Trip Distance: 400 miles
Major Attractions: Glacier National Park, Yellowstone National Park, Teton Grand National Park
My extended rtw journey came to its conclusion with my final continent, the USA. I had the good fortune of entering the country via a remote outpost border just inside of the beautiful Glacier National Park. It is named Big Chief Mountain border, and at my time of crossing there was literally no one else up there.
The evening before I crossed, I inadvertently ended up watching Border Control. Cars were being ripped apart, every item scrutinized and drivers were given the third degree. Of course, there is an element of making good T.V, however, it was fairly on par with my expectation of the Trump led border experience that I would face.
I made my preparations the night before accordingly and had all supporting paperwork for myself and the bike in order. I felt confident that I would have no issues, however as with all land crossings on your own foreign vehicle, you just never know.
Making my way to the guard house the general questions about my time in the USA, where I was from and alike were out of the way quickly and I was told to park up and come in to be processed. No problem, I grabbed my papers and went inside. A few more questions about how long I intended to stay, where I was headed and with that I was stamped in and sent on my way with well wishes for a safe journey. I was advised that there had been snowfalls the day before and not to hang around too long.
I was in shock. Nothing about my bike, no temporary import. Not even a question about my USA insurance. It was a total of 10 minutes; of which half was dedicated to chatting about my travels thus far. I jumped on my bike and just like that, we had made it to the United States!
Not only was this by far my quickest and easiest border crossing, it also led me straight into some of the best motorcycling and the scenery the north has to offer. Immediately the ranch feel of Montana is apparent with cattle grazing and casually blocking the road. With a close call early on, I kept that in mind; dropping my speed as I hadn’t expected to see farm animals inside the national park.
The ride down to the entrance to Glacier National Park was beautiful in the fall colours. I had one thing on my mind though, riding the Going to the Sun Road. It is a stunning piece of engineering, snaking its way through the most scenic places in the park, hugging the mountains of the Great Continental Divide and giving way to amazing views.
The road is the main thoroughfare through the park, so keep that in mind when planning your trip. I was lucky to be able to go in the shoulder season and during the week which meant less crowds, however there was still a considerable number of cars on the road.
The surface of the road is in very good condition and there are ample places to pull over, take photos and breathe in the fantastic vistas. I realise I often think my rides are one of the best on my extended trip, however I am sure this in one of them. The grandeur of mother nature is striking.
I loved how the coloured foliage created a special atmosphere as I weaved in and out of their shadows; reminding myself constantly to keep eyes on the road and not wandering off into the incredible views.
After a glorious day on the road, I decided to stop in the small town of Butte Montana for the night. There are decent hotels and restaurants for an overnight stop and prices are reasonable. The following morning, I took to the road following part of the Great Continental Divide Trail, via Flathead Lake. Rolling curves and near empty roads made for an easy cruise all the way down to Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming.
Entering the park, it felt like riding into another world. Geysers bubbling fiercely, steam billowing from cracks in the earth’s crust. The main loop is all about stopping off, taking in the unique wonders and watching out for the parks many local inhabitants that casually wander across the road at any time.
As the temperature dropped and the sun lowered in the sky, it was time to ride on and find a place to stop for the night. Wild fires were still burning throughout the park, so I headed east to avoid the smoke and made my way towards the south end of the park.
To my surprise and delight, the roads inside Yellowstone are motorcycling heaven. With the majority of tourists spending all of their time inside the main central area, the outer roads were almost deserted. Not only did I have it all to myself, I felt there was more to be seen out here on the edge.
Winding up and down elevations, skirting lakes and weaving beside the Snake River, it was spectacular. Waterfalls literally falling off the side of the road, if it hadn’t of been getting late I would have stopped at least a dozen more times. There are some places you cross off your list, others you add to your must come back and this for me was one of those places.
The final stop for the day was at the atmospheric Togwotee Mountain Lodge on US 26. A traditional log cabin; complete with a saloon bar and fantastic restaurant, and the possibility of seeing grizzly bears. There had been sightings the night before, however, they were nowhere to be seen on my arrival. Disappointing but then again, I am not sure how brave I would be up close and personal!
America is truly an adventure wonderland. The varied and extensive natural beauty of this country is something that would take months to properly explore. Unfortunately, I don’t have that much time here. Thankfully you can see a remarkable amount in only a few days, so never let time be your enemy. Take a trip through some of the great national parks and enjoy the wonderful motoring along the way.