Has any one done any part of the great parks route?
I'm looking for information on stores and camping avaliablitly for the U.S portion of the route.
What is the great parks route.
Great Parks North
I have done the route from Missoula to Jasper twice and also biked in the Canadian Rockies twice.
You will find that there are plenty of campgrounds and services available along the route and in the area. I assume that you are using the Adventure Cycling maps, which are pretty good. However, you will also want to pick up local maps, etc., to help you out.
Have a great time!
Great parks route
The Great Parks route follows the Rockie mountains From Jasper Alberta south through all major parks along the Rockies, It eventually links up with the Continental divide trail South of Montana somewhere.
Bump from the dead. Anyone done this route since then? Considering a route from Mexico to Canada following the Great Parks route from Poncha Springs, CO on northward.
So you're from P.G. - Boy did I get drenched all across the Yellowhead this summer - - Rain every day.
Hopefully you'll have better weather in the lower 48 - plus with the US dollar dropping every day the exchange rate may be 1-to-1 by the time you start your tour.
I've biked from northern New Mexico north to Canada a whole bunch of times and a whole bunch of different ways. Depending on when you want to do your do and whether you use a mountain bike will affect your planning. (I'm guessing from your handle that you will tour on a moutain bike, no?)
Have you already done the Icefields Parkway? I'm asking because that will give you a feel for the traffic levels in someof the U.S. parks. Plus, as all roads lead to Rome. so too do all tourists head towards Yellowstone in the summer - so the most direct roads to the parks tend to have a lot of traffic, as well.
I would recommend south to north since June is dry in NM but wet in Montana while August is wet in NM while dryer in Montana. Just like Crown Lands in Canada - you can random camp anywhere on federal lands administered by the forest service or the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for free. Not so in National Parks - camping is very restricted, campgrounds are often filled with massive RVs. I figure that since you are from northern BC that you are comfortable throwing up your tent anywhere.
As for routes - -
New Mexico - I'm guessing you want to start on the Mexican border, no? Consider starting at Columbus instead of Antelope Wells - just easier to get there, plus more services. You can run up the west side of NM from Columbus to Silver City to Reserve to Grants on pavement or you can use the AC Great Divide route that is mostly off road. If you haven't been there before, you should definitely include Taos in your itinerary. There are two ways to get to Toas from the south - - the High Road or the Low Road - - the High Road - thru Chimayo and Truchas - is harder and longer - but beautiful - the core of old New Mexico. From Taos you can eaither head due north into the San Luis Valley or head west to Chama. From Chama to Durango there are some great stretches of dirt road that follow the old D&RGW railbed - not as nice as the Kettle Valley, but good riding.
Colorado - There are a number of ways you can do Colorado. Remember a few things - snow melts pretty late at 4000 meters. Dirt road passes won't be open before late June / early July. Paved passes usually open by the end of May. One of the problems with Colorado is the stretch of yuppie ski towns that form Denver's backyard all along I-70. The closer you are to Denver, the worse the traffic. Colorado two-lane highways rarely have shoulders. The further west you are in the state - the less traffic you will have. If you want to hit Durango, I'd take the dirt road over Cinnamon Pass to Lake City and down to Gunnison. Just between you and me - the Adventure Cycling route using US 50 sucks - whether it's used for the Western Express or the Great Parks. Also, the route from Poncha Springs to Breckinridge is the pits. If I were heading north from Poncha I would head thru Leadville and Avon to Steamboat. Better yet is a series of routes that head north from Gunnison. Kebler Pass is open earlier in the season, Schofield Pass is tougher - but truly spectacular heading down to Marble - be careful in Devil's Punchbowl! - and down to Glenwood. Then you can ride over the Flattops to Meeker or west of them. I think one of the finest rides in the entire West is from Meeker to Maybell to Brown's Park in the northwest corner of the state. Beautiful scenery, no traffic, and great weather - high and dry.
Wyoming - Again, the AC route isn't the best. One thing - it puts you on I-80 for about 20 miles. Now, I don't know about you, but who wants to be on the highway with the most semi-truck traffic in North America riding a bike?? I suggest coming into Wyoming south of Rock Springs on Hwy 430. It's remote, empty with very little traffic. US 191 north of Rock Springs has a good deal of tourist and oil & gas traffic, but there are shoulders and great views of the Wind Rivers. You'll come into Jackson Hole from the south rather than having to backtrack to get to Grand Teton Nat'l Park. Great hiker/biker campsites on Jenny Lake. I always try to plan the climb from the south entrance of Yellowstone to Lewis Lake for late in the day so there is shade and less traffic. Sorry, but Yellowstone has very few shoulders and lots of traffic. Campgrounds do have hiker/biker sites - sometimes in lousy locations - like next to the generators in Madison. Best hiker/biker locations are at Lewis Lake, Canyon, Norris, and Indian Creek. Grant and Bridge Bay are monstrously huge. Mammoth is in the bend of the highway. The two campgrounds out towards the northeast entrance are lovely. Also consider backcountry camping in the national parks.
Montana - I think the AC route sucks. I've been between Glacier and Yellowstone every way imaginable. US 89 on the east side is really the best. There's a county road on the other side of the Yellowstone River between Corwin and Livingston - very little traffic all the way up to Belt near Great Falls - Great Falls has a lovely bikeway along the Missouri River in town. There is a dirt road (Millegan Rd) that goes from While Sulphur Springs to Ulm - if you want to bypass Great Falls - very tough. A service road leads west - the once you get past Sun River - traffic is very light. US 89 is in the high plains with spectacular views of the Front Range whereas Hwy 83 thru Seeley Lake is pretty heavily forested. I favor doing Going-to-the-Sun Road from east to west. 1. You have the sun behind you illuminating the peaks in the morning - and 2. You don't have top worry about uphill restrictions.
That does it for now.
Best - John
Pics - Grey cliffs near Cuba, NM; West Elk Mtns, CO; Teton Range, WY; Glacier Park, MT
Wow! What a post. Here's what I'm looking to do, and it sounds like you're just the person to help me.
Background: My wife and I have done Ragbrai, and a couple of very short loaded tours. We've also done a century, and done a bit of CO and UT mountain biking. Also did the San Juan Hut Tour if you've heard of it (Hut-to-hut from Telluride to Moab) So we're not regular, not hard-core, but above the average recreational cyclist.
Current: My wife (age 29) is undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer. She wants to do something "big" when her treatment is done. We had thought in the past (pre-cancer) of doing a x-country ride. Time off for work doesn't allow for that, so we thought border to border could be done in 40 days +/- including rest days.
That said, we're looking for the "path of least resistance" from A. to B. Least resistance includes terrain (she may not be at 100% this summer, but due to my job, it has to be this summer), traffic and logistics (flights to airports near Mexican border and from Canada). I'm willing to alter this whole idea so long as Glacier N.P., Teton N.P. and Yellowstone are still included
NEW MEXICO: The easiest starting point seems to be El Paso. Cheap flights from Midway on Southwest and it's right on the border. That would take us through Santa Fe and Taos, which sound like interesting stops. A lot of it would follow old highways and frontage along I-25, but again, it looks to be the ewasiest in terms of climbing and finsing services while we get our feet wet.
COLORADO: I'm not particular about a route through Colorado. Been all the way across Colorado on US40, US50, and I70. Done all the major stops, except Great Sand Dunes and Mesa Verde. But may see Mesa Verde in the future on a Durango to Moab hut tour. My idea was to hit the Dunes from Taos, and then connect up with the Great Parks Route, open to alternatives that don't add time. Seems to be an "easy" direct route as far as climbing goes through the front range.
WYOMING: Just intended to follow the AC route. At least with the AC maps I'll have an idea of services to be found ahead. Not married to the route though if there's an easier alternative.
MONTANA: Again, just planned to follow the AC route to make sure I could find services, plus I think it's be neat to pop into the AC office in Missoula.
CANADA: Would like to go from Glacier to Waterton, then up to Pincher Creek. At Pincher Creek, ship the bikes home, take the bus to Calgary, rent a car there and explore Banff & Jasper before flying home.
Open to comments or suggestions and appreciative of them.