Bikepacking Yellowstone, The Grand Tetons and Idaho.
Back in the summer of 2016 Sarah and I decided we wanted to do another bike trip but something a little more grand. One of Sarah’s best friends was a park ranger in the Grand Tetons and so we decided we’d do some bike packing through Yellowstone and parts of the GDMBR.
I took a bunch of photos. I know, big surprise. Unfortunately they have sat on a hard drive for two years because I am the worst. In an effort to fill some of the (empty) frames in our house I decided to finally go through these images and figured I should also probably share them with the world.
We flew into Jackson Hole. Reba picked us up and we went on a hike in the Tetons to a few small lakes at the base of the range. Our first deviation happened when we decided to get a ride from Lake to Yellowstone. We checked out a few of the touristy spots and then hiked Seven Mile Hole Trail before bidding Reba adieu. As we rode through Yellowstone several of the wildfires that were burning in Yellowstone and the Tetons really started to take off. They caused road closures at three of the four entrances to Yellowstone while we were there as well as closed the two passes we intended to take to get back to Jackson.
While camping at Tower Junction we could see fire creeping over the hillside across the valley from us. Smoke filled the air everywhere and it made for some really difficult riding — we were glad to get into Montana and Idaho to ride the GDMBR. Because of fire detours we ended up riding all the way to Victor and Reba picked us up and drove us over the pass to Jackson. It was definitely the most ambitious and exciting adventure we’ve had on bikes.
That said, rather than attempt to accurately summarize an experience from two years I dug up all the captions from our social posts and attached them to the photos below, as well as the initial post of our (planned) route. Enjoy.
After a bunch of research and input from friends (thanks @foundinthemountains and @georeeb!) this is our tentative route for our tour through Wyoming and Idaho! Decided to shorten up the mileage per day so we had plenty of time to explore Yellowstone and to leave us extra time to hike around the Tetons. Skipping 191 back to Colter Bay allows us to take the Yellowstone Branch Trail and ride a portion of the GDMBR over a pass through the Tetons. It also keeps us on mostly dirt for more than half the route! Don't fret, we aren't skipping Old Faithful - we'll be checking it our via car before we set off on bikes! Super excited. Friday can't come soon enough! #bikepacking #yellowstone #grandtetons #wyoming
Sarah waiting for the 28X to Pittsburgh International Airport. Best part about living in uptown is that we can literally walk anywhere in the world.
We shipped our bikes to a shop in Jackson Hole and built them in the parking lot. We were certainly a spectacle.
Our friend Reba picking us up! Reba is an NPS Ranger in the Tetons and volunteered to show us around before we got started.
Sarah and Reba probably talking about rocks and glaciers.
Hiking to Bearpaw and Trapper lake in the Tetons.
We can't begin to thank our friend Reba enough for her hospitality, picking us up in Victor, lake swims, canyon hikes, coffee, laughs, pocket volcanoes, and everything else. We had an amazing time!
Bear Spray, courtesy of the NPS.
This bike has proven awesome for everything. As stable on a 45mph road descent as it is climbing up sandy singletrack. I love this thing.
The view from the top of the Seven Mile Hole trail in Yellowstone. We hiked down to the river and back.
We found an inactive geyser on our hike. It was still quite warm.
This is Autumn. She likes head rubs, chin scratches, and picking up smelly hitchhikers.
First night of camp before we started our tour.
Yellowstone had a ton of traffic but it made the sections without any that much cooler.
I’ve hard far worse dinners.
Lacking serious cell service. Currently in Tower-Roosevelt Yellowstone. The view from our tent is insane. Our campground is near a very large wildfire. The sun is being eclipsed by the smoke and bathing everything in an eerie soft-pink light.
Our plan is to ride to Norris tomorrow through Mammoth. We may have to alter route based on the fire or smoke plume.
My brain is having a hard time with the vastness of this place. It is unreal.
Every evening at the camps in Yellowstone the NPS Rangers would offer classes. I felt like a Boy Scout again!
The stars out here are unbelievable. Sleeping without the tent-fly every chance we get.
Up at dawn. Got an early start today.
Sometimes you have to hitch a ride with construction workers to run away from an active forest fire.
After two days of exploring Yellowstone we had a pretty brutal last day in the park.
Yellowstone is currently experiencing a high level of fire activity. The entire northwest corner is currently engulfed by 'Maple Fire' and according to rangers it is the largest single fire since the fires of '88 at ~35 square miles.
Maple was burning less than a mile from the west road, and our exit out of the park. We raced to get out of the park before the potential of closure trapped us, as the south entrance (and our bailout option) is already closed due to Berry Fire.
Berry Fire is a ~7,000 acre fire that is currently burning on our return route (The Ashton-Flagg portion of the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route). This is preventing us from getting back to Colter Bay as planned. We are currently planning a new route through Idaho into Jackson.
Thankfully we had handkerchiefs to breath through as the smoke was pretty overwhelming as we exited Yellowstone. traffic was dismal too. The air quality and our spirits are much higher now that we're in Montana.
Had to wear a bandana to combat the smoke, it made riding pretty hard. We were glad to get out of the park and into Montana.
The fires were spreading so fast that we had to continually check for updates when we had service.
We decided to celebrate being out of Yellowstone with our preferred treats.
After three days of road riding we are both super geeked to be on DIRT for the rest of our route! Idaho here we come!
Part of the problem of riding bicycles on old snowmobile trails in the summer is that those trails are actually just 6” of volcanic sand making it nearly impossible to keep your bike upright.
We decided to run away from the evil sand.
After being alone on the trail for two days we heard motors in the distance. What rode past us was not what we were expecting…
Idaho is a lot of this. 👌
If photos could convey how smelly we were this would be a very bad photo.
Touring hands. Idaho beat us up. It was great (now that it's done)!
Idaho is full of incredible forgotten things.
Smoke from this fire was filling the town of Victor. There were threats of evacuating the town but at that point we kept pressing on because we had no other options at that point.
While we were touring Reba’s oven broke. We had promised to cook her and her roommate dinner as a thank you and so we (Sarah) did the only way we (Sarah) know how.
The Jackson Hole airport is tiny and adorable and beautiful.