Hot Springs along the Great Divide Trail
I was wondering if anybody knew of any hot springs in the vicinity of the Great Divide Trail. I will be doing the ride starting on the summer solstice. I can't wait. The nervous excitement is starting to take over.
ocean beach, sd, ca
Did you find anything about the hot springs Luke? When are you taking off? Going solo?
I didn't hear anything about any hot springs. I will have to do more research. I depart on June 21st with 2 others. We will watch the Great Divide Racers take off on the 20th. After that I don't expect to see them any more. They are doing in one day what we will do in 3.
I am getting real nervous. I am coming off a back injury so I have barely pedaled at all this last month. So we will see. I also noticed after a month of hardly any measurable precipitation, Big Sky country is getting dumped on by rain and snow. So I am crossing my fingers.
Never Let Up!
I really, really don't know why Adventure Cycling has the Great Divide Trail going north to south.
Not only does it not make sense weather-wise in Montana, it doesn't in New Mexico, either. Even when spring comes a little earlier to Montana, May and June are the wettest months of the year - plus high elevations still have to melt out. Soggy is the operative word. Then in July August, the monsoon cycle hits New Mexico with heavy rains making some of the clay roads a nightmare.
Add to that the prevailing wind in much of the Rocky Mountain West is southerly - SW in New Mexico and Colorado, S & SW in Wyoming, S & SE in Montana. Granted that wind is not as much an issue as on pavement - and that you will have forest cover for much of the ride. But there are also long exposed stretches - like the Red Desert in southern Wyoming and lots of places in New Mexico.
Then there's the relatively minor point of biking into vs biking away from the sun.
Although I have never biked the GDT, I live in Wyoming and have toured extensively on dirt. I have ridden many sections of the trail. For example - the first time I rode the stretch from Eureka, MT to Polebridge was back in 1990. The road was closed because of snowdrifts, but I was able to get my bike over them and and empty riding. But I camped primarily in lower elevations - even that was soggy.
Most people have a mid-June to mid-August time frame.
East of Jackson, WY you have bentonite soils that turn into cement when wet. I have had to carry my bike downstream because I couldn't even walk the roads - let alone ride them. Yes, the weather is supposed - supposed to change next week, but the higher elevations are getting snow today and tonight - up to a foot. That's on top of record winter snowfall. I don't expect the high country east of Jackson to melt out until mid-July at the earliest.
Have you checked Snotel?
There's still three feet of snow at Stahl Peak at 6000 ft.
Three feet in the Pioneer mountains.
Four inches of new snow at Many Glacier - could be a foot.
I'm sorry to be the bearer of bad news,
But I have begged Adventure Cycling to suggest a reverse direction for the GDT -
Only to get a dismissive reply - i.e. "People have different opinions."
I could show you tons of weather data as well of twenty years of personal experience
to suggest otherwise.
I'll leave you with two precipitation graphs -
Notice that Helena, MT has it's peak June 1 and a trough August 1
Grants, NM has a low point on June 1 and a peak on August 1.
Feel free to contact me.
I'll share any info I have.
PS - About hot springs -
There are a few developed sites -
Boulder, Montana and Polaris, Montana
Undeveloped - Huckleberry Springs near Flagg Ranch
Unfortunately, the CDT routes you away from Granite Hot Spgs near Bondurant
Developed - Steamboat and Waunita in Colorado.
What about N -> S in the late summer, after the snowmelt and mid-summer rains of Montana, and after the heat wave of New Mexico? We (My wife and I) are leaving on Aug 10th (+/- a few days...). I'm hoping we make it thru Colorado high country before the snow starts to fly.
I know theres some goo hot springs in Colorado, we have a handful of amazing ones in Utah, alas, no GDT.
I noticed your post yesterday. But seeing as how you have a lot of experience, I figured you knew you might encounter bad weather. I'm not sure of your time frame - six weeks? Eight weeks?
I've been over some of the high dirt passes in Colorado in early October and had perfect weather. I've also been snowed under at much lower elevation at the same time of year - so those crossings were simply luck.
If you can complete the Colorado portion by Sept. 22, you should be O.K. - although you can have snow any time after Sept.1 (even rarely in August). What's more, although there are no guarantees - a cold, wet spring often leads to a cool summer and an early fall. No justice!
My guess is that this will be one of the better Augusts to ride since the fire danger will be low. If you keep a close watch of the weather after Labor Day and are willing to hole up for a few days during the first snowstorm of the season, you should be fine. The ground is still fairly warm in Sept - so that first snow is gone quickly and it is much drier than in June.
Best - J
PS - June is hotter than July in NM because of the cloud cover.
One more thing for Luke - -
Snow depth maps for June 11 - i.e. before the current snowstorm
NOAA Snow Conditions website
Northern Rockies and Central Rockies:
(Note how the south to north direction works better)
I'm riding the route South to North in a few weeks -
But the only hot spring I'm focused on is Banff!!!!!
I've read about Elkhorn Hot Springs, too - it's a hotel and restraunt and campground, and you can pay a few bucks just to go hot-tubbing
Gulp.... The snow depth looks intense. Honestly I would have waited till later in the summer but I am a high school teacher in a year round school and I only have 3 weeks and these are the 3 weeks I have.
When I began planning it I discovered that the Great Divide race starts the day before we start so I though weather would be ok. These racers only take 20 days to do the whole route. I wonder why they don't hold it later in the year. Well hopefully they clear the trail and by some miracle we will get a three week weather window.
However I may be due for some inclement weather. When I rode from Vancouver to San Diego we did not hit rain one time. Thanks for all the info. I will definetly take a look but maybe not too much. Sometimes its better not knowing what you are getting yourself into.
I agree with you and your data is very convincing.
Originally Posted by jamawani
South to north is also "downhill" so to speak, border to border at least.
On top of all that there's an aesthetic choice-- once you've seen the beauty of Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, and Northern New Mexico, who wants to ride southern NM? What a letdown. On the other way around you get the Canadian Rockies.