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riding in grand teton national park & yellowstone national park after labor day

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riding in grand teton national park & yellowstone national park after labor day

Old 08-25-16, 12:22 PM
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riding in grand teton national park & yellowstone national park after labor day

plan on hitting both natl parks on road bikes just after labor day with the kiddos (in their 20's but
both new to cycling). looking to do multiple rides per day of 10-30 miles to/from the car.
seems like the grand teton area and nearby towns have a fairly extensive biking layout from what i can tell.
how is the cycling through gtnp & yellowstone in terms of shoulders on the main roads?
i'm assuming wide to non-existent and continually vacillating. must-do and must-don't areas?
any helpful feedback from the touring community is appreciated in advance. thanks!

the appropriate regional discussion forum is dead as a doornail.
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Old 08-25-16, 03:40 PM
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If you want to ride shoulders in Yellowstone, bring a double-boinger MTB. There's 3-6" of gravel in spots, and anything from rock walls to narrow grass verge to sheer rock face to ditch beyond that.


The Tetons' roads are generally flatter, wider, and a bit easier to bike.


The good news is that traffic is generally pretty light until 10-11:00, after which the RVs are cranked up and cars loaded. Out by 8:00 in the morning, you should have little trouble getting 30 miles in before traffic ramps up. That's before Labor Day, after that, traffic is lighter still.
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Old 08-25-16, 04:58 PM
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Originally Posted by pdlamb View Post
The good news is that traffic is generally pretty light until 10-11:00, after which the RVs are cranked up and cars loaded. Out by 8:00 in the morning, you should have little trouble getting 30 miles in before traffic ramps up. That's before Labor Day, after that, traffic is lighter still.
This is very true. If you're riding in the morning, you'll have the roads to yourself. Get up even earlier (sunrise or so), and you'll also be more likely to see wildlife.

I'd avoid Old Faithful on a bike, and if you do bike to Old Faithful, don't try to leave right after the eruption; just wait for 45 minutes to try to go anywhere from there.
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Old 08-25-16, 05:22 PM
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When I was in Waterton Park, I asked a ranger what to do if I see a bear. They said, try to get in between a couple cars. The one bear I saw in front of me, I was at a significant distance with no nearby cars. I just waited for it to leave before I proceeded. I of course had to take a photo and had a powerful zoom on the camera, but I had no desire to get any closer.

Make sure the kids know that you do not approach bears.

I hung a bear bell from my frame, but the road was not bumpy enough to make the bell ring, so that was a wasted effort.

It would be a good idea to ask for advice from the park staff before you ride.
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Old 08-25-16, 06:14 PM
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You can ride from Jackson to Jenny Lake on a separate bike path, and you should do that ride. It's beautiful from the getgo. you can ride from Jenny lake to the reservoir...the road is ample and traffic should be light after Labor Day.

Make sure that the Cherry fire is out before you ride. Right now it is burning on the east side of the lake and making touring, urm, difficult.

You can ride from Teton to Yellowstone, although that is a long day and not as spectacular as the parks proper.
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Old 08-26-16, 06:15 AM
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I just spent a week in both parks last week, not biking, just visiting & hiking. Other then the separate path in Teton, I would not ride on the roads. Folks are driving rented cars, RV's, and just not looking at the road. I saw many cars/rv drift over the center line, little to no shoulders on the roads. Folks stopping in the middle of the road, others just fustrated and zipping around. I did see some bike tourers fully loaded on the roads, most seemed to have bright colored clothing and lights, though I don't know how much that will help. Hopefully there is far less traffic after Labor Day. Also, Yellowstone south entrance is currently closed due to a fire and the northeast entrance was close Weds due to snow.
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Old 08-26-16, 07:36 AM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post

I hung a bear bell from my frame, but the road was not bumpy enough to make the bell ring, so that was a wasted effort.
"Bear scat tastes like pepper and has bells in it".


Just hang a whistle around your neck. Blow it every couple thousand yards.
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Old 08-26-16, 07:47 AM
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One of the guys in the 50+ forum is there right now... https://www.bikeforums.net/fifty-plus...llowstone.html He posts updates of his trip every day. I'd shoot him a PM for up-to-date info on cycling through Yellowstone!
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Old 08-26-16, 07:53 AM
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The bigger animal threat in the park outside the backcountry are the bison. They kill and injure more people than bears. They look docile but can lash out at any second, and they often like to lounge by the side of the road. I had to steer around several of them between W. Yellowstone and Madison Jct.


I took this last year in Custer S.P. in South Dakota, but they do the same thing in Yellowstone:


https://www.flickr.com/photos/105349...7655263744881/


Earlier that day, in Wind Cave N.P., this one decided to cross the road (don't ask me why). I hung back and waited:


https://www.flickr.com/photos/105349...7655263744881/


Sometimes they will literally plop down on the road. I think when it's cold they like the heat radiating from the paved surface.


You also have to be watch out for "animal jams," which are instances where motorists pull over (or simply stop in the middle of the road) to view wildlife. I nearly got doored in Yellowstone when some couple noticed others out of their cars looking up at a hillside. The driver passed me, pulled over and flung open his door to get out. Fortunately, I was going up hill so I had time to stop.
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Old 08-26-16, 08:33 AM
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I have lived in Wyoming since 1990 - when I moved to Jackson.
I have cycled every mile of pavement in Yellowstone and Grand Teton -
and lots of miles of unpaved - most of which are in GTNP.

There are a number of reasons to start in Jackson Hole.
Jackson has all services and bike shops with rentals/repairs.
Most importantly, there is a 1500-2000 ft elevation difference.
I suspect you will be coming from lower elevation.
So that is important to reduce risk of altitude sickness.
(Avoid alcohol & caffeine, drink plenty of water, 1 aspirin per day)

Also, riding in Grand Teton is flatter with shoulders and bike trails.
It makes a logical place to start for inexperienced riders.
You can ride out from town - but you are right next to a busy highway.
I would suggest starting in Moose if you have the means to transport bikes.
Dornan's has a giant deck with stunning views - a great starting/ending point.
A larger loop entails riding north on the Park Road and Jenny Lake Loop -
Then returning south from Moran on highway US 89.

https://ridewithgps.com/routes/16136589

It's 44 miles - Signal Mountain Lodge/Cabins is at 19 miles.
Or you can Out&Back to String Lake 10 miles/20miles RT.

<<<>>>

Or you can do a 22-mile loop on the east side of the park -
You have distant, expansive views of the Tetons.
This includes the historic barns of Mormon Row.
The warm springs are about bathtub warm for swimming.

https://ridewithgps.com/routes/16136708

<<<>>>

Riding in Yellowstone is much more of a challenge, but rewarding.
Few roads in Yellowstone have shoulders, but many have recent pavement.
I disagree with the 4" to 6" gravel - unless there is ongoing construction.
And there is construction every summer - check their website.

If you look at a map of Yellowstone, you notice a "Figure 8" road pattern.
The lower loop has more sites and more traffic than the upper loop.
Access roads from the 5 entrances have varying levels of traffic.
West & South - heavy; North & East - busy; Northeast - light.

The best riding in Yellowstone, esp. for new riders, is the Lamar Valley Rd. in the NE.
I would start at the picnic area east of the Yellowstone River rather than at Tower/Roosevelt.
You can ride all the way out to Pebble Creek (water) and back - 36 miles.
Or you can ride to the Lamar Valley trailhead and hike a few miles in the valley.
Incredible wildlife - and you just may see a wolf if you have good binoculars.

https://ridewithgps.com/routes/16137269

Photo - Soda Butte Creek
https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/foru...=3#pic_2432675

<<<>>>

In the southern park of Yellowstone there is a good ride along Yellowstone Lake.
I would start at West Thumb and ride to the Lake Hotel and Fishing Bridge.
There is a stretch of the old road to Gull Point which is nearly empty.
Lake Hotel is a great spot for lunch with amazing views.
Fishing Bridge has an excellent museum and trails to the lake.
This stretch of the loop road has moderate shoulders and minimal climbing. 46 miles RT.
(Once, I did this right after plowing when it remained closed to vehicles. Sweet!)

https://ridewithgps.com/routes/16137438

Last edited by jamawani; 08-26-16 at 09:34 AM.
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Old 08-28-16, 05:14 PM
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I agree with jamawani; riding in yellowstone is rewarding, and has a lot of advantages over driving through in a car.

We did not find it difficult when we rode through in mid-July. After Labor Day it should be even better. All you have to watch out for then are the old folks in their RVs There was no need to ride on the gravel shoulders. However, we did have an exciting Bison incident.

The campgrounds are also bike-friendly.We camped at Madison and Canyon Campgrounds and spent 2 days exploring the Park; it was one of the highlights of our cross country ride.







You can stop almost anywhere on a bike!

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Old 08-28-16, 07:51 PM
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Originally Posted by spinnaker View Post
"Bear scat tastes like pepper and has bells in it".

Not Yellowstone, but sign I saw on bike trip in Alaska back in 2005.
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Old 09-04-16, 11:16 AM
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thanks for the feedback everyone. looks like we may have a little yellowstone snow to contend with.
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Old 09-05-16, 09:16 AM
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Originally Posted by ooga-booga View Post
thanks for the feedback everyone. looks like we may have a little yellowstone snow to contend with.
Today, Labor Day, should be the worst. After that forecasts look better. At least I hope they are correct. Plan to cross Yellowstone on Wednesday and Thursday.
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Old 09-08-16, 01:55 PM
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Just finished riding in from West Yellowstone and out the South entrance.

- 14 miles from West Yellowstone to Madison: ~2ft shoulder
- Firehole Canyon: fun side road
- Road to Old Faithful, less shoulders but still OK.
- Old Faithful to West Thumb: small shoulder
- West Thumb to South Entrance: not really a shoulder

Overall, traffic was well-behaved and fairly slow. A bit more traffic than other roads, but slower speeds helps. I wouldn't put Yellowstone on the "avoid" list based on little pieces I've ridden.
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Old 09-13-16, 07:25 PM
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only managed a small old faithful area ride of 4 miles and then a 20-miler from old faithful to the firehole canyon one-way loop road and back
while in yellowstone. traffic wasn't too bad and drivers were respectful. shoulders were minimal. the firehole loop road was about 4 miles and low traffic.
i'd bike yellowstone again. drove the stretch between the canyon/grand canyon of the yellowstone/yellowstone falls area and west thumb.
it was particularly scenic and wide open. would like to ride that sometime in the future. only had time to see some of the highlights in the southern part of the park.

the grand tetons were another story. stayed in jackson and took the dedicated bike path on the north side of town, along the national elk refuge, all the way to
moose and the jenny lake area. then, hooked up with teton park road and headed to the edge of jackson lake and past the oxbow area.
returned back along hwy 191 and rejoined the bike path (just before moose) back into jackson. about 60 miles. did the loop clockwise but i suspect it would have
been even more scenic counter-clockwise. quite possibly my favorite ride of all time. can't wait to go back.
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