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Old 10-04-07, 11:45 AM   #1
Mike45
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Yellowstone National Park riding

We are planning a family trip to Yellowstone National Park in June 2008. Does anyone have any experiece or advice on riding in Yellowstone?

Road Bikes?
Mountain Bikes?
Kids?

Thanks,
Mike
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Old 10-04-07, 12:01 PM   #2
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The car/truck traffic is outrageous. And you have to be ready to detour around buffalo and other wildlife on the road. I would not recommend cycling as a family on the park roads, it is just too busy in the summer. There are probably some acceptable mtn bike trails that might be more suitable for a family experience. You will still have to be prepared to deal with wildlife encounters. And don't forget that you are cylcing at altitude, the fitness level of all riders will be a factor. If it was a lone rider with lots of touring experience then they could probably navigate the roads OK.
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Old 10-04-07, 12:33 PM   #3
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I am looking at it a few ways:
1. For the family is it worth taking bikes along to kick around the park? (your comment makes it sound the answer to that is no)
2. For me, Should I bring my MTB or Road bike or both? {for solo rides**
3. What about the tandem for my wife and I? It is a road tandem and my wife is not the strongest stoker (yet)

One other thought to toss out.
What about decent places to ride near the park? I am going to have to drive out of the park to get groceries once or twice. I might be able to turn that into a ride if I knew of a good spot.
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Old 10-04-07, 12:47 PM   #4
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South of Yellowstone is the Grand Teton Nation Park. There is another member with some recent pictures posted from his rides in that area. I think that area is more bike friendly. We were in Yellowstone in August, it was our second trip. The place is HUGE, and everything is really spread out. I'm not sure how much use you would get out a bike. I am not a mtn biker, so I can't tell you about that part. Driving out of the park for supplies or anything else is an all day adventure. Travel is slow and unpredictable and distances are vast. We were there for 5 days and drove about 800 miles in and around the park.
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Old 10-04-07, 12:52 PM   #5
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photos from today's ride

PM this guy, he'll know all about it.

By the way, Yellowstone is one the greatest family vacations ever. Our seven year daughter was blown away by the experience and still talks about it. The look on her face when we spotted our first bear out in the wild was priceless.
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Old 10-04-07, 05:39 PM   #6
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Your kids could toodle around in the campgrounds, but as someone else said, the roads there are not ok for kids. Much traffic, no shoulders. The wildlife is not that much of an issue, at least no more than when hiking.

There is no off-road cycling allowed in any national park. Don't bother with the MTB unless you are going to go out of the park. (I have no info about mtb'ing out of the park). I don't think there are any major bike paths, just little sidewalky things that you will be fighting for space with walkers on.

The roads in the park do have heavy traffic, but are mostly ok for riding if you are careful. I've ridden about 1/2 of the major roads. If you are going to do some rides w/o your family, if you can get yourself out early in the morning, you will have lots less traffic, and maybe more animals.

The road between Yellowstone & Grand Teton Nat'l park is just fine. I took it northbound (loaded tour bike), and it was a mellow day ride - you could probably do it round trip in a day just fine on a road bike.

In August of 2004 I had plenty of rain and hail, so do be prepared for wintery weather at any time of year.

If you have time on your own to do a ride, i recommend Togwotee Pass, to the east of Teton park. It's kind of a road to nowhere, with traffic to match, and the descent back west has some great views of the mountains.
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Old 10-04-07, 07:20 PM   #7
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The denver bike touring bike club just finished a trip to the tetons and yellowstone.
We rode 1 day in yellowstone Lake Village to West Thumb. That was a decent ride, decent shoulder ...
For a small ride with the kids check out sea gull road near Fishing bridge while no shoulder almost no traffic.
It appeared there was a bike path near Old Faithful didn't check it out in detail.

In the tetons we did a loop from Moose junction, that was a great ride.

Plenty of biking jsut south of the Parks. The town of Jackson is actively building trails there are currently trail from teton village to wilson.
Out of wilson there is a path up the old pass and a lightly used road to red top meadows.
There is also a trail leaving south out of town it that ends where you can pick up an almost deserted
old highway.

Net there is a significant amount of biking South of the Park
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Old 10-08-07, 02:27 PM   #8
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IMHO there is a LOT of traffic nearly everywhere in Yellowstone/Jackson in June. Too bad you can't go in September. Fewer people, drier, better time to see the wildlife.
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Old 10-10-07, 01:02 AM   #9
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Hi, Outside of the Park, I've ridden the road through Paradise Valley, Livingston to Gardiner. It is a nice ride, and less traffic uses the old road to the east.
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Old 05-14-08, 12:48 PM   #10
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I know this is a bit of a necro-bump, but I thought I'd add some commentary in case anyone was making plans this coming summer for Yellowstone.

I worked for a number of summers in Yellowstone as a bus guide in the 90's. My most recent visit was last summer. While I can't really report much about the riding experience, I'm quite familiar with traffic conditions there. YNP gets 3 million visitors a year, most of which are sandwiched into a 3-month period from June to August. As you might guess, this makes for pretty bad traffic. Factor in the "OMIGOSHaBUFFALO!" factor, large numbers of buses, and narrow roads and you can have some really challenging road conditions.

As mentioned on this thread, there isn't any trail riding in the park. As an employee who lived at the Old Faithful area, I found a bike to be very helpful for getting around the village, but for little else. During my last visit I found out that the park concessionaire is now renting bikes, at least at Old Faithful if not at other locations.

If you're still committed to touring through the park by bike, here are some route considerations:

Old Faithful to West Thumb (Craig Pass) has some substantial hills and crosses the continental divide twice.

Canyon to Tower (Dunraven Pass) has the highest stretch of road in the park. Since the Tower Village area was established to sell replacement brake pads (among other things like ice cream) to people coming down the pass in their cars, you can imagine how much grade we're talking about. In early season you might see bighorn sheep.

The only entrance road that doesn't really involve a pretty good climb on the way in is from the town of West Yellowstone. Along that road in early summer I typically saw bison and there used to be a nesting pair of Trumpeter swans on the river.

Canyon to Lake (Hayden Valley) has a potential for major Bison obstructions from about mid-July through August. That's the rutting season, so try to keep your distance.

If you're looking for good quality biking experience, I'd second a lot of the alternative suggestions offered on this thread. The Jackson/Grand Teton area is more inherently scenic when riding and there are some decent bike paths to be found. I rented a cruiser last summer out at Teton Village and explored the bike-paths (and gelato shops), and had much fun.
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Old 05-14-08, 10:06 PM   #11
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If your kids are young I would bring the mtb/trail bikes. Our kids rode their bikes every evening around the campground, going to the stores... And we occasionally did some family riding on trails.
June is the best Summer month as the crowds have not arrived yet. After the 4th of July forget it.
I don't think I would bring the road bike or the tandem especially if riding alone. Don't forget animals are wild; bison, elk, moose, and grizzlies can be very dangerous. For a bear a cyclist will look like a running prey.
As mentioned above Grand Tetons would be a safer place to ride on the road, there's a lot less traffic and the wildlife is more dispersed.
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Old 05-15-08, 01:21 PM   #12
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I have vacationed in Yellowstone the past 2 summers with my family and have in the park at least 6 times.

Having bikes in the campground is very handy. Otherwise there is almost no MTB riding in the park and I would recommend against road riding. The traffic is really heavy in June. There are large numbers of people who rent RVs and tour the park - many have no experience driving a vehicle any larger than a sedan - many may drive on the other side of the road in their native lands. Combine this with narrow shoulders and it is very scary. I did a 65 mile day in the park last summer - and I wont try that again - due only to the traffic. I also did a road ride from Teton Park to Jackson and back, 75+or-. Again, with only 1 main highway (2 lane) between Jackson WY and Yellowstone, traffic was an issue.

Don't forget that the elevation in the park is significantly higher than FL and there is a lot less oxygen

Most of the sights in the park are far enough apart that family riding is probably not an option.

Yellowstone is a GREAT family vacation spot and we will go again, soon. Enjoy it truly is an amazing experience.
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