Great Divide Canada
For more than two decades, the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route has fulfilled the dreams of cyclists looking for the ultimate off-road adventure on the longest mountain bike route in the world.
You’ll tackle nearly 350 of the most beautiful miles along the entire 3,000-mile route, which traces the spine of the Rocky Mountains from Jasper, Alberta, to Antelope Wells, New Mexico. Beautiful Banff is your starting point, but your ride through the spectacular Canadian Rockies and deep woods of northwest Montana will come to an end near Glacier National Park at the Whitefish Bike Retreat, a 20-acre cyclist’s paradise and a fitting end to a dream tour. Come see why Outside magazine included the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route on its list of “The Best Backcountry Adventure Trips in America.”
"My favorite memory was sitting on the porch at Polebridge drinking beer and hanging out with new friends."
Day 1. Whitefish, Montana
We'll meet in the late afternoon for our orientation meeting before eating dinner together. You'll find this a great opportunity to prepare your gear, meet your fellow riders, and share the excitement of the journey ahead. We will head to bed under the starry sky, ready to head out early in the morning for Banff, Alberta.
Day 2. Shuttle from Whitefish to Banff, Alberta
After loading our gear in Whitefish, Montana, we'll shuttle northward to the bustling national park community of Banff, Alberta, the starting point of our ride. Here we'll have dinner and explore the town. Perhaps you'll take a gondola ride to the summit of Sulphur Mountain, or enjoy a pre-adventure soak in the Upper Banff Hot Springs.
Day 3. Banff to Spray Lakes, 28 miles
Our morning ride begins on the gorgeous Banff Legacy Trail as we head through Canmore. Considering the area is teeming with crowds, you may be surprised by how quickly we get into wild and remote country. Soon we'll intersect with the rough and tumble Goat Creek Trail, which will deliver us to our campsite on the Spray Lakes Reservoir.
Day 4. Spray Lakes to Lower Kananaskis Lake, 35 miles
Entering the vast expanse of terrain known as Kananaskis Country, we'll skirt the northern flank of Mount Shark. This wild inland region is home to plenty of grizzly bears and other wildlife. We'll set up camp near Lower Kananaskis Lake
Day 5. Lower Kananaskis Lake to Elkford, British Columbia, 50 miles
From spectacular Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, we'll make the steep climb over Elk Pass and the Continental Divide. Here we'll also leave Alberta and enter British Columbia. To give you an idea of the ruggedness of this largely roadless region, it's a six-mile mountain bike ride from trailhead to trailhead, but to drive from one to the other, you'd have to travel almost 200 miles! From Elk Lakes Provincial Park, we'll follow the Elk River downstream on a hard-packed dirt road through 40 miles of wilderness to Elkford. Make sure to keep a sharp eye out for moose along the way!
Day 6. Elkford to Fernie, 45 miles
From Elkford we'll head to the resort village of Fernie, following the Elk River with spectacular scenery at every turn along the route. Although we'll be riding on pavement for part of the day, we'll also have great sections of the Elk Valley Trail to keep things exciting. Our rewards will be bountiful, with spectacular views of Mount Fernie and the Three Sisters, the center of which is the highest peak in the area.
Day 7. Layover day in Fernie, 0 miles
After several days of off-pavement travel, we'll take a well-deserved day of rest amid the civilized niceties of Fernie. Once a rough and tumble mining town, Fernie is now known for its skiing and other outdoor pursuits. Take the day to explore the village, tackle some of the area's singletrack trails, or enjoy a hike in Mount Fernie Provincial Park.
Day 8. Fernie to Baynes Lake, 30 miles
Today we'll continue through the Elk River valley on a series of scenic, rural gravel roads to Elko. Here we'll say goodbye to the river we've snaked alongside for several days and head southwest toward Kikomun Creek Provincial Park, where we'll spend our last night in Canada.
Day 9. Baynes Lake to Grave Creek, Montana 54 miles
Today's ride will take us through less mountainous countryside via a series of low-traffic gravel and paved roads winding through the traditional territory of the Ktunaxa, or Kootenay, First Nations People. We'll earn a memorable view of Lake Koocanusa, an immense body of water shared by Canada and the U.S. After crossing the international border at Roosville, Montana, we'll continue on through the town of Eureka, where we'll briefly share a paved section with the Northern Tier Route before making the short ascent on gravel to our campsite for the night on Grave Creek.
Day 10. Grave Creek to Polebridge, 44 miles
We'll start the morning with a climb up and over the Whitefish Divide, after which we'll be rewarded with stunning views of nearby Glacier National Park and a beautiful descent into the valley of the North Fork of the Flathead River. We'll overnight in the eclectic town of Polebridge, located just outside the western border of Glacier National Park. Here, we'll have our celebratory dinner together before tackling one final day on the Divide.
Day 11. Polebridge to Whitefish, 56 miles
If timing permits, perhaps you'll want to grab a huckleberry bear claw at the historic Polebridge Mercantile before hitting the trail. We'll start our last day's ride with a climb back into the Whitefish Range and over Red Meadow Pass, zipping past a series of scenic backcountry lakes. Then comes our ultimate reward: a big descent down to Whitefish Lake and into the town itself. After this long and unforgettable ride, you may want to stop and celebrate at the centrally located Great Northern Brewery and perhaps take a few days to explore Glacier National Park before heading home.
Know before you go
Bike Shop Info:
Glacier Cyclery in Whitefish, Montana, can provide a rental bicycle and equipment for your tour. RESERVATIONS ARE RECOMMENDED, especially during the peak rental season of July–August. Glacier Cyclery has a wide variety of bikes for rent, including full suspension and hardtail mountain bikes, touring road bikes, and fat bikes. Touring bikes come equipped with a rear rack. Given advance notice, Glacier Cyclery can install a rear rack on their hardtail mountain bike. B.O.B. trailers are also available and can be installed on hardtail bikes if desired.
Contact Glacier Cyclery for more information:
Glacier Cyclery, 406.862.6446, glaciercyclery.com