Author Topic: Help me decide on this last minute tour.  (Read 6647 times)

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Offline Gif4445

Help me decide on this last minute tour.
« on: August 23, 2014, 12:21:53 pm »
I've taken a September tour each of the last 3 years and have a chance to do it again this year. Problem is, I have not decided where to go. Background info: I live in SC Nebraska. Tour #1 in 2011 was from home to Breck CO. ( Tour #2 in '12 was to the Black Hills and back ( ), and last year I started on the west coast and pedaled to Yellowstone ( ).

1...This year I have a free ride to Billings MT, on Sept. 8, if I choose to take it. From there, I could go North to Glacier, south to Yellowstone and pick up where I left off last year.

2...Or go directly to Yellowstone from Billings and pick up where I left off. Then pedal the TA as far as Breck and go easterly to home.

3...Or I could just pedal toward CO (and leave a week earlier) and hit all the mountain passes and such that I can in 3 weeks or so. Like Trail Ridge, Rabbit ears, Mt. Evans (If I physically can!), and points in Western CO that a friend living out there has suggested.

4...Or take off for Missouri and the Katy Trail.

I'm sitting here pondering and decided I would throw all this info out to the knowledgeable people on AC. Your thoughts please!

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Help me decide on this last minute tour.
« Reply #1 on: August 23, 2014, 12:58:19 pm »
Just MHO:

Glacier is one of the most beautiful places I've seen.  It's well worth your effort.

Depends on the road construction schedule, though.  If you can get across Going to the Sun Road, do that.  You might then head west on the Northern Tier towards Seattle.  It might be a stretch to finish that in three weeks, or maybe not; depends on your conditioning.

Offline adventurepdx

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Re: Help me decide on this last minute tour.
« Reply #2 on: August 23, 2014, 01:47:56 pm »
I also agree that Glacier is beautiful. But another thing to keep in mind is a lot of service close right after Labor Day, so you want to do your homework before leaving on what's open, what's not. (For example, the free buses that go up and down Going to the Sun stop on Labor Day, not that you would necessarily need it for a bike tour...)

And they plan on doing some major construction this year on Going to the Sun Road starting in mid-September, which may close the road. The alternate route, US 2, isn't bad, but nowhere near as spectacular.

I can't speak about your other choices, though.

Offline zzzz

Re: Help me decide on this last minute tour.
« Reply #3 on: August 23, 2014, 09:34:05 pm »
Take a look at the route thats shown on the 2 Great Parks North maps. I started at the opposite end than you would be last year in Jasper and rode down to Wyoming and the scenery was spectacular.

If you start in Billings, make your way to Missoula (I think there are a number of attractive options for that) and then pick up the GPN route. It goes thru Glacier NP / Waterton NP, Southern BC, then back over into Alberta and up the rockies. Once you get into Lake Louise you pick up the Ice Fields Parkway which is just incredible.

The 2 GPN maps total about 750 miles + whatever you add between Billings and Missoula to make your distance what you want. But the clock is ticking, as others have mentioned GTS closes for road work in mid-Sept and the end of September is getting pretty close to winter in Jasper.

I believe ACA prefers that pics not be attached directly to a post, if you want to see 3 or 4 of my best from my trip send me an email at


Offline Gif4445

Re: Help me decide on this last minute tour.
« Reply #4 on: August 24, 2014, 02:34:51 pm »
With help from you all, I have virtually eliminated Glacier (weather, road construction).  If I could get an earlier start, like arriving there the end of August, it would be doable IMO.  With my schedule, it will have to be the starting place for the trip, not a destination.   If and when, it looks like an awesome ride! Missouri, on the other hand, can wait until October.  Looks to be pretty warm for a September ride.

So I'm torn between continuing my TA route and just enjoying the beauty of Colorado.  (Or adjusting the schedule and finding a quick ride to Glacier?)

Offline RussSeaton

Re: Help me decide on this last minute tour.
« Reply #5 on: August 24, 2014, 03:01:34 pm »
I vote for your Colorado ride.  I have ridden two organized week long rides in Colorado.  There used to be a couple organizations that put on week long rides.  They were good.  Enough mountains to climb.  Few hundred or few thousands of people.  I think they were June or July.  I have toured two weeks in September in the Rockies.  Silverton, Durango, and other towns to the east.  Cold and rainy a couple days.  But the weather was OK.  Pleasant out of the mountains and the climbs and descents were not too bad.  Colorado is good in September.  Plenty of motels in Colorado towns so you do not have to camp.  Enough towns so you do not have to ride too far between refreshments.  Although riding east out of Durango on the state road that goes back to the Rockies, there is nothing for 50 or more miles.  Just wide open desert, waste land.  No towns, no services, no nothing east of Durango.  Never much traffic on the side roads in Colorado.  Always a car every now and then, but you usually have the road to yourself.  I've even ridden on a few busier roads and they were not that busy.
« Last Edit: August 25, 2014, 03:01:25 pm by RussSeaton »

Offline zzzz

Re: Help me decide on this last minute tour.
« Reply #6 on: August 25, 2014, 04:47:30 am »
I'm not going to try to talk you out of Colorado, it's a beautiful state w lots to see. But if you want to see Glacier at some point in your life I think early September is the best time to ride GTSR, at least from my experience.

I rode it last year on Sept. 6 and started at 7 am on the east (less spectacular) side. Traffic was almost non-existent. There was 3, maybe 4 small patches of construction and that actually worked in my favor. A couple times as a cyclist they just waved me thru and where I was stopped for a couple of minutes the few cars that were there passed me right away before I even had much of a chance to get rolling. I don't think I got passed by 20 cars on the entire ascent. I did stop several times on the way down the west side to soak up the views but while I was rolling I don't remember getting passed by anyone on the steep part. By the time the road was starting to flatten out at the bottom I could see traffic was starting to build going up, I think it was probably around 10 by then.

Compare that to the nose to tail traffic jam that any video you pull up on you-tube for GTSR has and it felt like I had the road all to myself.


Offline Gif4445

Re: Help me decide on this last minute tour.
« Reply #7 on: August 25, 2014, 07:04:53 am »
Still looking at it from all angles zzzz, but the logistics and it fitting into the timetable of the rest of the ride is not looking good.  To make it work, I really need to be getting up there by Labor Day or shortly after.  With my free ride and a car rental to get closer, it looks to add a week and a half to that.   Alternate plan would be to nix the free ride and spend $400+ on rental vehicle to get me there earlier.  Still on the table but barely.

Offline becky4545

Re: Help me decide on this last minute tour.
« Reply #8 on: August 26, 2014, 09:24:37 am »
Glacier is the best option to you I think  ;)

Offline Gif4445

Re: Help me decide on this last minute tour.
« Reply #9 on: August 30, 2014, 04:45:46 am »
Well, I couldn't get Glacier out of my mind.  Especially when zzzz sent me some beautiful pics.  So I'm using my free ride and traveling to Billings MT on Sept. 8.  If the forecast for Glacier area looks bad, I will have him drop me off in Cody and I will bike to Grant Village in Yellowstone to continue my cross country tour.  If all looks a go, I will grab a rental car and get a little closer to the park.  At this point looking at Great Falls.  The car will cut a couple hundred miles off the ride and get me a couple days away.  So should start the Going to the sun road on Sept. 11 or 12.  Road closure for construction doesn't begin until Sept. 22 I believe, so should be ok there.   I have the Great Parks map #2, which I will follow from St. Mary  to the TA.  Just hoping the weather holds!