Author Topic: Yellowstone to Badlands  (Read 18514 times)

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Offline schultzbike

Yellowstone to Badlands
« on: February 10, 2008, 03:34:49 pm »
I'd love to hear from anyone who has connected these two national parks.  My wife and I are cycling them fully-loaded and camping, and will likely be doing it in July as part of our XC tour.  Specifically, I'm interested in going over Beartooth Pass into Red Lodge, MT, and then the best route back through WY to Badlands.    The other option we're considering is to exit the eastern part of Yellowstone on Hwy 14 to Cody and go over the Bighorn Mtns.  Big climbs either way, but we're in no rush.  Any info is greatly appreciated.

Offline denbec

Yellowstone to Badlands
« Reply #1 on: November 14, 2008, 04:46:53 pm »
Hello fellow bikers!  I was wondering if you did this ride during the summer and if so how did it go?  I am planning a cross country solo tour from Florida to Washington State in the spring.  I have family in South Dakota and Wyoming and am contemplating veering off the ACA routes from Pierre SD to Yellowstone.  I hear Yellowstone has a lot of traffic so I would appreciate any advice.


Offline schultzbike

Yellowstone to Badlands
« Reply #2 on: November 14, 2008, 11:36:40 pm »
Hello denbec, yes, we did do this trip and found a great route.  The short and easy advice would be to check our blog:  We wrote about our route and the experiences.  We biked around Yellowstone for 8 days, starting on July 5.  There was plenty of traffic, but we found most people to be courteous and reasonable.  It's best to ride very early in the morning to beat the rush and see wildlife.  On our website, you can click on the Route tab to see where we went.  If you have more questions, just email me at:  Good luck!

Offline denbec

Yellowstone to Badlands
« Reply #3 on: November 15, 2008, 12:04:12 am »
Perfect!  I love reading about others bike adventures.  I'll check it out and get back at you if I have any questions / comments.

Thanks and have a great weekend!

Offline litespeed

Yellowstone to Badlands
« Reply #4 on: November 18, 2008, 05:48:48 pm »
I rode the Badlands to Yellowstone on my circumnavigation of the contiguous US in 2004. I rode Interior-Rapid City-Hill City-Custer-Newcastle-Gillete-Spotted Horse-Sheridan-Dayton-Lovell-Cody-Yellowstone.

Yellowstone can be mighty crowded in summer but the "Full" campgrounds usually have a spot for a touring cyclist. Going to Red Lodge you will have an epic descent off Beartooth Pass (So I hear). US14 to Cody is a long, narrow heavily trafficked descent.

Leaving Lovell on 14A you have 30 miles of bleak desert before what is arguably the toughest climb on a paved road in the country - 13 winding miles at 10 degrees up into the Bighorns. US16 from Worland to Buffalo HAS to be easier.

If you do Sheridan to Gillete via Spotted Horse plan carefully and pack plenty of water. I did it in one day but don't recommend it.

You should allow plenty of time for the Devil's Tower, the Crazy Horse Memorial and Mt Rushmore. Don't miss the evening light show at Rushmore.

Use the Trail through the Black Hills when you can. I rode it Hill CitY to Custer.

Try to avoid Sturgis-Rapid City during Bike Week. The Harley riders are no trouble but there are just hordes of them.

Riding through the Badlands I hit the highest temperatures of all my bicycle touring - 114 degrees. I made it a short day.

This is tough country but well worth it. There is nothing like the high desert.

Offline denbec

Yellowstone to Badlands
« Reply #5 on: November 19, 2008, 10:13:44 am »
Thanks for the great advice Lightspeed!  I am somewhat familiar with the South Dakota part of the area as I grew up in a little town called Eagle Butte in the middle of South Dakota.  If I visit my Mom on the route I'll have the misfortune of taking Hwy 212 across to Sturgis which is a very boring road - but they all are in that area.  Actually though, I'm looking forward to seeing it from a bicycle perspective - it might be quite lovely.  What I will likely do instead is go west from my sister's house in Fort Pierre so I can go through the Bad Lands and Wall Drug!  They have free ice water you know.  

This trip will be a great challenge for me as I have never ridden on anything steeper than a drawbridge here in Florida.  I'm hoping that by the time I get to the good climbs I'll have worked up enough strength and endurance on the first part of the ride.  Depending on time available, I may need to take the "wussy" routes as much as possible.  I'm also a little concerned about elevation and breathing as well.  Anyone have tips on preparing for elevation?

Let me just close this post by saying I am VERY MUCH enjoying the blog from the original posters schultzbike above.  I'm reading it all the way through - I'm up to Miss Zula right now.  I plan to do a blog like that on my trip as well but theirs is well done - and what a nice handsome couple.  :) ;p

Happy biking all!  -  Dennis

PS - the Sturgis Bike Rally is an amazing event that I've never been to - I almost wish I would be there for it but I'll be through the area much earlier.

Offline denbec

Yellowstone to Badlands
« Reply #6 on: November 19, 2008, 10:17:23 am »
I see my emoticons are out of control on that last post. LOL  The playful wink was supposed to follow the free ice water comment.   :blush:

Offline jimbo

Yellowstone to Badlands
« Reply #7 on: December 02, 2008, 09:00:27 pm »
Dennis; I rode from Yellowstone to the Badlands (west to east)  this
past Sept. as part of a 10 week WA to ME trip.
We rode from Canyon Village in Yellowstone to the Rt 14 exit and onto
Cody. Most of the traffic was heading into Yellowstone that day so we
found the riding conditions perfect and the landscape was beautiful.
We went over the Big Horns at Granite Pass (Shell Canyon) 4-5% grade
on Rt 14. It was the most beautiful day of the 10 week trip and the
5'000 climb was 5 hrs long but worth it. (It'll be a great downhill) We
took the UCross Rd (14/16) and stayed at UCross Ranch. We went to
Devils Tower and onto Spearfish and Spearfish Canyon etc. to Hill City.
We got back to Interior eventually and then used #44 across the rest of
SD. (My vote for the 2nd lonliest road in US.)

Offline denbec

Yellowstone to Badlands
« Reply #8 on: December 02, 2008, 09:17:57 pm »
Thanks Jimbo!  I'm still seriously considering going that route (in reverse) on my trip.  I appreciate the info.  I also will need to determine a good route that connects Yellowstone to the Northern Tier route as I'm going into Seattle.

PS - As someone who grew up in South Dakota - I can report they are all lonely roads. :)

Offline jimbo

Yellowstone to Badlands
« Reply #9 on: December 04, 2008, 09:02:05 pm »
Dennis..we left the NT at Glacier and took the following route to
Yellowstone. I'll put it in reverse for you. We were very happy with this
route. I carefully researched it with Montana DOT bicycle map and
input from ACA Forum and elsewhere.
Exit Yellowstone at Mammoth via 89 ( and 540) to 12 to Townsend to
284 (Canyon Ferry) to 453 to 279 (Fletcher Pass not difficult) to 200 to
lincoln to 83 to 35 to 206 to Columbia Falls. Once you are near
Columbia Falls look at a Delorme for local roads that may be a better
We camped at Holland Lake USFS, Lincoln RV Park; Black Sandy Park;
Townsend City Park; Wilsal Motel back yard and an RV Park at
Emmigrant ( pricey)  Photos of the route at


Offline litespeed

Yellowstone to Badlands
« Reply #10 on: December 04, 2008, 10:45:31 pm »
Jimbo's route sounds interesting - certainly avoids population centers and traffic and has plenty of wide open spaces. Avoid 191 from West Yellowstone to Bozeman. It is narrow, shoulderless, hemmed in by the river and has lots of impatient truck traffic. A truly miserable bicycling road.

This message was edited by litespeed on 12-4-08 @ 8:28 PM

Offline denbec

Yellowstone to Badlands
« Reply #11 on: December 05, 2008, 10:42:30 am »
Fantastic advice from both of you - I very much appreciate it!  My goal is to be on the NT after yellowstone so this is perfect.

Plan A was to take the NT all the way from North Dakota where it meets L&C but I'm really thinking if I have sufficient time I will go the Yellowstone route.  Certainly more interesting and more challenging.

Thanks again!


PS  I have just about finished reading / watching the Schultz Blog (see the begining of this forum) - what a fantastic trip and such a nice couple.  I hope I meet as many nice people on the way as they did but I'm thinking as a single man folks might be a bit less accomodating.  Still, I grew up in rural S.D. so I know there are super nice folks out there.

Offline schultzbike

Yellowstone to Badlands
« Reply #12 on: December 05, 2008, 11:54:52 am »
Lots of good advice out there.  Dennis, thanks for the kind words.  It truly was the trip of a lifetime (so far... there will be more).  I look forward to reading along with your trip next year.  Keeping our blog has been far more rewarding than we imagined.

I agree with litespeed about Hwy 191.  When we took our side trip to Bozeman for the music festival, many locals also warned us about how treacherous Hwy 191 is to W. Yellowstone.  The route through Norris/Ennis/Cameron was much friendlier to cycling (although with prevailing headwinds if you're going south).

Offline denbec

Yellowstone to Badlands
« Reply #13 on: December 05, 2008, 10:34:17 pm »
Well I just finished reading / watching your blog tonight - again it was fantastic!  And yes, I do plan to do a blog on my ride too - I'll let you know when I get it started.  

I didn't realize when I sent my first post that you were just then finishing your trip!  What a coincidence!

When my family and friends (continue to) say I'm crazy, I am going to forward a couple links to your movies.  That should clear it up for them.  :)

Happy Holidays!

PS - I feel like I know you two since reading about your trip.  if you are curious about me, my myspace page is here:  denbec myspace

Offline denbec

Yellowstone to Badlands
« Reply #14 on: December 16, 2008, 07:46:52 pm »
Unless I find a better forum, I will probably keep my current blog I started a while back for this ride.  Please make a note of it.  :)