Author Topic: Denver - Anarcortes - San Francisco  (Read 502 times)

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Offline johnm

Denver - Anarcortes - San Francisco
« on: August 25, 2020, 05:20:33 pm »
Hello Everyone, I write from the UK.

Assuming the US is open to visitors next year I'm thinking about various tour options. I don't really have the time or inclination to do the Transam but was thinking about the following and would be grateful for any observations. I'm just trying to combine two parts of the US I'd like to visit in one trip.

Denver - Missoula (on the Transam roughly I guess) - then head up to pick up the Northern Tier to Anacortes, say, and then down the West coast as far as time and enthusiasm allows. Would parts of this be very remote/mountainous? I usually like to do 50-60 miles a day and ideal reach a settlement of some sort at the end of the day.

I know that September is a good time for the West Coast and that would mean leaving Denver sometime in August. Temperature doesn't look too bad but is Yellowstone and so on over run with rv's at that time of year. Any other traffic/meteorological things I should think about?

Any thoughts welcome, thank you.

John

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Denver - Anarcortes - San Francisco
« Reply #1 on: August 25, 2020, 05:48:29 pm »
John, I did the TransAm to Missoula, MT, and then up to Columbia Falls and Glacier before heading west to Anacortes.  I'll let the locals tell you how to get from Denver to the Trans Am.  (If you come north from Pueblo or Colorado Springs you get to climb the highest pass on the whole TransAm, though!)  If you get clear weather when you summit Togwotee Pass, the view of the Tetons across Jackson Hole is superb.

From Hartsel or Silverthorne, you'll be on remote roads almost the entire way to Anacortes, with lots of mountains.  You'll hit civilization every 50-60 miles, with a couple of exceptions.  The stretch from Rawlins to Lander, WY, is about 105 miles, with Jeffrey City in the middle.  You can get water at Jeffrey City or 20 miles down the road at Sweetwater.  The second is on Washington 20, from Mazama to Rockport is about 80 miles, with a couple of campgrounds with water after you get over the two passes.

I'd recommend you take a few extra days off.  It's probably worth sitting on a bus to see more of Yellowstone that what the route takes you through.  Also do a 2-3 day out and back to Glacier National Park.

If you hit Yellowstone the last week of August, things will be starting to close down (meaning fewer tourists then!).  In general, Yellowstone isn't bad if you get up and ride early.  Most of the tour busses start rolling at 8:30, and you'll have an hour or two before the RVs and cars start rolling.

If they still have chocolate covered frozen cheesecake at the ferry terminal at Anacortes, you've earned one!

Offline jamawani

Re: Denver - Anarcortes - San Francisco
« Reply #2 on: August 25, 2020, 09:42:58 pm »
Fire.

Fire is a natural part of most ecosystems in the American West.
It has been exacerbated in recent years by inappropriate development and climate change.
This year has been a particularly bad year for fires.
Current fire map:  https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/

The worst months for fires are August & September.
Even if there are no fires in the immediate vicinity - you have an orange-brown haze.
Kinda like London fog, except hot, gritty, and bone dry.
And you can't see the mountains.

I would suggest a July/August trip - even a late June start.
Much better weather - and wildflowers in the mountains.

Offline johnm

Re: Denver - Anarcortes - San Francisco
« Reply #3 on: August 26, 2020, 04:43:14 am »
Pat - thank you very much. Togwotee Pass would be bit of a pipe opener in which case, coming in the early days of a tour!

I saw an alternate route from Missoula on a blog which went via Thomson Falls, Spokane, Wenatchee before ending up near Seattle. There looks to be a plain of sorts in the middle of this route which may save a little climbing but busier I guess and no doubt not as attractive.

Yellowstone - it looks like a good area for a few days off. Jamawani comments about timing below (thank you) so an early start sounds a bit better. I'd just have to get up a bit earlier to avoid the buses I imagine.


Offline jamawani

Re: Denver - Anarcortes - San Francisco
« Reply #4 on: August 26, 2020, 09:12:24 am »
I've lived in Wyoming since 1990 - soon after my first X-USA bike trip in 1987.
I started out in Jackson with the amazing Tetons and all the tourist.
Now I live at the base of the Bighorn Mountains - peace, quiet, and beauty.

I have biked every road in Yellowstone - many times.
The park is quite busy in summer - whether in July or August.
September used to be the month for locals, no longer.

The key really is to ride very early or in the evening.
Not only is there very little traffic, it's the best time to see wildlife.
Spend the middle part of the day exploring and hiking.
All campgrounds except Slough Creek have hiker/biker campsites.
These are reserved and held only for non-vehicular travellers.
So, you can confidently ride late I have discovered.

If you take a look at the Yellowstone map you will note a "Figure 8" road pattern.
The ACA route goes straight from the South Entrance to the West Entrance.
You miss practically everything except Old Faithful - which is a zoo.
I suggest a larger circle on the lower loop.
That way you get to ride along Yellowstone Lake, the Yellowstone River,
Hayden Valley's buffalo herds, the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone,
plus you can backtrack a little up Firehole Valley to Old Faithful.

Avoid the huge campgrounds like Grand Village and Bridge Bay.
Lewis Lake is so-so and a mosquito haven every time I have been there.
Canyon is large, but the hiker/biker sites are private. And the hikes!!
Norris is simply lovely with the extra of evening hikes in the geyser basin.
Madison has little privacy, but is an ACA staple. The river is lovely.

Don't let the nuber of tourists discourage you.
There are ways to have the park almost to yourself.
Remember - 98% of the tourists rarely stray more than 100m from the parking lots.
Have fun planning.

J

Pic - Soda Butte Creek near the Northeast Entrance

Offline johnm

Re: Denver - Anarcortes - San Francisco
« Reply #5 on: August 26, 2020, 10:43:36 am »
Thanks jamawani, that's very helpful.

I found the 8, I think, or the southern half of it anyway and a reasonable route might thus be to enter from south and then do a counter clockwise loop which goes along the western bank of Yellowstone Lake before looping round to Norris? Then back south to Old Faithfull if feeling so inclined and out the west gate? I guess I'd stop somewhere for a few days and explore; it's a long way to come to just whizz through.

Thanks again.

Offline CMajernik

Re: Denver - Anarcortes - San Francisco
« Reply #6 on: August 26, 2020, 10:48:29 am »
Depending on the elevation of where you're coming from, you will need several days to acclimate to the altitude. Denver is one mile high. Altitude sickness is a very real thing, and as soon as you leave Denver you'll be in the mountains with higher passes to go over. Check online to find out more information.
Carla Majernik
Routes and Mapping Program Director

Adventure Cycling Association
Inspiring people of all ages to travel by bicycle.
800/755-2453, 406/721-1776 x218, 406/721-8754 fax
www.adventurecycling.org

Follow Routes & Mapping on Twitter: @acaroutes

Offline jamawani

Re: Denver - Anarcortes - San Francisco
« Reply #7 on: August 26, 2020, 01:23:44 pm »
Yes, John -

You have the general route.
Map - https://www.nps.gov/yell/planyourvisit/upload/YELL_Tear-Off_Map2016.pdf

The South Entrance Road up to West Thumb is steep with no shoulder and drop-offs.
Also, it can be very hot.

The best time to ride it is early evening when the traffic dies down and the pines provide shade.
(In July in Yellowstone, the sun does nt set until 9p and twilight lasts another 45 minutes.)
Even though Lewis Lake has mosquitos, I prefer it over the massive number of people at Grant Village.

A super early start the next morning allows you to explore the empty geyser walk at West Thumb.
Then it is still early for the road - with shoulders - along Yellowstone Lake to the Lake Hotel.
BTW - There is an almost totally empty old road to Gull Point where you can absorb the lake views.
The causeway on this old road is another peceful, empty spot.
After Bridge Bay - another massive campground with no privacy -
The is a unmarked bike trail that leads to the Lake Hotel and Lake Village.

The views here are spectacular - and the hotle is my favorite in the park.
I love having breakfast, lunch (usually) or dinner in the glorious dining room.
There's a little camp store as well for essential supplies.
The lakefront here is one of the most splendid vistas in the world.

Next up is the ride along the Yellowstone River and thru Hayden Valley.
I would wait until laer in the day, if possible, since traffic can be bad and the road is narrow.
I would use midday to explore the Fishing Bridge area - the museum and lakeside trails.
The Upper Yellowstone River is one of the Blue Ribbon rivers of the West.
Even if you don't fish - take time to turn off and enjoy.

Then comes Hayden Valley where you will sees herds of Buffalo - at a distance, please.
Cars have to use pull-outs, but you can find a hilltop away from the crowds.
If you are only staying one night at Canyon, then do take South Canyon Drive.
The view of the falls from Artist Point is busy, but worth it.
No one takes the trail that heads along the canyon's edge - but there are no rails, either.
(If you are staying two nights, I'd come back the next day.)

North Canyon Drive is another zoo and is an indictment of the park service and the American public.
It should be closed to all private motor vehicles and open only to shuttles, bicycles, and pedestrians.
But such is not the case. And you have to deall with the crowds to see the views.
Also, N. Canyon Dr. is the easiest way into Canyon Campground.

Canyon Campground is large, but most hiker/biker sites are off by themselves.
Be bear aware. Never eat in your tent, don't use a tent you've eaten in.
Store all your food propery and sleep in clothes that haven't been around food.
>>> You'll be fine - don't worry.
Canyon has all services and excellent ranger programs.
It's really worth two nights and magnificent hikes all day.

The Canyon-Norris Rd. is meh - just a connector with small shoulders.
A bit of a climb up and then a huge downhill - 45 mph - to Norris.
There are beautiful hiker/biker campsites at Norris.
Even if full, there should be a "No Turn Away" policy.
Norris Geyser Basin can also be very busy in the middle of the day.
There are so many trails and boardwalks that you have space even at noon.
But an early morning or evening hike is surreal.
(I much prefer Norris to Old Faithful.)

The Norris-Madison Rd has been recently rebuilt with small shoulders.
It's an easy ride along the Gibbon River past Gibbon Falls to Madison.
Madison Campground has a long tradition of ACA cyclists.
You are almost guaranteed to have cyclist company - maybe connect up for a few days?
Madison also makes a good base for a lightweight run to Old Faithful.
If you do - take the old road up the Firehole River - early if possible.
I would take Fountain Flat Drive and the trail up hill -
Make sure to climb the hill by Grabd Prismatic Spring to get the full colors.
There's a bike trail into Old Faithful - Warning! Insane crowds.
Then on the way back, take the quiet Firehold Lake Dr.

The West Entrance Road is scenic, with shoulders, and very busy.
(The is a short stretch of quiet, old road along the river.)
West Yellowstone is a zoo where you can buy little wooden bears made in China.

<<<>>>

This is all from memory.
I am fortunate enought to have ridden the park for 30+ years.
Including spring rides when the roads have just been plowed, but are closed to cars.
How lucky is that?



Offline johnm

Re: Denver - Anarcortes - San Francisco
« Reply #8 on: August 26, 2020, 04:52:53 pm »
Thank you very much for such a detailed post, as well as the map. That gives me plenty to be going on with and to think about.

Altitude sounds like it's something I need to think about also as I'm at sea level here in the UK. I guess at a minimum it would need several days in Denver at the start but I need to bone up. I've been reading the blog of a westbound eastern express rider who doesn't mention it, but I guess he acclimatised in the days preceding his arrival in Fort Collins.

John

Offline PNWRider92

Re: Denver - Anarcortes - San Francisco
« Reply #9 on: September 05, 2020, 02:06:32 pm »
Thank you very much for such a detailed post, as well as the map. That gives me plenty to be going on with and to think about.

Altitude sounds like it's something I need to think about also as I'm at sea level here in the UK. I guess at a minimum it would need several days in Denver at the start but I need to bone up. I've been reading the blog of a westbound eastern express rider who doesn't mention it, but I guess he acclimatised in the days preceding his arrival in Fort Collins.

John

Hey John, I live just a few miles from downtown Denver. If you need anything while you're in the area send me a PM and I'll do my best to help. If I'm around when you start your tour I'd consider joining you for a portion out of the Denver.
Instagram: tyjames0604

Wisconsin --> Washington ---> Colorado

Offline johnm

Re: Denver - Anarcortes - San Francisco
« Reply #10 on: September 06, 2020, 05:14:17 am »


Quote
Hey John, I live just a few miles from downtown Denver. If you need anything while you're in the area send me a PM and I'll do my best to help. If I'm around when you start your tour I'd consider joining you for a portion out of the Denver.



Thank you very much!