Separate names with a comma.
Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by GP1152, May 7, 2013.
I just found the new link for part 2, i think many still writing on part 1
When you are in Utah, you can extend your loop on highway 261 between 95 and 163. Then you can ride the famous "Moki Dugway" switch backs. This is a hard packed dirt road that connects two paved roads. It is not very long on the dirt. My buddy did it on his BMW K1200LT fully loaded and another buddy was on his Ducati so you two will have no problem on this dirt section. The only caution is it might not be a good idea if it happens to be pouring rain. Both times I rode it the weather was perfect.
This will also allow you to connect to Gooseneck State Park, Mexican Hat and Monument Valley which are all close by and still make it to Moab.
It looks like you don't have Glacier National Park and the Going to the sun road on your route. That would also be a great addition to your trip.
Here is a link to Moki Dugway:
I lived in Wyoming (Lander, on the east flank of the Wind River Mountains) for many decades before moving to Virginia about 5.5 years ago, so I rode all that country you're planning to see many times. You've gotten a bunch of good advice about the desert SW portion of your trip, so I'll stick to commenting on the Wyoming and Yellowstone leg.
I like you're route generally, but would caution you about the Rock Springs to Pinedale stretch - it's flat, dry, wide open high desert with lots of oilfield truck traffic. Coming over the Uinta Mountains on Hwy 191 from Vernal to Rock Springs is AWESOME, you will not believe the switchbacks on the Vernal side, then you ride down an awesome mountain road on the Wyoming side, over Flaming Gorge Dam (nice visitor's center with clean potties ), through the Uinta foothills and up Little Mountain (awesome sweepers...) onto a GORGEOUS high plateau with incredible vistas all the way to RS. Watch for wild horses up there - it's open range (no fences) and we had a large herd run right between my buddy and I as we rode down through there one day (stallions, mares, colts running full-tilt across the road in front of me- you talk about a wild sight!). The wind can be atrocious up there, but the asphalt and scenery are unreal. If I were doing this route, I'd skip the RS to Pinedale stretch and head a bit west on I-80 until you hit Hwy 30 and go up through Kemmerer, Sage, Cokeville, then over Salt Pass into the Star Valley (Afton) for some incredible twisty scenic mountain roads. From the Star Valley you'll turn right at Alpine Junction (Hwy 26, I think), then up through the amazingly gorgeous Snake River Canyon to Jackson. It's longer, but much more scenic and once you're past Cokeville you are on some outstanding motorcycle roads all the way to Jax. If you go through Pinedale, it's pretty following the Wind River Mountains but pretty straight and boring roads until you almost get to Bondurant, then the Hoback Canyon is outstanding. The route I described above will intersect with your route at Hoback Junction just south of Jackson.
Yes, it's not very far from Jackson to Gardiner, Montana but traversing Yellowstone takes time. I have a suggestion for accomodation - skip Gardiner and go about 15 miles further north to Chico Hot springs resort and spend a couple nights there. Gardiner is kind of a dumpy little town with standard hotels and limited eating choices while Chico is fantastic with an OLD lodge (or you can get nicer rooms in their new section, and decent hotel-type rooms in another section). They have a five-star restaurant, HUGE hot springs pool, day spa, horseback riding, etc. If you stay two nights there you can take a liesurely ride through YNP on the Grand Loop (Mammoth - Tower - Canyon - West Thumb - Old Faithful - back to Mammoth - Chico) and then be refreshed for continuing your ride over the Beartooth Highway. I spent a lot of time riding and working in Yellowstone and am pleased to report that the NPS rebuilt all the roads in the last ~10 years so they are in great condition, but they really do enforce the 45 MPH speed limit. If you do your loop early you'll see lots of wildlife along the roads, and there are lots of viewpoints to visit as well. I miss Yellowstone , I did a lot of bicycling there too and it's unbelievable.
From Chico () I'd head back into YNP to Fishing Bridge, then loop around the north side of Yellowstone Lake and go out the East entrance to Cody. You cannot believe how gorgeous that ride is, simply amazing. The roads around the north end of the lake are awesome, Sylvan Pass is stunning, and the highway from the East Entrance to Cody is phenomenal. From Cody head north on Hwy 120 and take the Chief Joseph Scenic Highway 296 over Dead Indian Hill and into the unbelieveable Sunlight Basin:
I have gotten "stuck" riding this highway for hours - ride through, turn around and ride back, turn around and repeat. Once you get tired of this section, head on NW to the intersection with 212 and be prepared to have your socks blown off by the ride over the Beartooth Mountains and down into Red Lodge. It is beyond words as a motorcycling highway (but not fast like Sunlight Basin) and Red Lodge is a cool little ski town with lots of good places to eat and stay. I caution you - wear lots of layers for this trip because you'll go through some extreme elevation and temperature changes through the course of the day, and drink lots of fluids! Yes, the date stamp on this photo is correct, June 1st on Togwotee Pass between Jackson and Dubois:
I rode over the Beartooths once on the 4th of July and was waving at skiers as I rode past - you'll see a Poma lift on the Red Lodge side accessing a big snowfield. The NE Entrance via Cooke City as shown on your map is very nice too, don't get me wrong, but the route I suggested above is 10X the roads and scenery. It's a long day of twisty roads but not all that many miles and it is truly an epic section of road.
Your route through Montana and Idaho looks great - you can't go wrong anywhere up there! I think you'll be fine traversing eastern Utah as long as you stay out of the Salt Lake Valley and the Interstate.
+1 on the suggestion to visit Mesa Verde, it is truly incredible. And you will not find a better 14 mile stretch of National Park Service road than the entrance road up to the mesa top - I am a total hoon on that road. It has incredible vistas, great asphalt, lots of RVs and tourons, almost all double-yellow lines, but on bikes you can pass because there are great sight distances. It's a national park so the speed limit is 45, IIRC, but I just can't go that slow on that road .
Well, enough of that for now, I'm making myself crazy wishing I could go ride this stuff again! We have lots of great roads in Virginia and West Virginia (we're 10 miles from the Blue Ridge Parkway) but I do miss the wide open spaces of the Rocky Mountain West.
Have a blast!
You may do this on another time, but I looked at your map and noticed your northern loop does not go to Glaciar National Park, in Montana, but goes close enough. I have not been there, but some people from that area have suggested one day I ride that area and they especially mentioned the Going-to-the-Sun Rd.
At the northern apex of this trip they'll still be quite a bit south of Glacier and Going to the Sun Road. It's an awesome ride but not something I'd recommend doing in a one-day loop, it's best savored at a slower pace. Glacier is gorgeous, but I actually preferred my experience on the Canadian side of the border (Waterton - Glacier Int'l Peace Park), less traffic, better camping, fewer folks on the hiking trails. It's all glorious, though, best to see it all! My son and I did all that several years ago on a 3-week ride up the Canadian Rockies. If you've never ridden the Icefields Parkway, you must do it before you die. Simply amazing.
I need to win the lottery, quit my job, and just take my lovely wife and go riding. So much to see, so little time.
"Your route through Montana and Idaho looks great - you can't go wrong anywhere up there! I think you'll be fine traversing eastern Utah as long as you stay out of the Salt Lake Valley and the Interstate."
I agree, Unless you have your heart set on the Mt Nebo stretch, I would delete the whole section from Ogden, UT south to Payson. I15 is a horrible road for motorcycles (very crowded) except early on Sunday Mornings. Stay east and work your way down to Park City then take Hwy 35 (Great Road) over to Duchesne, then south on 191 to Price. The Hwy from Price to I70 is straight and boring, but then the loop around Fish Lake is awesome.
Gus, if you get to torrey, fish lake circle only takes about an hour. Worth the time.
That looks pretty awesome. We're taking the Kiva Koffee House suggestion and are stopping there.....We're actually going to STAY there. The next day will be one of the longer trips (mileage wise) and we will surely want to stop in Capital Reef NP, etc so not sure about the rest. The good news is that we are already planning to take the Raptor and the dual-sports out that way very soon.
You will be riding right through Torrey, UT where highway 12 meets highway 24. I have heard that the Cafe Diablo is one of those 5 star places to eat. And the prices are reasonable.
I haven't eaten there but hear people from around the world make a point of stopping there for a meal.
This is suppose to be an area of culinary delights. I'm pretty sure this is the right restaurant but check it out for yourself. Here is a link:
Highway 12 will keep you smiling but watch out for the tar snakes, the slick tar the road crews use to fill in the cracks in the road. Have breakfast at Kiva and then stop for lunch in Torrey. You will have lots of opportunity for some great photos on highway 12. Take your time and enjoy the views.
My server at Kiva Koffee House had just completed a 30 day "walk about" after completing a survival course in Boulder, Utah (BOSS, Boulder Outdoor Survival School http://www.boss-inc.com/ ), just down the road from Kiva. She spent 30 days alone in this wilderness area equipped with only the clothes on her back, a wool blanket and a knife. Everything else she needed she got from the wilderness including creating her own shelter.
Interesting people to get to know in this part of Utah if you have the time.
Torrey is awesome! I did a few of the BMWST.com get-togethers down there and really enjoyed that area. "Sweeper Madness" is yummmmmy!!!
If you end up on Hwy 12 and pass through Escalante stop at Escalante Outfitters. http://www.escalanteoutfitters.com
Great pizza and some cozy cabins to stay at. Not fancy accommodations, but they beat the tent we were in.
(Edit: I see you're staying at Kiva, still might be worth a stop.)
And if you want to get in a nice hike to a really cool waterfall stop at the Calf Creek Campground. It's also on Hwy 12, Not too far from the Kiva Koffehouse
Jeez Doug, thanks a million for all the info. As I mentioned before, I had made quite a few changes to the route and one of them was the same as what you suggested as to the Pinedale stretch. That was one of the few sections I really didn't feel very good about and saw that the alternate route (like you suggest) would also take us through Fossil Butte National Monument. Who knows, might be a good place for a quick stop. With that being said, I saw some of the route and figured it would be much better than the original route, but I had no idea it would be as good as you describe. I made a bunch of other changes based on your advice, so again, a sincere thank you for taking the time and making a big contribution to the cause
So....I really liked the idea of staying at the Chico Hot Springs resort, called to see about renting a cabin for a few days and.....SOLD OUT . You really should have kept that a secret before you told me here on the forum . I was struggling a bit with where to go/stay and I think we came up with the perfect solution. Problem was that I wanted to be able to hit 296 (sunlight basin) and also be able to hit Beartooth pass without having to backtrack too much. I nixed the idea of staying in Gardiner after what you said as well. Also wasn't sure about staying 2 night in one place other than Chico. Anyway, based on your suggestions as to getting around the park, this is what we came up with. This will keep us moving and around the park and Grand Loop. Broken down, the route looks like this:
From Jackson, WY to West Yellowstone, MT (stay the night here) (stay the night here)
Next day: West Yellowstone, MT to Cody, WY (stay the night in Cody)
Next day: Cody, WY to Red Lodge, MT (stay the night in Red Lodge)
All together it looks like this:
I think we covered all the bases now. At the end of the day awesome has to be good enough. There's so much more we want to see but can't do it all in one trip.
Oh and one last thing. You mentioned WV and Virginia. Stephanie is originally from WV and we did several 3,000+ mile trips up and down the east coast. We rode the Blue Ridge Parkway, Cherohala Skyway and the Tail of the Dragon which I personally didn't care so much for. My absolute favorite (and probably not as well known) was going northbound on 219 from southern WV. AWESOME road with hardly anyone on it. I think the solitude of that road is one of the things I liked the most about it. Going up and down those banked mountain roads to then come out into those valleys....beautiful. Hopefully you've had a chance to try it. If not, do it. It's well worth it.
I definitely liked the prices out east better. We rented this entire house on Lake Santeetlah for less than what a one night stay is costing in some of these places:
Back then I had an MV Agusta Brutale and this Buell Ulysses. The Streetfighter is a do-all bike for me now. Fits me like a glove Me and the Buell on the dragon:
Stephanie really wanted to do this on this trip, but it would take us too far out. I mentioned to her that this is part of another loop we hope to do later down the line. That loop will be from western WA along hwy-20 (I still have dreams about this road from last year) to Winthrop and up to Banf, then towards glacier NP. But I don't want to get too far ahead of ourselves.
Subbed and in for the ride! Now to find part 1...
Hey, you're more than welcome. That's what ADVrider is all about, and I get to ride with you vicariously through some of my favorite old stomping grounds , so it's all good. I love riding in Virginia/West Virginia, there are some amazing roads and glorious places to see out here, but I really miss the wide open spaces of the West. Yes, you must stop at Fossil Butte and get a souvenir fish fossil! I'm a geologist so I'm partial to stuff like that . The ride over Salt Pass and into the Star Valley is fantastic too!
I think you'll absolutely love the YNP routes. Seriously, the ride from YNP to Cody to Red Lodge is truly unbelievable. I used to work in that whole area and my employer let me carry my bicycles with me so that at the end of the day I'd go for a bike ride rather than sit in the bars with the rest of the crew. I bicycled every mountain pass with a road over it in Wyoming over the years with the exception of Dunraven Pass in YNP (from Canyon to Tower); had the chance several times, but the road was horrid with too much tourist traffic to be safe. It was rebuilt ~5 years ago and is fantastic now! I actually rode that pass on my BMW RT the last day it was open prior to the reconstruction and got caught on top in a hail storm with dime-sized hail pinging off me with no place to get off the road or hide. I was laughing inside my helmet saying "you know you're alive and out in the world when shit like this is happening!" The roads got a little sketchy for a while and the hail hurt my hands (just light gloves on) but otherwise it was actually enjoyable for it's wildness. I call that FUN! All the roads in and around YNP have been rebuilt in the last decade so they are wider with shoulders and turnouts, much better than the old narrow roads clogged with RVs and tourons, but beware the radar-enabled Rangers, they are serious about speeding.
Hey, don't forget to watch out for the wildlife - most of the critters are OK and will just ignore you, but for some reason the bison do NOT like bicyclists or motorcyclists. Maybe the funky shape spooks them, but I've been chased and charged by the damned things and it's no fun at all having a 2000 bull put you in the cross-hairs. Give 'em space, shadow a car, just don't get aggressive around them and you'll be OK.
I'm sorry you couldn't get into Chico, it is really outstanding. I doubt it was me discussing it on ADVrider that led to the booked up issue . You'll discover that even though over a million people visit YNP every year it is still a very remote and isolated place with extremely limited accomodations. It is a true wilderness with just a bit of "development" to allow us lazy humans access to it. Get 200 yards off the pavement and you've left 99% of the people behind. If you aren't lucky enough to find accomodations in the Park (very limited) you have to travel to the bordering communities (not many of those) to find food and a room, and it's a big park. Accordingly, the prices can be quite high and availability low. Back in the bad old days it was difficult to get fuel in the Park because the stations all closed for the night pretty early, so if you ran low on fuel you just sat until they re-opened. About 10 years ago all the concessionaires replaced their fuel systems with card-reader pumps and now you can get fuel 24 hours a day. You shouldn't have any issues with fuel availability, but remember to keep it on the top half of the tank 'cuz it can be a long way between stations.
If you've got time when in Jackson, you should ride up Teton Pass for the view and fun - it's really steep with gorgeous curves and new asphalt. The Mangy Moose steakhouse in Teton Village is an outstanding place to eat, but Jackson is loaded with great places. Maybe ride the tram to the top of Rendezvous Mountain for a view of the valley and then dinner at the Moose. If you like great beer, try the Snake River Brew Pub in downtown Jackson, but they also sell their beer at other restaurants around the area. When you travel north out of Jackson you should turn into Grand Teton NP at Moose and ride through there toward YNP, rather than going up the highway to Moran. In GTNP you should do the Jenny Lake Loop (one-way) for a close up view of the Tetons. This route will take you across Jackson Lake Dam and intersect with the road to YNP just a couple miles from Moran. Bicycling note: every year in April the NPS plows out the roads in GTNP and allows everything EXCEPT cars into the park to ride, for the entire month. If you're ever in the area in April it is an outstanding thing to ride from Moose to the Dam and back through GTNP without any traffic. The roads are dry and there's four or five feet of snow on the ground and it is unreal how gorgeous it is. I used to do that two or three times every April. Sigh...
I think your plan to ride from West Yellowstone to Cody one day and then Red Lodge the next is great. This will give you time to really enjoy the roads and scenery. The road around the north end of Yellowstone Lake is superb and there are turnouts for photos along the way where you can see the steam coming off the geysers and hot pots. Sylvan Pass to the East Entrance is phenomenal, and the road between the Entrance and Cody is just incredible. Dead Indian Hill, Sunlight Basin, and the road to Cooke City are superb; take time to stop on the bridge over Dead Indian Creek, it's very cool (the WDOT used to have "no fishing from bridge" signs up on it - you'll get it when you see it). This section is all high-speed sweepers and switchbacks, just an incredible place to drag your pegs; you'll be tempted to ride it twice I'll bet. Beartooth Highway is a bit different, more technical and not so fast, but the scenery is just incredible. Once you get closer to Red Lodge it gets fast again. All together that is one of my favorite rides I've ever done in 50 years of motorcycling.
ANYWAY, I'm obviously looking forward to your trip! I have not explored the WV route you suggest but I will do so ASAP. There is just so much good riding out here it's hard to even find it all. There are better roads than the Tail of the Dragon but I'm not giving the secrets away...
Oh yeah, when I lived in Wyo I was an 8-hour trip away from Moab so used to go down there several times a year. We'd take bicycles and motorcycles and just exhaust ourselves riding. That is truly an amazing place, you'll love it!
Take care, ride safe, ENJOY!
I forgot to mention - if you want to sit on top of a mountain and watch the sun go down behind the Tetons, there are a couple of great choices. You can ride into GTNP and go up on Signal Mountain, in itself a great little ride, and get an incredible view from up there. If your butts are sore and you don't feel like riding to Teton Pass and Teton Village or into GTNP, you can walk to the base of Snow King Mountain right in the middle of town and either walk up it (a very nice but strenuous hike) or ride the chair lift up (and walk down, or ride down). Snow King is only about 3 blocks from the Snake River Brew Pub and all the hotels are within easy walking distance of downtown. Here's a shot from a walkup on Snow King I did once:
It's well worth the effort to get up off the valley floor... I rode my mountain bike up to this point ONE TIME - damn near harked up a lung, it is really a steep mountain! There are animals in Jackson who can do that climb at a run, but not me even in my prime.
If you don't do Signal Mountain in the evening, it's still a great ride and view point as you transit GTNP. Enter at Moose, ride north to the entrance to the Jenny Lake loop, do that, then when you're back on the main road head north again a few miles to Signal Mountain. It's an up-and-back road, fun and short, with an amazing view. Back down, turn north again, cross the dam, and you're at the intersection of the road to YNP, turn left.
I can't wait for your ride report! I guess I miss that country more than I thought I did...
Another nice place to stop for a good meal is Hell's Backbone Grill in Boulder. It's about half way between Kiva Koffee and hwy 24.
I'll be eating there Saturday night with my bride of 33 years. This is a great area to explore. It's about 97 miles one way from Panguitch to Boulder for dinner.
I wish you both a safe trip....
Let's get this show on the road----can hardly wait. When are we leaving again? :huh
Great Info again. I looked into the Cafe Diablo (their facebook page has better photos of the place than their website btw). Looks good. Will make a great stop after leaving the Kiva Kottage.
Jeez...30 days out there in the wild?? That's impressive!! I think after the 7th day I would have started drawing plans in the sand and started construction on a small resort to get me through :eek1 Just kidding....kind of.
It's gonna be hot, so another stop will never hurt