Author Topic: Parks, Peaks and Prairies  (Read 1142 times)

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Offline CWBurcar

Parks, Peaks and Prairies
« on: January 15, 2022, 07:04:05 pm »
I was gifted a set of Parks, Peaks and Prairies ACA maps for Christmas map 1-3. I was looking at them as well as the online interactive map and jotting notes down on where one could possibly stop for the evening. I noticed a few sections have large gaps where there's no camping spots or hotels. If anyone has done this route before and would like to share stopping spots, sights of interest not marked, or any tips I would greatly appreciate it. Would also love to see any pictures anyone has from this route if you are open to share them.

I do understand everyone treks different amounts of miles daily, which might place them in different areas or parts of the map. I'm mainly interested in peoples personal experience even if it might defer from mine.

Thanks, Christopher

Offline jamawani

Re: Parks, Peaks and Prairies
« Reply #1 on: January 15, 2022, 07:32:26 pm »
I assisted in developing this route.
Where are you talking about in particular?
What's your experience level and average mileage?
40 mile days? 60 mile days? 80 mile days?
Do you prefer motels with the occasional campground?
Or camping with the occasional motel?
Are you willing to rough camp?
That would help me help you more.

Offline John Nettles

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Re: Parks, Peaks and Prairies
« Reply #2 on: January 15, 2022, 07:58:50 pm »
Christopher,
I have ridden parts of the route (Yellowstone to Rapid City and parts of Minnesota).  When I rode thru the thriving metropolis of Leiter, WY, this summer, I stopped and had lunch at the bar.  They also have a free primative campground (donations are encouraged) but will let you shower if one of the cabins are available.  Check the ACA updates page for contact info/hours. This is a more reliable place than Spotted Horse. 

I also stopped at the The Spotted Horse.  While the owner was super great for me, she may not allow cyclists to camp there much longer.  She has gotten a bit fed up with cyclists who complain about having to pay for bottled water (the locals do not even drink the tap water as it will make you have an upset stomach due to the strong sulpher(?) smell/taste).  So if you stop at Spotted Horse, be polite, be willing to pay for the water, and if you are allowed to camp there, offer a donation. The food was pretty good at the bar/restaurant.

Beyond Rapid City, I did my own route which mostly paralleled I-90 along local or state roads with an occasional bit on the interstate (legal and it was fine).  As a result, I missed the other barren stretch between Rapid City to Interior.  However, I did drive this section in 2020 and it did lack many services at all.  Carry plenty of water and at least one day's supply of food.  When I stopped at "The Country Store" east of Caputa, SD, the owner was not there but the cashier said that "sometimes" cyclists can stay there, depending on the mood of the owner. 

It is due to this barren stretch and the others east of hear that I went from Rapid City to Wall before dipping down into the Badlands NP/Interior then back up to local/state roads that paralleled I90 all the way to LaCrosse, WI.  The services on my route were adequate overall with no really special planning and the traffic was very reasonable east of Box Elder, SD all the way to LaCrosse except a few portions near larger towns.

While I know this didn't answer all your questions, I hope it helped some.

Tailwinds, John

Offline CWBurcar

Re: Parks, Peaks and Prairies
« Reply #3 on: January 16, 2022, 01:18:01 pm »
I assisted in developing this route.
Where are you talking about in particular?
What's your experience level and average mileage?
40 mile days? 60 mile days? 80 mile days?
Do you prefer motels with the occasional campground?
Or camping with the occasional motel?
Are you willing to rough camp?
That would help me help you more.

The parts i'm talking about are:
Deer creek, WY in Buffalo, WY to possibly spotted horse(no camping or hotels on map)
In Basin WY is the closest place greybull?
Rapid City SD to Wall SD
Midland SD to Kennebec SD I didn't see anywhere with the exception of 1880 town
Huron SD to Redwood Falls MN (although I did find a camp in Hendricks today)

I'm on the newer side only doing smaller tours
I like to average around 60 miles per day but it 100% depends on elevation, wind, how I feel etc
I prefer to camp often and stay in a hotel/motel once per week for my rest day
I am open to stealth camping but wouldn't turn down a campground with a shower haha


I apologize if I missed places or if I came off rude, I'm a planner an enjoy setting stopping spots in advance even though I fully understand sometimes its out of my hands.

Thank you in advance,

Christopher

Offline CWBurcar

Re: Parks, Peaks and Prairies
« Reply #4 on: January 16, 2022, 01:26:29 pm »
Christopher,
I have ridden parts of the route (Yellowstone to Rapid City and parts of Minnesota).  When I rode thru the thriving metropolis of Leiter, WY, this summer, I stopped and had lunch at the bar.  They also have a free primative campground (donations are encouraged) but will let you shower if one of the cabins are available.  Check the ACA updates page for contact info/hours. This is a more reliable place than Spotted Horse. 

I also stopped at the The Spotted Horse.  While the owner was super great for me, she may not allow cyclists to camp there much longer.  She has gotten a bit fed up with cyclists who complain about having to pay for bottled water (the locals do not even drink the tap water as it will make you have an upset stomach due to the strong sulpher(?) smell/taste).  So if you stop at Spotted Horse, be polite, be willing to pay for the water, and if you are allowed to camp there, offer a donation. The food was pretty good at the bar/restaurant.

Beyond Rapid City, I did my own route which mostly paralleled I-90 along local or state roads with an occasional bit on the interstate (legal and it was fine).  As a result, I missed the other barren stretch between Rapid City to Interior.  However, I did drive this section in 2020 and it did lack many services at all.  Carry plenty of water and at least one day's supply of food.  When I stopped at "The Country Store" east of Caputa, SD, the owner was not there but the cashier said that "sometimes" cyclists can stay there, depending on the mood of the owner. 

It is due to this barren stretch and the others east of hear that I went from Rapid City to Wall before dipping down into the Badlands NP/Interior then back up to local/state roads that paralleled I90 all the way to LaCrosse, WI.  The services on my route were adequate overall with no really special planning and the traffic was very reasonable east of Box Elder, SD all the way to LaCrosse except a few portions near larger towns.

While I know this didn't answer all your questions, I hope it helped some.

Tailwinds, John

Thanks John,

I have heard of people staying at Spotted Horse before but being it's not on the interactive Map or paper maps I didn't want to bank on it and was looking at alternatives. I live in the rural area, and we have wells, I completely understand not wanting to drink the water from the tap and only using bottled. I have no Issue paying for water as long as it's not insanely expensive. I just don't want to find myself stuck somewhere between towns trying to race the sun.

I work in EMS and have also thought about calling ahead an seeing if the local Fire/Ambulance stations wouldn't mind if I set up a tent behind the station. Again, not something i'm banking on but I enjoy planning ahead. I understand bike issues, weather, health etc play a part in tours as well. Thanks again for all your input and advice. I appreciate it.

Christopher

Offline John Nettles

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Re: Parks, Peaks and Prairies
« Reply #5 on: January 16, 2022, 03:18:04 pm »
The parts i'm talking about are:
Deer creek, WY in Buffalo, WY to possibly spotted horse(no camping or hotels on map)
In Basin WY is the closest place greybull?
I rode the PPP eastbound before it was officially the PPP.  I stayed in Greybull.  I recommend.  I don't know why they didn't go there as the roads are not bad to Greybull and the local road Orchard Bench Rd. is paved so it was fine also.  Greybull to Ten Sleep.

As I mentioned above, I would ride from Buffalo (home to Jamawani) to Leiter then to Gillette.  Yes, there are a couple of EMS related places between Buffalo and Gillette.  I have had luck with them and you being in "the family" I would think you would have better luck.  Perhaps, bring proof of some type to show you are in EMS, i.e. a business card, letter from a supervisor on laminated letterhead, etc. The town of Arvada might be a place to stay as it has a fire department I think.

After Gillette, I stayed at Keyhole SP on east side of Keyhole Reservoir.  I rode the fairly scenic but somewhat wash boardy CR-180/187 north back to US-14.  Basically, do not be worried about going "off route" in this part of the country as the  roads are mostly low-traffic.  Just be sure to confirm if your intended resupply place (grocery, cafe, motel, etc.) is open as it is not uncommon for places to permanently close and then a new place opens elsewhere but is not on the maps yet.  If truly remote, I call the day before and/or the morning of to re-confirm.  Libraries, Police Stations, and Post Offices are pretty good sources of information if "un-listed" places exist.

I hope you have a wonderful trip!

Offline jamawani

Re: Parks, Peaks and Prairies
« Reply #6 on: January 16, 2022, 03:18:17 pm »
Christopher -

Not rude at all - it just helps to know where you are at.
I live in Buffalo and have ridden every inch of a rather large and remote state.

I'm guessing you're planning west-to-east from the way you list things.

The Bighorns are nothing to sneeze at.
Because of ridges on the east side it's not 5000 ft. of elevation gain, but 7500.
Some people ride from Ten Sleep to Buffalo (68 mi.) in one killer day.
Two reasons not to 1) It's brutal. 2) Camping up top is glorious.

<<<>>>

Yellowstone N.P. -
Canyon has the most stupendous hiker/biker sites - plus shower & laundry nearby.
And you have the visitors center, store, cafe.
Not to mention fabulous hiking in the area.

Madison - meh
Norris - pleasant, Norris Geyser Basin is sweet at dawn or dusk.
Bridge Bay - like a Walmart parking lot
Fishing Bridge - only RVs; closed for rebuilding in 2022 (?)

There is no tent camping betweem Bridge Bay in YNP and Rex Hale - 50 mi.
Grizzly regulations and thoughtless tourists is why.
National Forest campgrounds do not have hiker/biker camping.
You should try to plan your date and make reservations at either Rex Hale -
Or Clearwater which is a tent only campground - smaller, less used.
(But in mid-summer everything fills up.)
The Wapiti Valley east of the park is incredible cycling.

https://ridewithgps.com/routes/32686548

Cody is a mega-toutist town, but has quite a lot.
The Buffalo Bill Museum is world class - pricey, but worth a few hours.
History and art of the American West, the best Native American collections in the U.S.
Downtown is quaint - the Irma Hotel & Saloon is a must.
Private campgrounds and motels busy & expensive.

The stretch from Cody to Basin is remote and pretty darn empty.
There's the little Mormon community of Burlington.
General store, pizza place open to 9 in the summer.
In the past they have let cyclists camping the town park.
(Ask about when and where the sprinklers go off - it's what keeps the grass green.
Most newbies from back east get slammed by sprinklers at 3 in the morning.)
Otherwise there is BLM land out by the cemetery.

https://ridewithgps.com/routes/32686561

*Basin has a funky motel and a funkier RV park.
But it does have a fairly nice grocery store where you can stock up.

You can either do a long day to Ten Sleep or shorter to Medicine Lodge.
Medicine Lodge is not on the listed PPP route but is well worth it.
Native American petroglyphs on the cliff walls.
Beautiful red rocks and lush cottonwood-shaded creek coming out of the canyon.
Unbelievably peaceful after the crowds of Yellowstone.
Follow Hwy 31 almost to Hyattville, then paved county road to park.
(Hyattville has a bar/cafe)

Otherwise it is a long upgrade to Ten Sleep.
But Nowood Road is very quiet and scenic.
Ten Sleep has camping, motels, groceries & cafes.

https://ridewithgps.com/routes/32686579

Ideally, I would camp at the base of the  Bighorns at Leigh Creek before heding up.
You can ride the unpaved old road which has almost no traffic and more shade.
It's a little more work but quieter and with more expansive views.
US 16 isn't bad, either, with moderate shoulders.
(Although guardrails do make it harder riding a bike with panniers.)

Many places to camp -
Sitting Bull Campground - little store at the Meadowlark - great hiking into East Tensleep Lake
South Fork Campground has walk-in tenting on the creek and a lodge/cafe across the highway.
A ride/hike into Circle Park offers stunning views.

Late June is THE best time for wildflowers.
Because of the checkerboard pattern of meadows and forest,
one could argue that the Bighorns have the most magnificent wildflowers in the world.

Buffalo has all services including a bike shop at the Sports Lure.

https://ridewithgps.com/routes/32686608




« Last Edit: January 16, 2022, 03:20:59 pm by jamawani »

Offline CWBurcar

Re: Parks, Peaks and Prairies
« Reply #7 on: January 17, 2022, 01:19:31 pm »
Christopher -

Not rude at all - it just helps to know where you are at.
I live in Buffalo and have ridden every inch of a rather large and remote state.

I'm guessing you're planning west-to-east from the way you list things.

The Bighorns are nothing to sneeze at.
Because of ridges on the east side it's not 5000 ft. of elevation gain, but 7500.
Some people ride from Ten Sleep to Buffalo (68 mi.) in one killer day.
Two reasons not to 1) It's brutal. 2) Camping up top is glorious.

<<<>>>

Yellowstone N.P. -
Canyon has the most stupendous hiker/biker sites - plus shower & laundry nearby.
And you have the visitors center, store, cafe.
Not to mention fabulous hiking in the area.

Madison - meh
Norris - pleasant, Norris Geyser Basin is sweet at dawn or dusk.
Bridge Bay - like a Walmart parking lot
Fishing Bridge - only RVs; closed for rebuilding in 2022 (?)

There is no tent camping betweem Bridge Bay in YNP and Rex Hale - 50 mi.
Grizzly regulations and thoughtless tourists is why.
National Forest campgrounds do not have hiker/biker camping.
You should try to plan your date and make reservations at either Rex Hale -
Or Clearwater which is a tent only campground - smaller, less used.
(But in mid-summer everything fills up.)
The Wapiti Valley east of the park is incredible cycling.

https://ridewithgps.com/routes/32686548

Cody is a mega-toutist town, but has quite a lot.
The Buffalo Bill Museum is world class - pricey, but worth a few hours.
History and art of the American West, the best Native American collections in the U.S.
Downtown is quaint - the Irma Hotel & Saloon is a must.
Private campgrounds and motels busy & expensive.

The stretch from Cody to Basin is remote and pretty darn empty.
There's the little Mormon community of Burlington.
General store, pizza place open to 9 in the summer.
In the past they have let cyclists camping the town park.
(Ask about when and where the sprinklers go off - it's what keeps the grass green.
Most newbies from back east get slammed by sprinklers at 3 in the morning.)
Otherwise there is BLM land out by the cemetery.

https://ridewithgps.com/routes/32686561

*Basin has a funky motel and a funkier RV park.
But it does have a fairly nice grocery store where you can stock up.

You can either do a long day to Ten Sleep or shorter to Medicine Lodge.
Medicine Lodge is not on the listed PPP route but is well worth it.
Native American petroglyphs on the cliff walls.
Beautiful red rocks and lush cottonwood-shaded creek coming out of the canyon.
Unbelievably peaceful after the crowds of Yellowstone.
Follow Hwy 31 almost to Hyattville, then paved county road to park.
(Hyattville has a bar/cafe)

Otherwise it is a long upgrade to Ten Sleep.
But Nowood Road is very quiet and scenic.
Ten Sleep has camping, motels, groceries & cafes.

https://ridewithgps.com/routes/32686579

Ideally, I would camp at the base of the  Bighorns at Leigh Creek before heding up.
You can ride the unpaved old road which has almost no traffic and more shade.
It's a little more work but quieter and with more expansive views.
US 16 isn't bad, either, with moderate shoulders.
(Although guardrails do make it harder riding a bike with panniers.)

Many places to camp -
Sitting Bull Campground - little store at the Meadowlark - great hiking into East Tensleep Lake
South Fork Campground has walk-in tenting on the creek and a lodge/cafe across the highway.
A ride/hike into Circle Park offers stunning views.

Late June is THE best time for wildflowers.
Because of the checkerboard pattern of meadows and forest,
one could argue that the Bighorns have the most magnificent wildflowers in the world.

Buffalo has all services including a bike shop at the Sports Lure.

https://ridewithgps.com/routes/32686608

Jamawani,

Wow, thank you so much for the very detailed and through reply. So many different things to consider, I appreciate it. I do plan going from west to east, mainly for the wind factor plus figured pedaling towards home might give me some extra motivation rather than away. Do you know off hand if Covid has shut down any part of this route? I vaguely remember seeing camps closed when the pandemic first started but wasn’t sure if everything was back open to normal or not. Thank you again for taking the time an writing such a well response.

Cheers, Christopher

Offline CWBurcar

Re: Parks, Peaks and Prairies
« Reply #8 on: January 17, 2022, 01:26:38 pm »
The parts i'm talking about are:
Deer creek, WY in Buffalo, WY to possibly spotted horse(no camping or hotels on map)
In Basin WY is the closest place greybull?
I rode the PPP eastbound before it was officially the PPP.  I stayed in Greybull.  I recommend.  I don't know why they didn't go there as the roads are not bad to Greybull and the local road Orchard Bench Rd. is paved so it was fine also.  Greybull to Ten Sleep.

As I mentioned above, I would ride from Buffalo (home to Jamawani) to Leiter then to Gillette.  Yes, there are a couple of EMS related places between Buffalo and Gillette.  I have had luck with them and you being in "the family" I would think you would have better luck.  Perhaps, bring proof of some type to show you are in EMS, i.e. a business card, letter from a supervisor on laminated letterhead, etc. The town of Arvada might be a place to stay as it has a fire department I think.

After Gillette, I stayed at Keyhole SP on east side of Keyhole Reservoir.  I rode the fairly scenic but somewhat wash boardy CR-180/187 north back to US-14.  Basically, do not be worried about going "off route" in this part of the country as the  roads are mostly low-traffic.  Just be sure to confirm if your intended resupply place (grocery, cafe, motel, etc.) is open as it is not uncommon for places to permanently close and then a new place opens elsewhere but is not on the maps yet.  If truly remote, I call the day before and/or the morning of to re-confirm.  Libraries, Police Stations, and Post Offices are pretty good sources of information if "un-listed" places exist.

I hope you have a wonderful trip!

John,

Thanks again for the information, I wish there was a way the interactive map could show city parks or other places that do welcome cyclists. Although I do understand it only takes one bad egg to ruin a spot for everyone following. I know all to well about mom and pop shops closing, this pandemic really did a toll on family run shops. What would you say is the most must see attraction that you remember along this route? Although my ride time is limited due to work I would like to spend a few afternoons sight seeing and making memories. Thanks again I appreciate the input.

Cheers, Christopher 

Offline John Nettles

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  • I ride for smiles, not miles.
Re: Parks, Peaks and Prairies
« Reply #9 on: January 17, 2022, 03:27:27 pm »
What would you say is the most must see attraction that you remember along this route?
I am most into scenery.  I enjoyed Yellowstone, climbing (very slowly) the main road of the Big Horns, and the Badlands.  Something cool if you prepare is the free camping (no services at all) on BLM land overlooking the Badlands (just north and east of the north entrance to the Badlands National Park).  Of course, other parts are nice too but those are especially nice to me.

Tailwinds, John

Offline eorogers

Re: Parks, Peaks and Prairies
« Reply #10 on: January 17, 2022, 04:38:35 pm »
Consider a GAIAGPS subscription.  They have a public lands layer showing BLM and forest land for dispersed camping.

I rode 14A across the Bighorns from Sheridan to Lovell - glad I was not going the other way :-)

Offline jamawani

Re: Parks, Peaks and Prairies
« Reply #11 on: January 17, 2022, 05:05:53 pm »
I rode 14A across the Bighorns from Sheridan to Lovell - glad I was not going the other way :-)

I've ridden US 14A from Lovell to Sheridan.

BTW - The BLM offers this pubic lands overlayer for free.
https://blm-egis.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=6f0da4c7931440a8a80bfe20eddd7550

Offline jamawani

Re: Parks, Peaks and Prairies
« Reply #12 on: January 17, 2022, 08:05:59 pm »
Christopher -

East of Buffalo, it's a different story.
I am guessing that you plan to visit Bear Lodge Butte (which was & will be the name of Devils Tower).
From there you can work backwards towards Buffalo to plan overnights and services.
It's just shy of 60 miles from Gillette to Bear Lodge, with Moorcroft a nice lunch stop.

So the question becomes, how ya gonna get from Buffalo to GIllette?
Some people ride I-90 because it is much shorter - yuck, bleah, gag.
US 14/16 is 98 very quiet miles with a shoulder much of the way.
Some of the finest High Plains riding there is anywhere.
Which is - for most people - a day and a half of riding.

Options:
A) Spotted Horse; Moorcroft; Bear Lodge.
B) Spotted Horse; Gillette; Bear Lodge.
C) Arvada; Gillette; Bear Lodge
D) Clearmont; Gillette; Bear Lodge

Quite a few people have had negative experiences at Spotted Horse.
They love bikes - i.e. Harleys - but are less keen on pinko-commie cyclists.
They do charge for everything - including water - tap water really isn't drinkable.

There's a funky bar a coupe of miles off route at Arvada.
And you can probably camp by the Powder River.
But Clearmont has been good about letting people camp in the town park.
Clearmont also has a little store with microwave pizza.
(If there's a church pot luck, you can eat until you explode.)

My choice would be Clearmont - leaving early the next morning.

>> Regarding Leiter -
Over the past 15 years or so, Leiter has been closed more than it has been open.
If you planned on staying there and they were closed, you could always go on to Arvada.
But, given how empty this stretch is, I wouldn't count on Leiter.
The most recent owners seem to be doing better, but Covid may have changed that.

The ride from Buffalo to Leiter is along Clear Creek with jagged hills and lush ranchlands.
Ucross is an artists colony - with shows at the Big Red Barn - plus water & restrooms.
Most people don't turn off to Arvada - which is straight out of 1898 -
So, the only place until Gillette Airport is Spotted Horse.
And, really, you should stop for a beverage - at least.
You may get the standard, "You need a motor on that bike" comment, but hey.

https://ridewithgps.com/routes/32686958
(Back a few years ago, I rough camped.)

From Spotted Horse to GIllette is damn empty. The shoulder disappears at times.
The traffic picks up as you get closer to GIllette, but it's never much until you hit the 4-lane section.
The Rawhide surface coal mine is now shut down, so you won't see the giant trucks - 25 ft. high.
There's a small campground in town - Green Trees Crazy Woman - that has tenting - the other is RV.
Also, plenty of motels of in all ranges. Most stores are well down Hwy 59 / Douglas Hwy.

Hwy 51 east of Gillette is the old road. Moderate traffic that gets lighter.
The Wyodak surface coal mine is the oldest in the U.S. and still operational.
Moorcroft has motels, private camping, cafes, stock up on groceries.

US 14 towards Bear Lodge is surprisingly hilly. The old store/cafe at Carlile is long closed.
You turn off onto Hwy 24 which takes you to the SD border. Light traffic after the park.
I would get advanced reservations to camp at Bear Lodge N.M.
It's a lovely campground right on a bend in the Belle Fourche River.
The tourist traps on the road leading in charge an arm and a leg. ($55)

https://ridewithgps.com/routes/32686989

Hulett, just north, has motels, camping, and cafes.
There's a small, no water NFS campground at the crest of the climb.
Aladdin has a historic and pricey general store/motel.

Pic - Clear Creek near Clearmont