On this stunning weeklong tour you’ll experience Big Sky Country in all its glory. We’ll travel through spectacular mountain ranges and broad scenic valleys, enjoy quiet roads, and explore terrain that boasts loads of history and hosts more cattle than humans.
The tour will kick off in Bozeman and travel across high plains to the blue-ribbon waters of the Madison River. We’ll climb through the Tobacco Root Mountains before descending past the historic ghost towns of Virginia City and Nevada City. Our group will follow the Jefferson River into the ranching town of Dillon, where we’ll take in the remote Pioneer Mountains Scenic Byway. We’ll briefly parallel the Big Hole River before ascending to the Continental Divide and stunning 360-degree views. Then we’ll roll into the legendary copper mining city of Butte and toward the headwaters of the Missouri River, so prominent in the journals of Lewis and Clark. From here, it’s a leisurely cruise through wheat fields and ranchlands back to Bozeman, and the completion of this grand Big Sky loop!
|Start Date:||Jun 21, 2014||End Date:||Jun 28, 2014|
|Start Location:||Bozeman, MT||End Location:||Bozeman, MT|
|Total Days:||8||Riding Days:||7|
|Rest Days:||1||Level of Support:||Fully Supported|
|Miles:||350||Average Daily Mileage:||50.0|
|Accommodations:||Camping, Motel Options||Physical Difficulty:||Intermediate+|
|Airport:||Bozeman Yellowstone Intl (BZN)||Tour Leader:||Tony Neaves|
Bozeman. We’ll kick off our tour in Bozeman, the quaint college town with a mountain-resort feel, which is located between the Gallatin and Bridger mountain ranges. Early arrivers might consider checking out the vibrant downtown scene, touring the Montana State University campus, or visiting the fantastic Museum of the Rockies, which boasts one of the finest paleontological displays anywhere.
Bozeman to Ennis, 52 miles. On our first day of riding, we’ll strike out into the high rolling plains to the Norris junction, site of just one of the numerous hot springs that we’ll encounter during the course of our tour. We’ll then parallel the Madison River, a famous blue-ribbon trout stream and headwater tributary of the Missouri River. As we scan the great mountain vistas to our left and our right, keep an eye out for the deer, elk, and pronghorn that call these hillsides home. We’ll spend our first on-the-road overnight in Ennis, a renowned fly-fishing destination.
Ennis to Dillon, 71 miles. The day begins with a ride up a long, steady grade which takes us to the foot of the Tobacco Root and Greenhorn Mountains. We’ll then descend past the historic ghost towns of Virginia City and Nevada City before skirting the Ruby Range to the junction of four old Indian trails at Twin Bridges and picking up Lewis & Clark's original route along the Jefferson River (another headwater tributary of the Missouri). At the end of the day, we'll find ourselves in the friendly town of Dillon.
Dillon to Wise River, 74 miles. If the sights and scenery haven’t already impressed, hold on to your Stetsons — it’s about to get even better! From Dillon, we’ll work our way to the locally famous Grasshopper Valley, site of an 1862 gold strike, and Bannack State Park. The town of Bannack was the first territorial capital of Montana before it moved to Virginia City and it is one of the best-preserved ghost towns in the west. Turning north, we’ll pedal the remote and recently paved Pioneer Mountains Scenic Byway, which bisects the craggy eastern peaks and rounded western half of the Pioneers. We’ll follow the Wise River to a small hamlet of the same name, where we’ll make our camp.
Wise River to Butte, 58 miles. Initially we’ll follow the Big Hole River, another famous fishing destination, before starting a stair-stepping ascent to the Continental Divide. This time we’ll have the striking ramparts of the Pintler and Anaconda ranges as our mountainous backdrop. After descending into the spacious Silver Bow valley, we’ll meander our way into Butte, once one of the most prosperous cities in the country and, due to the underground copper deposits located there, site of “the Richest Hill on Earth.”
Layover Day in Butte. At one point, Butte was the largest city for hundreds of miles. Our group will take an extra day here to explore the heritage that this historic area has to offer. Off the bike, we can stroll among the Victorian homes, turn-of-the-century buildings, and mine “headframes” in the Uptown district. Alternatively, we can hop on our bikes to visit some of the other regional attractions, such as Anaconda, Georgetown Lake, and Fairmont Hot Springs.
Butte to Three Forks, 65 miles. Continuing eastward, we’ll leave Butte basin and climb into the Highland Mountains. We’ll once again cross the Continental Divide, this time over Pipestone Pass, and then gradually descend all the way to Three Forks, which Lewis and Clark noted as the place where the Gallatin River joins the Madison and Jefferson to form the great Missouri River. We’ll spend one last, leisurely night here under a beautiful starry canopy.
Three Forks to Bozeman, 38 miles. From the headwaters of the Missouri it's a leisurely, but scenic, cruise along the Gallatin back to Bozeman. Our group will pass through rolling ranchlands and wheat fields, wheeling on toward the completion of our grand, Big Sky loop.
"I thought the tour was well organized, well run, and the staff was knowledgable, friendly, and a pleasure to be with. Thank you for a great ride."
2008 Tour Participant
"We really enjoyed this trip...all the staff were great. We felt like we were back with old friends. We'll be back for another trip."
2008 Tour Participant
"I'm glad I saw part of Montana on a bike. Love the blue sky!"
2012 Tour Participant
"The trip of a lifetime, and the first of many such trips I hope to take with you."