Great Parks

Great Parks North Jasper, AB to Missoula, MT 2 Map Set GPX Data | Overview | Buy | Mobile App
1. Jasper, AB to Fernie, BC Detail
2. Fernie, BC to Missoula, MT Detail
Great Parks South Steamboat Springs, CO to Durango, CO 2 Map Set GPX Data | Overview | Buy | Mobile App
1. Steamboat Springs, CO to Poncha Springs, CO Detail
2. Poncha Springs, CO to Durango, CO Detail

Experience spectacular parks in the United States and Canada.

These two separate routes traverse the Rocky Mountain national parks of Canada and the U.S. When combined with TransAmerica Trail sections 4, 5, and 6, it is a continuous route from Jasper, Alberta, to Durango, Colorado. Below, you’ll find details on both the North and South routes.

Great Parks North

Following the spine of the northern Rocky Mountains, this route ambles through some of the most sublime (and accessible) mountain scenery found in Canada and the continental United States.

Even in the height of summer, cyclists must be prepared for cold nights and occasional snow in the higher elevations. The Canadian parks, with their wide road shoulders, provide excellent cycling conditions, though motorized traffic during the tourist season is heavy. Towns outside the parks, such as Fernie, British Columbia, offer information and ample opportunities for the off-road cycling enthusiast. Fascinating side trips abound for natural and geological sightseeing, which include aerial trams, hiking onto glaciers, and whitewater rafting. So, allow extra time beyond bicycling for these activities.

The route begins in Jasper, Alberta, a busy tourist center in the heart of Jasper National Park, one of the five Canadian Parks the route traverses. You will be amazed by the scenery: glacial lakes, dramatic waterfalls, piercingly steep mountains covered with glaciers, and a tremendous variety of wildlife; you will stop frequent just to marvel at the beauty. Be sure to ride cautiously among the tourists in recreational vehicles. As you head south, over several passes through the parks, take the time to go to Lake Louise and Banff, which both offer a wide variety of tourist services and charm. After 230 miles of amazing vistas, you’ll leave Kootenay National Park and descend steeply into the town of Radium Hot Springs. Stop for an enjoyable soak in the soothing hot mineral pools. From Radium Hot Springs southward to Elko, the western side of the Rockies offers gentler cycling following the Columbia and Kootenay river systems. At Elko, the route turns east over the Continental Divide through a series of small mining communities. You’ll see the prairies begin on the eastern slope and traverse the foothills through Waterton Lakes National Park, another mountain jewel of the Canadian Parks. The border crossing into the United States at Chief Mountain is only open from mid-May through mid-September, and then you’re in Glacier National Park in Montana, crossing the Divide back to the western side on the spectacular Going-to-the-Sun Road. You’ll find no major climbs or descents after leaving the park, and the route mainly follows river valleys bracketed by mountain ranges all the way into Missoula.

Great Parks South

This route, entirely in the Colorado Rocky Mountains, offers challenging biking, including riding on Trail Ridge Road, the highest continuous paved road in the continental United States, located in Rocky Mountain National Park. Eleven miles of it are above treeline.

The cyclist is rewarded by a continuous setting of dramatic mountain scenery, national forests, parks, monuments, and many climbs and descents over passes. Off-road mountain-biking opportunities abound at the various ski hills along the route, which offer singletrack riding on quiet forest trails, serviced by bustling tourist villages.

The route begins in northern Colorado in the ski town of Steamboat Springs. After a gut-busting climb out of Steamboat Springs to Rabbit Ears Pass and Muddy Pass, you’ll find open grazing land and national forest lands heading to Granby, near the southern entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park. Traffic can be heavy approaching the park and throughout the park, and you’ll spend many hours climbing and descending Trail Ridge Road. From Estes Park to Georgetown, this area is the playground for Denver, the surrounding communities on the Front Range and also much of the nation. Communities from Keystone to Breckenridge have become major year-round tourist destinations, so be prepared for traffic and recreational vehicles. There is a very good paved trail system in Summit County. South of Fairplay, the route becomes rural and traverses the high, open land of South Park. After crossing Trout Creek Pass, the route drops into the Arkansas River Valley near Buena Vista. The western slope of the Colorado Rocky Mountains is old mining country, from Salida all the way into Durango. Around Dolores, the mountains give way to the dry, open Four Corners region, highlighted by Mesa Verde National Park. Durango is the southern terminus of the historic Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, the only remaining regularly scheduled narrow-gauge passenger train.

Photo by Chuck Haney

Great Parks North

The Great Parks North terrain is a series of climbs and descents over passes into various river valleys. In the southern part of the route, you’ll stay in the valleys and experience rolling terrain. The route crosses the Continental Divide three times.

Great Parks South

On Great Parks South, you will cross eleven mountain passes, and six of these will be over the Continental Divide. The highest point on the route is at 12,183 feet in Rocky Mountain National Park. The route follows a few river valleys, but for the most part you will be either climbing or descending.

Great Parks North - Main Route
Section Distance Elevation Total Climb Avg. Climb/mile
Total 741.0 miles Minimum: 2,470 ft.
Maximum:6,825 ft.
40,775 ft. south bound
40,765 ft. north bound
55 ft. per mi. south bound
55 ft. per mi. north bound
1 370.2 miles Minimum: 2,470 ft.
Maximum:6,825 ft.
21,055 ft. south bound
21,015 ft. north bound
57 ft. per mi. south bound
57 ft. per mi. north bound
2 370.8 miles Minimum: 2,895 ft.
Maximum:6,650 ft.
19,720 ft. south bound
19,750 ft. north bound
53 ft. per mi. south bound
53 ft. per mi. north bound
Great Parks South
Name Section Distance Total Climb Avg. Climb/mile
Total 695.0 miles Minimum: 5,805 ft.
Maximum:12,175 ft.
53,075 ft. south bound
53,293 ft. north bound
76 ft. per mi. south bound
77 ft. per mi. north bound
1 386.8 miles Minimum: 6,700 ft.
Maximum:12,175 ft.
30,930 ft. south bound
30,065 ft. north bound
80 ft. per mi. south bound
78 ft. per mi. north bound
2 305.5 miles Minimum: 5,805 ft.
Maximum:11,320 ft.
22,185 ft. south bound
23,228 ft. north bound
73 ft. per mi. south bound
76 ft. per mi. north bound
Great Parks North Alternates
Name Section Distance Total Climb Avg. Climb/mile
Banff Spur 1 19.0 miles 910 ft. south bound
1,330 ft. north bound
48 ft. per mi. south bound
70 ft. per mi. north bound
Gravel Alternate 1 20.9 miles 1,425 ft. south bound
1,310 ft. north bound
68 ft. per mi. south bound
63 ft. per mi. north bound
Tobacco Valley Alternate 2 100.0 miles 4,955 ft. north bound
4,950 ft. north bound
50 ft. per mi. north bound
50 ft. per mi. north bound
Great Parks South Alternates
Name Section Distance Total Climb Avg. Climb/mile
Berthoud Pass Alternate 1 47.0 miles 4,095 ft. south bound
3,795 ft. north bound
87 ft. per mi. south bound
81 ft. per mi. north bound
Mesa Verde Spur 2 52.3 miles 5,890 ft. clockwise
ft. clockwise
113 ft. per mi. clockwise
ft. per mi. clockwise

Great Parks North

This route should be ridden from early summer to mid-fall (typically June to September). Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park is usually closed until early to mid June and has limited hours for cyclists which is noted on the map. Snow can occur at any time during the summer in the Rocky Mountains so be prepared with cold weather gear. Due to changing local conditions, it is difficult to predict any major wind patterns.

Jasper can be reached by rail service from Edmonton, Alberta. Along the entire length of the route, small towns at regular intervals provide ample services, but plan ahead due to crowded tourist conditions, especially in the Canadian Park System and in Glacier National Park. Reservations at both hostels and campgrounds are recommended. For off-road bicycling and primitive camping, a water purifier is necessary.

Great Parks South

This route can be ridden from early summer to mid-fall (typically June to September). Trail Ridge Road is closed between October and June. Snow can occur at any time during the summer in the Rocky Mountains. Altitude sickness can slow you down, so preparation for the high altitude is important. Arriving a few days before your trip begins is a good way to acclimate.

In Colorado, high-altitude services from campground water to grocery stores can shut down early in the autumn depending on weather. A water purifier is recommended. Due to high levels of tourist activity in the summer, reservations for accommodations and campgrounds are recommended.

Great Parks North and South may be connected into one route by adding TransAmerica Trail Sections 4, 5, and 6.

Some campgrounds will charge a cyclist traveling alone less if they have hiker/biker sites, but often they will charge the price of a regular tent site, and that can easily be $10-$20/night. The maps list churches that have opened their doors to cyclists, but they aren’t all that closely spaced. If you’re friendly and ask around, you can often get yourself invited to camp in a yard. In the U.S. our routes go through national forests (moreso in the west) and you are allowed to camp anywhere on national forest land as long as you “pack it in, pack it out.” Many city parks are free to camp in.

You may also wish to sign up with Warmshowers, a reciprocal hospitality site for bicycle travelers, for other overnight options.

Route Highlights

Great Parks Highlights

  • Jasper National Park, Great Parks North Section 1
  • Banff National Park, Great Parks North Section 1
  • Kootenay National Park, Great Parks North Section 1
  • Waterton Lakes National Park, Great Parks North Section 2
  • Going-to-the-Sun Rd., Great Parks North Section 2
  • Glacier National Park, Great Parks North Section 2
  • Rocky Mountain National Park, Great Parks South Section 1
  • Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Great Parks South Section 2
  • Telluride, Colorado, Great Parks South Section 2
  • Mesa Verde National Park, Mesa Verde Spur, Great Parks South Section 2

More Route Resources


Roads in Canada are generally good to excellent. There are wide shoulders along most of the highways on the route, but don’t let it lull you into a careless state of mind. Slow-moving cars and RVs often drive on this shoulder to let the faster traffic pass. Near towns, important intersections, and turn-outs, the wide shoulder becomes a second driving lane. Use extra caution in these places.

With the exception of the National Park roads, traffic tends to be light to moderate. Near and in any of the parks cyclists will have to contend with higher traffic levels and RV drivers who are inexperienced. To avoid heavy traffic, try to ride early in the day and make yourself and your bike visible with bright clothing or a reflective triangle. During the summer, traffic from Jasper southward to Banff is extremely heavy. Wildlife is abundant; ride slowly and cautiously past any animals so you do not spook them.

Throughout the entire Park system, you will be either climbing or descending. The route finally levels out when it reaches the Columbia and Kootenay river valleys.

South of Jasper, the route uses the quieter and more scenic PR 93A. This is a narrow road with a deteriorating surface which rejoins the wider PR 93 at Athabasca Falls.

Between Sunwapta Pass and Lake Louise, dangerous cracks and large culverts interrupt the road and shoulder surface. Orange warning signs are posted at the worst of them, but be prepared because many aren’t signed. Though it may be difficult, go slowly when descending.

At Castle Junction the 19-mile Banff Spur heads southeastward to Banff. Most of this is on PR 1A, the less traveled, but still busy narrow and winding old highway. The Banff Legacy Trail and several roads lead into town. This trail also continues east to Canmore.

During the summer months there is a shuttle service that will transport passengers with bicycles between the Jasper and Banff hostels. Contact SunDog Tours at 780-852-4056 or 888-786-3641, or

Between Castle Junction and Radium Hot Springs, stock up on food and water before riding the nearly serviceless 65.2-mile stretch through Kootenay National Park.

West Side Rd. south of Invermere, Wardner-Fort Steele Rd. and Jaffray-Baynes Lake Rd. are all lightly trafficked two-lane roads with no shoulders. These parallel roads avoid the more heavily traveled PR 93/95.

A quiet 20.9-mile Gravel Alternate between Elko and Fernie offers respite from the high traffic levels on PR 3. This is also a section of the Elk Valley Trail. A brochure, distributed by the Fernie Trails Alliance, can be found at:


The most reliable characteristic of the Canadian Rocky Mountains weather is its variability. The climate can vary from one valley to the next, and indeed within very short distances. Local climatic conditions are affected by altitude, proximity to large lakes, wind flows through the valleys, and the rain shadow effect of the high mountains. It is always best to be prepared for sudden changes in the weather.

Updated: Nov 12, 2019


In Canada you’ll find good to excellent roads with moderate shoulders. Traffic is usually light to moderate, although there is some truck traffic, particularly in the coal-mining area near Fernie and Sparwood. The Elk Valley Trail is part of the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route, and is not recommended for road bikes because of its mixed surfaces and steep climbs. Around Crowsnest Pass, recreational traffic will be heavy on weekends.

The border crossing on Chief Mountain International Highway is closed from mid-September through mid-May. South of the border, there is a stretch of steep hills heading toward Babb.

Snow closes Going-to-the-Sun Rd. in Glacier National Park between Saint Mary and West Glacier from about mid-September to mid-June. For current road status, see The road gets very heavy traffic during the summer. It is advisable to ride early in the day and avoid weekend travel. Maximize your visibility with a safety vest, triangle, or flag. The west side of Logan Pass is steep, narrow and has many blind corners, and there is a tunnel and drainage grates. Bicycle restrictions are in effect from June 15th through Labor Day. For northbound (uphill) cyclists ONLY, the section of the road from Logan Creek to Logan Pass is prohibited between 11 A.M. and 4 P.M. Between Sprague Creek Campground and Apgar Campground bicycles are prohibited between 11 A.M. to 4 P.M. IN BOTH DIRECTIONS.

Roads in Montana usually range from fair to good. Instead of using busy U.S. 2 between West Glacier and Columbia Falls, the route follows bike paths and side roads with 2.7 miles of gravel which becomes more washboarded as summer progresses. We highly recommend you use this route to avoid a dangerously narrow, curvy, shoulderless section of U.S. 2 east of Columbia Falls. Ride cautiously on shoulderless SR 35 south of Bigfork. Traffic increases around most towns, and you’ll encounter logging trucks along SR 83 and SR 200. Boy Scout Rd. offers a respite from SR 83 traffic but lacks services. South of Seeley Lake, SR 83 becomes narrow and curvy, especially near Salmon Lake. On SR 200, shoulders are wide but beware of the deep rumble strips.

The Tobacco Valley Alternate, which bypasses Glacier and Waterton Lakes National Parks, is 100 miles in length. South of the border, U.S. 93 carries some high speed traffic and trucks, so the route uses parallel smaller roads wherever possible. To complete a loop to Fernie, BC, you will need section 1 of the Great Parks North Route.


Perhaps the most influential aspect of the northern Rocky Moun-tains is the prevailing westerly winds. These winds bring moist Pacific air from the ocean, and as this moist air is forced up over the mountain peaks, particularly the mountains of the Continental Divide, it cools. As the air is pushed up the temperature lowers, and this causes the moisture in the air to condense and precipitate. When the air descends on the downwind side of the mountains, it warms and stops precipitating. On occasion the wind comes from the east, pushing continental air up over the mountains. In this case, the normal situation is reversed, and precipitation is deposited on the Front Ranges. This upslope weather generally happens in the early summer.

Updated: Nov 12, 2019


Colorado is in the process of installing rumble strips on highways that have been resurfaced, so ride carefully along these roads.

This route is characterized by following river valleys and climbing over mountain passes at high altitudes. It is a strenuous route.

Steamboat Springs is a busy tourist town, as are many of the towns in this section. The traffic on U.S. 40 will diminish the farther away you go from town. The shoulder varies in width from none to six feet. SR 14 and SR 125 over Willow Creek Pass are narrow but lightly traveled.

U.S. 34 heading into and out of Rocky Moun­tain National Park has high levels of tourist traffic. Near and in any national park cyclists will have to contend with higher traffic levels and RV drivers who are inexperienced. To avoid heavy traffic try to ride early in the day and make yourself and your bike visible. In the Park, Trail Ridge Rd. is one of the great alpine roads in the U.S. Its winding course takes you 12,183′ above sea level through the high alpine tundra ecosystem.

If you choose the Ber­thoud Pass Al­ter­nate you’ll miss Rocky Moun­tain National Park. But the Al­ter­nate is 99 miles shorter than the main route and uses U.S. 40.

Between Central City and I-70 the pri­vate­ly owned ­Cen­tral City Parkway is a steady 7-8% grade for 8 miles. It has good shoulders.

The route parallels I-70 on frontage roads until the climb over Love­land Pass. Then it descends to the resort towns of Keystone, Dillon, Frisco and Breck­en­ridge where the route follows side roads and various bike paths. Recreational facilities here attract many weekenders and vacationers from the more densely populated eastern slope of the Rockies. Traffic can be heavy, but the route mostly avoids this traffic by using bike paths through the area. See for a map of Summit County bike paths.

SR 9 up and over Hoosier Pass is narrow and carries heavy traffic during the summer. Extra caution is advised. It is a moderately difficult climb. Riders gain 1,500′ within 10 miles in order to reach the top of the pass.

After Hoosier Pass the country spreads out and traffic thins. Be careful on U.S. 285 north of Trout Creek Pass due to narrow shoulders, rumble strips and a higher traffic volume. South of the pass there are moderate shoulders to Poncha Springs.

NOTE: After October 1st, many private and U.S.F.S. campgrounds close for the winter or have no water available. Call ahead to verify conditions if you are traveling after this date.


Most of Colorado has a cool and invigorating climate that could be termed a highland or moun­tain climate of a continental location. Humidity is generally quite low: this favors rapid evaporation and a relatively comfortable feeling even on hot days. The thin atmosphere allows greater pen­e­tra­tion of solar radiation and results in pleasant daytime conditions.

The climates of local areas are profoundly affected by differences in elevation, and to a lesser degree, by the orientation of mountain ranges and valleys with respect to general air movements. Prevailing air currents reach Colorado from west­erly directions.

Updated: Sep 24, 2018


Heading west from Poncha Springs, the route uses U.S. 50 until reaching Montrose. The highway shoulder’s widths change and traffic levels increase around the Curecanti National Recreation Area and within towns. Be careful when crossing the rumble strips located on the newer stretches of the highway.

All of the highways on this section are two-lane roads with shoulders varying from none to 10-feet wide.

After leaving the wide Uncompahgre River valley and Ridgway, the route heads back into the foothills of the higher mountains and over the Dallas Divide. Many of the passes along the route have climbing lanes for slower-moving traffic.

Ride carefully along the San Miguel River between Placerville and the turn-off to Telluride. The highway is continuously winding with short sight lines, and has high levels of summer traffic. If you choose, there is a bike path along the highway to go into historic Telluride.

Traffic will increase in the towns of Cortez and Mancos. U.S. 160 has a wide shoulder as you head into Durango, the end of the route.

Near and in any national parks cyclists will have to contend with higher traffic levels and RV drivers who are inexperienced. To avoid heavy traffic try to ride early in the day and make yourself and your bike visible.

Mesa Verde National Park is known as a World Class Park and an out and back spur is shown. However it’s not particularly bicycle-friendly, especially during the summer tourist season, because the roads have no shoulders. To visit the major ruins will require several thousand feet of climbing and descending. One option for viewing the ruins is to camp at Morefield Campground and reserve a spot on one of the bus tours. Go to this link for cycling restrictions within the park:

NOTE: After October first, many private and U.S.F.S. campgrounds close for the winter or have no water available. Call ahead to verify conditions if you are travelling after this date.


The rugged topography of western Colorado causes large variations in climate within short distances, and few climatic generalizations apply to the whole area. Summer in the mountains is a cool and refreshing season. At typical mountain stations the average July temperature is in the neighborhood of 60 degrees F. The highest temperatures are usually in the 70’s and 80’s, but may reach 95 degrees F. Above 7,000 feet, the nights are quite cool throughout the summer, while bright sunshine makes the days comfortably warm.

Updated: Dec 19, 2017

Updates to Recently Released Maps

If you are planning a bike tour, be sure to get the most recent map updates and corrections for your route by selecting the route, and the appropriate section(s), from the drop-down menu below.

Over time maps become less useful because things change. Every year Adventure Cycling’s Routes and Mapping Department create map updates and corrections for every map in the Adventure Cycling Route Network, which now totals 52,047 miles. With the help of touring cyclists like you, we receive updates on routing, services, camping, and contact information. Until we can reprint the map with the new information, we verify the suggested changes and publish corrections and updates here on our website.

PLEASE NOTE: Covid has been particularly hard on the small businesses along our routes. While we do our best to keep the maps and these online updates current, you may encounter more closed businesses and longer stretches with limited or no services.

Refer to these updates for the most current information we have and submit reports of changes to the Route Feedback Form for the cyclists coming after you.

NOTE: Map updates and corrections only pertain to long term changes and updates. For short term road closures, please see the Adventure Cycling’s Routes Temporary Road Closures discussion in our Forums.