Author Topic: Colorado to SF via Yellowstone  (Read 10888 times)

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Offline raybo

Colorado to SF via Yellowstone
« on: February 13, 2004, 06:53:04 pm »
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).



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Offline gpedrok

Colorado to SF via Yellowstone
« Reply #1 on: February 17, 2004, 08:14:05 pm »
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
Following Western Wagon Trains,Pedro in Lake Tahoe

Offline redhead

Colorado to SF via Yellowstone
« Reply #2 on: February 18, 2004, 11:26:55 pm »
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!

Offline raybo

Colorado to SF via Yellowstone
« Reply #3 on: February 23, 2004, 09:00:40 pm »
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


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Offline wanderingwheel

Colorado to SF via Yellowstone
« Reply #4 on: February 24, 2004, 05:14:14 am »
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

Offline redhead

Colorado to SF via Yellowstone
« Reply #5 on: February 25, 2004, 03:08:17 am »
Hey, its Doug again, sterting out in July shouldn't present any problems, although it may be quite warm. The problems that I've encountered in southern and central Wyo. are mainly between Rawlins north and west to around Lander, and that area didn't have many facilities for food or lodging. That was a few years ago, and things may have improved, but... There seems to have been motels in MOST locations, although I, personally love to camp out!
Acclimising yourself to elevation is not a deal breaker, just take it easy for the first couple days, and take along (and drink) plenty of water ;) You can always dispel it when you need to!
The idea of Jackson is great, as long as you understand the "tourist-trap" mentality in Jackson. Its a nice town! I don't know if you even WANT to circumvent around Yellowstone. Its so georgeous, just alot of traffic. Try the ideas put forth in the above reply, just make sure you leave time to be a tourist. Oh, and also DO NOT miss spending awhile in Grand Teton NP, the views are killer

Offline judyrans

Colorado to SF via Yellowstone
« Reply #6 on: February 29, 2004, 07:23:09 am »
If you wanted to go more directly, you could take the new Western Express Route , which runs from Pueblo, CO to SF.

Yellowstone is a great place to visit, though. Last summer we rode through the park and had no problems with traffic. If the road is too narrow to share, just make sure you ride well out into the lane, say the right tire track. Make it obvious that the road is too narrow to share, and the drivers will change lanes to pass rather than squeeze you off the road.

We started from the West Entrance in the morning, turned south at Madison, made lots of stops in the geyser basins, and had lunch at the lodge by Old Faithful. After lunch we watched her blow, then returned to Madison. From there we turned East to Norris and Canyon Village. I seem to recall a fairly steep uphill just past Norris, then a nice downhill. (Be aware that the driver ahead of you might decide to suddenly slow down and park at the roadside.)

After a dayoff in Canyon Village, we headed SW to Fishing Bridge, and chugged over Sylvan Pass (8530 ft.) and on to the East Entrance. You can either rip down the pass (under control, please) or meander taking pictures. Your choice.

We saw lots of animals and birds. A small pair of binoculars is nice. Sometimes I rode in a group, and sometimes alone. The scary part wasn't the cars, it was getting by the bison on or near the road.

Be aware that it can get very cold at night, and that it can snow in July. The coldest two nights of our cross-country trip were in Yellowstone. Expect road construction.

Have a good trip.

Offline valygrl

Colorado to SF via Yellowstone
« Reply #7 on: April 13, 2004, 08:55:17 pm »
Hi, last summer I went from Winter Park, CO up through WY via the Tetons, then north to Yellowstone, then departed from your proposed route.  I started July 6th.  Weather was great, a bit hot (but it was an unusually hot summer).  Did Trail Ridge Road on day 2 of the tour, and yeah it was hard, but I you have to decide about altitude acclimatization based on your own experiences, that is so personal.  I had some trouble, my tour partner did not.

Look on your map for Poudre Canyon just north of Rocky Mountain National Park - it's an additional crossing of the divide, takes you from Ft. COllins to Walden.  The way we did it was a very long difficult day (50 mile climb, then 30 mile descent/flat with headwind) but it is unbelievably beautiful, and there are some places you could stop to break up the over long day.  It's worth the pain.  You end up in Walden.

There were some long distances in southern Wyoming between food/water sources, and you do need to ride HWY 80 for a bit near Rawlins, which sucks but isn't dangerous.  It's hot and dry between Rawlins and Lander, with few services.  

Oh and there is freakin' headwind every day - we were getting up before light to ride as much as we could before the 2 pm gales started.

We were camping, so can't answer your hotel question, but if you do it, make sure you stay at the cyclists hostel in Dubois (on the AC maps) it is stellar, and they had homemade ice cream!

No reason to go to Jackson if you don't want to, although it's pretty cute for a tourist trap.  Jenny Lake is gorgeous, and there's a hiker/biker site.

The traffic in Yellowstone does suck, but it's do-able.  

I don't know if we were on the transam, we were using AAA maps.

good luck, happy cycling!

Offline transam2002

Colorado to SF via Yellowstone
« Reply #8 on: May 09, 2004, 05:35:21 am »
I did a reverse of your proposed trip a few years ago and I think you're going to have a blast.  The services between Rawlins and Lander are sparse but there's a motel in Jeffrey City (80 miles or so from Rawlins) and a great cafe on your way to Lander called Grandma's.  We had a tailwind the whole way (going east) but it was super hot.  We also got up at the crack of dawn to avoid the heat and winds ( we didn't think we'd always have a tailwind).  We biked through Yellowstone on the 4th of July and the traffic was not as bad as we were expecting.  We had no problem getting a hiker-biker site at the campground even though they were totally full.  If you aren't bringing camping gear, you'll want a reservation at a lodge in the park.  Same with Jackson.  There's an awesome hiker-biker site on Jenny Lake.  Again, they won't turn you away.  The climb to Hoosier Pass right off the bat will be a doosey.  There's a hostel half way up it that you could stay at.  And Fairplay's a neat town too with plenty of motel options.

Hope that helps!  Have fun! :)