Bicycle Travel > Routes

Colorado to SF via Yellowstone

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I will be in Denver over July 4th and am thinking about riding back to San Francisco instead of flying back.  I see that the Trans-am trail runs just west of Denver, goes north through Yellowstone (I've never been), then west to Oregon (I'd continue down to SF).

Since I haven't decided to do this, I'd like any information, ideas, experiences, etc, that anyone might have about this trip at this time of the year (Early July).



Awesome ride give yourself plenty of time you don't want to rush this one, I haven't checked the maps for your exact route but I remember the last time I did it in '85 and its a ride to do over in fact I was planning the reverse later this fall. Beware of the large motor homes in the Park the roads are narrow try to ride when everyone else stops for meals its amazing how the traffic and crowds thin at different times of the day. You're gonna love this ride. :)

Following Western Wagon Trains,Pedro in Lake Tahoe

This is a wonderful ride, but not necessarly for the weak of spirit. There are several tough parts, south/central WY and in Yellowstone park in particular, but the scenery which you'll encounter makes this trip one of my favs! I've done it four times, twice W to E and twice E to W, the major advantage of W to E is that you encounter some hills (or mountians) right west of Denver, so, unless your acclimated to the climate and physical endurance needed to last, it can be intimidating. The two times I did it E to W, I was leading Trans-Am tours, and the others had had awhile to get used to riding. I'm a native of CO and just LOVE to ride in the mountians, so that helps. If you want to do it, GO FOR IT, but be ready :p Most of the route is fairly rider-friendly, just be careful in Yellowstone, as the roads are not wide and the traffic is horrendous. OR and the coast are just georgeous. Have fun, and let me know what you think of it. I have set up to get replies, so let me know if there are specific questions that I can help you with!

I have some concerns about this ride (Denver to SF).  


What do you think of doing this ride E to W starting in early July?

It seems a bad idea to fly to Denver one day and hop on the bike the next day without acclimation.  How long should I consider for acclimation?

Is it possible to sleep at motels on the Trans-Am through the rockies or do I need to bring all the camping equipment?

What's the difficulty in South and Central Wyoming?

As for Yellowstone, I read that it might be better to ride to Jackson, rent a room for several days, and then rent a car to see Yellowstone.  Then, on the way out, to bypass it on the bike.  Is this a reasonable way to avoid the traffic in Yellowstone?

I'm sure I'll have more later.

Thanks, in advance


I won't call these answers, merely my opinions.

Early July sounds like a great time to start your ride.  If you take the Trans-Am, you'll probably find yourself in the middle or just in front of the "pack" of riders who started on the East Coast in the beginning of the summer.  Weather should be good.

If you have been at altitude before and not noticed any problems before, I wouldn't worry about it.  Denver isn't very high either; most altitude problems don't start until at least 8,000 ft. and under strenuous activity.  If you want, spend a day or two in Denver sightseeing and then take it easy the first few days on the bike.

Last I heard, the longest stretch between motels or hostels was about 80 miles.  I'm sure someone will have better information.  I did meet a man who carried a pillow rather than a sleeping bag and got caught one night in a town in Colorado without lodging because the hostel had recently closed.  He went into a local bar, offered to pay for a room for the night, and one of the patrons put him up.

The riding in Wyoming is great.  Don't let the big elevations on the map scare, the grades are reasonable and it quickly settles into a nice rhythm of one or two passes a day.

One trick to riding through Yellowstone is to enter the park in the evening and leave in the morning.  In this way, you'll be going against the main flow of RV's and tourists.  I do recommend taking a bus tour or renting a car if you want to do much sightseeing in Yosemite.

Hope this helps


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