Beauty from a Bike – Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks

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We just returned from a 2 week trip to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. To a “national parks” kind of guy, it was an incredible trip. We last visited these parks 14 years ago. Yellowstone is still very much the same in terms of its infrastructure and lodges. The Old Faithful unit has added a visitor center and other services, but trails, boardwalks, etc have remained basically the same. We did notice there were more people visiting the park during September, which is generally considered an “off-peak” month. Grand Teton on the other hand has developed more recreational opportunities for park visitors including paved bike trails, groomed Nordic ski trails in the winter, guided rafting and fishing trips, and photography workshops, to name a few.

Let’s examine the topic of cycling closer. The highways at Yellowstone are not designed for cycling. Because of the rough terrain, the roads cannot easily be reconstructed to add room for bikes. Existing roads are narrow, winding, hilly, and have very little if any paved shoulders. This issue is compounded by the fact that there are countless buses and RVs with their protruding mirrors frequenting these same roads. We did see some people biking on the roads, but thought it was risky.

Grand Teton is much different. East of the mountain range that makes the park famous, much of the topography at Grand Teton is relatively flat hence the name Jackson Hole, and is more conducive to cycling. Since our last visit 14 years ago, the Park Service has added many miles of paved bike trails that parallel the highways. What is even nicer is that there is a buffer zone between the paths and road. I was impressed to see so many cyclists of all skill levels enjoy the excellent trail system, and there are plans to add more paths in the future. So if you are looking for a park that accommodates cyclists, you just may want to consider Grand Teton National Park. The cycling trails are great and the views along the way are spectacular.

Now a question you may ask is, did I do any cycling while at Grand Teton. Well, as much as I enjoy cycling, if given the opportunity I lace up a pair of hiking boots and head out on the rustic trails.  Enjoy!

(iPhone image from a cycling trail, GTNP)

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