Author Topic: Avoiding Yellowstone  (Read 2427 times)

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Offline naterskine

Avoiding Yellowstone
« on: April 03, 2013, 09:30:14 am »
Can anyone suggest a nice route around Yellowstone? Traveling from Missoula south on Great Parks to reach the Western Express, and I hope to avoid all the crowds and RVs of the tourist areas. Don't really care about seeing Old Faithful etc., just want some peace on a country road. Perhaps it is best to stick to the ACA maps and deal with the parks anyway? Just asking. I am more interested in what's in between. Thanks.

Offline John Nettles

Re: Avoiding Yellowstone
« Reply #1 on: April 03, 2013, 10:03:25 am »
You do not say what, if any, parameters you need.  I “assume” you want to avoid gravel and you are self-contained.  If so, consider continuing south on US-93 (from junction with MT-43 on TransAm Route) to Arco.  A remote way would be to take ID-28 from Salmon to ID-33 then points east.

Then take ID-33 east (via Rexburg, Sugar City, Tetonia, Driggs, Victor, Wilson, WY to Jackson.  Take US-191 from Jackson to Rock Springs.

From Rock Springs you can take Interstate 80 (blah, but legal) with its services east to Rawlins, WY and reconnect with the Great Parks South Route.

Or for a much more remote experience, from Rock Springs take WY-430 south to Hiawatha Road to Baggs, WY to Craig, CO (really really remote) OR take WY-430 south to CO-318 then east to Craig, CO (just really remote) and then continue east to Steamboat Springs and reconnect there.

If you go via Rawlins, I highly recommend a detour from Saratoga, WY to Centennial along WY-130 then south on WY-11 to Fox Creek Road (8 miles of decent gravel road) to Woods Landing/WY-230.  Go south to junction with CO-125 where you reconnect with various ACA routes.

Enjoy the ride!
Happy trails and may the wind be at your back!
John

Offline John Nelson

Re: Avoiding Yellowstone
« Reply #2 on: April 03, 2013, 10:33:33 am »
Because Yellowstone doesn't allow organized group tours through the park, group tours (including ACA tours) routinely detour around Yellowstone. These routes are easy to find on the web. Having said that, I didn't find the traffic in Yellowstone to be any problem at all. I went through in late June. The crazy traffic doesn't really start until after the fourth of July. The campgrounds in Grand Teton and Yellowstone are nice, very inexpensive (for bicycles) and never full (for bicycles). I agree that Old Faithful is overrated, but there are a lot of other great things to see in the park (including many kinds of animals), and the Tetons are spectacular.

The ACA group tours avoid Yellowstone by going through Idaho, via Jackson,  Wilson, Teton Pass, Victor, Driggs, Tetonia, Lamont, Drummond, Ashton, Warm River, Island Park, West Yellowstone.

Offline staehpj1

Re: Avoiding Yellowstone
« Reply #3 on: April 03, 2013, 12:05:32 pm »
Having said that, I didn't find the traffic in Yellowstone to be any problem at all.
I am not saying the OP shouldn't avoid it if they want to, but...
We went through in July and found it pleasant enough.  We entered the park late afternoon on a Sunday and the weekend crowds were mostly gone.  Monday and Tuesday weren't bad, especially if you get your mileage in early in the day, since the RV-ers seem to sleep in.  Old Faithful wasn't that big of a deal but some of the other geothermal stuff was pretty awesome.  Also there were some nice waterfalls and other things to see.  There was a bike path that lets you get off the road some of the way and gets you close to a great view of Gran Prismatic that most visitors to the park miss.  The surface wasn't that great on the bike trail but we were able to walk up a steep little hill to have lunch at that great view of Grand Prismatic.

Offline jamawani

Re: Avoiding Yellowstone
« Reply #4 on: April 03, 2013, 02:42:25 pm »
The way to "avoid" Yellowstone is to choose your riding times carefully and ride through Yellowstone.
Nearly every campground has hiker/biker sites - so camping availability is not really an issue.
Thus, I choose to ride early and late - plus it's the best time to see wildlife.

Plus, if you choose smaller campgrounds, you have relatively quiet camping.
(i.e. Avoid the huge ones such as Grant Village, Bridge Bay, maybe Madison.)
You always stop in to the big campgrounds for camp store stuff and showers.

Thus, if you ride before 10 a.m. and after 4 p.m. - you will have fairly light traffic.
Than, you can focus on a day hike or lakeside picnic and read in the middle of the day.

Offline naterskine

Re: Avoiding Yellowstone
« Reply #5 on: April 03, 2013, 05:41:28 pm »
Will be in that area in early August. Wanted to stick to pavement or light gravel. By myself.
Thanks to all for the good advice. From the sound of it, maybe it won't be as bad as I was told. You all should know better than anyone, and the sample so far seems to suggest going on through the park. Anyway, thanks for the advice on alternate routes and on timing through the park. Very helpful.

Offline matthewjsteger

Re: Avoiding Yellowstone
« Reply #6 on: April 17, 2013, 08:48:36 pm »
But ... it's Yellowstone!  While crowd and traffic avoidance is critical for an adventurous tour (the exception being urban tours, of course), Yellowstone is worth the hassle.  It is especially worth it if you have never seen it before and/or are interested in venturing off the roads, via foot, a mile or so back where there aren't nearly as many people.  Don't skip it.  It's a very special place.

Just my two cents.

Offline mbattisti

Re: Avoiding Yellowstone
« Reply #7 on: April 17, 2013, 10:45:14 pm »
we also found yellowstone and the tetons no problem as long as you got an early start (and we visited in late July).  At Madison campground the hiker/bikers get to camp in a nice grassy area right behind the office (and it's a well-kept secret that the ladies gave us access to their coffee pot in the morning)!

Offline indyfabz

Re: Avoiding Yellowstone
« Reply #8 on: April 19, 2013, 09:44:29 am »
At Madison campground the hiker/bikers get to camp in a nice grassy area right behind the office (and it's a well-kept secret that the ladies gave us access to their coffee pot in the morning)!

When I was there many moons ago they had a cache of supplies just for hikers and bikers, inlcuding condiments, utensils and even a double burner propane stove.

What I did not like abiut Madison is what Jamawani notes. Madison was crowded and loud. Moreover, people simply didn't follow the rules about food storage. I got up very early to start my day and saw a lot of empty food and beer containers along with coolers left out.

Definitely get off the main roads when you can, even if for only for a few yards. I nearly got doored during an "animal jam." Someone who thought they had seen a moose or something stopped and the lemmings did the same. As I rode by I thought of how 15 min. earlier I had seen several elk when I turned down an access road looking for a place to take a rest and have a snack. I also remember riding a gravel path to get to Old Faithful. it went right past some gieser that was about to erupt. Much cooler than Old Faithful itself as there were only a handful of people and you could get much closer.

Offline John Nelson

Re: Avoiding Yellowstone
« Reply #9 on: April 19, 2013, 01:13:50 pm »
What I did not like about Madison is what Jamawani notes. Madison was crowded and loud.
It is an unfortunate dilemma, but many times the coolest places to visit attract the most people, and therefore making them less cool. The main areas of Yellowstone definitely don't offer much solitude, but in my opinion they are worth it anyway. Besides, on a long tour, I typically get plenty of solitude other places.

I nearly got doored during an "animal jam." Someone who thought they had seen a moose or something stopped and the lemmings did the same.
One of the great things about being on a bicycle during these animal jams is that you can easily ride right up to where the animals are without worrying about finding a parking place. Then when you're done looking, you can ride away without waiting for the roads to clear. When a herd of bison blocked the road between Madison and West Yellowstone, I was able to ride right through the herd, while those in their cars got stuck in a five-mile traffic jam. The only people who got to see the bison were in the first few cars--the hundreds of cars behind them saw nothing and waited hours. I had many frustrated drivers stuck in that five-mile line of cars ask me what the hold-up was. It got to where I just started answering the question before it was asked by saying "bison on the road" every time a driver opened his mouth.

Offline shannongalinat

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Re: Avoiding Yellowstone
« Reply #10 on: June 06, 2013, 03:46:36 pm »
I agree with previous posts:  Don't skip Yellowstone!

I'll take an early-day ride through a National Park over a ride along a "normal" highway any day.  The traffic is moving slower (they're on vacation, after all) and the motorists tend to be more tolerant of bicyclists in the National Parks.  All the vehicles move slower on those roads, so you'll not notice them as much.

I've ridden west to east through Yellowstone and some of my best touring memories are there.  The climbs are lung busting, but you won't forget them.  Don't miss it.

Enjoy,

Shan
Shannon Galinat
Boise, Idaho
-----------------------------------------
"You gotta let it riiiide!"  - Cosmo Kramer

Offline MrBent

Re: Avoiding Yellowstone
« Reply #11 on: June 14, 2013, 10:26:39 am »
+1 what Shan said.

There is NO commercial traffic allowed in Yellowstone, and traffic speeds are low.  Go.  Start early in the day.  Hang out in the afternoon.

My wife and I cut across the northern part of the park and exited the mountains via. Dead Indian Pass--a fantastic route.

Scott