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446 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
T-10 Days and counting until my riding buddies and I take off on an 8-day trip to Glacier National Park, Yellowstone and Dinosaur National Monument.

This will be the third trip, and longest, that we are taking in the last 13 months. Also, we have 4 straight days of tent camping planned (2 in Glacier, 2 in Yellowstone). Packing the extra gear for camping was a bit of a chore, but I found a waterproof-ish duffel bag in the garage, dusted it off, and loaded it up with tent, air mattresses, sleeping bag, camping chair and other necessities. It will be strapped to the pillion.

So far the weather outlook is holding steady - nice weather with a possibility of some light showers while we are in Glacier and a day or two after that. Hopefully that won't change, but I'll keep tabs on the forecast before we leave and throw in extra rain gear if needed.

We are cutting it close on being able to ride over Going to the Sun Road. Looks like crews are just about done with the plowing, so I hope they are ready to go on the 21st (22nd at the latest - fingers crossed), or we'll be stuck riding on Highway 2 on the south side of the park.

Here's the overall daily plans. Some long mileage days, but roads look to be in good shape and traffic should be minimal once we are out of the Denver/Ft. Collins area.

Parker to Cody, WY 537
Cody to Helena, MT via Beartooth Pass/Yellowstone 361
Helena to Glacier National Park Area 294
Glacier National Park Touring and Hike 90
Glacier to West Yellowstone, MT 438
Yellowstone National Park Touring 161
West Yellowstone to Vernal, UT via Jackson Hole 418
Vernal, UT to Dinosaur National Park, then home 461

2017 Versys-X 300
74 Posts
Looks like a nice trip! Ride Safe.

446 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
We are not leaving for a week, and I've still got a few more things to round up, but I'm probably 95% complete. Decided to put the duffel bag on the bike and check it out. Sorry for the potato pics - it was pretty dark outside.



Fully loaded, the bag is 33 pounds. With both side panniers loaded, the bike definitely is more top heavy on this trip than either of the other trips and I'll need to remember the weight is there at slow speeds and when stopped. :p On a positive note, the bag fits nicely on the pillion, and does not stick out too much on either side. It provides a nice lower back support - something I'll probably enjoy on some of the longer days in the saddle.

I also have the saddle panniers packed - one side is all clothing and personal effects (including layers for the unknown Montana/Yellowstone weather). The other side is a small tool bag, including plug kit, air compressor, CO2 chain lube, etc., and other small stuff, plus sandals an additional thin rain jacket. The clothing pannier has just about 12 pounds of weight in it, the tool side about 15 pounds.

The only thing left to pack is the top case. I have one more small bag that will have videocam accessories, small laptop, and other things I may need for the day.

463 Posts
I like the duffel bag. Looks to be of nice quality. You seemed to have checked the box. Do you have a portable jumper / starter that you are bringing with you? Guessing that you are. But asking the question. Have a great trip!

446 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I like the duffel bag. Looks to be of nice quality. You seemed to have checked the box. Do you have a portable jumper / starter that you are bringing with you? Guessing that you are. But asking the question. Have a great trip!
I checked mine last week, it was dead. One of my riding buddies will have his on the trip!

I had a small armor-all jump pack. I liked it because it was just larger than a pack of cards, and fit in my tank bag nicely. Time to search for a replacement!

63 Posts
My mother-in-law lives 35 minutes outside of Glacier Park. Lots of beautiful places to ride there. I highly recommend NOT stopping in Browning for anything. Last time I stopped there for gas, I had a very drunk woman with at least three teeth from the reservation approach me begging to trade shirts with her. She wanted my University of Texas shirt. I can't remember what she was wearing. Lots of severe poverty, alcoholism and drug abuse in Browning. Not a safe place.

446 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I've been busy with riding, sightseeing, and then the 4th of July weekend. I'll try to catch up on the trip in the next couple of posts...

Let's start at the beginning. Denver, CO:


The first day was relatively uneventful. Lots of miles and lots of wind. Headwinds were bad enough between Laramie and Casper that I only averaged 32.6 MPG (usual is around 43 MPG). The weather stayed pretty cool until we got to Casper, from there, it was upper 80s and low 90s.

The only exciting stop along the way was 'Hell's Half Acre' (actually 320 acres).


I did have a bit of an issue with my fuel tank. With temps in the 90s and the bike running at 200° for long stretches, when we stopped for gas in Thermopolis, I opened the tank cap and a nice geyser of gas flew 10 feet in the air, and some of it managed to land on my buddy and his Ducati. Oops. That italian plastic does not like gasoline. Hopefully we can find the right combination of cleaners to get it back to looking normal.

We rode the last 90 miles to Cody (with the cap on loosely), unpacked the bikes, then took off some fairing pieces and lifted the tank. Found that the shop that did my valve adjustment in the spring put the vent tube on wrong and it was pinched.

After that, we walked across the street to the rodeo for dinner and a show. It was highly entertaining and a good way to relax in the cool weather.




446 Posts
Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Day two was a success. We started out at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West museum in Cody. Main attraction - the Cody Firearms Museum, one of five museums under their roof. It's a daunting task to try reading and studying all 4300+ specimens they have on display in a little over the two and 1/2 hours that was planned, but we managed to make it through and still have time to wander around a bit. It's darn hard to take in everything in the museum without getting overwhelmed, so I'll need to make a return trip some day!

From Cody, it was up and over Chief Joseph highway to the Beartooth Pass highway. This was a great ride, lots of twists and turns while climbing up and descending the long hills. We had to stop at the summit (in the clouds and mist) to add a rain layer (and some warmth) for the occasional rain storm storm that moved through for a couple of hours.

At the Beartooth Highway we turned east to ride to the top. This segment was also very beautiful. The road to the summit ('only' 10,947 ft) was full of twists and turns, and knockout views everywhere! The temperature dropped to 37°, with a few more rain drops along the way, but the layers worked nicely to keep us dry and warm.

Once we traveled to the top, we turned around and headed west again, with a short stop at Crazy Creek Falls, and a pizza lunch in Cooke City, MT (where apparently, it is illegal or something to make a pizza without cheese on one half).

Then we continued west through the northern section of Yellowstone . We saw lots of bison, a few elk and one bear about 400 yards away (but close enough to make a 10 minute traffic jam 😐).

From there we made the 2.5 hour slog up to Helena, arriving around 830pm, two hours behind schedule but a full 90 minutes before sunset, at the quaint and charming Lamplighter motel and cabins.


Clark Fork Canyon

On the way to the Beartooth Summit


At the summit - a balmy 39 degrees!


Crazy Creek Falls. The volume of water was amazing!


15 Minutes from Helena - Beautiful evening clouds.



More on the trip will be posted tomorrow!!

446 Posts
Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Day three. Traveled from Helena to West Glacier, up to the Avalanche Lake trail, then camped at Fish Creek. (Going to the Sun Road not open yet). Lunch at Taco John's in Browning. What a fun town, not!!


Bynum Dinosaur Museum. Cool little place in the middle of nowhere!

Avalanche Lake Trail.







446 Posts
Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Time for more from the trip...

Day four, rode back over Hwy 2 to St. Mary Lake (90+ miles) . It was very windy on the east side that day!

Hiked from the Baring Falls parking lot down to the falls, then continued on to St. Mary Falls and up to Virginia Falls and back. (6.5 miles). Then got back on the bikes and rode back to Fish Creek. Long day. Here are pictures mostly from the hike.

At the St. Mary Visitors Center.

Baring Falls


Along the Trail to St. Marys Falls



St. Mary Falls

Virginia Falls

End of the road - Jackson Glacier Overlook


446 Posts
Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Let's see if I can get the rest of the trip posted.

Day 5 - travel day from Glacier to Yellowstone. Took the back way down SH843 past Swan Lake. Pretty ride. I did not take many pictures... Stopped in Butte for lunch (Hummingbird Cafe, good food!) And looked at the Berkeley Pit (remnants of mining - the open pit is filled with mineral=laden water).



Made it to West Yellowstone with a little bit of rain on the way, and stopped in town for dinner and some groceries. entered the park about 7PM. There was a line of cars about 3-4 miles long heading to West Yellowstone for the night, it sure is busy up there in the summer time. The trip to our campsite in the Canyon Campground was uneventful and we got camp set up and had a fire - it was a good night.

DAY 6 - We did tourist stuff this morning - stopped at the Firehole Falls and the Fountain Paintpots, then got to old faithful and noticed the Ducati's rear tire was a little worse for the wear. Nice section of belts showing in the center of the tire. Found a tire shop in Bozeman (100+ miles away) with tires in stock. We nursed the tire along at 50-55mph, right at the speed limit, more or less. When we got to the shop, we found the front tire on the Ducati was wearing 'weird' (pretty worn on the right side), so my buddy replaced that, too.

I recommend the Bike Shack in Bozeman!!!

Bike repair got done around 430, just in time to head to the Montana Ale Company for a burger before the 2+ hour trip back to Canyon Campground. We did run into some rain at Mammoth Hot Springs, continuing almost to The Canyon area. It stopped long enough for us to go ahead and take the north rim tour of the canyon, and we got some great photos and some rainbow shots along the way. Back at camp, I found that my cool little camp chair doubles as a survival water collection system.

Firehole Falls

The source of a 15 minute traffic jam


Back in the evening - the rain quit and the sun peeked out while we were at the North Rim of the Yellowstone Canyon


My compact hiking chair made for an effective rain gauge!

The fire was nice, especially with a couple of Tincup whiskeys!

446 Posts
Discussion Starter · #16 ·
DAY 7 - Rain showers rolled through Yellowstone overnight, leaving things wet and cold in the morning. It was an early start day, but packing up gear and tents was not a lot of fun. My bike thermometer read 38° at 8am.

To make up for the side trip to Bozeman on day 6, we detoured to Old Faithful to catch the show before leaving the park. Timing was pretty good, we were able to hit the gift shop (and I grabbed a large coffee to try warming up a bit) and still had time to see the geyser. This was an added 2 hour side trip, to an already long riding day. However, seeing the geyser, and once again walking around the inside of the incredible Old Faithful Lodge, was worth the time and effort.

From Old Faithful, we rode south to Grand Teton National Park, with a quick stop to put on some rain gear. Then we made a quick stop at the Coulter Bay visitor Center. After that, south down to Jackson (a note for tourists: there's only one road into Jackson from the north, and it backs up a long ways in the summer.). We got to the Cafe Genevieve in downtown Jackson time for a quick late lunch. After that, it was a long 4.5 hours of riding to get to Vernal, UT with stops in Pinedale and Rock Springs. Somewhere along the way, I managed to smack a bird with my windscreen at 'Highway' speeds. Did not know my windscreen could flex so much, but it sure got my adrenaline going.

The ride from Rock Springs to Vernal was very interesting, what I thought would be a nice warm section of road, turned into a long, cool, windy ride, including a couple of long steep uphill rides ending around 8,000 ft. We had to pull over and change out a sunglasses and put on another layer of warmth before making the final dash past flaming gorge reservoir and into Vernal, just as the sun was sitting. The Margarita sure was tasty that night!

More rain, misty weather and cold temps.




The obligatory Old Faithful Shot:

Inside the Old Faithful Lodge. One of the coolest lodges I've been in!


Lots of clouds in the Grand Tetons, made it hard to get a good picture!

Somewhere between Rock Springs and Vernal. Time to take of the sunglasses and add a layer.


Vernal at sunset.


A well-deserved Margarita

446 Posts
Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Final update!!


After camping for four straight nights, it felt good to have a bed to sleep in. The econolodge in Vernal would not be at the top of my list of places to stay, but it got the job done.
Our routing for the day included a couple of trips to see dinosaur National monument. The first stop was on the Utah side at the visitor center and quarry site. We were lucky enough to get there early enough that we could get a ticket to access the quarry, including the free trolley ride
. I remember visiting the quarry back in 7th grade and it hadn't changed much, other than the fact that the original quarry building was built on top of bentonite clay (expanding soil), and had to be torn down and rebuilt around 2010!. I probably appreciated the history and what I saw a little more this time. It's fascinating the number of fossils they pulled out of that one section of rocks in Utah, and the number of fossils that still remain buried in there. I recommend the trip if you have time!!

From the quarry, we took off East towards Dinosaur, Colorado and the Colorado side of the of the monument. Before we got there, the MSR bottle strapped to the Buell Ulysses decided to drop off the bike for the second time during the trip. We chased it down, and although bruised and banged up, it was still sealed shut with gasoline inside!

Our side trip on the Colorado side of the Monument was going up a 31-mile road called Harper's Corner Road. Wide open spaces, breathtaking scenery and basically no traffic was a good combination for a spirited ride to the top. After a short hike at the end of the trail, we made our way back to The highway, with a brief speed warning stop by a friendly park ranger

The next stop was in Maybell for gas. We met up with a couple of guys from Oklahoma and Texas on fully-loaded GS1200s, who had spent two weeks on the Colorado BDR and a bunch of Wyoming backroads to Yellowstone. They fared well, but admitted the big BMWs might not have been the best bikes for the trip.

We had a quick late lunch in Steamboat Springs. After that, our luck with avoiding rain and cold ended. Our ride included a detour up to Walden, CO, then down through Rand, CO and over Willow Creek Pass. We picked up rain just before the summit, along with temps down to the high 30s all the way into Granby. This section of road also cut through the middle of last year's East Troublesome Fire. Sad to see the amount of destruction that was caused! Our final fuel stop in Granby found us adding another layer of rain and cold protection for the ride home. The last stretch saw rain and wet conditions all the way to Idaho Springs, with a low of 37° at the top of Berthoud Pass. BRRR!

We all made it home safely after 3,000+ miles in eight days... Guess it's time to plan the next long ride???

They take their dinosaurs seriously in Vernal.


MSR - built tough bottles.


At the end of Harper's Corner Road:




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