterwater Road 37 miles east of Santa Margarita. Another personal favorite, Bitterwater is 30 miles of more nothingness. Not a tree in sight, this hilly region of the state can be an enjoyable ride. Bear in mind that as mentioned, the middle of August can be dry, hot, and a whole lot of brown.

 

Bitterwater Rd is a whole lot of nothing, with little activity other than cows grazing, sometimes in the middle of road. Road conditions on Bitterwater are generally poor for the duration, the worst in the last few miles on the north end, but we love this road. It's twisty for the majority and has fantastic views. The midway point along this 30 miles stretch of Bitterwater Rd is the county line. Note to the photographers in the bunch, Bitterwater is utopia in spring when the rolling hills are colored in brilliant green. During super blooms, yellow & blue flowers color the hillsides. 

Bitterwater Road marks the beginning of the ride across the California Valley, and the northerly reaches of the Carrizo Plain to the Temblor Range on the far side. At Bitterwater, a vast sea of solar panels appears. The California Renewable Energy Act was a bill that specifically requires that 50 percent of California's electricity to be powered by renewable resources by 2025 and 60 percent by 2030. While California leads the 50 states in alternative energy generation, as of 2017, only 12% of California's energy production is from solar. Large solar farms like the one you see at Bitterwater are slowly increasing that number. A recent bill in 2018 sets a goal of energy production in California to be 100% zero-emission energy sources by 2045. These solar farms are beginning to pop up across some regions of California that receive large amount of sun like the California Valley. The Topaz Solar Farm became operational in 2014 and the California Valley Solar Ranch opened in 2013. They are located at the junction of Bitterwater and Hwy 58.

Bitterwater Rd can be a photographers delight in March and April during a super bloom.

Hwy 58 has two 90-degree corners 3 miles away from the Bitterwater junction preceded by a long straight. And as this is the first long straight after a quick break at the Bitterwater junction, be sure to pay attention for the impending said corner. These two 90 degree corners mark the entrance into the California Valley and the Carissa Plains Elementary school with 23 students is right at the corner. These corners are signed as 15 mph.

The ghost town of California Valley is past the turn southward for Soda Lake Road next to the Carissa Plains elementary school. Ghost Town might not be the appropriate word for something that was never built, but the map indeed shows a town. And quite large, teeming with endless grid line of streets, each one named.

The year 1960 rolled around and the original Spanish Land Grant was doled out to several rather optimistic land developers who believed the California Water Project would bring water to the area. Streets were graded, named and 7000 2-1/2-acre plots were created and sold through nationwide advertising at $600 apiece for the aspiring community of California Valley. 7000 x $600 scaled up for inflation equals $3.6 billion in today’s dollars. (There's a similar story about Shelter Cove, CA near Mattole Rd)

 

The next big paradise? Not quite. Instead the aqueduct, which runs the length of Central California, was built on the other side of the Temblor Range parallel to Interstate 5.

Streets graded in 1960 for the town of California Valley that was never built

Despite the national ad campaign and the promise of land for a $20 down payment, no suburban paradise was ever built. The soil was too alkaline for crops, there's no water, and electricity ended at the community center that was built. Today, sixty years later, there are an estimated 500 people living in the California Valley. There are numerous small homesteads along Soda Lake Rd, but there are still no services, and no town was ever built. The small collection of homes here along Hwy 58 are labeled as Simmler on the map, but don't expect a town.

High schoolers are bused all the way into Atascadero 51 miles away. Atascadero High School had one of the last high school dormitories in California for students from outlying areas until the mid-1980s for their use. Two miles south of Hwy 58, a small airstrip was built, incidentally it’s listed owner is Bill Gates, but it is not open to the public, and considered privately owned restricted use. At the north end of the runway is the California Valley Community Service building and the CDF fire station.

If you blow by California Valley like we normally do, you’d also never realize there is a tiny old-timey motel open in California Valley. Don’t expect 5-star Marriott accommodations. If that’s you Buttercup, don’t waste your time coming to the California Valley Lodge/Motel. But it’s here, it’s an hour from anything, it’s cash only, and there are more stars out here than you can imagine. You can see the galaxy.

Every couple years, a super bloom occurs where large amounts of seasonal rains produce carpets of green across the treeless hills that surround the valley and much of the length of Hwy 58. The super blooms prompt arm-chair tourists to rise from their arm chairs and come to the grassy regions along Hwy 58 cameras and babies in hand to view the wildflowers. Super blooms in 2017 and 2019 after several years of drought brought out the tourists, and babies, in spades.

Not much remains of the town-that-never-was, and you likely won't even know it's there all along the south of Hwy 58 stretching across the entire California Valley, but if you stop at a high point, you will be able make out some of the graded streets in the aerial photo above. More interesting, if you look at the topographical map below, all the planned streets are still shown on the present-day map.

The other thing of note if you do stop at one of these high points in one of the whoops, is to the south of Hwy 58 lies the Carrizo Plain National Monument.  You would have to ride the dirt Soda Lake Rd to Hwy 166 to experience the Carrizo Plain for its entirety.

 

The Carrizo Plain National Monument is a little-known national monument in California spanning a vast 246,812 acres and it is the largest expanse of native grassland in the state. It has been designated a National Historic Landmark and is bordered on either side by low ranges with the valley itself being the protected lands.

National monuments are areas reserved by the national government because they contain objects of historic, prehistoric, or scientific interest. They are nationally significant lands and waters set aside for permanent protection. Carrizo Plain National Monument was created in 2001 during the Clinton Administration. It's worth mentioning a president can only create national monuments from land that is already owned by the federal government.  The Carrizo Plain is managed by the Bureau of Land Management, not the federal park service.

Riding across the California Valley to the Temblor Range in the distance

This region located between Hwy 58 and Hwy 166 (which runs parallel to the south) spans a vast wilderness area with minimal development. The San Andreas Fault runs flows up the middle of the California Valley to Parkfield and continues to the San Francisco Bay Area. Nearby Parkfield claims to be the Earthquake Capital of the World. Dry creek beds in the valley have been studied extensively by geologists to learn more about the movement of the ground beneath our feet. Some creek beds flowing into the valley have seen lateral movement of 45 feet. Wallace Creek is a dry creek bed running perpendicular to the San Andreas Fault draining into the valley and is thought to be offset by 425 feet of north-south movement of the fault.

Soda Lake Rd is a dirt road that is paved on either end, and includes 21 miles of dirt for the mid-section. The 45-mile ride headed south from Highway 58 at Simmler to Highway 166 is a 3-way split of 19 paved / 21 dirt / 5 paved. Riders have likened some dirt portions similar to riding through beach sand. The road is usually graded once a year. Again, another mention, be mindful of gas range if heading out into these remote regions, there is nothing at either end of Soda Lake Rd. There is no water, no food, and no fuel. Daytime temperatures often exceed 100°F, with a record high of 115°F during the height of summer. The closest gas on the south end of Soda Lake Rd is in Maricopa 9 miles to the east or Cuyama 16 miles to the west of the 166 / Soda Lake junction. It's worth mentioning the much-loved Highway 33 is in the middle of this stretch of Hwy 166.

These grassy rolling hills of the Carrizo Plain National Monument contain Painted Rock, a naturally shaped horseshoe-shaped sandstone rock 250 feet across and 45 feet tall known for Chumash & Yokut pictographs painted on the side of this large mass of rock.

 

There are symbols for rain, sun and other images painted onto the rock including large colorful figures and motifs. Estimates are that the Chumash people first populated the Carrizo Plain about 2000 BC. Painted Rock is located 18 miles south of Hwy 58 and due south of Soda Lake on the west side of the valley. Painted Rock is accessible within the northern paved portion of Soda Lake Road.

 

You can easily ride to the Painted Rock Trailhead parking and then walk a short distance to the rock. Note that Painted Rock is a protected area and regularly closed to the public between March 1 and the end of May except for guided tours.

Painted Rock, Carrizo Plain National Monument, Photo by John Wiley

The valley is footnoted by the vast 3000-acre alkaline Soda Lake to the north of Painted Rock. The white alkaline salt glows white in summer. Runoff from the surrounding hills flows into this natural depression with no outlet. Soda Lake, comprised of white deposits of sulfates and carbonates, is the largest remaining natural alkali wetland in southern California and the only closed basin within the coastal mountains. Spring rains produce a lake, the water in turn evaporates and leaves the minerals behind. A stream once drained the valley, but movement of the San Andreas Fault closed off any natural outlet. The alkaline soda crust is now 8 inches thick and resembles baking power.

 

There are two primitive campgrounds along Soda Lake Rd. Selby Ranch Cow Camp Campground is located 20 miles south of Hwy 58, due south of Soda Lake but five miles off Soda Lake Rd via Selby Rd. There is also KCL Campground in the mid-portion of Soda Lake Rd (26 miles south of Hwy 58) with eight spots. KCL has stunning vistas of the California Valley especially in spring when the surrounding hills are adorned in a blanket of green but punctuated with splotches of bright yellow. Note both campgrounds are primitive, and only Selby on the north end offers non-potable water to the campsites.

Pic sequence of the southern 5 paved miles of Soda Lake Rd

The author avoiding blowing tumbleweeds along Hwy 58

There are some abandoned oil wells on the Carrizo Plain, but no active oil production on the National Monument lands. No commercially viable quantities of petroleum have ever been found on the plain.

 

However, to the east on the other side of the Temblor Range are the vast McKittrick and Cymric Oil Fields, thought to be the third largest oil fields in the United States.

If you are riding north on Soda Lake Rd from the south end at Hwy 166, the pavement winds through some picturesque curves to the edge of the pavement. (click slider above)

 

Admittedly, I turned around and headed back to Hwy 166 on that particular day of exploration, but I had to ride to the end of the pavement to see what was there curious how far the pavement lasted on the south end of Soda Lake Rd.

Panorama of graded streets of California City, no town was ever built

Back on Hwy 58, what this ride is best known for- whoops, loom dead ahead. Why we call them whoops, I have no idea. Plain fun is probably not a very good descriptive word. But it works, it is. Several in a row, these pop-up hills will get the front tire airborne if you're not careful or paying attention to the speed. Sight lines are dead straight, although the fun part is you can’t see what’s on the other side of the whoop. 

If the photos do the talking, then I should leave it at that. There are several sets of whoops- one right after Soda Lake Road and then after a 9-mile-long straight, around the next bend in the road. Then another set on the other side of the range. Again, plain fun. You will giggle like a school girl when you feel your heart sink down to your toes for a moment.

The Temblor Range looms.  Curves ahead.  America the Beautiful runs through your head over and over since you can't remember the rest of the song. A smooth ride to the top of the range leaving the California Valley behind, you can clearly see the white alkali lake in the distance along Soda Lake Rd in the mirrors. 

When you crest the top of the Temblor Range (Temblor is the Spanish word for earthquake) at an elevation of 3250 ft, you are rewarded with a fresh dose of salivatious curves. And then, as you hoped, the road snakes up to another crest and you can see the whole Central Valley in all its hazy glory.  On a clear day, quite the view.  The road drops into the Santa Maria Valley and to Hwy 33.

 

The Temblor Range portion was paved a few years back as the solar farms were being built. Caravans of large trucks hauled out the hundreds of solar panels and needed equipment to build the solar farms and sometimes closed the road.

Whoops dead ahead Captain.

View of Soda Lake while climbing to the Temblor Range 3250 ft summit

Curves over the Temblor Range can be sudden and it’s a long way down. One of the scariest things I ever saw while sweeping a motorcycle tour group occurred when a local rider joined the group on a brand new Ninja 250. As we crested the summit of the Temblor Range, the road hooks right in a sudden decreasing radius turn. The rider had to engage into an extreme lean to negotiate the turn at his rate of speed to not going flying over the cliff edge. He leaned the bike over so far, he scraped the stock muffler on the ground in the turn. While he made it smoothly through the turn with nary a bobble. At a later stop, I relayed the observation to him the difference between flying off the cliff edge into a helicopter ride (provided he lived) vs. an enjoyable day of riding were fractions of a degree of his lean angle.

 

There are two summits over the Temblor Range, however make your stop for a breather and photos on the second summit, the eastern side, as the Central Valley comes into view. There are several pullouts worthy of a pause in the day to take in the view.  Curves here are banked perfectly, pure delicious and pure childlike fun along with excellent sight lines.

 

Note there is no one out here to save you, especially for the solo rider, and any traffic is rare. Cell service will work as the Central Valley comes into view. But anywhere else on this ride is a maybe.

Dropping out of the Temblor Range and zipping down some long straights (more whoops), oil wells appear and grow steadily more frequent. The smell of oil in the air is a constant odor in the region around Taft. Over 3 billion barrels of oil have been extracted from the fields since they were first discovered in 1894. The oil fields here span over 30 square miles. There is thought to be an estimated 576 million barrels of recoverable oil remaining in the field. Additional oil fields are found on the other side of the Central Valley north of Bakersfield at Round Mountain Rd.

Six miles from Hwy 33, at Little Santa Maria Valley, is Reward Rd which is paved to McKittrick.

Reaching Hwy 33 after riding 72 miles, you are low on gas and full of grins from ear to ear. South will take you into Taft for gas and eats. North to McKittrick will take you out to Interstate 5. There is no gas in McKittrick but there is a small market for snacks.

Rider Comments on Highway 58:

I've made the LA to Bay Area run a bunch of times, using Hwy 33, 58, 101, 198, and 25, among others.  One gorgeous afternoon, popping my eastbound-58-cherry, I hit the roller coaster hills going 130 mph. I knew what I was in for as soon as I saw the rollers coming -- it was too late for the brakes unless I wanted 'em to lock when gravity gave way. Crested the first roller, caught air and hung there forever, touched down just enough off dead straight to know what I'd almost done, glanced at the speedo ('cause I knew I'd be telling this story about ten billion times), and spent the next ten minutes screaming in total exhilaration. -Bill O'Neil

I can't believe I missed this one before... 

 

Either end has some fantastic twisty bits. The east side is recently paved and smooth. The middle section crosses a broad valley and has sections of amazing dips and crests...high potential of rubber-asphalt separation (I was in a Jetta with speed governor installed (wife).

 

Next time you are heading north (or south), try it. Make sure you have enough gas as there are no services between ends. I went through it on a weekday and never saw another car in my direction, only 5-6 in the other. -MiataDrives

So, we get to Highway 58, and drive through downtown Buttonwillow west of I-5. We're riding for a good few miles, just at a mellow pace, not much interesting to look at.   And then... the turns begin.

Picture this: Perfect asphalt (perfect.)  15-20MPH turns, banked, with about 100 yards separating them.  For about 4 miles, one after the other. We were ON!   I was letting Solis lead, but I wasn't happy... he was holding my ass up.  I'd dive right on top of him going into corners, cranking my 550lb Suzuki Hayabusa from speed down to 20MPH, leaning into it, and watching Solis drive that Couch-a-sucky out harder than me.

I'm determined to show Solis the hero I am on the 'Busa, and follow him hard thru a sa-weet left hander... I'm in perfect, have the 'Busa grazing the engine case, elbow on the ground (almost!), and have the throttle at a nice neutral position... just ready to drive it out... and my Metzler MEZ4, my darling tire, creeps out of line.  That's the first time I've ever induced a rear slide at such an extreme lean angle, and it was a wake- up call!

I think I notched my pace back a teeny bit, but I wasn't gonna let Solis walk away... hadda keep the 'Busa respectable, plus I had Horney on my ass... come to find out, Horney lost the rear pretty good in a subsequent right hander. We pulled over at the end of the twisties, and waited for the others to catch up... we were all excited and laughing over the awesome, flat out SEXINESS of what we'd just done.  You have to understand, the temperature was perfect. It's spring time, everything is in bloom. You got yer' buddies railing in front and behind you. Perfect road and corners.

I ask Solis what's up for the rest of this road they call Highway 58.  Solis: "It's different, but good!" 

 

OK, so we dial it up, again, Solis, Me, Horney, Alex, Jimil et all following Solis at his spirited pace on the average stuff.  Suddenly, Solis is rolling on the juice. Huh ? OK, there's some hills coming up, he mentioned that... doesn't look bad.  We go up and down one... front felt a little light, but not bad... little scary... Solis goes up the next hill, and then, WHAM, he falls away, instantly invisible.  OK, my meager little brain just added 2 + 2. We're doing at least <censored>MPH.  I'm on the gas. Solis just fell off the face of the earth. I'm about to follow.  HOLY MOLY!  I chop the throttle, flying into the abyss, the front-end glides over, and I bottom out.  Thank you very much.  Here Horney, you go right on ahead! 

 

More whoopty follows, I'm giggling my ass off in my helmet, trying not to flip the bike, or have my ass go over the front end... Jesus.  Cut to San Luis Obispo... we eat at this tasty Mexican joint, and everyone is grinning from ear to ear. Good Times! -Mike Coustier

More Thoughts:

I recently had a chance to ride one of the roads on your site: Highway 58.  I have to admit, I was a bit skeptical as to how good this road was going to be being that it's not designated as a scenic route by any map that I know, and it starts (or ends) a place called Taft. Anyway, I took the road from Taft heading west to Santa Margarita and all I can say is it ROCKS! I love it! It was better than I had imagined Long straights. Sweeping turns. Tight hairpins. All in smooth blacktop.

And hardly a soul around.

We stopped at the Carrizo Plain National Monument and hung out at an abandoned shack with a Condor's nest in it. I loved it so much that I took my wife and daughter on it in our SUV(yuck!) just so I could show her!  I also took Highway G14 - Jolon Road and absolutely loved it as well. It's not twisty but the scenery is just wonderful.  -Rogue Biker, Suzuki Hayabusa

From the Travelogue's of Nelson...

I headed out on Hwy 58 at about 8:30 am. I took a little detour by riding Highway 229 north combined with La Panza Rd and then rejoined Hwy 58. That little stretch of Hwy 229 is a squiggly little road with perfect pavement. It has no middle line but is wide enough and a very lonely road. It goes up and down like a roller coaster. It was a good choice since the first half of Hwy 58 is nice, but not great. The really fun stretch of Hwy 58 starts in the second mountain pass after the long straight. The RT rider I met was right on, as much empty land as there is on this road, there is like nothing there that is not fenced in.

After rejoining 58, I backtracked a little to see some of what I missed. Nice sweepers and all, but the Highway 229 detour was well worth it. After crossing the first mountain range there are a couple of loooooong straights. But still it manages to be a fun ride since there are so many dips in the road reminiscent of California and Nevada desert roads. The dips are so low that when coming up the crest I felt as if I were going to fly off the bike. -Nelson, Honda CBR600 F4

Mmmm... 58. Tight corners give way to open sweepers give way to multi-mile great visibility dead straight roads before going back to sweepers then tight corners. One of the best riding roads in a state full of great riding roads. It greets you with signs motorcyclists love to see -- "No Services Next 82 miles" (nothing to distract you) and "multi-axle trucks not advised." Then it curves down into California Valley before shooting straight across the valley.

It's been said that any fool can twist a throttle, but it's the corners that show a rider's skill. I'll agree. It's also fun to twist that throttle! So as we hurtle across California Valley through a patch with no homes, just straight road, no cars in front or behind, miles of visibility, and wide expanses of dirt run off, I roll through 4th, 5th, and 6th gears. The speedo sweeps through mph and I see the pavement ripples. Huh? I don't remember those. Sure, there are the big whoop-de-doos on the east side of the valley, but this side was smooth. Er, no. So I manage to do my best Isle of Mann TT imitation with a wheelie into a jump. Abso-friggen-lutely amazing. -Greg, Kawasaki ZX-6R

Closing Thoughts:

 

Highway 58 in San Luis Obispo County is loved by all and will be a highlight to anyone's trip itinerary. It's long, it's remote, it's almost always deserted. Hwy 58 also provides a base to some very fun side roads, and if you only ride it end-to-end, you are missing out, and need to scroll up and read the above paragraphs a second time. Hwy 229-Rossi's Driveway has to be one of most fun motorcycle roads in all the state of California. It sounds lofty, but ride it first and then decide. Hwy 58 provides access to Bitterwater Rd, Parkfield and filters several roads into Creston. Adding the Huer Huero - Las Pilitas Rd - Hwy 229 combo and back into Atascadero is by far one the funnest motorcycle road sequences in the state. Add that to the stunning green landscape created by spring rains makes it all the more enjoyable with broad vistas that are sure to delight.  There are some very long straights and the whoops along the California Valley section are twice as fun as the whoops on the Hwy 120 Mono Lake section. Add it all up and you shouldn't need the above encouragement to get you out of the armchair and onto the bike pointed towards San Luis Obispo County in Central California.

 

Highway 58 - Photo Gallery

MORE INFO: Highway 58

RIDE IT on a PASHNIT TOUR
72 Miles - LENGTH


 Excellent for the majority, numerous long straights - PAVEMENT
 Fast, Smooth, Tight, Hairpins, Mountainous - CURVES

Santa Margarita to Hwy 33 - CONNECTS

 None, zero, nada, zilch, gas up Santa Margarita or Taft - GAS

Primitive camp on Carrizo Plain, or Santa Margarita Lake - CAMPING

Time warp back to 1960 at California Valley Lodge/Motel - LODGING

3025ft- PEAK ELEVATION
 


GPS LOCATION
  335°23′22″N 120°36′29″W - Santa Margarita
35°17'35.9"N 119°37'52.0"W - Hwy58/33 Junction

35°08′33″N 119°27′23″W - Taft

LISTED CONNECTING SIDEROADS:
Pozo Loop: W Pozo Rd  &  Park Hill Rd
Las Pilitas Rd

Huer Huero Rd

Black Mountain Rd
Hwy 229 - Rossi's Driveway
Shelby Rd
La Panza Rd
Shell Creek Rd
E Pozo Rd (dirt)
Bitterwater Rd
Soda Lake Rd
Reward Rd

RESOURCES:

Penny Bar - McKittrick

Carrizo Plain National Monument
Pozo Saloon
California Valley Motel
Santa Margarita Lake

Taft Oil Workers Monument & Museum

Topo Maps

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About Pashnit:

Tim Mayhew has devoted nearly 30 years to photographing and writing about California roads. His tireless efforts on the California Motorcycle Roads web site have spread across the globe becoming the encyclopedic guidebook for motorcycle travel in California. As of 2020, Tim has been designing & leading professional motorcycle tours across California, Oregon & Nevada for almost 18 years.
Learn more about riding with Tim on a  
Pashnit Motorcycle Tour in 2021.

 

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