Author Topic: Bighorns  (Read 1572 times)

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Offline VeloVeg

Bighorns
« on: February 12, 2012, 08:23:39 pm »
I'll be heading east over the Wyoming's Bighorn range mid to late July. I'm just wondering which is the preferred route: Hwy. 14 or 16? The overall beauty of the route is the priority. Decent shoulders would play a part, but the difficulty of the climb isn't a really a factor. Just looking for the prettiest route--that is, if one is nicer than the other. I've looked at a few journals, but it's really hard to determine which one is best. Is there anyone who's been over both? Jamawani?

Thanks in advance.

Ted

Offline jamawani

Re: Bighorns
« Reply #1 on: February 12, 2012, 09:38:23 pm »
Jama lives at the base of the Bighorns.
He do know them pretty well.

Mountain bike or road bike?
Westbound or eastbound?

Eastbound:

There are actually 3 paved options - from N to S - US 14A, US 14, & US 16.
Eastbound, US 14A is brutal - left me gasping for air on every switchback.
Been up it twice, down once and practically burned out my brakes.
US14A provides access to the ancient Native American Medicine Wheel.

US 14 heads east thru Shell Canyon which is lovely but narrow.
It tops out at Granite Pass - the lowest of the three crossings.
US 14A merges with US 14 at Burgess Jct.
The downhill is a screamer which has spectacular views out into the Plains.

From Sheridan you should continue east on US 14 joining US 16 at Ucross.
There's a little store in Clearmont and bars at Arvada and Spotted Horse.

<<<>>>

Heading to Ten Sleep there is a paved road from Manderson via the Nowood Valley.

US 16 heads east thru the spectacular Ten Sleep Canyon - truly magnificent.
You top out at Powder River Pass - almost 10,000 ft.
There are three segments east of the pass.
First a 9-mile moderate (6%) downgrade, then 12 miles with seven ridges,
Then a 12-mile moderate (6-7%) downgrade into Buffalo.

From Buffalo is may be tempting to take I-90 but that is a grave sin.
US 16 is longer heading to Gillette, but quite nice - esp the first 20 miles.

<<<>>>

Mid July may be a little late for the wildflower display.
Nowhere in the West are there more beautiful wildflowers.
Knee-deep fields of every color - usually late June to early July.
There may still be some good areas at high elevation later.

Because the Bighorns have so many natural meadows - views are fabulous.
US 14A has no services, US 14 some - esp Burgess, US 16 the most.
All have plenty of campgrounds plus free camping anywhere.
It can snow any month of the year.

<<<>>>

If you have wide tires, consider heading down Crazy Woman Canyon.
It's off of US 16 just after the 9-mile section east of the pass.
(It also saves you the 7 ridges - but means 12 miles of gravel.)
you come out on Hwy 196 (Old US 87) 12 miles south of Buffalo.

<<<>>>

I'm partial to US 16.
Even though Power River Pass is higher than Granite Pass,
You drop further on the east side to Dayton than to Buffalo.
So you have to climb over a ridge east of Sheridan on US 14.
The seven ridges on US 16 are easier eastbound since each one is a little lower.

Ten Sleep Canyon is awesome - alone worth doing US 16.
You can climb it via the old highway on the south side (unpaved) but shaded and no traffic.
If you did that, you get the full expanse of the canyon views, too.

Whichever way you go I strongly urge you to spend one night up top.
It's just too beautiful up there to miss.
There are a couple of places where you can do a short wilderness hike, too.

Lemme know what your plans are.
Not sure if I'm going to be in Buffalo this summer.
If I am, you are welcome to stay.

J

Offline jamawani

Re: Bighorns
« Reply #2 on: February 12, 2012, 10:10:55 pm »
PS -

Wildflowers

Ten Sleep Canyon

Offline valygrl

Re: Bighorns
« Reply #3 on: February 13, 2012, 12:48:03 am »
I liked Tensleep Canyon better as well.  Haven't been on the north/western bit through Lovell yet, but I did the Rangely-Shell Canyon way westbound and the Tensleep way eastbound.  Scenery is great both ways on the east side, but in the west Tensleep feels more wilderness-y, whereas shell fells more heavily used and slightly less remote/more industrial. 

Offline VeloVeg

Re: Bighorns
« Reply #4 on: February 13, 2012, 03:50:43 pm »
Jama and Valygrl, thanks so much for your replies. I know I've had communications with both of you in the past, but I've been in Africa for quite awhile and have been out of touch. Really anticipating this summer's tour.

The pictures are amazing and thanks for taking the time to post them. As usual, I can't wait to get started. I had tentatively planned to go through Ten Sleep, so I'm glad my instinct was good. Here's the proposed route: ( http://www.bikewithamission.org/maps/portland-to-portland.html ). It's not in stone (just a rough draft), as I like to leave plenty of room for spontaneity.

I've seen some gorgeous wildflower meadows in the Sierra, but never as thick and magnificent as that picture.

Yes, I like great dirt roads--fire roads, etc. The bike has 26" wheels.

Jamawani, send me an email and I'll keep you informed of the plans. It would be great to meet you.

Thanks again.

Safe journeys,

Ted
tphelps at bikewithamission dot org (this format avoids spammers)

Offline litespeed

Re: Bighorns
« Reply #5 on: February 14, 2012, 04:11:12 pm »
Quote from jamawani:
"Eastbound, US 14A is brutal - left me gasping for air on every switchback.
Been up it twice, down once and practically burned out my brakes."

Indeed. Going off the Bighorns westward on 14A the grade is 10% for 13 miles and very winding. Jamawani is only the second person I've heard from who has gone up this. I have gone down it and had to brake to keep from overtaking a car and a couple of motorcycles. It's the toughest grade I know of. Going up this would take very low gears and give you serious bragging rights.

Also, as I recall, 14A between Lovell and the Bighorns is a bleak, ugly stretch of desert. Of course, I may have done it at the wrong time of year.
« Last Edit: February 14, 2012, 04:28:21 pm by litespeed »

Offline jimbo

Re: Bighorns
« Reply #6 on: February 14, 2012, 09:28:11 pm »
I don't think you can go wrong with either 14 or 16. Have driven both several times and pedaled 14 ( not loaded) in mid Sept. ( too late for flowers but they were taking the cattle and sheep off the highlands and that was cool to see) Almost no traffic, but schools were in session. Loved the eastbound downhill on 14....wheeeeeee + great views. Big Horns are a treasure. You will want to go back.

Offline VeloVeg

Re: Bighorns
« Reply #7 on: February 15, 2012, 03:39:57 pm »
litespeed said: "Indeed. Going off the Bighorns westward on 14A the grade is 10% for 13 miles and very winding. Jamawani is only the second person I've heard from who has gone up this. I have gone down it and had to brake to keep from overtaking a car and a couple of motorcycles. It's the toughest grade I know of. Going up this would take very low gears and give you serious bragging rights."

14A does sound amazing, but brutal, in both directions. I'm sure it's gorgeous. As far as the "toughest grade I know". . . there are lots of short, intense (less than 5 miles) grades, especially in the east. But, for real climbs (greater than 10 miles), anyone who's toured in the Sierra Mts. knows they can be merciless. Monitor Pass comes to mind--12 miles of relentless 10-14% grade. The fully exposed views into Nevada are stunning! There is a marker at the pass in the shape of a tombstone. It's known as the "cyclists tombstone". This route is part of the famous "California Death Ride".

But my "favorite" is beautiful Ebbet's Pass/Pacific Grade--18 miles of tight 12-16% paved serpentine single lane road that finishes with a cruel twist. The final mile is a 24% grade wall! It gains/loses 1100 vertical feet in one mile! I've not climbed this monster on my touring bike (I have done it on my road bike), but I have descended it on a fully loaded bike. That first mile descending is downright scary! The brakes would barely hold. I had to stop several times over the course of the 18 miles just to keep the brakes from overheating. If you're not careful, you'll quickly become like a runaway freight train. It is, however, one gorgeous pass, in spite of the drama.

But I digress from the magnificent Bighorns! I can't wait to visit the area this summer. I think Hwy. 16 sounds perfect. Thanks for the great advice.

Ted