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Thread: Ride Advice - Yellowstone/Glacier

  1. #1
    Registered User PittsDriver's Avatar
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    Ride Advice - Yellowstone/Glacier

    Hi all,

    I'm a right coast rider and looking to make a trip out to Utah, Idaho, Montana for a ride late summer. From my little bit of research we're looking at stringing together some good roads over a week or so starting out in SLC and including Lolo pass, Beartooth Highway, Going to the Sun Rd while making stops at Glacier, Yellowstone, Moran, maybe over to Devils Tower/Mount Rushmore and then head for home.

    What's the weather like up there around the end of August/first week in September? Are any roads at risk of being closed or weather coming in? What are the temps like? We like to camp and we're not sissies but sub-freezing temps are probably not on the program.

    And most importantly, what are the best sites and roads we should hit while there?

    Thanks!

    Wes
    Wes Jones
    Annapolis, MD
    2012 K1600GT, Vermillion Red
    2013 S1000RR, Granite Gray

  2. #2
    Registered User Rinty's Avatar
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    Wes:

    Here's a Glacier Park weather summary chart for you. Statistically, August is the driest month:

    http://www.nps.gov/glac/planyourvisit/weather.htm

    In any summer month, you can get snow in the higher elevations, and they could close the road for a short period of time. What I suggest is to just keep an eye on the weather as you get near to the East Glacier area. If it is really black to the North, you can bail, and head west on Highway 2 through the Marias Pass. It's a good ride too.

    If the weather looks good, you can head up Highway 49, (the Looking Glass Road) and continue to St. Mary, and then head west over Going to the Sun. There is construction going on on the highway, with smooth gravel sections, and there are a couple of short stops. I'll post a link to the construction schedule later.

    As for the best sites and roads, there are dozens of threads here, just do a search under the words "Glacier", "Essex", "Logan", and "Kiowa".

    In any event, bring a good quality rain suit and warm gear. But don't worry: it's no colder up there than it would be, flying your Pitts in a t shirt.
    Rinty

    "When you don't know where you're going, any road will get you there."

  3. #3
    3 Red Bricks
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    Hopefully you will look at a map before you leave and realize that Jellystone, Glacier, and Mt. Rushmore are not in the Western Region of the country. I am moving your inquiry to the Mountain Region as that is what you are inquiring about. Hang on!



    LONG MAY YOUR BRICK FLY!

    Ride Safe, Ride Far, Ride Often

    Lee Fulton Forum Moderator
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  4. #4
    Rally Rat
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    At least the traffic jam views are amazing

    These photos are from last September in GNP.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  5. #5
    Just me rad's Avatar
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    Be prepared for any kind of weather in the Rockies; ranging from snow,hail, lightening to crystal clear blue skies and brilliant sunshine. Be prepared to watch the weather and adjust itineraries if necessary.

    Last comment, some of those are must do roads, having said that, they are on everyoneÔÇÖs must do list so everyone will be there with you in summer.

    Ya really canÔÇÖt go too wrong, it is beautiful country.

  6. #6
    Registered User PittsDriver's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 98lee View Post
    Hopefully you will look at a map before you leave and realize that Jellystone, Glacier, and Mt. Rushmore are not in the Western Region of the country. I am moving your inquiry to the Mountain Region as that is what you are inquiring about. Hang on!




    As a lifetime, card carrying member of the right coast, everything west of St. Louis is frontier country to me. Maps, right, I guess I should go google map a bit

    We were hoping to find the sweet spot between the traffic waning from back-to-school and when the weather gets problematic at those latitudes. We're flexible on dates and were looking at end of August/early Septemer. We've all got great gear for any weather - we did our ride last September around the Great Lakes in 40's and rain and had a blast. And we were camping then.

    Which brings me to another question - any advice about camping in these regions? We like to camp but we're not hard core about it and if the weather is sub freezing or cold/rain we'll find a warm bed and hot shower. Any don't miss places to eat or stay while we're in this part of the country? Great camping spots?
    Wes Jones
    Annapolis, MD
    2012 K1600GT, Vermillion Red
    2013 S1000RR, Granite Gray

  7. #7
    Registered User Rinty's Avatar
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    Wes:

    There is lots of accomodation in the area, and my experience has been that things really slow down, towards the end of August. Don't stay in Browning, or gas up there. Here's some recent threads:

    http://forums.bmwmoa.org/showthread....o-the-Sun-Road

    http://forums.bmwmoa.org/showthread....-where-to-stay

    There's a link to the construction schedule in one of these.

    ...any advice about camping....
    I'd bring sleeping bags that have a + 25 F rating, or a gortex overbag, if you have room. There are campsites all over the place, but I would pick one that's at a lower elevation.
    Last edited by Rinty; 03-29-2013 at 02:51 PM.
    Rinty

    "When you don't know where you're going, any road will get you there."

  8. #8
    Registered User LSkrabut's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rinty View Post
    Wes:

    There is lots of accomodation in the area, and my experience has been that things really slow down, towards the end of August. Don't stay in Browning, or gas up there. Here's some recent threads:

    http://forums.bmwmoa.org/archive/index.php/t-45554.html

    http://forums.bmwmoa.org/archive/index.php/t-57179.html

    There's a link to the construction schedule in one of these.



    I'd bring sleeping bags that have a + 25 F rating, or a gortex overbag, if you have room. There are campsites all over the place, but I would pick one that's at a lower elevation.


    Be AWARE that some camp locations, tent camping is not allowed due to bear maulings in the recent past. This is true for some areas in Yellowstone and along the route to Redlodge (Beartooth). I am sure the signs will indicate at a develop camp locations as to the safety factor of tent camping. If you were to camp in a undevelop area, be sure to check the develop areas first.

    It is always good camp safety never to do anything that might attract wild life in your camp! Suggest to search the internet on camping and bear safety. Lots of articles on the net to read.
    Larry S
    Utah driven
    2003 K1200RS
    1988 K100 LT

  9. #9
    MOA #24991 Pauls1150's Avatar
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    There is a KOA just a little bit north of Glacier's east entrance; they've had good chow in the past, but it might be windy, just depending on the conditions of the day... I've never found a decent motel near the east side of the park, but if you go south on 89 to 287, Augusta (due west of Great Falls) has a couple. (Rinty - did you mean 89, not 49?) Avoid the restaurant by the gas station at the east entrance; I think they are really trying to poison the tourists.
    The west side of Glacier also has a KOA, but it was steep, rocky, and cold. (Latitude is not the issue, it's altitude. And maybe attitude...) Lots of motels between the park and Columbia Falls; they'll be a little cheaper as you get further away from the park.

    Camping "in" Yellowstone can be a pain, due to the high volume of RVs and little kids; the popular area is West Thumb and Grant Village. The hotel is horribly expensive, don't even think about it unless you're honeymooning.
    Northeast: Red Lodge has a campsite and a couple of motels; one motel (north end of town, southbound side of the street) sponsors activities for the local MC club, very cool. (And a laundromat is next door, restaurant across the street.)
    East: campgrounds & motels in and around Cody; the campground just a block or so south of the Remington Museum (yes check it out) is thrifty and perfect. Cody also has the first KOA; near the small airport southeast of town but quiet anyway.
    South: Moran has a campground (to the east a little) that used to be a KOA but was something else last time I was there; still a good spot. Jackson is usually expensive, but you can pick the motel carefully off the main drag for a better rate. Do the tram ride up the ski area if time allows; flatlanders may get altitude sickness.
    West: West Yellowstone is the best bet for camping or motels in that area. There is a KOA a few quick miles to the west that is a little more expensive, but they have a wonderful jacuzzi and a heated pool. Their store often runs out of food (expensive there), so shop in town first. The Madison is a neat little roadhouse on the main drag (Madison Ave.) that is very handy; parking is fine since it's directly across from the police station.
    North: Gardiner has reasonable motels, campgrounds a little more north.
    If time permits - you can spend several days in Yellowstone! It's HUGE with LOTS of variety in the different areas. Tiny side roads there are short but worthwhile.

    At the higher elevations, roads can close at ANY time - sections are destroyed every winter and have to be rebuilt, and severe storms can happen any time. If you're flexible, it's not an issue.

  10. #10
    Registered User dancogan's Avatar
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    We stayed in the Mountain Pine Motel in East Glacier for a couple of days. The road to the park was a bit rough but it was a convenient location and a bunch less expensive than the places run by the park concessionaire. There is also a neat deli just across the street and a decent restaurant, too. We much preferred staying on the east side of the park to the west side, mostly because there was better access to the park itself. Going to the Sun Rd. was still closed with snow while we were there, but that was late June to early July.
    Dan

  11. #11
    Registered User PittsDriver's Avatar
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    Thanks guys! That's exactly the kind of excellent advice I knew I'd find on here.

    We like to stick to the mom/pop local eat places and when we're not camping the mid-priced hotels or B&Bs. There was someone here a few months ago that posted up a comedy club in the middle of the Idaho back country - that's just our kind of thing. Any other "don't miss" things like that would be appreciated!

    Wes
    Wes Jones
    Annapolis, MD
    2012 K1600GT, Vermillion Red
    2013 S1000RR, Granite Gray

  12. #12
    George K1200RS GeorgeK1200RS's Avatar
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    US 12 west of Missoula, Mt to Clarkston, WA and further west is one of my favorite roads. Beautiful scenery, great primitive campsites, you can see fish in the river as you ride along.

    It is great in either direction.

    Buy fuel when you get the opportunity...it can be scarce in some sections.
    George
    R1200RT, K1200RS. Previous K1200LT, R80RT, R100R, R75/5

  13. #13
    Registered User PittsDriver's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GeorgeK1200RS View Post
    US 12 west of Missoula, Mt to Clarkston, WA and further west is one of my favorite roads. Beautiful scenery, great primitive campsites, you can see fish in the river as you ride along.

    It is great in either direction.

    Buy fuel when you get the opportunity...it can be scarce in some sections.
    Sweet, thank's George!
    Wes Jones
    Annapolis, MD
    2012 K1600GT, Vermillion Red
    2013 S1000RR, Granite Gray

  14. #14
    Registered User Rinty's Avatar
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    Wes:

    I relinked the threads in my post 7 so that they go directly to the Forum. There are many other threads on this topic, but I just can't work the site's new search function, so I've had to use Google. Here's another one:

    http://forums.bmwmoa.org/showthread....-National-Park
    Rinty

    "When you don't know where you're going, any road will get you there."

  15. #15
    BruceRT
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    Weather and map advice

    A general rule of thumb is that the weather in the Rockies is better in the morning than in the afternoon. This is most true during the July and August. As the day warms up, thunderstorms form.

    For a list of great roads, get the Butler Motorcycle Maps. I bought their set of the Rockies and their opinion of a great road matches mine. I know they are expensive but they knew about some Idaho roads near where I lived that I had never heard of.

    Make sure you ride the Beartooth Highway; it's my favorite. Going to the Sun is the most beautiful road in the lower 48 but gets clogged with slow traffic after mid-morning. Ride it first thing in the morning.

    Don't forget to get off the bike occasionally and hike!
    Bruce
    2005 R1200RT (It's new to me!)
    Northern Virginia, USA
    If you are not continuously learning, you are slowly getting bored.

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