Originally Posted by GP1152
Appreciate all the support from everyone
So I'm at a point where I should start booking rooms. There's a few legs of the trip where we're stuck with short distances due to what we have the following day (places and things we'll want to have time to see along the way). For example, from Jackson, WY to Gardiner, MT it's only 152 miles, but the next stop after that is Red Lodge. Red Lodge is after Bear-tooth pass and there's no way I'm not
going to allow ourselves enough time to stop along the way. Even with the short distances it looks like we'll have an extra 2 nights. I'd appreciate any feedback from anyone as to a few places you think we might want to spend an extra night.
Google maps reached it's limit as t how many points I can have on this map so I've split it into sections. This map HERE
will give you an idea as to the route again though.
(and for the record, we've done the 400+ mile days thing in the past and that's NOT what this or any of our trips are about. If we're hauling ass, it's for fun and NOT because we're in a hurry to get anywhere
I lived in Wyoming (Lander, on the east flank of the Wind River Mountains) for many decades before moving to Virginia about 5.5 years ago, so I rode all that country you're planning to see many times. You've gotten a bunch of good advice about the desert SW portion of your trip, so I'll stick to commenting on the Wyoming and Yellowstone leg.
I like you're route generally, but would caution you about the Rock Springs to Pinedale stretch - it's flat, dry, wide open high desert with lots of oilfield truck traffic. Coming over the Uinta Mountains on Hwy 191 from Vernal to Rock Springs is AWESOME, you will not believe the switchbacks on the Vernal side, then you ride down an awesome mountain road on the Wyoming side, over Flaming Gorge Dam (nice visitor's center with clean potties
), through the Uinta foothills and up Little Mountain (awesome sweepers...) onto a GORGEOUS high plateau with incredible vistas all the way to RS. Watch for wild horses up there - it's open range (no fences) and we had a large herd run right between my buddy and I as we rode down through there one day (stallions, mares, colts running full-tilt across the road in front of me- you talk about a wild sight!). The wind can be atrocious up there, but the asphalt and scenery are unreal. If I were doing this route, I'd skip the RS to Pinedale stretch and head a bit west on I-80 until you hit Hwy 30 and go up through Kemmerer, Sage, Cokeville, then over Salt Pass into the Star Valley (Afton) for some incredible twisty scenic mountain roads. From the Star Valley you'll turn right at Alpine Junction (Hwy 26, I think), then up through the amazingly gorgeous Snake River Canyon to Jackson. It's longer, but much more scenic and once you're past Cokeville you are on some outstanding motorcycle roads all the way to Jax. If you go through Pinedale, it's pretty following the Wind River Mountains but pretty straight and boring roads until you almost get to Bondurant, then the Hoback Canyon is outstanding. The route I described above will intersect with your route at Hoback Junction just south of Jackson.
Yes, it's not very far from Jackson to Gardiner, Montana but traversing Yellowstone takes time. I have a suggestion for accomodation - skip Gardiner and go about 15 miles further north to Chico Hot springs resort and spend a couple nights there. Gardiner is kind of a dumpy little town with standard hotels and limited eating choices while Chico is fantastic with an OLD lodge (or you can get nicer rooms in their new section, and decent hotel-type rooms in another section). They have a five-star restaurant, HUGE hot springs pool, day spa, horseback riding, etc. If you stay two nights there you can take a liesurely ride through YNP on the Grand Loop (Mammoth - Tower - Canyon - West Thumb - Old Faithful - back to Mammoth - Chico) and then be refreshed for continuing your ride over the Beartooth Highway. I spent a lot of time riding and working in Yellowstone and am pleased to report that the NPS rebuilt all the roads in the last ~10 years so they are in great condition, but they really do enforce the 45 MPH speed limit. If you do your loop early you'll see lots of wildlife along the roads, and there are lots of viewpoints to visit as well. I miss Yellowstone
, I did a lot of bicycling there too and it's unbelievable.
From Chico (
) I'd head back into YNP to Fishing Bridge, then loop around the north side of Yellowstone Lake and go out the East entrance to Cody. You cannot believe how gorgeous that ride is, simply amazing. The roads around the north end of the lake are awesome, Sylvan Pass is stunning, and the highway from the East Entrance to Cody is phenomenal. From Cody head north on Hwy 120 and take the Chief Joseph Scenic Highway 296 over Dead Indian Hill and into the unbelieveable Sunlight Basin:
I have gotten "stuck" riding this highway for hours - ride through, turn around and ride back, turn around and repeat. Once you get tired of this section, head on NW to the intersection with 212 and be prepared to have your socks blown off by the ride over the Beartooth Mountains and down into Red Lodge. It is beyond words as a motorcycling highway (but not fast like Sunlight Basin) and Red Lodge is a cool little ski town with lots of good places to eat and stay. I caution you - wear lots of layers for this trip because you'll go through some extreme elevation and temperature changes through the course of the day, and drink lots of fluids! Yes, the date stamp on this photo is correct, June 1st on Togwotee Pass between Jackson and Dubois:
I rode over the Beartooths once on the 4th of July and was waving at skiers as I rode past - you'll see a Poma lift on the Red Lodge side accessing a big snowfield. The NE Entrance via Cooke City as shown on your map is very nice too, don't get me wrong, but the route I suggested above is 10X the roads and scenery. It's a long day of twisty roads but not all that many miles and it is truly an epic section of road.
Your route through Montana and Idaho looks great - you can't go wrong anywhere up there! I think you'll be fine traversing eastern Utah as long as you stay out of the Salt Lake Valley and the Interstate.
+1 on the suggestion to visit Mesa Verde, it is truly incredible. And you will not find a better 14 mile stretch of National Park Service road than the entrance road up to the mesa top - I am a total hoon on that road. It has incredible vistas, great asphalt, lots of RVs and tourons, almost all double-yellow lines, but on bikes you can pass because there are great sight distances. It's a national park so the speed limit is 45, IIRC, but I just can't go that slow on that road
Well, enough of that for now, I'm making myself crazy wishing I could go ride this stuff again! We have lots of great roads in Virginia and West Virginia (we're 10 miles from the Blue Ridge Parkway) but I do miss the wide open spaces of the Rocky Mountain West.
Have a blast!