"New Teton Valley Alternate" (page 2) - CycleBlaze

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"New Teton Valley Alternate" (page 2)

John EganTo Karen Cook

Hi Karen - 

I've lived in Wyoming - including Jackson - since 1990. I've biked every possible road in Yellowstone, hiked the backcountry, participated in public reviews of policies.

I have ridden the detour mentioned above during the 1988 fires. It was so-so then and there's been a great deal more development on the Idaho side since then. Yes, there's a lot of traffic in the park, but at least drivers are more likely to be expecting cyclists. On the Idaho side they're just in a hurry to get there.

My first ride through Yellowstone was in 1987. I recall the ranger at the gate warning me about how parks roads were not suited for cyclists then. Unfortunately, it has only gotten worse. I have been a thorn in park management's side about this issue. They consistently say there is nothing they can do - you know - protected environment and all. Yet, they construct pull-thru 40-foot parking spaces for RVs and buses. Not to mention the cloverleaf interchange at Old Faithful. (That's so that everybody can jump into their cars and campers just after the geyser does its thing and pack the park roads like a rat in a python.)

But it is what it is. So then what are the choices?

I cannot imagine someone from New Jersey or Poland biking halfway across the country and missing Yellowstone. The detour also misses most of Grand Teton N.P. So then it is crucial to find the best possible riding times and plan riding days accordingly. It varies, of course which direction you are going.

1. Ride early - as early as possible - or late. Hiker/biker campsites at all but one off-route campsite let you take advantage of the later hours for riding, if needed. Before 7:00a is magical, even before is o.k. because your average tourist doesn't get going early. It stays light until 9:00p, so from 6:00 to 8:00 in the evening is nice also.

2. Consider a slightly longer alternate loop which includes far more of the park. --- 

  • From the south entrance, ride north to West Thumb. This road is narrow and steep. A cake-walk going south, but best northbound early or late. I have ridden it many times in the evening with very light traffic.
  • From West Thumb east along Yellowstone Lake to the Lake Hotel - including the almost-secret Gull Point Road. This road runs right along the lake about half the time and has a small shoulder. Best riding in the park.
  • From Lake north through Hayden Valley to Canyon. Very challenging. Since Canyon has excellent hiker/biker camping, showers, and a campstore, it makes sense to bike early or late depending on direction. Hayden Valley is the Serengeti of North America. It should be on any Yellowstone intinerary.
  • From Canyon west to Norris. Small shoulder, moderate traffic. Westbound ends with a killer downhill. Eastbound you can ride the quiet, one-way Virginia Cascade Road. Norris Geyser Basin has amazing thermal features and far fewer people than Old Faithful. Nice camping at Norris.
  • From Norris west to Madison. The Gibbon River Road was recently rebuilt with a small shoulder. Westbound downhill, eastbound uphill. Camping at Madison is popular and beats any price you'll see in West Yellowstone.
  • From Madison west to West Yellowstone. The West Entrance road had fairly heavy traffic, but moderate shoulders. If you camp at Madison, youshould be riding it early or late - which gives you the best chance to see wildlife, too.

This avoids the narrow road over Craig Pass and the traffic around Old Faithful. ---- If you gott see Old Faithful, and out-and-back from Madison is pretty easy.

3. Give yourself some extra days to enjoy the park so that you can ride smaller segments in the morning and the evening. Trying to do 75 miles straight through the park will produce the edgy journal entries one often sees.

I am a big believer in seeing the park - no matter what.

Soda Butte Creek
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2 weeks ago
Karen CookTo John Egan

Hi John,

Thanks so much for the tips.  When all is said and done, I can't imagine not riding through Yellowstone.  So I am officially declaring that I will ride through Yellowstone! :-)

Though now I am also determined to go back and spend a longer stretch of time there on a separate trip.  I would love to ride through right after the main tourist season.

I like the idea of riding both early and late.  

When I was about 3 years old, in the '60's, my family drove to California from the Midwest in an old Chevy station wagon--no seat belts, me and my 3 brothers crawling all over the seats the whole way...    

We camped most of the way to save money, in a 6-person canvas army surplus tent that mostly didn't leak if you were careful not to touch the sides in a storm.  One stop was Yellowstone NP and I have a vague memory of old faithful.  Sure would be fun to go back in time and re-live that time period in the national parks...


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2 weeks ago
Kelly IniguezTo Karen Cook


We rode a route very similar to the ACA alternate this past summer: https://www.cycleblaze.com/journals/chevy/

Jacinto's one request for the trip was to avoid busy Yellowstone. We were very happy with our route around, which was designed by Jim Fitch sans knowledge of the official alternate. I would ride it again. 

Our route was slightly different from ACA's. To see each day's exact route, look at the daily map. 

I would note that summer 2020 was an odd year. Understatement. For the most part, we didn't have much traffic. It is difficult to say how that compares to a normal year.

I think no matter which direction you go, it's a stunning area to ride and worth more than one visit. I would like to ride Yellowstone during the off season.


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2 weeks ago