Continental Divide and More: The "No Dust" Tour of WY and MT

Discussion in 'Epic Rides' started by MTrider16, Dec 29, 2013.

  1. MTrider16

    MTrider16 Ridin' in MT

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    I have been on a road from Hyattville to Ten Sleep last year. Not sure if it was the same one. We had come from Burgess Jct over the mountain to Hyattville and then went to Tensleep.

    As far as writing a ride report here is the word of encouragement LittleWan gives. linky One piece of advice, I do all my writing in word, and then copy and paste into the text editor here. That way your prose isn't lost with a power bump or blue screen event.

    Thanks for stopping by again. -David
    #21
  2. MTrider16

    MTrider16 Ridin' in MT

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    Okay, time for another report. :D

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    Day Six - Onward Ho!

    I wake up slowly this morning. Sept 15th … Let’s see its Sunday isn’t it. Muscles remind me of the “incident” yesterday as they protest. I spend some time checking the bike over, packing, and cleaning my gear. Breakfast from the buffet is eggs and something, simply going through the motions. Clouds are a drizzly morass on the northwest horizon. Yawn Ho! This pirate isn’t getting out on the road quickly.


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    Another Rainy Day in the Desert

    I pick up gas and head out at the crack of 10:20. I quickly back track up the highway and end up in some road construction outside of Lander. It’s raining, *again*, and the road is a quagmire. I pull off and stop for some pictures and a break.

    Looking down the dirt road from the approach I stop on, it’s pretty easy to stay on the pavement.



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    Push On, No Stopping Now

    I pick up fuel in Lander and continue on to Dubois. A fuel stop and a stop at the Cowbow Café. Sandwich and a bowl of soup sounds like a good plan, the Sunday crowd makes it hard to find a table. The food is very good though. I brace myself and put on my wet coat and head back out into the rain. It’s not as heavy as Colorado but I never find a break.

    Cowboy Café WY Tourism Site
    Cowboy Café Facebook Page



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    Togwotee Pass

    I’m driving down the road, heading to Teton Park. The road keeps climbing, the rain is misting, and now the temperatures start dropping. It finally drops down to 45F at the top of the pass. Brrrr! The forest in deep shades of wet green and fog is pretty, but this is not my favorite riding weather.


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    Teton Park

    As I head down from the pass, the rain lets up and finally stops and the temp starts to rise. The clouds stick around, and its obvious I’m not going to get a clear picture of the Tetons.

    Okay this is the childish side of me. I like the name Tetons, its not often you get to say Tits in public company. :lol3



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    Clouds and Light

    A little while down the way, the clouds have some larger breaks and I catch this glimpse of the light shining on an island


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    Flagg Ranch – Ashton Road

    I continue north and at Flagg Ranch, a little bit before you get to Yellowstone Park this little road veers off to the west. It is a little more than you would *want* to do in a car, but would be pretty easy in a higher clearance vehicle. It is a really pretty route to Ashton ID.


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    Sunlight

    I think I left the rain behind at Jackson lake, and the sun is starting to warm me as I travel. There are some pretty lakes off the side of the road and I stop for some pictures.


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    Cabins

    On the west side of Ashton, there are some nice cabins. The owner has done some nice decorating and they are clean and comfortable, albeit rustic places to stay. She was having a bit of a time with her credit card reader, but cash was fine. I picked up fuel and some top ramen at the gas station and spent the evening doing a little work on the bike.

    Log Cabin Motel

    Stats for the day: 328 miles, 10:20 AM to 6:00 PM



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    Day Seven - Gravely Mountain Loop.

    I was really hoping for a nice day today. The first part of this ride was the Continental Divide trail to Ennis. Once there, I would fuel and then backtrack to Lima.

    But first I had to find a tire shop to get some valve cores to fix some problems I was having. Then I went to a restaurant for breakfast. I finally left Ashton at about 9:00.



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    Mesa Falls Byway

    The start of the ride out of Ashton is this very pretty little road that travels along the Warm River. The track I was following took me along this river until it turned off onto an old RR track and a system of forest service roads.


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    To Island Park

    Most of the roads were easy like this one. The aspen were starting to change color so I had try for a picture, especially with the sunshine I was enjoying.

    Eventually the road took me to the north end of Island Park. From there it was just a couple miles and I was off again following gravel roads along the south shore of Henry’s lake.



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    Centennial Valley

    Henry’s Lake, Red Rock Pass, Centennial Valley, familiar roads that I had been on before. As I started around the south side of Upper Red Rock Lake there was this scene with an old log barn.


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    Start of Gravely Mountain Loop

    I avoided a long sandy section of road by travelling on the south side of the Red Rock Lakes. I took a cut across over the Red Rock Creek and started bearing Northeast into the Gravely range. This is a very nice loop that has been done by many people in the past.

    The road started out as a two track with some deep ruts that were fortunately dry. The road came into a camp/parking area and merged into a nice graded forest service road. Eventually it wound out of the creek bottoms and started climbing onto the ridge. The views were fantastic.



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    Vistas

    The road would round a corner and new valley’s and mountains would come into view.

    The clouds weren’t too bad, but every now and then a dark one would come by.



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    A Winding Ribbon

    The road leads on through the high mountain plateau. The elevation was about 9000 feet.


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    More Vistas

    It seems the road goes a few miles and then you come over another ridge and new scenery unfolds in front of you.


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    Ennis, Fuel and Food.

    As I travelled along the ridge, there would be places where the Madison Valley or the Ruby drainage would open up on either side.

    Finally I dropped out of the mountains into Ennis and filled up my fuel tank and picked up some convenience store food. I left Ennis at 3:30 and it was going to be a bit of a push to get out to the south end of the Gravely’s before nightfall.



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    Warm Springs Creek Road

    As I was travelling into Ennis I was looking for a road that would take me across to the Gravely Range Road and the Ruby River. This little forest service track looked to be the most likely and seemed to be correct on the map. It was pretty country.


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    The Spring

    This little rivulet seemed to be the namesake for the road. It was warm if you could judge by the moss growing in the stream.


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    Snowcrest Ranch

    Once I hit the Gravely Range road, I had to travel down the Ruby River a little ways to this ranch. When I was going to school in Bozeman, I worked at this ranch the summer of 1991, didn't make much money but kept out of trouble for the summer. This is the manager's house; the bunk house for the summer hands is back to the left out of the picture. Not summer hands quarters are not quite as posh as this house. :wink:


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    Fall Colors

    After the ranch, I turned south and traveled up the river towards Centennial valley. Most of the forest was evergreen, but along the river some of the deciduous trees and bushes were turning color.


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    More Color

    The sky was clear again, after a couple of clouds tried to sprinkle a little back in the mountains.


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    Sagebrush

    The terrain started to open up as I got closer to the Centennial valley. The road had deep ruts to avoid.


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    Centennial Valley

    I made it back into the Centennial Valley again which was looking pretty spectacular in the evening light. The clouds were behind me and I got by with only a short sprinkle of rain.


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    Centennial Valley – Lima

    From this point it was just a short ride to Monida and up the freeway a couple miles to Lima where I got a hotel room. On a lark I called my friend to see if he was around tonight and he was just grilling some burgers for the family. I stopped by for a quick burger and conversation before I turned in for the night.

    Stats for the day: 283 miles, 9:00 AM to 7:00 PM
    #22
  3. ktmklx

    ktmklx Been here awhile

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    Hello David,

    Enjoying your report. We did the same thing this summer at Hole in the Wall, drove down the 2 track for a few miles and then decided there was no way we would get to our destination if we continued to the hiking trail. Turned around and got back on the gravel road. Great views there! Looking forward to the rest of the report.
    #23
  4. MTrider16

    MTrider16 Ridin' in MT

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    Thanks for the reply. One more posting left. :evil

    I think that two track to Hole in the Wall would continue all the way to the Mayworth road, but it would be on private property. I don't like getting yelled at.
    #24
  5. MTrider16

    MTrider16 Ridin' in MT

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    Day Eight - Big Hole Country, Beginning of the End

    I got up with the idea that I was going to try to get past Bozeman and out by Great Falls for a final push the next day to Glendive. It started out well, but the weather gods had other plans.

    As Jason and I are men, and communicate so well :lol3, we missed getting breakfast together. I was out at the crack of 7:30 that morning.



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    Schoolhouse Calf-A

    However I did manage to get a nice breakfast at this little cafe in Dell. It has an old time lunch counter with stools so several patrons and I had a nice conversation with the waitress. She was one of those kids who moved away thinking the grass was greener in the big city, and moved back when she realized how good she had it as a kid. Tats and piercings showed she enjoyed her time in the city, but seemed to have a level head. We talked about the Lima Bear's football team and the school in general.

    One of the patron's kindergartner was having fun chatting with the owner's husband as he was getting ready to go out and feed the stock. Nice little place, stop and enjoy it if you are traveling in the area.

    Anyway, my route to the Big Sheep Byway took me through Dell.



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    Big Sheep Byway

    The Big Hole region in southwest Montana is the drainage basin for the Jefferson River, one of three that join to create the Missouri at Three Forks. It is characterized by wide flat valleys at the 5000+ foot range. Ringed by the Bitterroot mountains on the west, it is the most western point of the Missouri drainage.

    In these hills, creeks flow through on their way to the rivers and eventually to St Louis. Pretty area.



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    More Hills

    There were some nice camping spots along this creek.


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    Bannack Pass

    I wanted to try some side trips off the byway. Bannack pass into Idaho was one of them. This is one of the main overland freight routes from the gold mining town of Bannack MT once the transcontinental train got to Salt Lake. It is a cool route if you want to get to Idaho Falls from here.

    This is the view at the top of the pass.



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    Deadman Creek Crossing

    There is a little creek crossing on the way to the pass. If you need to wash your bike the vehicle tracks are fairly deep. The atv tracks on the right are a little easier to ford, although the stream exit is a bit tricky.


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    Back to the Byway

    Back to the byway, I followed it out to its end near Grant, MT. I did see a couple Canadian mountain bikers that were traveling the CDT. There were a couple places where some showers the day before made the road a little slick and they had fought through it.

    The clouds were starting to roll in, but I made one more side trip up another pass. Bannock pass looks like a major route but has about 10 miles of gravel over the top. It connects Grant with Leadore. I got gas at the little convenience store, and learned that the town name was pronounced lead-ore.



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    Rain, Rain, Go Away

    As I headed back to the Montana from Idaho, these clouds were greeting me. I got rained on again, and the gravel road from Grant to Bannack was dicey, and we had some pucker moments.

    Once I hit the highway for Dillon, I just headed straight into town and skipped another gravel road I was going to try.



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    Dodging Clouds

    I'm sure it looked funny, as I parked under the awning at the gas station just to put my liner on under my jacket. However with the rain clouds a serious cold front was rolling into the area and I was getting wet and chilled.


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    Tobacco Root Mountains

    Just northeast of Ennis is this small range of mountains and I've heard of roads that cross them. When I got to the turn off to the road I had selected, I had to try it. The storm front had been chasing me from Dillon, but I'd hoped I was far enough ahead of it for this little side route.


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    Hard Water

    The road was pretty good, but the clouds were rolling in faster than I could travel. When this front passed over the temperature dropped dramatically and the hail started to fall. I stopped the bike, got off, and huddled behind the bike as the storm passed. After the storm I rode down to McAllistar and over to Norris. The forest service road was wet and covered with hail.

    In Norris I huddled under a gazebo as I evaluated my options. The storm path was across the mountains into the front range south of Great Falls. It looked like my plans for dirt riding for this trip was done. I called my friend Jeremy in Bozeman to see what his evening schedule looked like. His plans were clear for the evening, so it looked like I would have a place to dry off tonight.



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    Bozeman

    As I travelled from Norris to Bozeman via Bear Trap Canyon, I got to see first hand the erosion that happens when hard rains fall on newly burnt forests. There were several of these washes across the road.

    I arrived safely in Bozeman and laid out my wet gear to dry out, and then we went out to Cafe Zydeco for dinner. Great evening with friends.

    Stats for the day: 347 Miles, 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM



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    Day Nine - The Finale

    It was raining when I woke up, so I said goodbye to my friends and headed into Bozeman to the renown Mainstreet Overeasy. As I nursed my cup of coffee, I considered my options. The upper Missouri breaks looked like they got rain yesterday, and would probably get more today. Also I had to be home today, and ready for work tomorrow. The slab looked like the best, albeit boring option.

    With that decision out of the way I had another cup of coffee; this breakfast was going to be the most excitement I would have that day. To a motorcyclist, the interstates are the least interesting ways to travel across the USA, however efficient they may be. And I have traveled this stretch of highway more times than I want to count.



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    The Slab

    To punctuate the gravity of my decision, it was raining when I left Bozeman. It continued until I crossed the Yellowstone in Livingston.

    While the Interstate is about as interesting as watching paint dry, at least the Yellowstone River offers some nice views along the way. Fortunately I didn't get any more rain the rest of the way home.

    About 350 miles, I pulled into my driveway and parked Jane in the garage. She needed some TLC, but had done well for my 3164 mile trip.

    Stats for the day: 363 miles, 10:00 AM to 3:20 PM
    #25
  6. dammitdave

    dammitdave Long timer

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    MT16,

    Thanks for posting your RR! A pal and I rode the MT1000 last summer and got to see some of that country. Your RR shows us the roads we looked down but didn't travel. Wonderful photos and write-up.......
    Dave
    #26
  7. Dusty

    Dusty Long timer

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    Yep that sounds like the one, i saw the sign north of Hyattville. I came out to the hyway near Shell lake camp ground.


    School house cafe... A must stop, had one of the best breakfast ever. Stopped for gas down the road and asked the gal behind the counter if the restraunt next door was any good, she said head up the road to the Old School Cafe.... glad i did...

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    Big sheep was a treat i stumbled onto after breakfast..
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    #27
  8. MTrider16

    MTrider16 Ridin' in MT

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    Your welcome Dave, glad you enjoyed the trip out here.


    Both the Schoolhouse Calf-a and the Big Sheep byway are worth doing again. Thanks for the comments.

    David
    #28
  9. siyeh

    siyeh Lawn Nazi

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    Just an outstanding report. Thanks for taking the time. Glad you and bike fared well on the nap.
    I've spent more than few nights sleeping in Glendive. At the little park down by the river next to the tennis courts.
    Cops usually pull in and check things out but leave me alone.

    A+. :clap
    #29
  10. SoosCreek

    SoosCreek Angle of Repose...

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    I like the type of roads you took, seems like old time some of them. Got to love Co, WY and MT!

    Lucky you did not get hurt on that little fall at those speeds...

    Question: on your maps, the thick red line is what you rode, but the green line is?
    #30
  11. MTrider16

    MTrider16 Ridin' in MT

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    You'll have to give me a shout the next time you come through. If the spare room is full, I can at least point you to some nice camping spots in the state park.

    Thanks for reading and posting.


    We were on the Mayworth and Slip roads on our way into Kaycee w/ Doc and LDF.

    The thick red line is the selected route. The thin red line is the traveled route the light green line is the pre-entered track we were following.

    Simple right? :wink:

    The roads were all big bike friendly, as long as the road was dry. :lol3 The two track into the Gravely's had really large ruts that looked like they would be impossible in the wet, but they were dry when I was on them.

    Thanks for posting.

    David
    #31
  12. 10ecjed

    10ecjed Been here awhile

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    I read a lot of ride reports and I like yours a lot. Well written. Thank you for an entertaining RR. Just what I needed this afternoon while I am stuck at work in Tanegashima, Japan. Sitting here waiting on my turn to do some more work. Keep it up.
    Jim
    #32
  13. MotoBoss

    MotoBoss Bad Influence

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    I'm doing the CDR trail in late summer (Aug.) and can't decide between the DRZ or the GS. I will have to travel about 1300 miles to get to the start of the trail, complete the trail, them 1400ish miles home.

    With my limited off road ability is the GS the bike I want to go on? Or is the DRZ the bike to handle the 'off road' sections the choice?

    On one hand I hate to ride to the start, then home, on the DRZ. On the other hand fire trail, gravel and forestry roads are not a problem for me on the GS but I don't want to be picking up the GS on a regular basis :huh

    From your report the roads look very doable on the GS.

    By the way I loved your RR with the maps and daily mileage.

    Any thoughts?

    Thanks
    #33
  14. eddyturn

    eddyturn Wannabe

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    I did it on my 800GS and the only parts you should bypass on the GS are the Lava Mtn. section south of Helena and Fleecer Ridge south of Butte. I would even bypass them on the DRZ but that's your call. Did not ride any of NM so can't say about that part.
    #34
  15. MTrider16

    MTrider16 Ridin' in MT

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    <?xml:namespace prefix = "o" ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:eek:ffice" /><o:p>Thanks for the kind words, glad you liked it. </o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>

    <o:p>I'm not sure if I'm the best person to answer this question, but I'll give it a shot. There are lots of roads around Montana to route on. It will be fairly easy to go around the hard spots. Fleecer Ridge, The Sand Track north of Red Rock Lake, etc. With the 1400 mile trip before and after, I would probably go with the GS knowing you might skip some spots. Most roads are easy like you saw in my report. Course I have only ridden from the Canadian border to Steamboat CO.</o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    Thanks Eddy
    #35
  16. MotoBoss

    MotoBoss Bad Influence

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    Thanks for the reply and your thoughts.
    #36
  17. MTrider16

    MTrider16 Ridin' in MT

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    No Problem MotoBoss.
    #37
  18. dickosaurus

    dickosaurus Seasoned Noob

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    Really enjoyed your rr. We rode the CDR in 2011 and, thanks to Byways, did the Gravelly Range as an aside. Your excellent photos and words reminded me how beautiful and spectacular it was and makes me want to go back and do it again. Thanks for posting.
    Oh yeah, we were headed north to south and rode Fleecer Ridge. We were riding lightweight dirty bikes that weren't heavily loaded and it was a lot of fun,,,,,, but I sure was glad I wasn't on my 1150GS. IMHO, that's no place for a monster trailie (unless you're one of the Osos.)
    #38
  19. MTrider16

    MTrider16 Ridin' in MT

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    Thanks dickosaurus. I have not been on the Fleecer Ridge section, but my friends did. There were two of us that opted out of that part. So far its been pretty easy to route around difficult parts.

    Glad you enjoyed the trip through Montana.

    David
    #39
  20. jdrocks

    jdrocks Gravel Runner

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    your best RR to date, great photos. i have some photos that look like they were taken within 10' of where you took yours.

    i should probably come along on your next ride through there, ya know, help ya pick up the 800.
    #40