Author Topic: Route Suggestions for Glacier NP to Yellowstone NP next July  (Read 1237 times)

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Offline jwknight

Route Suggestions for Glacier NP to Yellowstone NP next July
« on: November 03, 2015, 09:42:03 pm »
Hello Everyone,

A group of friends are considering a ride from Glacier to Yellowstone next July. This would be a SAG supported ride with camping and lodging. We are looking for suggestions about routes. Want to begin by doing Going-to-the-Sun highway in Glacier and then head SE towards Yellowstone ending in West Yellowstone. We definitely want to do the Glaicer part, but is the rest of the ride a good idea? Are there better alternatives (more scenic, better camping, whatever)? Which ACA maps would we use? I am new to the forum and would appreciate input.

Thanks/Jim

Offline Iowagriz

Re: Route Suggestions for Glacier NP to Yellowstone NP next July
« Reply #1 on: November 04, 2015, 07:41:08 am »
Pavement only? Or, would you be interested in gravel roads as well?

Offline jwknight

Re: Route Suggestions for Glacier NP to Yellowstone NP next July
« Reply #2 on: November 04, 2015, 10:21:38 am »
This would be a supported, paved road tour.

Offline Iowagriz

Re: Route Suggestions for Glacier NP to Yellowstone NP next July
« Reply #3 on: November 05, 2015, 10:48:11 am »
The ACA maps to look at would be the Great Parks North and the TransAmerica Trail.  Great Parks North would get you from Glacier to Missoula, and TransAmerica gets you from Missoula to Yellowstone.  The scenery thru both of those sections is great.  Traffic will be high in July.

Getting up early and riding up Going to the Sun and back down is wonderful, it is a don't miss for me.
Riding down the Swan Lake and Seeley Lake valley is impressive as well, but traffic is higher.
Seeley to Missoula is a nice trip along a river.

I haven't ridden from Missoula to Yellowstone, but have driven that route and it is fully of great history.

Enjoy your trip.

Offline jwknight

Re: Route Suggestions for Glacier NP to Yellowstone NP next July
« Reply #4 on: January 24, 2016, 12:18:18 am »
This is Jim again. Has anyone ridden this route (town-to-town routing) from West Glacier to West Yellowstone?
Can you comment on the traffic volumes on these roads in mid-July? Would any of these roads be particularly bad?

From              To miles
[/b]West Glacier   Big Fork   39
Big Fork   Swan Lake   17
Swan Lake   Condon   29
Condon   Seeley Lake   27
Seeley Lake   Ovando   28
Ovando   Lincoln   27
Lincoln   Helena   59
Helena   Townsend   41
Townsend   Three Forks   30
Three Forks   Ennis   47
Ennis   Cameron   11
Cameron   West Yellowstone   59

Thanks/Jim

Offline jamawani

Re: Route Suggestions for Glacier NP to Yellowstone NP next July
« Reply #5 on: January 24, 2016, 02:12:39 am »
I've ridden every paved road and quite a few dirt ones between Glacier and Yellowstone.
I live in Wyoming and know both parks quite well.

First, I don't know your experience with touring and where you are from - i.e. back East.
Why? Because Going to the Sun Road, although not too difficult, is a tough start.
Not to mention that it makes a better dessert than first course.
In which case, riding from Yellowstone to Glacier would make more sense.
You would get an overall elevation loss, slightly prevailing winds, and the sun at your back, too.

As for route, I would suggest an easterly one largely following US 89. Whether S-to-N or N-to-S.
US 89 has significantly less traffic than other routes - plus you get stunning views of the Front Range.
Here's a map published by Montana DOT with summer traffic numbers:
http://mdt.mt.gov/travinfo/docs/bike_map.pdf

All three highways heading north from Yellowstone US 287, US 191, and US 89 have a good deal of traffic -
But the US 89 route has a paved county road on the east side of the river that is virtually empty.
Plus the historic Chico Hot Springs where you can rent a cabin and soak.
North of Livingston, traffic on US 89 drops to very low levels with mountain ranges on both sides.
White Sulphur Springs is a funky springs town - certainly not an Aspen or Bend.

From there, US 89 heads over the Belt Mountains and down a long creek course with lots of camping.
US 287 heading into Helena has shoulders, but an insane level of traffic. (Your route above)
There is a back way into Great Falls from Belt with only a limited amount of highway riding.
Then the great stretch of US 89 heading up thru Choteau and Browning.
Hwy 83 on the west side had twice the traffic, fewer shoulders, and limited views.

Make sure to take in either Two Medicine or Many Glacier - or both - on the east side.
They have spectacular lakes and alpine scenery - Many Glacier has a cafe plus the elegant hotel.

If you are car supported, you will not be able to use the hiker/biker campsites in Yellowstone or Glacier.
Also, lodging is pricey and often booked long in advance near the parks.
I would urge you to finalize your plans and reserve camping/cabins - at least for the parks - by May 1.

Here's a tour I took 11 years ago using the US 90 route:
https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/page/?o=tS&page_id=26431&v=OE

PS - North American Indian Days, one of the largest pow-wows, will be July 7-10 this year in Browning.

Offline fatkidonabike

Re: Route Suggestions for Glacier NP to Yellowstone NP next July
« Reply #6 on: March 04, 2016, 06:29:39 am »
I live in Kalispell, Mt just a few miles from GNP. I haven't ridden the routes you're planning but I can tell you that traveling SW down the Swan highway would be my choice to head south from GNP. It will be beautiful. Traveling the east side of the mountains would be miserable in my opinion, the wind blows hard almost all the time and once you are past East Glacier You'll be looking at nothing but prairie unless you dirt road it along the Rocky Mountain Front.
Traffic in July will be very heavy, a lot of roads have little to no shoulder,  and campgrounds are probably already mostly booked by this time of year. Especially for Yellowstone because I think there is some kind of anniversary this year. I am familiar with almost all of the campgrounds r/v parks around GNP/Flathead Valley so if you have any questions about a particular campground I might be able to answer them.
Wayfarer's State Park in Bigfork MT has some cycling specific camp sites that will probably be less heavily booked than other camp sites.
If you find yourself without a place to camp in the Flathead Valley I can find you something, even if it's just pitching a tent in someone's yard.
Keep in mind that the Sun Road is only open to bicycles certain hours of the day. I think it's closed from 11am-6 or 7pm. If you can plan your trip to be in GNP for a full moon you'll never experience a more beautiful ride than the Sun highway under a full moon. Bring bear spray. Another thing about campgrounds in Yellowstone, a lot of them only permit hard sided campers because tents offer no bear protection. If you do choose to go SE I can hook you up with a place to camp in Choteau, MT.

Looking at the route you asked about in a previous post, once you get to Bigfork and head towards Swan lake you'll be riding 2 lane highway with little to no shoulder and speed limits of 70mph pretty much all the way to the Clearwater Junction. From there to Ovando and Lincoln is nice wide road, then from Lincoln over to Helena is gonna be narrow without much shoulder in parts. It's been a few years since I've driven some of this so it may have improved in recent years.
If you need a bike shop while in the Flathead Valley, Wheaton's Cycle in Kalispell is the best around. They have a Hostel above the bike shop for lodging if you're interested.

Offline jonz

Re: Route Suggestions for Glacier NP to Yellowstone NP next July
« Reply #7 on: March 28, 2016, 07:57:04 pm »
This is Jim again. Has anyone ridden this route (town-to-town routing) from West Glacier to West Yellowstone?
Can you comment on the traffic volumes on these roads in mid-July? Would any of these roads be particularly bad?
             <snip>
Ennis   Cameron   11
Cameron   West Yellowstone   59

Thanks/Jim

I live half the year just outside of West Yellowstone.  On 287, it's a wide well maintained highway with good shoulders.  However, the rumble strips just inside the fog line make the shoulders not as enjoyable as they could be.  If you take Hwy 87 to Hwy 20 to West Yellowstone, only Hwy 20 will have moderate to heavy traffic.  If you continue on 287 to 191, only 191 will have moderate to heavy traffic.  Almost all of this route has 70 mph limits fyi.  The direction you're going is with the prevailing wind in that area.

                Jeff Jones
PS - first post on this web page