Tour route planning help needed through South Dakota and Wyoming
I am planning a coast to coast tour this summer and will be going through South Dakota and Wyoming. I've roughed out a route based on places we'd like to see but i don't know anything about road conditions concerning bicycle friendliness. I would really appreciate it if someone familiar with the area would take a look at my route and provide feedback and advice. Thanks in advance.
Hi - that looks really great. I have ridden much (not all) of it, and don't think there are any road problems.
Your route over the Big Horns and from Cody to Cooke City are absolutely spectacular. I descended Shell Canyon to the town of Shell instead of through Lovell like you are planning, but I know tour companies use the Lovell route, and it's supposed to be one of the steepest sustained sections of road around - going down for you, as you are west-bound. If you wanted to route through Buffalo instead, the southern route through the Big Horns is also great (actually, there's no bad choice there - all good). From Cody to Cooke City via Chief Joseph is a route I would recommend (and have - to you elsewhere?) for everyone. Absolutely fantastic.
I'm linking a map of how I got through the Rushmore area, just for you to consider, because Spearfish Canyon (north of Spearfish) was a really lovely road, and it gets you to Devil's Tower w/o a side trip. The whole Rushmore park area had some difficult traveling - narrow twisty hilly roads with a little too much tourist traffic - but I wouldn't avoid it, just be aware.
The section between Gillette and Arvada is very remote, there may still be a bar at Spotted Horse (population 2, Gus & his wife). Carry plenty of water. When I was there that road had more traffic than one would expect, lots of work trucks, because of natural gas & coal mining, but the trucks were courteous. I've heard people ride I 90 instead, I liked the route you chose, but it is very empty and when I did it in late August it was very hot.
You can get a great bike map of the state here: http://www.wyoroad.info/ - I would go ahead and order the paper version rather than just downloading, I think it was free. It has traffic volumes on one side and grades on the other.
Finally, I would suggest trying your question over at the touring forum here http://www.bikeforums.net/forumdisplay.php/47-Touring and hope Jamawani responds (or PM him a link to your route) - if he has time to comment on your route, listen to every word he says - he lives in Buffalo and has ridden every inch of every possible route in your touring area, so he would be able to comment more specifically on road conditions where I haven't ridden.
Have a fantastic trip!
WooHoo! Thanks Vlygrl. Great information. First big tour for us as well as our first time through this part of the world. We can't wait. Should be coming through about the second-third weeks of July.
Chief Joseph highway, a little south of Cooke City, late July 2008:
It seems our trip planning is quickly evolving into an "ice cream odyssey". You happen to know of any top notch ice cream stops on or near the route??
No, I wasn't able to find anything top-notch. I did a broad survey, however. Best option I found was Hagen-Daaz from grocery stores. Other than that, there's a lot of that weird Nestle ice cream, with a lot of flavors with funny names (e.g. Moose Tracks) but not very high quality.
Enjoy the search, though!
If for some reason you end up on the east side of Glacier National Park, the Park Cafe in St. Mary has incredible pie.
It is almost time. I went live with my crazyguy journal yesterday. Pretty big step. Thanks again all for the advice. http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/whenlife
Wow, awesome, thanks for checking back in on this thread and sharing your journal. I haven't finished reading it yet, but I will, I like your writing!
I have a comment/question/concern about your map 5. Did you do much research before deciding on Hwy 93?
I haven't been on all of it, but I did ride the 90-ish miles south of Missoula, and it was a pretty busy road. The Adventure Cycling L&C route (and I think some others) uses this: http://goo.gl/maps/pyri and it's really quite good. You get to go through Twin Bridges, which has a touring cyclist camp ground, Dillon which is a cute town, past the Big Hole Battlefield... it's hilly and interesting. There are just enough towns/services to get through, and very little traffic.
I don't want to sell it too strongly, but if you don't have a real reason you picked 93, I would consider re-routing.
I'm looking forward to following your trip!
I'll take a closer look. Thanks for the tip.
Just made the route adjustments per your suggestions. We'd love to treat you to some ice cream if you'll be anywhere near our route this summer!
Originally Posted by valygrl
Cool, glad you like the suggestion. I don't see an intersection of routes for us this year, just pay it forward when you're an experienced tourer to some other new guy down the road.
Rod & Judy
Not to steal the thread too far, whata does anyone think of a tandem tour through the black hills? My wife and I are thinking of starting near Hot Springs and making a 200 mile ish loop through Custer park and North. We all know tandems don't climb well, are we biting off a big one on a loaded tandem? and what route is best?