Established in 1872, Yellowstone was America’s first national park, and the first such preserve in the entire world. Over the decades, the national-park idea has spread like wildfire; the National Park Service now oversees nearly 400 Park System Units, and worldwide nearly 7,000 national parks welcome visitors and protect important places. This great tour takes you through the park that planted that prolific seed — and also visits Grand Teton National Park, Yellowstone’s neighbor to the south.
Some of the sights you’ll visit on this ride are known throughout the world: Yellowstone’s famous bison and elk herds, the Teton Range, and Old Faithful Geyser, to name a handful. Others are less-known but no less spectacular: Mesa Falls, for instance, where the fabled Henry’s Fork of the Snake River flows in dramatic fashion off the lip of the Yellowstone Caldera in a pair of powerful waterfalls. Softer beauty also abounds: from cool forests of quaking aspen to a cow moose quietly enjoying her dinner in a roadside pond. Our group will take in all that this region has to offer, and we’ll do it in the relative luxury of our vansupported tour format.
|Start Date:||Jul 25, 2015||End Date:||Aug 01, 2015|
|Start Location:||Jackson, WY||End Location:||Jackson, WY|
|Total Days:||8||Riding Days:||6|
|Average Daily Mileage:||47.8||Surface:||Paved|
|Riders:||13||Elevation Alert:||High point: 8400'|
|Airport:||Jackson Hole (Jackson, WY)||Tour Leader:||Lee Goode, Katie Kramon|
|Type:||Supported||Technical Difficulty:||Easy to moderate|
|Physical Difficulty:||Intermediate+||Level of Support:||Van Supported|
Jackson, Wyoming. We’ll gather at the Elk Country Inn in Jackson, where, after an orientation session, we’ll have our first group meal in the picnic area of the lodge. Before crawling into your Old West cabin for the night, you can start getting acquainted with your fellow riding companions — and maybe even wander over to the historic Wort Hotel, whose classic Silver Dollar Bar features a bar top inlaid with 2,032 uncirculated Morgan silver dollars.
Jackson to Flagg Ranch Resort, 55.5 miles. Today we’ll point our touring bikes north and ride through legendary Jackson Hole, passing the National Elk Refuge — where some 8,000 wapiti winter over each year — en route to Grand Teton National Park. From the park headquarters at Moose, where we’ll want to spend some time exploring the fine new Craig Thomas Discovery & Visitor Center, we’ll roll onto the new (in 2009) pathway that will take us eight miles to shimmering Jenny Lake. From there, we’ll continue alongside the lofty Teton peaks, finishing up the day at the Flagg Ranch Resort, sitting pretty between Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks along the John D. Rockefeller Memorial Parkway.
Flagg Ranch to Canyon Village in Yellowstone, 41.5 miles. We’ll start the day by getting shuttled the 21 miles from Flagg Ranch to Yellowstone’s Grant Village, where we’ll jump aboard our bicycles and begin riding. For more than 20 miles we’ll spin along the northwestern shores of Yellowstone Lake. With a surface area of 132 square miles, it’s the largest high-elevation lake in North America. A natural body of water sitting at 7,733 feet above sea level, Yellowstone Lake is approximately 20 miles long and 14 miles wide, boasting 141 miles of shoreline. It typically freezes in late December or early January and thaws in late May or early June — so we should indeed see water, and not ice, on our July visit! From Fishing Bridge, we’ll parallel the Yellowstone River through the peaceful, bison-abundant Hayden Valley, prior to reaching our evening’s destination of Canyon Village.
Canyon Village to West Yellowstone, Montana, 48 miles. From Canyon Village we’ll continue west through the world’s first national park, stopping to explore the Norris Geyser Basin, the hottest, oldest, and most dynamic of Yellowstone’s thermal areas. Consisting of three areas — Porcelain Basin, Back Basin, and One Hundred Springs Plain — the basin’s features literally change daily, due to underground water fluctuations and seismic activity. From there, we’ll follow the lively Gibbon River to Madison Junction, where we’ll pick up the Madison River, joining it on its downstream run to West Yellowstone. Time and energy permitting, you might want to rent a mountain bike at the Freeheel and Wheel shop in town, and explore the great paths of the Rendezvous Trails system — one of the West’s top destinations in winter for Nordic skiers, and similarly great for fat-tire riding in the summer.
Layover day & guided tour of Yellowstone National Park. On this layover day we'll take a van tour to parts of Yellowstone we haven't yet visited: namely, the Mammoth Hot Springs area and Old Faithful, home to the world-renowned geyser of the same name, as well as the venerable Old Faithful Inn. Built during the winter of 1903-04, the inn was designed by architect Robert C. Reamer to echo the asymmetry of things found in nature. One of a handful of log hotels still standing in the United States, its proportions are staggering to consider: nearly 700 feet long and seven stories high. The lobby features a 65-foot-high ceiling, an enormous fireplace built of rhyolite, and railings made of twisted lengths of lodgepole pine. Back in West Yellowstone, we can take in whatever's showing at the Yellowstone Imax Theatre, and/or watch the antics of the gray wolves and grizzly bears at the nearby Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center.
West Yellowstone to Ashton, Idaho, 64.5 miles. Today we’ll surmount Targhee Pass, departing Montana and entering the Gem State of Idaho. We’ll continue through fly-fishing central, aka Island Park, a town that claims to have the longest main street in the world (at 33 miles, who could argue!). Ultimately, we’ll steer onto the Mesa Falls Scenic Byway, a smooth expanse of blacktop that is short on traffic and long on outstanding scenery, including the marvelous Upper and Lower Mesa Falls of the Henry’s Fork. We’ll overnight in the quiet farming community of Ashton.
Ashton to Victor, 53 miles. We’ll ride today from Ashton to Teton Valley, for the first 20 miles-plus along a series of chip sealed farm roads that see almost no traffic, except during the harvest season (mid-September through early October). These roads roller-coaster through an undulating farm-country terrain set against the magnificent backdrop of the Teton Range. We’ll enjoy our last night on the trail at the Teton Valley Campground outside the cool little town of Victor. (How cool is it? The mayor, Scott Fitzgerald, owns and operates the popular Fitzgerald’s Bicycles in Jackson.)
Victor to Jackson, 24.5 miles. We've saved the best — or at least the most challenging — for last, as today we climb Teton Pass, elevation 8,431. That's more than two thousand feet higher than where we'll start the ascent back in Victor. The trip up is slow, but the trip back down to Jackson Hole — by way of a paved pathway separate from the main highway — is fast, and, the view from the top of the pass in not to be missed. So, cowboy up, and get ready for a tough ride and a celebratory completion to our grand loop tour in Jackson.
"Every single staff member was courteous, attentive and would do anything possible to help."
2013 Tour Participant
"The sites, wildlife, and scenery around Yellowstone and Tetons are great."
2013 Tour Participant
"Can’t wait to pick a trip for next year!"
2013 Tour Participant
"I think it's unusual for a mature group of adults like we had, to be having so much fun that, if we were in a bar, would have been asked to leave for laughing so loud. Nicely done!"
2011 Tour Participant