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Old 06-22-06, 10:28 PM   #1
Allen
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Tell me about Yellowstone

I've been from Maine to Venezuela, Europe a hand full of time, but never west of the Mississippi river. I can't ignore it any longer. It's time I see a geyser and a grizzly. And I think I'm going solo.
I'm a strong rider (2,000 miles this year running errands), also I've been touring in Europe a couple of times, and I damn near grew up in the woods, so equipment/experience wise, my bases are covered.
I'm looking to mine some of ya'lls travel wisdom here.
What are the roads like? Mostly paved, mostly gravel, used to be paved but now is basically gravel?
Is power hard to come by at the camp sites (photographer, unfortunately power is a concern)?
Traffic? How bad is rush hour in Yellowstone?
Resupplying stuff much of a hassle?
Is there a laundry mat in the park?
When you are at X make sure you do Y.
That sort of thing.

Many thanks,
--A
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Old 06-23-06, 06:30 AM   #2
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From the nps.gov website:
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Biker / Hiker Campsites

Camping for bicyclists is limited to the developed campgrounds located throughout the park. Campsites are available by reservation (through Xanterra Parks and Resorts) and on a first come, first served basis.

The distances separating campgrounds and the fact that the campgrounds typically fill early each day during the peak visitation season will pose logistical problems for the bicycle camper in Yellowstone. A limited number of campsites are reserved for hikers and bicyclists at all campgrounds with the exception of Slough Creek. Camping is not available at Old Faithful. If you are traveling with a group of bicyclists, call Xanterra Parks and Resorts prior to your arrival to check on group campsite availability; not all campgrounds can accommodate groups. If you have access to a vehicle, use it to find a campsite in your destination campground early each day.

Bicyclists camping without a vehicle can use designated hiker/biker sites for $ 5.00 per individual per night. All other vehicle campsites range from $12 to $17 per night depending on the campground. Opening and closing dates vary considerably for each campground. Check the table above to make sure that a campground is open if you are planning a spring or fall visit to Yellowstone.

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I biked and camped in Yellowstone many years ago on a Rockies trip. Great place. I didn't find the traffic overwhelming. There were a few busy spots near the major geyser basins, but it was no big deal. A couple of tips: In the western part of the park near Madison campground (I think), there was a great warm spring pool you could sit in. You could also let the current take you down the Firehole river, whose waters are warmed by geysers. Also, I found that if I got off my bike and went on a hike on a trail, I had the trail to myself.
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Old 06-23-06, 09:16 AM   #3
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I've been through there twice on a bike.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AllenG
What are the roads like? Mostly paved, mostly gravel, used to be paved but now is basically gravel?
All paved, a few bikepaths. As in all national parks, you are not allowed to ride your bike on trails. Two years ago a couple of the roads in and out of the park on the east side had major road work and traffic restrictions, so check if you are going to ride in/out of the park that way. It's pretty easy (1-2 days) to ride to Yellowstone from Bozeman.

Quote:
Is power hard to come by at the camp sites (photographer, unfortunately power is a concern)?
Hiker biker sites are unpowered. There may be plugs in the bathroom, but you'll have to babysit your equipment (yuk). H-B sites are not super special, but they are cheap. They will do their best to get you into a h-b site, or squeeze you in somewhere. Not all campgrounds have h-b sites, check with the park service's www site.

Quote:
Traffic? How bad is rush hour in Yellowstone?
Traffic is scary - not so very heavy most of the time, but drivers tend to be distracted by scenery and wildlife, and aren't paying much attention to the road. I encounted a group of cyclists one of whom had been hit-and-runned by an RV there. There is no shoulder, lots of rental RVs (!). Do NOT go on a holiday weekend.

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Resupplying stuff much of a hassle?
Expensive, and not all camping areas have grocery stores.

Quote:
When you are at X make sure you do Y.
Get off your bike. Visit the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.

Other random thoughts: The wildlife is spectacular there. Weather can be severe - I was there in late August 2004, and had 5 days that had at least some rain and hail. It's the mountains. Y. is more geared towards hiking than sightseeing from the road. I found it pretty dull actually riding there, interspersed with bursts of terror at the traffic. The really cool stuff is not really visible from the bike. The stuff right at the road is pretty touristy. Make a side trip down to the Tetons, a day south. Super spectacular scenery, nice hiker-biker site at Jenny lake, less touristy than Y. If you end up needing to get a room in a hotel in Y. (I did because of bad weather) expect to pay more than $120 per night. If you go through Cody to the east, the art museum (Whitney Gallery) is completely worth whatever they are charging.

Have fun!
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Old 06-23-06, 09:44 AM   #4
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Valygrl has summed it up about right. the best roadsfor cycling in Yellowstone are on the west side of the park. From West Yellowstone down to Old Faithful and then on arround to the Zsouth entrance at Grand Teton. The rest of the roads are mostly narrow and heavily trafficed by inexpereinced RV drivers. Its really pretty dangerous for cycling. Depending on where you are, the bison are a problem as they will just get into the road, and its your job to miss and not annoy them. They are scary big. Stores are few and far between, carry food with you.
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Old 06-23-06, 11:02 AM   #5
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I used to work in Yellowstone. All I can say is this: Disneyworld.

Seriously. YNP is more like Disneyworld than a National Park. Sure, roads are paved... there are also millions of people to fight off and overpriced everything, everywhere.

If you go, do yourself a favor and do it in the fall or winter.
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Old 06-23-06, 11:05 AM   #6
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Please consider heading north to Grand Teton National Park as well.
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Old 06-23-06, 11:47 AM   #7
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First - Grand Teton is SOUTH of Yellowstone, not north. And the biking is really nice there. There's a hiker/biker campsite right at Jenny Lake - a camp store nearby - and great hiking into the Tetons. Consider a meal at Jenny Lake Lodge. Also, the hike from String Lake to Leigh Lake is quite nice.

As for Yellowstone, I have biked in the park maybe a dozen or more times over the past 20 years. Unless you go before Memorial Day or after Labor Day it is pretty bad. I've been yelled at, flipped off, and had beer cans thrown at me. Why? bacause I'm slowing up traffic. And there's lots of traffic. 3000 to 5000 vehicles per day on some sections of the loop roads. The roads are narrow with no shoulder for the most part.

The TransAm route isn't the best. It's just a straight shot from West Yellowstone to the South Entrance - plus a climb over two passes. I think the south loop via Madison, Norris, Canyon, Lake Village, and West Thumb is far nicer. There are short stretches of old road along Virginia Cascades and Gull Point which you will thoroughly enjoy since they have very few cars. Since there are hiker/biker campsites at nearly every campground I would cycle at dawn and evening when the cars are off the road.

Best - J
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Old 06-23-06, 12:24 PM   #8
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One thing about the hiker-biker sites in Grand Teton NP - some rangers don't even know they exist. We were told that Jenny Lake CG was full and not to go there only to find that the biker sites were wide open.
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Old 06-23-06, 02:32 PM   #9
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Thanks one and all. Exactly the kind of info I was looking for, this is most helpful.
--A
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Old 06-23-06, 07:42 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kesroberts
One thing about the hiker-biker sites in Grand Teton NP - some rangers don't even know they exist. We were told that Jenny Lake CG was full and not to go there only to find that the biker sites were wide open.

I also found this to be true about Jenny Lake. But.... don't miss Jenny, she is great, views, lake, trails, and the occasional bear roaming the grounds in search of picnic baskets. Hey BoBo

Oh, if you find a cooking pot handle in the campgrounds, it's mine, let me know if you find it, thanks.
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Old 06-24-06, 03:36 PM   #11
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go see Muir Woods (outside of San Fran) instead...greatest place in the world!
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