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Comments sought on loop route starting/ending in Missoula, MT

Old 04-06-13, 05:06 PM
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Comments sought on loop route starting/ending in Missoula, MT

There is a possibility that I will have time in July of this year to do a 3-4 week tour. If so, I'd like to ride in Montana and do Going to the Sun road.

After some advice from Jamawani, I sketched out a loop route starting/ending in Missoula, MT (non-stop flight from San Francisco) that heads east to Hwy 89, then north to Glacier NP, Going to the Sun Road and then Hwy 2 back east, up to Canada to Sparwood, then making my back down south to Missoula. I've mapped it out here: https://www.mapmyride.com/routes/fullscreen/189384222/

I'd be interested in any and all comments about this route or touring in this area.
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Old 04-06-13, 06:41 PM
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Approve.

Note, there is a wind farm at Pincher Creek prevailing wind is from the west. Just be aware. I cried, but that's just me.

Although, come to think of it, as long as you are there, you should really ride to Jasper and fly home from there, if you haven't done the Icefields Parkway. Really spectacular. Worth paying extra. A lot extra.
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Old 04-06-13, 09:16 PM
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Is this a pavement only tour? If not, the Canadian section of the Divide Ride offers a beautiful option and shortcut to Banff and the Icefield Parkway to Jasper NP.
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Old 04-06-13, 09:18 PM
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If Jamawani routed you then there's probably not much to add.

I second the Icefields Parkway, it is indeed spectacular, although I realize it would require a major revision of your plan. Moraine Lake is worth the detour. Mt. Robson is just N of Jasper, somehow I missed it.

I noticed your route skipped Waterton, You might make a stop there, very nice lake view south into Glacier NP, and a visit to Prince of Wales lodge will make you think the guys who ran the Great Northern Railway were either geniuses or nuts.

If you like hiking, Glacier NP is a great place to stay for several days, especially the Many Glacier area. Lots of trails leave MG in 3 directions, MG Hotel is something to see, and Swiftcurrent lodge is the cheapest one in the park, if you can get in. MG has a campground, store and cheap (for NPs) restaurant, laundry and pay showers. MG is off by itself so lots of tourists never make it down to the end of that dead-end road.

The entire North Fork section of GNP is quiet and uncrowded, a dirt road travels all the way to the border. The four lakes accessed from here are really worth seeing. I spent an afternoon at Bowman lake completely alone during peak season. Polebridge Merc offers groceries/bakery/supplies, so you're not really out in the wilderness.

I'd have a hard time bike touring your route, since I'd rather just stay in GNP and hike.

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Old 04-07-13, 03:45 PM
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You'll be missing some amazing country if you stick to paved roads. I'd recommend considering a mixed road trip so you can catch some of the beautiful scenery in Canada.
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Old 04-07-13, 09:44 PM
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Should I decide to ride to/from Jasper, where do I fly to? Calgary, Edmonton, or somewhere else?

Is it better to start in the north and head south or the other way around?
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Old 04-07-13, 10:27 PM
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Fly into Jackson, WY - end in Jasper, AB
Riding north, you generally have the sun behind you.
Plus there is a net elevation loss of about 4000 feet.
(Of course, with all the climbing and descending, it seems like a wash.)

It take a week+ to get from Jackson to Glacier NP.
Then a week+ to get from Glacier NP to Jasper.
That's a fairly leisurely pace with days off.
My guess is 14 riding days total - thus 7 off for exploring.
(1000 miles - 70 per riding day)

I took 19 days back in 2005 -
Including riding out and back on Going to the Sun, hiking, and days off.
https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/..._id=26427&v=O5
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Old 04-07-13, 11:18 PM
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As far as I can tell, there is a small airport at Jasper that doesn't have a scheduled service. There are buses to both Edmunton and Calgary but no flights I can find into or out of Jasper. Am I just not looking in the right places? Or, is there some other method of travel that connects Jasper and Edmunton and Calgary?
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Old 04-07-13, 11:38 PM
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Jasper has daily bus service to Edmonton and Vancouver with Canadian Greyhound.
But better - 3 or four days a week in each direction - VIA Rail with dome cars.
Both operate out of the historic Canadian National Station in the middle of town.
Bike boxers available.

Why not take the train to Vancouver and then fly back from there?
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Old 04-08-13, 09:47 AM
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+1 on VIA Rail from Jasper to Vancouver.
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Old 04-09-13, 08:13 AM
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Thanks for all the great input.

I'm convinced!

I've been to Jackson, driven through the Tetons and Yellowstone. Instead of starting/ending at Jackson, I'd rather go to Missoula as there are easy air connections from there to SFO, where I live. Also, I've never spent any time in Montana and, as a life member, wouldn't mind visiting the ACA headquarters.

What is the best direction to ride this route? Should I start in Jasper (Edmunton and VIA) and ride south or start in Missoula and ride north?
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Old 04-09-13, 09:06 AM
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HI Raybo,

I realize that I did pretty much the trip you are talking about a few years ago, and routed it with Jamawani's help. I will PM you a link to a google spreadsheet with miles, ascent and notes. I did that in a very leisurely 20 total days including 4 rest days,averaging 52 m/d for just the ride days. You could add another bunch of rest/hiking/exploring days to this trip easily, and still ride out to Edmonton, or not add any and *possibly* ride out to Edmonton via backtracking to Hwy 11 and going thru ROcky Mountain House - I've seen Machka's pictures of this road but never done it, and she says it is spectacular.

Here is my trip map , as I actually did it:
https://goo.gl/maps/0uEfa

One of Jamawani route's, includes different approach to Bannf via Canmore (east side):
https://goo.gl/maps/kQsm0

link to bike map of the parkway, you can get this at a ranger station in the park:
https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/resou...ap&context=all

As i did this as a segment of a longer trip, I can't answer any transportation to/from the start questions. Don't forget your passport.

Hope this helps.
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Old 04-09-13, 09:27 AM
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Fabulous information, Valygrl. Thank you so much.

I have created a route map of a Jasper - Missoula ride (direction unclear, at this point): https://www.mapmyride.com/routes/view/190707694

Instead of riding north/south via Whitefish, the above route goes to the east of Glacier NP and then along Going to the Sun rd and then follows Jamawani's route north.

Again, I'd be interested in any comments about this route.
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Old 04-09-13, 12:50 PM
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If you started in Missoula I would recommend turning North from Hwy 200 onto Hwy. 83 to reach Glacier Park. It is more direct, shorter and quite lovely. (The TSRV Tour Of the Swan River Valley is a noted group bike ride using the route). There are even off pavement alternatives paralleling the pavement along 83 [available on Section One of the ACA Divide Ride.] Just a personal preference over the plains East of the Continental Divide.

Time saved on this end can be used to explore more of the Canadian Parks and more of Waterton-Glacier and/or to use VIA Rail for a portion of your return trip from Jasper NP.
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Old 04-09-13, 04:40 PM
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Originally Posted by arctos
If you started in Missoula I would recommend turning North from Hwy 200 onto Hwy. 83 to reach Glacier Park. It is more direct, shorter and quite lovely. (The TSRV Tour Of the Swan River Valley is a noted group bike ride using the route). There are even off pavement alternatives paralleling the pavement along 83 [available on Section One of the ACA Divide Ride.] Just a personal preference over the plains East of the Continental Divide.

Time saved on this end can be used to explore more of the Canadian Parks and more of Waterton-Glacier and/or to use VIA Rail for a portion of your return trip from Jasper NP.
I remapped the route using this suggestion. It saves 140 miles (3 days?): https://www.mapmyride.com/routes/view/190707694

I could probably find a way to spend those three days in Glacier NP doing something!

Any comments?
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Old 04-09-13, 05:00 PM
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US 287/89 has less traffic than Hwy 83. Also, Hwy 83 has limited shoulders in many places.
US 287/89 has wide-open mountain vistas - Hwy 83 is largely forested with occasional views.
Obviously if one is coming from Missoula it is further using US 287/89.

Montana DOT traffic:
https://www.mdt.mt.gov/travinfo/docs/bike_map.pdf

The 2430 figure for Hwy 83 is a the low point - around Seeley Lake and Swan Lakw it may push 5000 ADT in summer.
US 287 has an ADT of 540 - sublime. US 89 has 1400 ADT tops - plus much of the route has good shoulders.

It's an issue of quality over quantity.
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Old 04-09-13, 05:26 PM
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Originally Posted by raybo
I remapped the route using this suggestion. It saves 140 miles (3 days?): https://www.mapmyride.com/routes/view/190707694

I could probably find a way to spend those three days in Glacier NP doing something!

Any comments?
If you go north-south, prepare for a stiff headwind on U.S. 89 between St. Mary and Chief Mountain Hwy. Expect the opposite if you go the other direction. On the east side of 69 near Babb, there is a place on the reservation called the Fire Horse Cafe. Great burgers.

Don't take Chief Mountain Hwy. lightly. It's tougher than it looks on paper.

Extra days? Consider taking a short side trip to Waterton Village. There is a fantastic campground in town on the edge of the lake:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/davez20...57620763740044

It makes a nice place for a rest day. There is a boat ride/hike combination you can do.

Pincher Creek is a sad little town.
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Old 04-09-13, 05:40 PM
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Originally Posted by raybo
I remapped ...
Have you considered starting at Kalispell? Flathead Lake is a nice view with the Mission Mtns behind, but you won't see that from the east side of lake.
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Old 04-09-13, 10:55 PM
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Originally Posted by raybo
What is the best direction to ride this route? Should I start in Jasper (Edmunton and VIA) and ride south or start in Missoula and ride north?
I've gone northbound on this route, and I would recommend going south-north in July. Not for winds, but for daylight, as you'll be "chasing daylight" the whole way north. For example, if you started in Missoula, sunset on July 1st is 9:34PM. Sunset in Edmonton for July 31st is 9:31PM. At the rate you'll be going northbound, you'll pretty much have that consistent sunset time, and will have nice long days for riding.
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Old 04-09-13, 10:59 PM
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I would go north because the scenery gets better and better.
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Old 04-09-13, 11:01 PM
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Originally Posted by jamawani
US 287/89 has less traffic than Hwy 83. Also, Hwy 83 has limited shoulders in many places...Hwy 83 is largely forested with occasional views...The 2430 figure for Hwy 83 is a the low point - around Seeley Lake and Swan Lake it may push 5000 ADT in summer...
I agree with jamawani that 83 is pretty busy, especially if you are riding it anytime near the 4th. We rode it two summers ago, and it was very busy on Thursday afternoon. Lots of RVs and big boats in tow, and nothing resembling a shoulder. Traffic dropped somewhat after Seeley Lake, though, and the open views increase. But the first part of the road has its share of recreational traffic and lots of trees.
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Old 04-09-13, 11:01 PM
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Originally Posted by valygrl
I would go north because the scenery gets better and better.
That too!
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Old 04-09-13, 11:07 PM
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Fly into Bozeman??
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Old 04-09-13, 11:11 PM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz
Don't take Chief Mountain Hwy. lightly. It's tougher than it looks on paper.
True that. Actually, I found the whole section of US 89 on the east side of Glacier to be pretty hard too. You aren't going over any true mountain passes, but you'll be going up and over many ridges that run perpendicular to the road. Neither 89 or Cheif Mtn have much in the way of shade, so it can be intense riding when its sunny out. And there's no services on Chief Mtn (or water) so plan accordingly.

Originally Posted by indyfabz
Extra days? Consider taking a short side trip to Waterton Village. There is a fantastic campground in town on the edge of the lake.
Yes! Waterton is a great park and worth the detour. The short hike to Bears Hump is great.

Originally Posted by indyfabz
Pincher Creek is a sad little town.
I didn't find it that sad, but with raybo's route it will pretty much be the major supply stop between stuff around Glacier (Waterton has a very small and very expensive market) until at least Banff. The Cowboy Trail/Alberta Provincial Route 22 has NOTHING in the way of services (save the small cafe at Chain Lakes Provincial Park, if you catch it open) until you hit Longview, which has a small market from what I remember, and then nothing again until Banff.
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Old 04-10-13, 08:13 AM
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Originally Posted by jamawani
Fly into Bozeman??
What does Bozeman offer that Missoula doesn't? It looks like it is more distance to get to Glacier than riding from Missoula.
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