Northern Rockies Tour planning

Discussion in 'The Rockies – It's all downhill from here...' started by Bad Wolf, Nov 24, 2012.

  1. Bad Wolf

    Bad Wolf High functioning sociopath

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2008
    Oddometer:
    6,181
    Location:
    Galactic sector zz9 plural z Alpha
    To chase away the winter blahs, I am starting to plan out our Northern Rockies tour. I am initially planning for mid June 2013. 14-15 days of touring from and back to Bailey, CO.

    I want to hit some of the gold rated roads like Beartooth Pass and Going to the Sun Road. I want to hit Yellowstone, Glacier, Banff, and Tetons among other recommendations. Except for a small portion in northern Idaho and Canada, most of my route is in this region, hence I am posting here.

    So let's hear it. What can't I miss= roads, passes, food, nudie bars :evil, places to stay, etc.

    We'll be two up on a V-Strom. Prefer paved, but can do some well maintained dirt. Might have another couple riding with us, not sure yet.

    We would prefer about 5 hours a day saddle time. We're foodies :D but dieting now. We'll have some camping gear with us, but want some cheaper hotel stays too.

    Place your recommendations here. I am sure others looking to ride these parts would like to see these too.

    Someone thought there was a castle somewhere around Banff we could stay at? Any inmates with a spare room or tent space near Jackson to avoid having to reserve rooms last year?

    Thanks in advance all.
    #1
  2. oldmanb777

    oldmanb777 Just say NO to socialism!

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2006
    Oddometer:
    5,268
    Location:
    Centennial,Co./ Grand Lake,Co
    Battle Pass, Sinks Canyon, Mountain Man Museum, Pinedale, Buffalo Boll Historical Center Cody, Coffee in Cooke City. Snowy's, Going to the Sun, Ice feilds Parkway (Flat Irons on Steroids). The list is endless.
    #2
  3. boeing

    boeing n00b

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2010
    Oddometer:
    4
    Location:
    Boulder
    Planning trip this June ,any thoughts on route and good place to stay near halfway
    #3
  4. Bad Wolf

    Bad Wolf High functioning sociopath

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2008
    Oddometer:
    6,181
    Location:
    Galactic sector zz9 plural z Alpha
    If you take the route I would, avoiding the interstates, your halfway point should be somewhere around Vernal, UT. Lots of camping at Dinosaur and Flaming Gorge.

    My recommendation is to look at the tent space thread and if you decide to go the hotel route you'd better book your room soon as I have found many of them filling up pretty damn early.
    #4
  5. Hondo

    Hondo What if it's a Samsquamch?

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2006
    Oddometer:
    14,227
    Location:
    The Front Range, CO
    I'd send a PM to Blakebird- he's been all over that part of the country-
    #5
  6. Blakebird

    Blakebird had to get a bike, had to paint it red

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2004
    Oddometer:
    20,561
    Location:
    Parker, CO
    A few times over the last few years. The most recent was this last August, and I mention it because it was two-up and my days were planned on how many miles per day she'd be comfortable with, not me going solo.

    We left Canada in Idaho heading for the west coast, so I'll throw in suggestions from other rides too.

    This one took us from Denver to Thermopolis...Cody, Dead Indian Pass, Beartooth, Red Lodge, etc.

    Parker, Thermopolis, Helena, Pincher Creek, Kananaskis Country, Banff.
    (2 nights in Banff - up Icefields Parkway to Jasper and back to Banff)

    http://goo.gl/maps/RZFXv

    http://www.advrider.com/forums/showpost.php?p=19378882&postcount=8996

    ===========

    Idaho hwy 12 over Lolo Pass to Lolo/Missoula
    Salmon, Driggs, Jackson, Yellowstone
    Cody, Shell Canyon (Greybull), Sheridan
    Devil's Tower, Black Hills

    http://goo.gl/maps/C33hy

    ===========
    a weekend blast on the ST1300, Cody, Beartooth, Bozeman, West Yellowstone, Jackson...

    http://s244.photobucket.com/albums/gg39/blakebird/2011 Montana/?start=all

    the view of the west side of the Tetons from around Driggs - beautiful country.

    [​IMG]
    #6
  7. Blakebird

    Blakebird had to get a bike, had to paint it red

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2004
    Oddometer:
    20,561
    Location:
    Parker, CO
    June is high season for the area around Banff - that's one place you'll need to make a reservation for camping or motel rooms, it fills up quickly and is expensive.
    Icefields Parkway to Jasper and back is a good day ride, including photo stops. If you want to get off and hike and really stay at places a while, stay in Jasper the night and see some of the sights up there (Malign Cyn, etc)

    Kananaskis Country from Longview over hwy 40 is all paved, but there's a beautiful stretch south of there that's graded dirt that is worth seeing - depending on your comfort level riding two-up on that kind of surface.

    June can also be iffy going over Beartooth Pass - there are websites that monitor plowing progress, so you can keep an eye on it.

    Same issue with Going to the Sun Road with opening dates. There's almost always some road construction on the upper reaches too, with minor unpaved gravelly sections - but those don't present a challenge, more a chance have your pillion take pictures.

    We planned our trip in August both for Jeanne's work schedule and knowing the places I wanted to ride would be open. (Beartooth and Going to the Sun Rd were really the only two concerns.)

    Lodging is expensive in Banff - we stopped in Pincher Creek for one night so we could take time in Waterton Lakes and Glacier without having to race thru Kananaskis Country to Banff, and it saved money.... I made reservations in Pincher Creek before we left. Smallish town with a few motels, but they seemed to fill up quickly.

    The only places I was concerned about not having something waiting for us was in that area - those were the only rooms we reserved in a two-week 5200 mile trip.
    #7
  8. TheMuffinMan

    TheMuffinMan Forest Ranger Magnet

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2010
    Oddometer:
    8,018
    Location:
    Pueblo, CO, USA
    +100,000 on Highway 12 over Lolo pass. It and the Sheep Creek Geologic Area in northern Utah near the Flaming gorge were tied for the most interesting stretches of paved road that I hit between Denver and Seattle on my trip last year,

    Beartooth, Chief Joseph, and Going to the Sun are good but have high traffic volumes usually.


    I'm definitely going back to both places this year to explore more.
    #8
  9. Blakebird

    Blakebird had to get a bike, had to paint it red

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2004
    Oddometer:
    20,561
    Location:
    Parker, CO
    Each time over Chief Joseph and Beartooth has been very little traffic - and it only really slows down at the summit switchbacks where people want to take pictures and there's no pullouts. My experience anyway.
    And compared to any of the roads going into Yellowstone.... total bliss :D

    GttS is packed as soon as it opens. When we went over in August, there was not a single parking spot at the Logan Pass visitor center, and folks were parked along the road for 1/4 mile each way.
    #9
  10. SugarDust

    SugarDust Kulia i ka nu'u

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2007
    Oddometer:
    897
    Location:
    Firestone, Colorado
    Agreed ...here's the start of 12 headed to Lolo..

    [​IMG]

    The End

    [​IMG]
    #10
  11. eakins

    eakins Butler Maps

    Joined:
    May 29, 2002
    Oddometer:
    24,626
    Location:
    Fort Collins, Colorado
    oh that road is sooo kick-ass!
    you can camp at lolo pass at the hot springs and soak.
    http://www.lolohotsprings.com/

    #11
  12. boeing

    boeing n00b

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2010
    Oddometer:
    4
    Location:
    Boulder
    Lolo pass loks awsome but looks a little too far north for me.Will be staging out of Victor, Idaho probably two up day rides.Riding from Boulder ,looking at stopping at Vernal,Utah overnight but also considering I80 and Rock Springs, Anybody have any suggestions on where to stay in the Rock Springs area?
    #12
  13. Bad Wolf

    Bad Wolf High functioning sociopath

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2008
    Oddometer:
    6,181
    Location:
    Galactic sector zz9 plural z Alpha
    Just a little south of there is a hot spring campground that was recommended to me. I'll look it up when I get home tonight.

    Edit: I found it. It is a little further south than I thought. Maple Grove, near Bear Lake.
    #13
  14. Bad Wolf

    Bad Wolf High functioning sociopath

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2008
    Oddometer:
    6,181
    Location:
    Galactic sector zz9 plural z Alpha

    What is Lolo like? Is it relaxing or more "family friendly?" Small pools, large pool, etc.
    #14
  15. Bad Wolf

    Bad Wolf High functioning sociopath

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2008
    Oddometer:
    6,181
    Location:
    Galactic sector zz9 plural z Alpha
    And...tell me about Thermopolis.

    Where to stay, eat?

    What are the springs like?
    #15
  16. Blakebird

    Blakebird had to get a bike, had to paint it red

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2004
    Oddometer:
    20,561
    Location:
    Parker, CO
    I've stayed in Thermopolis a few times, this last August most recently.
    There's a couple of nice mom 'n pop places to stay and a few chain motels
    We stayed here - clean, inexpensive
    http://goo.gl/maps/zZk7y

    Hot springs are good, I like the outdoor rather than the indoor (especially in Winter). My first time in vapor caves - cool once your lungs stop freaking out.

    Not a vibrant economy here though, lots of shuttered businesses and restaurant choices are not huge. We walked around for a bit and went to this place at the suggestion of the motel owner

    http://goo.gl/maps/Kt5Mk
    #16
  17. ALinUTAH

    ALinUTAH Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2011
    Oddometer:
    917
    Location:
    Wasatch county
    I've never been to Thermopolis, but I know in that area that Lander is a town with a little bit going on. Decent places to eat, Cowfish or Gannett Grill depending on how fancy you want it. The road from Lander up thru Dubois and over Togwotee pass to the tetons is a good ride. In fact Dubois is a nice little town to spend the night with one good place to eat that I know of, the cowboy cafe. I've stayed at the twin pines lodge/cabins right there in town and they were nice. -al
    #17
  18. ALinUTAH

    ALinUTAH Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2011
    Oddometer:
    917
    Location:
    Wasatch county
    RE: Jackson. Wife and I took a ride up to Jackson one weekend on a whim, no plans or reservations. In fact we kinda thought we were going to Driggs but ended up in Jackson instead. Anyway, we had a helluva time finding a room without a reservation, not sure what was going on, ended up in some fleabag. It was still over $100, which is Jackson for ya. But it was near the town square so we could walk everywhere and we had a wonderful evening at the old Wort Hotel. And breakfast at Cafe Genevieve east of the square was good too.

    I didn't catch where you're coming from or where you're going thru Colorado, but we like Steamboat Springs, too. The microbrewery there has awesome grub, a little fancier and spendier than most microbreweries. And if you're into beer, plan a night in Fort Collins. -al
    #18
  19. Bad Wolf

    Bad Wolf High functioning sociopath

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2008
    Oddometer:
    6,181
    Location:
    Galactic sector zz9 plural z Alpha
    We like hotels with hot tubs to unwind.

    We're eyeballing the hotel near the hot springs in Thermopolis and the next day making our way through Teton and down into Jackson. Currently we are contemplating July 29 to August 18.

    Right now, our route looks like we'll slab it to Thermopolis from Denver. Is this a harsh ride? Speed traps? How long can we really expect to budget for that first run. We want enough time when we get there get in some relaxing soak time.

    Jackson, Yellowstone, Red Lodge, Great Falls, Martin City, Calgary, Jasper...

    Tips? Where to stay/eat/must see?
    #19
  20. eakins

    eakins Butler Maps

    Joined:
    May 29, 2002
    Oddometer:
    24,626
    Location:
    Fort Collins, Colorado
    what ever you do, do NOT miss the western side road of Lake Koocanusa.
    it is spectacular. our MT map has all the details. thnx Bill
    #20