Since my last tour was through France, I decided that the next one should be in North America. Since I have never been to Yellowstone National Park (or Wyoming, for that matter), I have been thinking that it would be a good place to tour.
The obvious problem is deciding when to be in Yellowstone. As I understand it, the best time, weather-wise, is in the summer when all the RVs and tourists are there. Going too early or late runs the risk of snowfall, which I'd like to avoid on a bike.
Even though I live in San Francisco, my original plan was to ride from Yellowstone west to the Oregon coast, where I have friends. From there I could continue down the coast or fly home. In addition, this allows me to use either the ACA Transamerica or the Lewis and Clark routes.
The idea was to fly to Jackson Hole, WY with my wife, visit the Tetons and Yellowstone and then start riding. I asked about my plan on this thread at bikeforums.net and got a great deal of excellent advice.
The first suggestion was to reverse the direction of the ride. Instead of flying to Yellowstone/Tetons and heading west, it was suggested that I start in Oregon and head east to take advantage of prevailing winds. Since it makes no real difference to me, it seems like a good assumption to start my planning on.
The second suggestion was to create a route through the Sawtooth Mountains instead of relying on the ACA routes. The positive side of this is that it is more direct then the ACA routes. The downside is using an unproven route with long desert stretches.
I checked out the suggested route through the Sawtooth Mountains and saw that it requires traveling through sparsely populated areas with towns (named dots on the map, really) many miles apart. I have no real desire to bike through the desert in mid-summer, the likely time such a traverse will occur.
The ACA Transamerica route goes through Bozeman, MT (where the ACA is located) quite a ways north of Yellowstone before it heads south toward the park. While I have no reason to avoid Montana (haven't spent much time there, either), I have no reason to lengthen my route either.
Before I can start serious planning, I need to decide on a starting time. If I am going west to east, then late June or July sound like the best times.
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Copyright © 2007 by Ray Swartz