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Old 11-27-2012, 12:40 PM   #1
McRuss OP
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Bear Tooth vs Chief Joseph

In planning my route to D2D for next year, I find that I have to make a choice. The Beartooth has always been on my bucket list but I've heard that Chief Joseph is not to be missed. So now the choices are these: 1) Ride from Aurora, CO to Red Lodge, MT and do the entire Beartooth but skip the Chief Joseph, or 2) Ride to Cody, WY and ride the Chief Joseph to the junction with the Beartooth and then go west on the Beartooth to 89 and then on into Great Falls, MT, missing the twistiest portion of the Beartooth.

I guess there is a third option but not as likely: ride the Chief Joseph to the Beartooth, turn right and ride the Beartooth almost to Red Lodge, then turn around and ride back on the Beartooth to 89 and on to Great Falls. This would add about 90 miles...would it be worth it?

For those of you who have ridden both, which option will give me best bang for the buck?
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Old 11-27-2012, 12:51 PM   #2
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I personally avoid riding through Yellowstone because of the traffic. I prefer to ride 296 to the Beartooth highway and then take the backroads from Red Lodge up to the Big Timber area and then shoot west on I-90 and pick up 89 from there.

ps. Chief Joseph Highway was better before they rerouted and paved it years ago.
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Old 11-27-2012, 02:43 PM   #3
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Beartooth is hard to beat. Decisions,, decisions.
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Old 11-27-2012, 05:22 PM   #4
568V8
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Beartoth twice

Ride the Chief Joseph and then the Beartooth to Redlodge and find a motel. Then in the morning ride the Beartooth back the other direction. That's what I did last June. Riding both directions gives you a better chance of getting good pictures with sun in a different position.
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Old 11-27-2012, 05:33 PM   #5
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Chief Joseph gets the nod to my thinking, but both are awesome rides.

Leaving Yellowstone in July 2010 we spent the night in Silver Gate, MT, then rode Beartooth over to Red Cloud the next morning, ate lunch, and then came back over Beartooth and hung a left onto Chief Joseph down to Cody.

They were working on the roads crossing Beartooth so we got hung up going both ways. Sitting around for 30 minutes in 34 degree temps sucked.

However, after we got on Chief Joseph it was just unending sweepers and almost no traffic.

Granted, our direction of travel was opposite of yours, but I'm glad we did both roads. So yes, the extra 90 miles is worth it.

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Old 11-27-2012, 05:48 PM   #6
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theres the Beartooth, Chief Joseph, and don't forget the Medicine Wheel 14A and may as well tag on the Bighorn scenic Hwy too. 4 scenic hwys in a days easy riding.......

dead indian pass....(Chief Joseph)

July Long weekend 2011 Beartooth






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If I had to choose, Beartooth is the road. It was the 1st hwy in USA to get status as a national byway IIRC. Theres 3 other roads in the area for you to go back and "check off"...try to string them all into 1 ride if you can.
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Old 11-27-2012, 05:57 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 568V8 View Post
Ride the Chief Joseph and then the Beartooth to Redlodge and find a motel. Then in the morning ride the Beartooth back the other direction. That's what I did last June. Riding both directions gives you a better chance of getting good pictures with sun in a different position.
I had the opportunity to ride both Beartooth and CJB 2 summers ago. Both are outstanding rides. If there's any way to fit both in to your schedule, do it. It's only another 90 miles as you say, but what a 90 miles!

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Old 11-27-2012, 08:32 PM   #8
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Silly question...

What is D2D?

The Portion of your trip in question sounds fun! I need to go there!


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Old 11-28-2012, 04:57 AM   #9
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Very timely query! On the way to the MOA rally in OR next year I was planning on taking 14A and some back roads to Red Lodge, then the Beartooth into Yellowstone, pass thru the park and exit south of Grand Tetons. On the way back Lolo, then south to the west entrance of Yellowstone and exit to the east along Chief Joseph.

Sounds like I'd hit all the good routes, but the Yellowstone traffic in mid-July has me a little worried. Is it bad all summer? Bad as in bumper to bumper or just slow and no place to pass?

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Old 11-28-2012, 06:07 AM   #10
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Re, Boondox question - we were there in the last week of July 2010 and to my thinking the traffic was not bad at all.

At the bottom line I think that the severity of the traffic on a given day is something of a crap shoot.
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Old 11-28-2012, 12:03 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kingofZroad View Post
Silly question...

What is D2D?

The Portion of your trip in question sounds fun! I need to go there!


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk HD
The silliest question is the one left un-asked....

D2D, Dust to Dawson. Do a query and get more info than you want. But in a nut shell, it is a gathering of ADV riders in Dawson City, Yukon, on or about the Summer Solstice. I've been to Dawson City before but not to the gathering. Not getting any younger, need to go back to AK one more time (at least.)

I don't see any way to ride the length of the Beartooth without clipping the NE edge of Yellystone; but in mid-June, traffic should be minimal, especially in that part of the park.

Given the responses, I think I'll plan on making Cody from Aurora, camping there and then doing the extra 90 miles before camping again in Great Falls, MT. And what is 90 miles on an 8,000 mile trip? I hate to skip 14A but have to leave something for next time!

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Old 11-28-2012, 01:23 PM   #12
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Cody - Chief Joseph Highway - turn right - Beartooth to Red Lodge - Hwy 78 or 212 to I90 - I90 to Livingston or Big Timber, skipping the western section of Beartooth.
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Old 11-29-2012, 06:43 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by OrangeYZ View Post
Cody - Chief Joseph Highway - turn right - Beartooth to Red Lodge - Hwy 78 or 212 to I90 - I90 to Livingston or Big Timber, skipping the western section of Beartooth.
So you think I90 is preferable to the western section of Beartooth? Your route would save about 75 miles (if I cut north on 191 to 12 to 89 at Big Timber) and more than that if I stay on I90 to 89. Either way I would miss Yellystone.

Looking closer at the maps, I think I like your idea. It only cuts off 14 miles of actual Beartooth and the eastern portion is 50 spectacular miles. I plan on camping south of Great Falls in one of the many Nat'l Forest campgrounds along 89. I don't need to see Yellystone so this looks good.
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Old 11-29-2012, 07:18 AM   #14
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What OrangeYZ said....

....Go through Cody, ride Chief Joseph to Beartooth, then hang a right and ride Beartooth into Montana.

No matter what you do, it won't be a "mistake".
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Old 11-29-2012, 09:29 AM   #15
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So you think I90 is preferable to the western section of Beartooth?
Yep. Well, I'm not saying that those 35 miles of I90 are better than the entire Western Beartooth, but all things considered I think that's the best route for you:

- You're going to Alaska, and not likely you will have time to see anything in YSNP.
- You can save yourself the 5 or 10 dollar park entry fee
- Western BTHwy compared to East BTHwy and Chief Joseph, I would rate it a distant third out of three as far as scenery and motorcycle fun road.
- Mid June is about two weeks after Memorial Day Weekend, which is the unofficial opening day at Yellowstone. IIRC, late spring is supposed to be the best time for animal viewing. The NE section is the best place in the park for animal viewing. So I think that is actually the worst possible time and place to try to beat traffic through the park.
- You'll do a Yellowstone trip eventually, and can take a day to hit all three of those roads twice
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