Getting ready on my own schedule seems weird after having a set schedule for the past several days. I slept a little later, had a leisurely breakfast, and lounged in the hotel lobby for a while, trying to get motivated. I still didn’t have a real plan for a route. I was sitting there looking at a map the hotel gives out when one of the other riders stopped by. We talked a bit and he mentioned a good road he’d ridden when going east in the past. Since I had no ideas of my own and it was generally the right direction I decided that was where I’d go. I spent quite a but of time trying to figure out how to get everything on the bike, since I had not yet had everything on there at once. After a couple of tries,i said my good-byes to the remaining riders and staff and took off around 10:30am.
The route I chose would take me out of Helena going east on 287 to 205 along 90 to 90, then to 89 which took me into Yellowstone National Park. The park was jammed, probably since it was Sunday of Labor Day weekend, so I didn’t even try to see any of the big attractions. I did go by the petrified tree and got some pictures. A lot of the trees in that area of the park had been burned in previous wildfires. In fact, a fire was burning just to the north of that area when I was there, I could see the smoke in the distance. While in the park I did see antelope (which we did see bunches of on the ride), deer, and a bunch of bison (buffalo). I also saw a bear. I could tell that because of the absolute circus of human activity in the area. There was even a bus there! I just looked over and saw it as I made my way through the confusion.
I followed the road around to the northeast entrance and exited the park there. I drove through Cooke City and Colter Pass, which is about 8000′ elevation. I then got on the Beartooth All American Road, which is the road I was told about earlier. Amazing. Incredible. There really aren’t enough words to truly describe what an interesting ride it was. A steep climb with lots of switchbacks, beautiful views, lots of turnouts, it was a really fun ride, even though I got caught up in traffic a lot and couldn’t really tear through it. (not that I would have, but I may have been able to go faster than I did…). If you ever get the chance, I’d give it a ride.
My goal was Red Lodge, Montana, and I got there at about 5:45pm. I got a restaurant recommendation from the desk clerk, got cleaned up and went to dinner at the Carbon County Steak House. I ordered the Bison. It was delicious.
Total miles: 3880
Animals viewed then eaten: 1