Meet your guides and fellow trip members in the lobby of the host hotel in Bozeman, Montana before transferring to the first national park in the United States, the stunning Yellowstone National Park. We?ll hike the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, taking in awe-inspiring viewpoints of Yellowstone River?s massive waterfalls, followed by an exploration of some of the geothermic areas on Yellowstone?s Grand Loop, including a walk to the world?s tallest geyser, Steamboat Geyser. Tonight, we settle into the tiny town of Gardiner and learn more about our trip over a group dinner in town. Lunch and dinner included.
Hiking/walking: 5 miles, Elevation gain/loss: +500?/-500?; Van Transfer: 2 hours
Begin the morning with a bike fitting, a local breakfast and hotel check-out, we ride the beautiful, winding Yellowstone River Route to Point of Rocks. Adjusting to our mile-high altitude will be easy on this fun cruiser! We?ll cross the river and join Montana?s highways and byways for a scenic ride through the Absaroka Mountains, taking in sweeping big sky meadows framed by rugged peaks. We?ll follow the Yellowstone River north through small towns, ending our ride in the historic mountain town of Livingston, netting a relaxing downhill for our first day on the road. All meals included.
Cycling: 57 miles, Elevation gain/loss: +1,347?/-2,090?
With the sun at our backs, we?ll ride west along the interstate frontage road (the only way to get around in Montana sometimes), watching for roadside wildlife such at elk, wolf and even the occasional black bear. It may seem novel, but to Montanan?s, it?s just the usual. Verdant rolling hills stretch out as far as the eye can see until they are abruptly interrupted by Montana?s famous big sky, making the miles roll by effortlessly. We?ll enjoy the beautiful and well-known Bridger Canyon as we approach the college town of Bozeman; Montana State University. We?ll lunch at the Museum of the Rockies providing an opportunity to view its world-renown paleontological collection among other Rocky Mountain exhibits. We finish the day with a cool city route to our overnight accommodations. Over dinner we will talk about our first night of camping at Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park. All meals included.
Cycling: 34 miles, Elevation gain/loss: +1966?/-1555?
After breakfast at our hotel, we?ll check out and hit the road for a casual 65-mile ride through the historic reaches of the Lewis & Clark Expedition. The two intrepid explorers spent over two years risking their lives and the lives of their 57 crew members to explore the new American West, which had recently been acquired through the Louisiana Purchase. Their journey took them down the Jefferson River (the official beginning of the Missouri River starts with the Jefferson/Madison/Missouri confluence in nearby Three Forks), along which we?ll spend most of our ride time today. Expansive ranches and farms begin to dot the landscape between two ranges in the Rocky Mountains. After a fueling guide-prepared lunch at the Missouri Headwaters State Park, we?ll end our day at the famous Lewis & Clark Caverns State Park where we?ll set up camp, tour the caverns, and enjoy a guide-prepared dinner and glowing campfire under the glow of the Milky Way. All meals included.
Cycling: 65 miles, Elevation gain/loss: +1660?/-2054?; Caverns tour: 2 hours
After a hearty breakfast in camp we continue west toward Butte, Montana, enjoying a 20-mile warm-up before an infamous 10-mile uphill section of highway made do-able with well-engineered switchbacks up to the Continental Divide; Pipestone Pass. Climbing will earn you spectacular vistas, as well as a fun downhill into Butte. We recover during a van transfer to the start of the famously beautiful Pintler Veterans Memorial Scenic Byway at Georgetown Lake. We?ll lose over 1,900? in elevation over our final 25 miles, bringing us through the western town of Phillipsburg with it?s cafes, brewery and famous candy store, roaring into our endpoint for today and another vehicle transfer into Missoula. Here we settle into our hotel-home for the next two nights and enjoy dinner on our own and a rest day tomorrow. Breakfast and lunch provided.
Cycling: 77 miles, Elevation gain/loss: +3136?/-3513?; Van transfer: 2 hours
Enjoy a day away from the bike to explore the town of Missoula; part historic military fort, part college town, part artist?s community, and part rugged Big Sky Country frontier town, you won?t lack for things to do and places to explore. While some will want to visit Caras Park where whitewater kayakers mix with the local music scene, others will want to relax at the hotel, perfectly situated near downtown; restaurants, shopping, coffee shops, breweries and more are just a few minutes? walk away. Other options include the Missoula Art Museum or Natural History Center, a visit to Adventure Cycling Association?s offices & bike museum, half-day whitewater rafting expeditions or fly-fishing lessons, hiking on your own on one of dozens of trails, or visiting local favorite, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation to learn more about elk and their habitat. All meals on your own.
After breakfast at a local favorite, we?ll ride through ancient flood plains turned flatland meadows rimmed with glacier-carved peaks whose pine-dotted silhouettes will shine under the rising sun on our journey east. Since our legs are fresh off a rest day, we?ll use that pent-up energy to gain some elevation, riding right out of our hotel in Missoula to the Continental Divide itself. From here, any sweat we might lose to the tarmac has a 50/50 chance of ending up in the Pacific Ocean or the Atlantic Ocean. After a lunch on the route, we?ll turn north and head toward Placid and Salmon Lakes through the Seeley/Swan Valleys with the Mission Mountains to the west and ?The Bob?, Bob Marshall Wilderness to the east, finding our home in a state park campground for the night. Opportunities for enjoying lake scenery, placing horseshoes, or taking a refreshing swim will be offered. A delicious and well-deserved guide-prepared dinner around the campfire will be our reward and our opportunity to share stories from our rest day together under the night sky. All meals included.
Cycling: 52 miles, Elevation gain/loss: +2,397?/-1,456?
Armed with fresh-brewed hot coffee or tea, we?ll ready for our longest day in the saddle over a nutritious breakfast served by our guides along the shore of Placid Lake. After packing up camp, we journey north, through a serene valley nestled between the Swan Mountains to the east and the Mission Mountains to the west. A local hot spot for year-round recreation, this area boasts fishing and boating opportunities, mountainous hiking trails, cross-country skiing routes, and of course, beyond-beautiful cycling for the adventurous at heart. Nearly-empty highways and blue sky will escort us through Montana?s backcountry, where we?ll take in wooded National Forests, boulder-strewn karst topography, and endless descending asphalt upon which to cruise the Divide, dropping over 3,000 feet in elevation before our day is done. Tonight, we overnight in Bigfork, on the northern edge of Flathead Lake, where we make ready to ride to stunning Glacier National Park tomorrow over a unique dinner at local restaurant. All meals included.
Cycling: 81 miles, Elevation gain/loss: +2,144?/-3,306?
While the scenic landscapes of Montana are prepossessing, we can?t avoid the fact that since our time in Yellowstone on day one, our eyes have been waiting to feast on another National Park. Today we ride to Glacier National Park and fulfill that need. We?ll ride north, through small communities of folks lucky enough to call this area home and meet up with the incredible sights of Flathead National Forest. Riding through the tourist-friendly town of West Glacier, we?ll see other cyclists and mountain bikers, along with thru-hikers bound for the Continental Divide Trail. Our destination for the evening is the lakeside campground of Apgar, named for early settler and would-be farmer, Milo Apgar. We settle into our final campground with the promise of our MOST spectacular day of this adventure on the horizon; Going-to-the-Sun-Road. All meals included.
Cycling: 43 miles, Elevation gain/loss: +1459?/-1259?
We?ll stir from our cozy tents early this morning, enjoying the support of a guide team who will not only provide breakfast and coffee to fuel our day, but also do the bulk of tearing down camp in order to get us on the road faster. Today we ride the iconic Going-to-the-Sun Road, something that should be on every cyclist?s bucket list! Access to this jaw-dropping route is restricted, but today, we only need to think about the views. We?ll enjoy vistas full of flowing rivers, towering peaks, verdant valleys, glacial hillsides, and maybe even a family of mountain goats as we steadily climb up into the clouds. At the top at Logan Pass, at an elevation of 6,646 feet atop the Great Divide, we reflect on our 10 days together and our unforgettable experiences in the saddle. Our exhilarating ride back down the mountain will end at beautiful McDonald Lake, the perfect farewell view of Montana before we enjoy a celebratory final lunch together at a local brewery. No flights before 4:30pm. Breakfast and lunch included.
Cycling: 43 miles, Elevation gain/loss: 3,723?/3,723?; Van transfer: 70 minutes