When we first dreamt up the concept of a ride from Glacier National Park to Yellowstone National Park, we actually had to ask ourselves if it was even possible. Now, after four years, this epic route is probably the most adventurous ride that the Cycling House has ever offered. In 2015 we set out on this new adventure and pulled it off – barely. Everything short of the trailer falling off the van (well that actually happened too) happened; including wildfires, campsite changes, and alternate riding routes. Regardless of all the mishaps, our guests certainly had an amazing adventure and likely left Montana exhausted (in a good way).
The inaugural Glacier to Yellowstone ride included 8 days and the total cycling mileage was over 600 miles. In 2016 we pulled in the reigns just a bit, dialed in some details, and found the perfect balance of riding and relaxing. Now: fast forward to 2019 and we have the best iteration of Glacier to Yellowstone yet! We offer two options for Glacier to Yellowstone in 2019: indoor accommodations from July 15-21 and camping from July 29- August 4.
The route starts in West Glacier, Montana just outside of Glacier National Park. Guests will arrive at Glacier International Airport (FCA) and The Cycling House staff shuttles everyone to West Glacier for our first overnight in Big Sky Country. The arrival day spin gives us our first glimpse of Glacier National Park, as we ride Camas Road along the southwestern border of the park. A short detour on the way back from this ride brings us to the middle fork of the Flathead River for a plunge in the crystal clear glacial waters.
The first big riding section of our journey takes us on, what some might call, the queen stage. The Going to the Sun Road in Glacier National Park has been touted as one of North America’s most beautiful rides, and rightfully so. Construction of the famous road started in 1921 and was not completed until 1932. The narrow road and steep turns make it one of the most difficult roads to plow in North America, and can have snowdrift accumulations over 80 feet. Fortunately for us, the snow will be long melted, leaving us with exceptional riding and dramatic views. The ride starts along beautiful Lake McDonald within Glacier National Park then follows McDonald Creek into the heart of the mountains. Going to the Sun Road really begins to climb around 25 miles into the ride, with the bulk of the climb totaling just under 11 miles; and it gains over 3,000 feet of elevation at an average grade of 5.3%. Glacier National Park is part of the Crown of the Continent, an area that is over 10 million acres of the most intact wildland on the continent, and the most complete ecosystem in the world. The area is home to grizzly bears, bighorn sheep, mountain goats, mountain lions, black bears, moose, elk, deer, marmots, bald eagles, wolverines, and more. The views only get better as each pedal stroke takes you closer to the summit of Logan Pass and the continental divide. A well-deserved stop at the top of Logan Pass gives us a break for a snack, pictures, and time to throw on an extra layer for the way down. After the decent, we ride parallel St. Mary’s Lake for several miles, passing Wild Goose Island, one of the most photographed islands in the world. The turquoise blue waters of St. Mary’s are a dramatic contrast to the foliage and mountains extending from the shores. From here we head into the Rocky Mountain Front and exit Glacier National Park. At this point, some might call “uncle,” having cycling 50+ miles, and that is totally fine with us. We offer a shuttle from St. Mary’s for those who want one, and those looking for more miles can continue up St. Mary’s Pass towards East Glacier. The landscape changes as we enter the Blackfoot Indian Reservation. The terrain has a few good ups and downs and a second major climb to Looking Glass Pass. The ride is spectacular; but don’t worry, if you decide to shuttle you still get to see it all. A final twisty turning descent brings us closer to our final destination for the evening, East Glacier. This day will be one that you remember for the rest of your life!
When we launched our inaugural Glacier to Yellowstone ride back in ’15, we had a 130-mile day on our second full day of riding. Fortunately, that will not be the case this year! We have a 68-mile stage with 3,200 feet of climbing that brings us into Dupoyer, on the Rocky Mountain Front. We set sail in the morning because the prevailing winds out of the West usually give us a helping hand as we head east towards Browning. After about 12 miles we pass through Browning and head south along the Rocky Mountain Front. The views are dramatic and the landscape feels like real Montana; you can imagine what it was like when the bison were roaming and Lewis and Clark first approached the Rocky Mountains. The highway is quiet and you can feel the lure of the muted forest all around. We will have a lunch stop in Heart Butte, which is part of the Blackfoot Indian Reservation. The area was sacred to Native Americans and is home to one of the most authentic pow wows in Montana. The final portion of the ride brings us back onto the Lewis & Clark section of Highway 89 to our destination of Dupuyer. But don’t pedal too quickly, because you might miss it! Dupuyer has a population of 86 and was once home to famous Montana author Ivan Doig. Fortunately for us, Buffalo Joe’s Saloon & Eatery has a small hotel and a campground behind that we use on both the indoor and camping versions of the trip. After a hard day’s ride belly-up to the bar and enjoy a cold Big Sky Brewing beer (Big Sky Brewing sponsors our Montana trips so we always have plenty on board!) in a classic Montana town.
After a hearty breakfast, we start day four with a 2-hour shuttle through Great Falls and on to some great riding. We start the ride in Monarch and head south on the Kings Hill Scenic Byway, towards White Sulphur Springs. The route is certainly off the beaten path and the views are spectacular. The first 20 miles climb gradually towards the high point of the day – 7,400 feet, as we get to the Showdown Ski area. Lunch is at the ski area before beginning our net loss ride to our overnight accommodations at Willow Creek Cabins. The setting here is quiet and feels like you stepped back in time on a Montana homestead. In the afternoon we take a trip into White Sulphur Springs for a soak at the developed hot springs or to relax by the lake. That evening the Cycling House Chef will serve dinner up in the authentic Willow Creek barn; followed by some amazing stargazing!
Day five is a stage built for the sprinters. We roll by bike from Willow Creek Cabins and pass through White Sulphur Springs on our way to our destination of Livingston. The ride is long, 75 miles, but with only 1,500 feet of climbing, it feels like a welcome relief for the legs. We parallel the Crazy Mountains through a beautiful valley, finishing at a park in Livingston for lunch and a change into casual clothing for the shuttle. If anyone is eager for more miles we have an option to continue by bike into the Paradise Valley for an additional 36 miles.
The shuttle from Livingston will be 2.5+ hours, but the views make it well worth it! Unfortunately, Yellowstone National Park is not a safe place to ride bikes in mid-summer, so we have to run a shuttle. Upon entering Yellowstone we stop at Mammoth Hot Springs, as well as in the Lamar Valley. The Valley is known for having bison herds, so have your cameras ready. Our final destination will be Cooke City and the High Country Motel and Cabins. Cooke City has a permanent population of under 200, but it greatly increases during the summer months. It serves as an entry into Yellowstone National Park and doesn’t disappoint with high peaks, national forests, and wilderness areas all around. Camping is not allowed in Cooke City because of grizzly bears so both our camping and indoor trips stay at the High Country Motel and Cabins. Walking down the main street is reminiscent of an old western, especially if you belly up to the bar at the local saloon. The town serves as a hub for adventures into Yellowstone and the surrounding mountains. Our Cycling House chefs prepare dinner and breakfast for our Cooke City stay.
Is it ok if a 7-day tour has two queen stages? After pedaling Going to the Sun Road you might be content, but we have one more amazing ride in store for you: Beartooth Pass. Beartooth Pass has been referred to as one of the most beautiful rides in North America! You can read about a cycling adventure on the route in this Washington Post article. The ride from Cooke City to Red Lodge is 5 miles long with 5,300 feet of climbing. The actual climb up Beartooth Pass is just under 20 miles long, gaining 3,800 feet, at an average grade of 3.8%. You get spectacular views of the Absaroka Beartooth Wilderness, home to 25 peaks over 12,000 feet. The ride actually dips into Wyoming and the pass tops out at 10,947 feet. The only establishment between Cooke City and Red Lodge is the Top of the World Convenience store and gas station and Beartooth Basin, a summer ski area. The climb is well worth the effort, especially since they just re-paved the descent. The ride feels similar to the Galibier in France, which most of us have seen in the Tour De France, with the majority of the climb above tree-line. After finishing the descent we enter the valley and follow Rock Creek all the way to the Rock Creek Resort for our indoor trip, or to the Red Lodge KOA for our camping trip. Our final evening after a full day of riding and the end of a great tour culminates in a fun celebration with a slideshow and relaxing under the Big Sky.
After the last group breakfast, there are shuttles to the Billings Airport for those flying out on Sunday, and a shuttle back to West Glacier for those folks who drove. The Glacier to Yellowstone tour is an incredible trip that we are proud to host! Take a look at our Montana trips in the video below. We look forward to hosting you on our Glacier to Yellowstone Tour.
We still have a few spots available on our Glacier to Yellowstone camping tour from July 29-April 4th. More details and registration here.
“Just finished the Glacier to Yellowstone camping trip. Just an outstanding week. Cycling house staff went out of their way for everybody, organization and trip leadership was tight, two bucket list climbs were stellar and the food was fabulous.” – Scott, 2018
“My wife and I just finished the Glacier to Yellowstone trip. The route selection, the staff, the camping facilities all made for an amazing week of riding and a very relaxing vacation when not on the bike. The food was delicious! ” – Karl, 2018