Bike Yellowstone National Park

Tour the park before the crowds arrive

Mar 11, 2012
Outside Magazine

The Sell: Empty winding roads and wildlife galore make this a dream trip for cyclists.
The Grit:
Each summer, Yellowstone National Park attracts more than 2 million camera-toting tourists, whose cars clog the park’s narrow, winding roads, creating obstacles and death traps for cyclists. But for roughly three weeks, from mid-March to mid-April, as Yellowstone works to re-open the park to the public, cyclists are permitted to explore up to 140 miles of freshly plowed roads. Weather permitting, you’ll be one of the 40-odd people braving the park’s interior roads. Solitary coyotes skirt the park’s meadows, and herds of bison, elk, and mule deer follow roadways to food sources and thermal hot spots. This isn’t a trip for the recreational cyclist; Yellowstone’s weather is notoriously unpredictable. A warm, sunny day can easily be followed by blustery winds and heavy snowfall the next. As a result, even plowed roads may still be covered with a layer of snow, ice, and debris. Save cash by renting a room at the Quality Inn & Suites 49'er in Jackson, WY (starting at $76), renting bikes from Hoback Sports, and fueling up at The Cadillac Grille with a Snake River Lager and a Billy’s half-pound cheeseburger. Before you head out, call 307-344-2107 (weekdays only) to check which roads are open to the public. Plan for a series of daylong ventures; park your car near the selected entrance each morning to cut down on mileage. Afterward, warm up with a dip in Huckleberry Hot Springs, a roughly two-mile-long snowshoe trek from the Flagg Ranch parking lot.
The Verdict:
Tough cyclists willing to haul bear spray, extra water, a repair kit, and emergency gear will love this ride.