Have you been looking for a new place to ride, one where the land is still as wild as it gets and you can almost imagine that dinosaurs are still meandering around? Cycle Greater Yellowstone has you covered, and even if you’ve done the CGY bike tour in past years, the 2018 route is almost completely new and not to be missed.
The ride will take place Sunday through Friday, August 11-17, 2018, with a bonus ride on Saturday morning in Sinks Canyon. It will cover parts of Wyoming that have never before been a part of the route: Cody, Meeteetse, Thermopolis, Pavillion, Dubois, and Lander. Started in 2013, Cycle Greater Yellowstone (also known as "The First Great Ride in the Last Best Place") exists to help grow awareness for the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. Over the years, the event has brought thousands of riders to areas in and around Yellowstone to appreciate the beauty and realize the importance of preserving our country’s lands. Along the way, camping and daily excursions are provided through nonprofit organizations in the area, so the ride has been able to take part in a community grant program that has given back about $175,000 to the various nonprofits on the route over the years. We call that a win-win-win for the local organizations, the riders, and the Greater Yellowstone Coalition.
The tour sells out almost every year, and if you’ve been craving the companionship of some new riding friends, Coordinator Jennifer Drinkwalter guarantees that the men and women you’ll meet on the ride will become lifetime friends. She’s seen, in past years, people who meet for the first time on day one of the ride and come back the next year as best friends and partners in the adventure.
If you’re looking for a tour that will challenge your riding endurance, but without leaving you totally wiped at the end of the day, this ride might be for you. Not only will you be getting in some serious base miles and having a blast, you’ll be ‘responsibly recreating’ around Yellowstone, which is the main goal of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. Their mission statement reads that members are "people protecting the lands, waters, and wildlife of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, now and for future generations." Just taking the time to ride in the area and combine that recreation with conservation is exactly what the coalition hopes for.
Most days, you’ll be pedaling for a few hours—with the exception of one rest day, where you can still pedal Togwotee Pass—but there’s still plenty of time to explore the small towns that are dotted along the route.
Day 1: Cody to Meeteetse
The first day is just a warm-up, though if the 40 miles you’ll do as a group at the start of a ride isn’t enough, you can always add on 35 extra miles riding next to the Greybull River into the Shoshone National Forest. The tiny town of Meeteetse has less than 400 residents, and your chance of seeing wildlife—like elk, grizzly bears, and the black-footed ferret—is high. (If you opt to add mileage, there are a few mining ghost towns in the area immediately surrounding the town.)
Day 2: Meeteetse to Thermopolis
Your second day of riding will fall around 70 miles through Wyoming, and ending in Thermopolis is a serious bonus. Nestled in Hot Springs County, you’ll be able to soak tired muscles in soothing hot springs. The town is called the Gateway to Yellowstone and boasts the world's largest mineral hot springs. Another bonus? Fifteen miles outside of town in Kirby is the Wyoming Whiskey Distillery.
Day 3: Thermopolis to Pavillion
The third day will have you pedaling about 68 miles from Thermopolis (take one last morning hot spring soak if you can!) to Pavillion. You’ll ride through Wind River Canyon to get to Pavillion, where you’ll be enjoying a great night of camping in Pavillion. The river is gorgeous, and you’ll wind through a canyon looking down at the water for much of the ride.
Day 4: Pavillion to Dubois
With 66 miles of riding plus an option for more, you’ll be feeling ready for the rest day when you pull into Dubois. The town of Dubois is on US Route 26 and is the beginning of the Wyoming Centennial Scenic Byway. It’s also called one of the last ‘Old West’ towns, with a population well under 1,000. Despite the small town vibe, there are a dozen restaurants ranging from Mexican to an old-fashioned American diner to homemade donuts to brick oven pizza to choose from, plus two bars in town to dance the night away.
Day 5: Dubois Rest Day
OK, ‘rest day’ might not be quite accurate, simply because there are too many things to see on foot or by bike. If you’re still feeling spry, there’s an out-and-back ride through Togwotee Pass, where you cross the Continental Divide. But if you want a day off the bike, there will be hikes in the area. Really need a rest day? Some folks will head to the National Bighorn Sheep Interpretive Center and then hit the historical bars, following the tracks of Butch Cassidy, trappers, and traders.
Day 6: Dubois to Lander
Your final day of pedaling is a big one of about 75 miles, plus the option to explore Sinks Canyon the next day—a can’t-miss stop filled with beautiful creeks, rivers, and bridges at the base of the southern Wind River Mountains. The hip mountain town of Lander itself is an excellent end point as well. Mountain biker Nancy Miller says despite the town’s major tourist attractions, great restaurants, and amazing breweries, it still has a mountain town vibe and hasn’t started boosting prices to gouge tourists. So your well-deserved pint of beer won’t break the bank.
How to Get In
Registration is now open for 2018, but it does sell out fast, so make sure you're checking the website regularly for updates. The price tag in 2017 covered all of your meals on the route and in camp, warm showers, camping space, route and gear support, baggage haul from camp to camp, and basic mechanic support, so expect 2018 to be similarly organized.
Originally written for Cycle Greater Yellowstone.