It was a sunny summer morning with a great group of friends. The weather was absolutely perfect, as we saddled up our bikes to head north on an epic motorcycle adventure and experience some of the best treasures in the west. Our bikes were gassed up, gear loaded and smiles on our faces. Another tour was kicking off for Adventure Moto Touring.
Our first stop would be in Grand Teton National Park. Along the way we passed the ‘Caribbean of the Rockies” Bear Lake with it’s beautiful aqua blue waters. After traveling further north, through Wyoming, we arrived in Jackson Hole and ate buffalo burgers on our way into Grand Teton.
Once we entered Grand Teton National Park, we stopped for a boat ride across Jenny Lake and took a hike to see hidden falls and the Jenny Lake View Point. What a beautiful area! the hike was fantastic with views of the river, lake and teton mountain range.
After the boat ride, we stopped for sunset pictures on our way to stay in a tent cabin at Coulter Bay Village on the edge of Jackson Lake. It was a chilly night and Dwayne decided to tough it out, without a sleeping bag, sleeping in his BMW rally gear! In the morning we ate a nice breakfast at the local lodge and geared up for the next days activities.
Day 2 was packed with things to see and do. We headed out of Grand Teton and into Yellowstone National Park. We rode along the edge of the massive Yellowstone Lake, stopping at West thumb Geyser Basin and passing though Lamar Valley. This gave us a little taste of what we would see the next two days in one of the most visited National Parks in the nation. The day would finish with some true gems of the tour. Two of the most sought after roads in the United States, Chief Joseph Highway in Wyoming and Beartooth Highway as we crossed into Montana.
As we approached Chief Joseph Highway, we could see a wildfire looming in the distance. When we stopped at the Chief Joseph overlook I saw a warning sign, talking about the potential for Beartooth Highway to be closed, depending on fire conditions. In the distance and in the direction we were headed, you could see a large plume of smoke. So we proceeded with caution, hoping to be able to pass through our route as planned. As we continued, we passed a large firefighters camp and were able to see many helicopters putting water on the fire. It was neat to see them fill their buckets in the river right alongside the road that we were riding. Luckily we were able to make it to the Beartooth Highway junction and then we were headed away from the fire. The Beartooth Highway was incredible as we climbed and twisted our way to nearly 11,000 ft. The top of the mountain is barren, with incredible views of large lakes below with the plume of smoke in the background. An amazing experience! After coming out of the canyon, we arrived in Red Lodge and the hotel. For dinner we found a great local restaurant, where we had a great meal to close out the day.
We were fortunate to be able to ride back over the Beartooth Highway the next day en route to the north end of Yellowstone National Park. Our stops in the park included Mammoth Hot Springs and Norris Geyser Basin. In additional to getting a bigger taste of the park, the guys were able to see a variety of wildlife, including bison and elk. Little did we know, the next day would bring some close encounters with a herd of very big buffalo. We could still see the wildfires in the backdrop of many of our pictures. We arrived at our camping spot in the evening, for the first of two nights in West Yellowstone, then walked into town for another nice meal and dessert.
The plan for the next day was all about Yellowstone. The guys were able to experience the best pieces of of the park, riding the Grand Loop. This started in the main geyser basin of Yellowstone, where we saw Old Faithful erupt and walked through this very large geyser area, seeing many other geysers and taking lots of picture. We also hiked the Uncle Tom’s trail to Lower Yellowstone Falls. This not only gave an incredible view of the falls, but also an amazing view of the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone.
As we went through buffalo country, we had some excitement on a bridge and became pinned as a herd of buffalo came trotting down the road. I got caught just feet away from a few stray buffalo. I sat on my motorcycle filming the beast, thinking if he decides to come at me I would be in real trouble. Luckily he was in a hurry to catch up to his friends. We ended the day visiting a bear and wolf discovery facility in West Yellowstone. It was really cool to see these animals up close, but we were grateful they were behind wire fences.
One Day 6 we left West Yellowstone after a stop at some souvenir shops in town. Our ride would take us past the massive Hebgen Lake and then along the Madison River, on our way to Lewis & Clark Caverns State Park. We were back near some wildfires, this time the fires were coming from Idaho. The smoke made an amazing backdrop for some incredible pictures along the river. We stopped along the way in a small town and had lunch at a great little diner.
The next stop would be Lewis & Clark Caverns. Known as Montana’s first and best-known state park featuring one of the largest and most decorated limestone caverns in the Northwest. It was certainly worth the trip and the hike through was amazing. The interior was spectacular! It is lined with stalactites, stalagmites, columns, and helictites. The naturally air-conditioned cavern was also a welcome change from the warmer temperatures on the exterior. After our tour of the cave, we took a beautiful ride down through Montana and finished at our hotel in Dillon.
Day 7 would take us into the 4th state on the tour and take us to the beautiful town of Sun Valley, Idaho. It also goes through the majestic Sawtooth Mountain range and along the Salmon River. This road is one of my favorites in Idaho. It follows the edge of the Salmon River and takes you through the towns of Salmon and Challis, which also includes 99 miles of twisties. The skies were blue and this road is hard to beat on a motorcycle. You would think these turns were designed specifically for a motorcycle. We also stopped for nap at a spot where Captain Ray had slept 3 years before.
As I mentioned in day 6, we saw more smoke as we got closer to Idaho. There was two wildfires in Idaho burning, so I kept a close eye on our route and the possible impact it might have on the tour. The was a fire in the Sawtooth Mountains, but it was on the other side of the range, so we were able to take the route as planned. It was very smoky and provided another backdrop for some cool pictures.
When we arrive in Sun Valley, it was a welcome sight to see a nice jacuzzi at the hotel. We met some other motorcycle adventurers at the pool and traded stories from the road. The final day would take us back to Salt Lake City. We got up early and blitzed back into the valley. It was another successful Wild West Tour.