Author Topic: Logistics for Divide MT Trip and the Ride-to-the-Sun Road to Glacier Natl Park  (Read 2888 times)

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Offline dbbcpa

I have just signed-up for the Divide MT ride in July with Adventure Cycling. I will be riding my mountain bike. My idea is to ride the Going-to-the-Sun Road to Galcier Natl Park. Our tour is over on Friday and I can extend my stay up to about three days to complete. I am wondering if anyone has done this before? I was thinking I could sleep in a Whitefish Hotel in Whitefish Friday night. Saturday I could start the ride to Glacier and possibly camp there Saturday night. Ride back Sunday and either catch a flight that day or Monday. Is riding up the road to Glacier then back down in one day possible? Could i do this without camping and be able to catch a plane on Sunday. I will be on a Mountain bike. I also need to figure in getting my bike back to a bike shop to be shipped back to Tampa, FL.

Any suggestions would be appreciated. This will be my first bike trip of anykind.

One other question. It may sound stupid, but I do mostly road riding. I recently put tires on my mountain bike that are basically smooth in the center of the tire with knobbies on the sides. I did this to practicing putting miles on my mountain bike in our hilly areas which are all roads. Are these tires suitable for the Divide, MT trip or do I need a full offroad tire?

Thanks in advance for your help.

Offline CyclesafeSr

I rode from RTS campground to Whitefish in one day.  I think what you propose is doable.

Day 1: Whitefish to Sprague Peak CG would be easy.  Remember that the road is closed to bikes in the afternoon, but you can put your bike on the rack in front of the bus you catch at Apgar.  There might be even enough daylight to climb the pass and be back to Sprague before dark.  Or you can stay in a motel.

Day 2: Alternatively, you can mount the pass, then turn around and make Whitefish by dark.

It would be hard to make it a one day round trip from Whitefish unless you're unloaded and a very fit and motivated rider.

You will experience some single track on Richardson Peak.  If the trail is wet, you'd appreciate some knobbies.  OTOH, many people have made it with even 35mm or even 28mm touring tires.  It just depends on how much money you have.  Knobbies are useable on the rest of the trip, but your smoother tires would be better for Whitefish to Big Fork and won't hurt from Big Fork to Condon or from Seeley Lake to Lincoln etc.  BTW, I also did the GDMBR.

I hope this helps.   


Offline indyfabz

I have ridden to Logan Pass three times. Definitely try to do it.

Whitefish up to the top of Logan Pass and back to Whitefish in one day would be tough. Even if you were to take U.S. 2 (there is a narrow, shoulderless section which makes a different route advisable), it's 27 miles from Whitefish to West Galcier. From there, its around 1-2 miles to the start of GTS near Apgar. And IIRC, from that point it's 21 miles to the summit. So you are talking 100 miles round trip.

As noted, there are restrictions on when you can ride your bike on GTS Road. Check the park's official web site for details. Also, the best time to ride it is early in the morning, before the traffic picks up.

If your last day to Whitefish is a short one, I would continue on to the park and stay at either Sprague Creek or Avalanche Campground. Both have hiker-biker spots for around $5/night. Otherwise stay in Whitefish and ride to the park the next day.

Ride up to the pass early in the morning. (You have to make it up by 11 a.m.) Try to do one of the short hikes like the one to Hidden Lake that starts from behind the Logan Pass Visitor Center. Then come back down. You can then either stay another night in the park or ride back to Whitefish the same day. Note that, because of the bike restrictions, you will have to wait until 4 p.m. to exit the park on your own. (Coming down the west side I think you can ride as far as Sprague Creek before 4 pm. Again, check the park's site as it's been two ears since I last rode it.) As noted, there is a shuttle.

Finally, flight schedules may dictate your timing. When we flew out of FCA, most the flights were in the morning.

Offline Lowly Swale

I took the side trip to Glacier Park from GDMBR early last July and Logan pass was still blocked by snow. Cyclists were allowed beyond the big hairpin whereas motors were turned back down in the valley. So the riding I got to do was nice and peaceful but not all the way.

Offline jimbo

Here is the latest from a GNP Ranger:

There are restrictions in two areas along the Going-to-the-Sun Road. You
will actually need to be up to Logan Pass by 11:00 am if you are starting
from the west side. For safety and to ease congestion, restrictions are in
effect on sections of the Going-to-the-Sun Road, from June 15 through Labor
Day:
•     From Apgar Campground to Sprague Creek Campground bicycles are
prohibited, both directions, between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.
•     From Logan Creek to Logan Pass east-bound (uphill) bicycle traffic is
prohibited between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.


Start early! It takes about 45 minutes to ride from Sprague Creek to Logan
Creek and about three hours from Logan Creek to Logan Pass. When you come
back down from Logan Pass, the section between Sprague Creek and Apgar will
be completely closed to bicycle traffic, regardless of direction.  Thanks
so much for checking with us ahead of time.  We look forward to seeing you
this summer!

I can't find "Logan Creek" on the Park Map but it is somewhere east of McDonald Lodge and perhaps close to where the real climb begins going west to east.

We hope to do an up and back down from the west side around June 16 IF IF the weather and construction cooperates. Odds are probably not in our favor.

Last year the fine for getting caught in the no bike zone was $125.

JK

Offline indyfabz

Start early! It takes about 45 minutes to ride from Sprague Creek to Logan
Creek and about three hours from Logan Creek to Logan Pass. When you come
back down from Logan Pass, the section between Sprague Creek and Apgar will
be completely closed to bicycle traffic, regardless of direction.  Thanks
so much for checking with us ahead of time.  We look forward to seeing you
this summer!

I can't find "Logan Creek" on the Park Map but it is somewhere east of McDonald Lodge and perhaps close to where the real climb begins going west to east.

We hope to do an up and back down from the west side around June 16 IF IF the weather and construction cooperates. Odds are probably not in our favor.

Was there last in '09. Did what you are planning. I think the 45 min. to Logan Creek, which I believe is the viewing area where you can walk down to the side of the creek, is on the conservative side if you are not loaded. It probably took us about 30 min. from Sprague Creek Campground. We started after 6 a.m., had to stop for a convoy of construction trucks, stopped for maybe 10 min. at the Loop to snack and use the bathrooms, encountered a stretch of unpaved road after the loop, stopped for many photos and still made it to the Big Bend before 10 a.m. Had to wait there around 30 min. until the road officially opened to Logan Pass and made it up before 11 a.m.

I strongly suggest taking ample food and water. There is no food available at the top. Cannot remember if there was any water. We ended up being very hungry. Coming back down we had to stop because they were routing traffic unidirectionally through a construction zone. A flagwoman working up there was nice enough to give us an energy bar from her brown bag lunch. You can get snacks the day before at the store at Lake McDonald Lodge, which is an easy walk from Sprague Creek. If you will be cooking, I recommend getting groceries at W. Glacier. The selection at the Lake McDonald store is not the best. The road to Sprague Creek is gently rolling at worst, so carrying them isn't hard. Make sure you check out the lodge. Grab a beer at the bar and take it down to the lake. Also, stop at the McDonald Creek viewing area on the way back down. It's marked and there will probably be a lot of cars parked along the road.

The last 26 are from our ride up and down the west side in '09:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/davez2007/sets/72157620763740044/

We did a loop from Whitefish into Canada and then back into the U.S. When we got to St. Mary, the pass was still closed so we rode to E. Glacier and then over Marias Pass to W. Glacier and Sprague Creek in one day so we could at least ride up and back down the west side of GTS. It was my third time up the west side.

Offline Fred Hiltz

... I strongly suggest taking ample food and water. There is no food available at the top. Cannot remember if there was any water...
The visitor center at the top has nice indoor restrooms and plenty of water, but no food and no eating in the building. At least this was the case in 2000, when I last rode it.

Fred

Offline indyfabz

... I strongly suggest taking ample food and water. There is no food available at the top. Cannot remember if there was any water...
The visitor center at the top has nice indoor restrooms and plenty of water, but no food and no eating in the building. At least this was the case in 2000, when I last rode it.

Fred

Depends. The services may be snowed in or still not fully functional. Twice I have been up there when that has been the case. In '99 the visitor center was mostly covered in snow on June 16th even though the pass opened that day:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/davez2007/6949605907/in/photostream

I went up early again in '00. The rest rooms were still out of commission, but they did have a port-a-john. It was freezing and wet that day. A ranger, who saw me changing in a corner by the closed bathrooms, invited me into their break room where she had a fire going. She even let me bum some newspaper to use and insulation for the ride back down.

Offline dbbcpa

Thanks for all the great feedback. I am certainly going to do this. If there is anyone else on the Ride the Divide Montana ACA trip that wants to join me, let me know.

Offline Tony A.

Thanks for all the great feedback. I am certainly going to do this. If there is anyone else on the Ride the Divide Montana ACA trip that wants to join me, let me know.
I am also signed up and may try the Ride-to-the-Sun. Right now it's sounding like I need a little more planning to figure if the road closures will make it possible and fun or too much grief regardless of the opportunity.

Tony

Offline indyfabz

Thanks for all the great feedback. I am certainly going to do this. If there is anyone else on the Ride the Divide Montana ACA trip that wants to join me, let me know.
I am also signed up and may try the Ride-to-the-Sun. Right now it's sounding like I need a little more planning to figure if the road closures will make it possible and fun or too much grief regardless of the opportunity.

Tony

Although anything is possible, I doubt the road will still be snowed in by the time you finish. Last year they had a monumental amount of snow and the road opened fully on July 13th. At that time of year, any construction "closures" will likely be of short duration. Maybe 20-40 min. The longer closures are have been scheduled for later in the season and/or at night, when traffic is less. The road is too mportant to the local economies to deter visitors. Late pass openings make the front pages of the local papers. According to the park's site, for 2012, there are no planned activities that would delay opening past June 15. Of course, opening is weather dependendant.