Yellowstone to Rocky Mountain NP, what not to miss? - Stromtrooper Forum : Suzuki V-Strom Motorcycle Forums
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post #1 of 34 Old 02-28-2016, 12:32 PM Thread Starter
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Question Yellowstone to Rocky Mountain NP, what not to miss?

We are planning a trip for the second half of August coming from the east via Canada north of the lakes and then looping south via Yellowstone and Rocky Mountain NP and then head back east from the Denver area.

Below is our provisional routing. We will probably drop the Utah excursion around Moab and Pikes Peak (do that area on another trip next year, maybe). So question is, what sites and roads are the "must do" ones we are missing and what sites and roads are the "avoid if you can" ones because they are boring or overcrowded. Not having seen any of this part of the country, we welcome any advise from those in the know. Thanks for taking the time to respond!!

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post #2 of 34 Old 02-28-2016, 04:29 PM
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Only because it's August should you skip Moab. It will be HOT. You will be missing the opportunity for a couple of great roads though. More on that in a bit.

If you come down to Grand Junction and your goal is to head east from there, go east on I-70 to just past Palisade and look for CO 65 south or off to the right towards Mesa, CO. This is an amazing twisty road that starts right off I-70 into a series of canyon walls and great bends, then eventually ascends to the Grand Mesa at 10,000 feet in a heavily forested paradise. It will be cool on top, even in August, the opposite of Moab. You will come down into Cedaridge, CO and continue on to the junction of 65 and CO 92, just east of Delta, CO. It's a large T intersection. Turn left on CO 92 headed for Hotchkiss, CO. In Hotchkiss, turn left onto CO 133 north towards Carbondale, CO. This is also a truly awesome and often, empty road. You'll see the beautiful interior of untouched Colorado. Except for the coal mine

From Carbondale, you can simply go north up to I-70 at Glenwood Springs and catch Glenwood Canyon on I-70 en route to Denver, or if you have time, you can do more zig-zagging your way back. Keep in mind that I-70 east into Denver can, itself, be way more congested in August than back roads. It can turn into a parking lot; I'm not kidding.

More possibilities: Go back to I-70 east, but in Minturn, go south on US 24 towards Leadville. The climb up 24 past the old Camp Hale 10th Mtn. Div. is old, remote, and wonderful. If you want to loop down through Colorado Springs, stay on 24 all the way to I-25 and back to Denver. Or, when you get to the junction of 24 and CO 91, turn left and go back to I-70 at Copper Mtn.

Another similar and longer route taking you around to either Leadville or going south to Colorado Springs is to leave Carbondale heading south to Aspen and up over Independence Pass. At the bottom, you can return to I-70, or go south on 24 to CS. Independence Pass is pretty cool.

In the end, if you choose I-70 all the way back to Denver, don't miss CO 103 out of Idaho Springs taking you up to Echo Lake and Mt. Evans. This loop rivals the curves and scenery of the others, but it will be a little more crowded, especially if it's the weekend. Lots of bicyclists. It's not as long as the other loops either, and you'll be back to I-70 in reasonable time. All these roads are of course, less crowded on a weekday. If you have the time to meander a bit, I'd take one or two of the loops. If you can only do one, take either 24 up to 91, or 103/Mt. Evans. Those are the shortest two.

If you do go to Moab, enter off of I-70 onto UT 128 south. Amazing. Pass through Moab to La Sal Junction via 191 then turn left onto UT 46 back into Colorado (becomes CO 90). At CO 141 (middle of nowhere), turn left on to CO 141 back to Gateway and then Grand Junction. Another amazing road, but it could be sweltering through here; it's desert canyons.

Have fun!
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post #3 of 34 Old 02-28-2016, 08:54 PM Thread Starter
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John,

thanks a lot for the detailed advise. I will get my map out and see where all these great roads are.
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post #4 of 34 Old 02-29-2016, 03:35 PM
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HOT

It will be HOT. Don't even consider Yellowstone on a weekend. What a zoo jam packed crowded full of vehicles.
There are benifits of over-heating and getting dehydrated like I did.
Once you do survive the Badlands in South Dakota in plus 125F temperatures for 3 continuous days, then for the rest of your life riding in hot weather in full ATGATT won't be an issue.

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post #5 of 34 Old 02-29-2016, 04:03 PM
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You've got Bear Tooth Pass on the route. Good. If there is any way you can squeeze a ride on 296 /Chief Joseph Hwy into your day, do it. It heads SW from 212 just before you head up Bear Tooth. Ride it over to 120 and then ride back the other way to 212 and take the Bear Tooth. I rode it one direction from 120 to 212 last year, but unfortunately had to rush through it due to weather coming in which we wanted to avoid going over the pass. I am looking forward to the day when I can go back and enjoy it.
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post #6 of 34 Old 02-29-2016, 04:45 PM
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Unless you plan to spend some time, i.e., a few days, in Yellowstone, I would suggest avoiding it. I've been there several times and always spent days in the park to enjoy hiking, etc. The roads in the park aren't much to write home about and the real value is getting out on trails and past the roads/parking lots.

The suggestion of doing Chief Joseph is a good one and warrants a stop to look over the edge at Sunlight basin. If you do that, you could take 20 south through Thermopolis and enjoy the ride through the canyon just north of Shoshoni. You could also continue east on 14 or 16 over the Bighorns and then head south on I-25.

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post #7 of 34 Old 02-29-2016, 07:39 PM
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Unless you plan to spend some time, i.e., a few days, in Yellowstone, I would suggest avoiding it. I've been there several times and always spent days in the park to enjoy hiking, etc. The roads in the park aren't much to write home about and the real value is getting out on trails and past the roads/parking lots.

The suggestion of doing Chief Joseph is a good one and warrants a stop to look over the edge at Sunlight basin. If you do that, you could take 20 south through Thermopolis and enjoy the ride through the canyon just north of Shoshoni. You could also continue east on 14 or 16 over the Bighorns and then head south on I-25.
I agree with this. Just riding through Yellowstone itself left me a bit disappointed. Yes, there are some pretty spots and stops, but the limit is 40 MPH and it is crowded. Tetons were prettier.

On Chief Joseph and the Bear Tooth, I did both two days in a row. The second day was because the weather was terrible on the first day; so I went back. I think I enjoyed the riding on CJH as much, if not more, than the Bear Tooth. But they are connected so easy to do both.
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post #8 of 34 Old 02-29-2016, 07:55 PM
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Go to Thermopolis and sit in the worlds biggest hot springs (free) go visit the brewery up in Kirby, it's where they make Wyoming Whiskey.
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post #9 of 34 Old 02-29-2016, 08:33 PM
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Bear tooth and Chief Joseph is a must. Stay away from Yellowstone, it is a zoooooooooo, last year took me 3 hours from east entrance to Old Faithful (30 miles or so) first week of August.
Moab is something that everyone should see, but if you decide do not go because the heat from Cody take 14 east, than 14A true Bighorn Forest, this is one of the best roads I've ever been.
Colorado has a lot to offer, my absolutely #1 road is Million Dollar Highway, do it, than do it again, it is amazing.
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post #10 of 34 Old 02-29-2016, 09:01 PM
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After Yellowstone I would consider this route.
Highlights along the way;
Freedom Wyoming - Freedom firearms manufacture. They don't give tours but just going into the reception area is a treat. Numerous trophies hanging and other cool things to look at.
Garden City at Bear Lake - La Beau's drive in has awesome strawberry and huckleberry shakes and pretty good hamburger.
Huntsville - Neat old Monastery that sadly is on its last legs due to the Monks dying off and no one joining their order to replace them.
Spanish Fork - the US 6, be careful, it was at one time the most dangerous road in Utah and in the top 5 in the US. Sometimes called "Head on Canyon..."
Moab - The Moab Brewery is worth the stop, great food and very cool ambiance.
After Moab the SR 128 is an incredible road.
There you go!
Like others said Yellowstone could be a trying experience, but I think its worth it if you have the patience. Keep your camera ready!

ps the Colorado National Monument near Grand Junction is a very worth while stop.

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