I thought it was going to be tough getting across Yellowstone, and my gut was right. This is an amazingly beautiful park but tough logistically when you are bike touring. If you are in a car and your intended campground is full, keep driving, with the headlights on if it is dark. Not so easy on a bike tour. As soon as I entered the park on the west side, all the campground signs read ‘full’ almost all the park over. And the park is a hilly place so don’t expect to cruise!
Around midday I had a business-like talk with a ranger about the fees to get in the park. For bicyclists and walkers, $15. Is that a lot? Of course not. But after a couple decades of taxpayer-funded effort by the federal government to promote modes of transportation with low carbon emissions, the fee to ride across the park on 28 mm tires makes no sense. Part of the road along Yellowstone River is actually cracking away, which
created a one foot drop, so I chewed up the entire lane. Fortunately a lot of bison kept motorists more interested in wildlife than in trying to run a slow biker off the road and more than likely bending a wheel rim with that kind of drop off the pavement.
Yellowstone is just a spectacular park, a different feel than Glacier but just as amazing, and this summer, just as hot.
After waking to 35 degrees temps, 4 hours later the temp had gone up 50 degrees! I stopped for an expensive fountain soda in the park to quench a thirst from biking my first 35 miles of the day along a crowded road and ascending a couple thousand
feet elevation. At that moment I would have taken the icy Pepsi over its weight in gold! I repeated the same thing later in the day after I had peeled off 25 more miles.
Later in the day I passed by spectacular Yellowstone Lake (picture and video at end of today’s post), had another refreshing swim, and
then started the tough climb eastward over Sylvan Pass. It guards the east entrance of the park well. At the top of the pass I let it rip going downhill and pedaled right out of the park and into the Shoshone National Forest. This area’s scenery and geology is even more amazing than Yellowstone…the views just stunning here. I suspect the National Forest here
gets 5% of the traffic of Yellowstone even though it is even prettier, simply because it is not called Yellowstone.
The one downside about hitting the Shoshone National Forest late in the day is that tenting is not allowed at registered campgrounds within the first 15 miles of the park (even though it is allowed in the back country). I found this out on the fly. The feds are too worried about confrontations with grizzlies when somebody sleeps in a tent. How does one survive to adulthood is such a shark and bear infested hemisphere?! I wish Buffalo Bill Cody was still around to offer some advice. Until I get to speak to him I better start pedaling faster lest one catches up to me!
After a hour of pedaling in the dark (no grizz in hot pursuit as best I could tell) I found a campground where I think I am legal (my ‘out’ is that my headlamp is dim and it was too dark when I pulled in to
read the signage). The fire restriction is not in effect here, so I’ve lit a wonderful little sage wood campfire. The forest fire haze is long gone. The desert air is crisp, the stars are out, the crickets
are chirping, the Shoshone River babbles in the background and a nice westerly breeze rustles my little tent. What a beautiful night.