Author Topic: riding ACA northern tier  (Read 1994 times)

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Offline tomtom17

riding ACA northern tier
« on: July 05, 2012, 05:32:05 pm »
hi all.

   I am graduating from college in may of 2013, and to celebrate i want to do my first major tour. Right now i am planning on doing the ACA northern tier, (i live in Buffalo, New York and it looks like the route runs right through my town). I admit I am still in the very early stages of planning, but one thing that i would like to do on my trip is to visit Mount Rushmore, the black hills of South Dakota. However I can't seem to find any connecting routes. How hard would it be to jump from the norther teir, and head to rapids city SD, and then jump back on the tier?

Offline valygrl

Re: riding ACA northern tier
« Reply #1 on: July 05, 2012, 09:02:23 pm »
You should be able to come up with a decent way to connect.  How exactly you choose to do that would depend on how much you care about Glacier National Park and how much you like riding mountains vs. plains.  Personally I wouldn't be too quick to assume you have to go back to the NT.

I like mountains.  I would head down to Mt Rushmore (not sure where, haven't ridden the NT), head up to Devils Tower WY, connect through Sheridan or Buffalo over the Big Horns, go to Cody, head through Yellowstone, then you can connect to Great Parks NOrth, NT, TransAm or Lewis and Clark to head to the coast - or even better, keep going north and ride the Icefields Parkway, then head over across British Columbia.

Since North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming all have a lot of new resource extraction traffic, I think you should try to find some local knowledge about what roads are good to make the connection off the NT.  Sorry I can't help with that specifically.  :)

Offline jamawani

Re: riding ACA northern tier
« Reply #2 on: July 05, 2012, 09:08:28 pm »
Tom -

It may be a generational thing - - but you don't HAVE TO follow a designated route.
Many states have state biking maps at their state DOT websites - verying from good to poor.
More important are AADT or traffic flow maps which tell you how busy a road is.

Here's the one for South Dakota:
http://sddot.com/transportation/highways/traffic/docs/Traffic_2011.pdf

Offline tomtom17

Re: riding ACA northern tier
« Reply #3 on: July 06, 2012, 10:15:01 pm »
ive never really done a major tour. I was planning on buying the norther tier and once i got the hang of things, i was going to start to wing it. How hard is it to just do some basic research before leaving but then really winging it on the route? Would i have to plan ahead or could i just make it up as i go... Really all i want to do is make it to the West Coast, and see Mount Rushmore. If i deviated off the Norther tour, would just basic knowledege from department of transportations and local maps suit me?

thanks in advance

Offline jamawani

Re: riding ACA northern tier
« Reply #4 on: July 07, 2012, 01:36:06 am »
By the Mississippi River you should have some experience.
Instead of heading north to Minnesota - cross Iowa, northern Nebraska, and southern South Dakota.
Then continue across northern Wyoming to Yellowstone and up US 89 to Glacier.
From there you can reconnect with the Northern Tier or do whatever.

The Iowa DOT bike map gives you great info for county roads in the state.
Combine back roads thru Iowa City and Des Moines with paved trails up to Sioux City.
Hwy 12 is a superb route in Nebraska - Hwy 44 is good in SD until you get close to Rapid City.
The area around Rushmore is a zoo.  Other parts of the Black Hills are way nicer.

Offline tomtom17

Re: riding ACA northern tier
« Reply #5 on: July 07, 2012, 02:26:21 pm »

Hwy 12 is a superb route in Nebraska - Hwy 44 is good in SD until you get close to Rapid City.

I guess this is where i am having some trouble when i think about where to begin on how to plan my route. In New York state, at least where i live, riding bikes on Hwy's is against the law. I dont know if it is just a Buffalo thing or New York State but i dont want to plan a route down a Hwy only to get there and find about that it is illegal. Ive looked at the Iowa DOT bike map and it looked helpfull though. thanks.

Online adventurepdx

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Re: riding ACA northern tier
« Reply #6 on: July 07, 2012, 05:25:48 pm »
I guess this is where i am having some trouble when i think about where to begin on how to plan my route. In New York state, at least where i live, riding bikes on Hwy's is against the law. I dont know if it is just a Buffalo thing or New York State but i dont want to plan a route down a Hwy only to get there and find about that it is illegal.

I think you are confusing what jamawani is referring to as "highways" with freeways, which are not always one and the same. Most highways in the west are two lane roads. In the Northeast it's the vernacular to refer to what most of the country calls highways as "Routes".

And also to note: west of the Mississippi it is generally legal for bicycles to use freeways, with the exceptions usually in urban areas. In some parts of the west an Interstate may be your only option to get from point A to B by bike because the old road has been plowed over in the freeway construction. You can always check each state's DOT website for the specifics of bicycle restrictions. If a state has a bike map it usually spells out the restrictions on it.

Offline haakon

Re: riding ACA northern tier
« Reply #7 on: July 20, 2012, 07:29:21 pm »
I found that on the midwest section of the Northern Tier route (Minnesota and North Dakota, for me, in particular), the specific NT route on the maps wasn't anything special. Other county roads or state highways worked just as fine or better in places. I veered off the maps and took my own route from Minot ND to Fargo, and again from Fargo to Minneapolis, and it worked out really well. You'll have to feel out your comfort level as you go, but with a smart phone with maps, paper maps from a gas station, and advice from people in towns, it should be no problem. Water, food and camping are usually available in small towns only anyway, so as long as there is a small town, it will probably have those things. Camping in small town parks seems to be free and OK across the midwest (I've had great experience with it), so I would recommend going off the NT if you want.

From Iowa or Minnesota you could go straight west on into South Dakota (lots of small towns along the way). Getting back up to the NT from Mt. Rushmore might be tricky as the towns are more sparse, but you could take Hwy 85 north to catch the NT near Dickinson. It might be worth it to go through Glacier NP, Sandpoint ID and the Cascades Mountains in Washington state. Sounds like a beautiful trip you're planning!