Author Topic: West from Minneapolis - Northern Tier or Parks, Peaks and Prairie?  (Read 573 times)

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Offline SwampYankee

Hi all,
in planning a cross country ride East to West for 2021 (let's hope) I am wondering if anyone has perspective on the Northern Tier versus the P,P,&P? I do want to end up in Missoula - so might pick up the Lewis and Clark at some point. I think I may be asking which do you think is the more interesting trail and which is apt to have more cyclists next year?

Thanks, SY
Travel well, kjr

Offline John Nettles

Re: West from Minneapolis - Northern Tier or Parks, Peaks and Prairie?
« Reply #1 on: December 05, 2020, 12:48:19 pm »
The PPP will have much more variety of scenery and POIs but does include some major climbs.  Definitely more scenic in my opinion. 

I would suggest the PPP then pick up the TA to Missoula.  However, when you go through Yellowstone, consider doing a dip down toward Jackson if you have the time, i.e. at Fishing Bridge, head to Jackson then double back to Fishing Bridge as the road between Fishing Bridge and Canyon Bridge has some great wildlife and scenery.

The NT is nice but not my favorite route.

I could see the PPP surpassing the NT in ridership in a couple of years once word gets out.

Tailwinds, John

Offline SwampYankee

Re: West from Minneapolis - Northern Tier or Parks, Peaks and Prairie?
« Reply #2 on: December 05, 2020, 12:56:42 pm »
John, I was hoping to hear from you. Very helpful and my first choice but was looking for someone with experience. I've been to Jackson many times over the years climbing and fishing, was more thinking of cutting through Yellowstone since I've spent very little time there. Thanks again, SY
Travel well, kjr

Offline John Nettles

Re: West from Minneapolis - Northern Tier or Parks, Peaks and Prairie?
« Reply #3 on: December 05, 2020, 03:12:22 pm »
Since you have already been to Yellowstone/Tetons several times, then by all means bypass the detour.  The PPP is a great route, especially west of Rapid City.  Be sure to plan some extra time to hang out in the Custer State Park area of South Dakota, another gorgeous area that is relatively unknown.

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: West from Minneapolis - Northern Tier or Parks, Peaks and Prairie?
« Reply #4 on: December 07, 2020, 09:30:40 am »
I'd consider adding two days in Yellowstone, from what I think the PPP route takes.  First, take a side trip up to Canyon through the Hayden Valley; you'll get a chance to see some wildlife (buffalo!), and the falls should not be missed.  Backtrack to Fishing Bridge, up the mountain to Norris Geyser on the route, and when you get to Madison do a side trip to Old Faithful.  Take some time en route to see some of the thermal sites and back roads you can do on a bike.  Slowly eat an ice cream cone after Old Faithful erupts to let the cars leave.  ;)

Offline SwampYankee

Re: West from Minneapolis - Northern Tier or Parks, Peaks and Prairie?
« Reply #5 on: December 07, 2020, 10:24:38 am »
Thanks, actually, going to stay in that area 3-5 days. Have not been to YNP much at all and want to do some exploring and fly fishing. Also, going East To West, if I jump to the Lewis & Clark route from Missoula, how big an issue should I expect winds to be in the Columbia River Gorge? A lot I suspect?
Travel well, kjr

Offline John Nettles

Re: West from Minneapolis - Northern Tier or Parks, Peaks and Prairie?
« Reply #6 on: December 07, 2020, 10:43:59 am »
...how big an issue should I expect winds to be in the Columbia River Gorge? A lot I suspect?
While I have not ridden it, yet, the Gorge supposedly has winds from the west during the summer time according to WeatherSpark.com which is a database of climate data.  Great site; check it out.

Plus you would have generalized headwinds  (NNW to SSW) from Missoula to the Ocean at least.  Of course, this is historic 30-year averages so there is a definite possibility that the day you are in the Gorge, you have a tailwind. 

That said, I could swear I have read somewhere that the winds in the Gorge are from the east either in the late spring or early fall but can't find the info to back that up now. Maybe call someone local like a local firehouse and see what they have to say.

Offline jamawani

Re: West from Minneapolis - Northern Tier or Parks, Peaks and Prairie?
« Reply #7 on: December 07, 2020, 12:33:42 pm »
I have ridden the Columbia Gorge - many times.
There are strong prevailing winds from the west.
So much so that you can be down to the granny gear on the flats.
In late summer - because of heating in the interior - there can be easterly winds.
But not always - Aug & Sept are a crap shoot - but still more likely for weterlies.

The L&C has a good deal of traffic on narrow Hwy 14 on the Washington side.
The Historic Columbia Highway Trail is super, but the road segments near Multnomah can be busy.
Bikes are prohibited from the bridge at Hood River. The Bridge of the Gods is narrow and scary.

If you don't want to do the TA in eastern Oregon, I would suggest US 12 from Yakima over the Cascades.
(Or, even better, Hwy 410 which has a stunning view of Mount Rainier at Chinook Pass.)
You miss the Portland metro and can continue down to Longview and out to Astoria.
Or you can take the Willapa Trail west of Chehalis to Pe Ell and then out to Raymond & Astoria.
(The latter requires a 4-mile bridge crossing at Astoria.)

Offline SwampYankee

Re: West from Minneapolis - Northern Tier or Parks, Peaks and Prairie?
« Reply #8 on: December 07, 2020, 05:26:44 pm »
jamawani, thanks for that. I am very open going West from Missoula and leaning towards the TA but have been exploring various options. I was looking at taking the  Coeur d'Alene and dropping down to the L&C and out to the coast. But, headwinds in granny gear wouldn't do it for me, so, this was really helpful.
Travel well, kjr

Offline jamawani

Re: West from Minneapolis - Northern Tier or Parks, Peaks and Prairie?
« Reply #9 on: December 08, 2020, 10:01:04 am »
What time of year are you planning to be in the Pacific Northwest?
You can connect to the Northern Tier and end up in lovely Anacortes and the San Juan Islands.
In July/August, it's the best way to beat the heat and a stunning ride.

Offline jamawani

Re: West from Minneapolis - Northern Tier or Parks, Peaks and Prairie?
« Reply #10 on: December 08, 2020, 10:19:00 am »
SY -

I have a great deal of experience riding in South Dakota and Wyoming.
I first biked across South Dakota in 1989 and have lived in Wyoming since 1990.inest riding

I've cycled across the Great Plains many times - from Canada down to south Texas.
Without a doubt, the Nebraska Sandhills offer the best route and riding experience.
Because they have poor soils, they were never plowed and retain natural grasslands.
The roads tend to curve and sway around and over the hills -
rather than go due east-west for 300 miles through cornfield after cornfield.

The Black Hills are a nice interlude, but have heavy tourist and second home development.
The Mickelson Trail - although unpaved - is a quiet interlude. Rochford is a hoot.
Northern Wyoming offers Devils Tower, the Bighorns, and Yellowstone - some big climbs.
But you should have experienced legs by then.

Have you been to Glacier National Park - ridden Going to the Sun??
It would mean missing Missoula or taking a big loop back down.
US 89 - and back roads - makes a fine run up from Yellowstone.
Then you can connect with the Northern Tier or zig down to Missoula.

Just some ideas. - - Jama

PS -
Be aware in your planning that there is much resistance to the Covid vaccine in the region.
If you have a completed vaccine sequence, you should be O.K.
But I fear that Covid will persist here for some time into 2021.



Pic - Going to the Sun Road

Offline SwampYankee

Re: West from Minneapolis - Northern Tier or Parks, Peaks and Prairie?
« Reply #11 on: December 08, 2020, 12:44:14 pm »
jamawani, there are lots of choices. The sandhills are beautiful we took a trip (VW camper) through there in the summer of 2019. Plans are to leave Buffalo NY in Mid-May (we cycled Boston to Buffalo this August and September) and then pick up the PPP from MSP. My wife doesn't relish the idea of the TA as we've been through lower WY and the Great Divide Basin numerous times. So going through, Badlands, black hills, Devils Tower, Ten sleep, Gillette and the East Entrance to YNP is all new for us from MSP west so it's the front runner for now. Covid is the wild card - I see we are the same age, so hoping I get the vaccine before leaving, or have even considered flying home from MSP if available to get the shots.

Thanks again and keep the info coming, I truly appreciate it, SY
« Last Edit: December 08, 2020, 12:52:10 pm by SwampYankee »
Travel well, kjr