View Full Version : Vacation trip to Yellowstone

05-15-2009, 04:48 PM
OK my significant other wants some reassurance. Here's the question:

We plan on riding to Yellowstone and seeing the sights in late August after we get back from the desert southwest next month.

The concern is with being charged by an affectionate buffalo bull while stuck in traffic.

Any of you fine folks "been there done that"?

She feels that perhaps we need to park the beemer and see the park from a Humvee or perhaps even an M1A tank.

Your thoughts please.

05-15-2009, 05:17 PM
Been there and done that many times and always worry when stuck in any of the numerous animal-related road jams that happen many times every day. But I have never had a problem. Used to ride a big brown Yamaha Venture Royals that lady buffalo seemed to really like. I think it looked like a calf to them. But again, no problem other than the worry.

Your biggest problem in Yellowstone will be dealing with automobile and motor home traffic. Drivers check their brains at the gate when they enter Yellowstone. They think nothing about slaming on the brakes and stopping in the middle of the road for no apparent reason. Its the rule, rather than the exception. Just be aware and practice everything you know about defensive riding.

And have fun. It's a beautiful park, especially from the seat of a motorcycle.

05-15-2009, 05:42 PM
Pretty much what has been said!! I camped inside the park and even that was uneventful as far as critters go. It really is beautiful there!! Have fun!

05-15-2009, 05:48 PM
Was there last year before the rally. No problems with the 4 legged animals, just the 2 legged 4 wheeled ones. Had the bison (there real name, corrected by a Ranger) as close as 6 feet and just stand there and look at us. Only seen the bulls by the road. The best time of my life. We were only there 2 days and were only able to make the Grand Loop and a stop at Old Faithfull. You could ride the Park for a week and not see everything. We stayed in Cody about 50 miles away.Watch your SPEED in the small towns in WY.

05-15-2009, 09:08 PM

My wife and I did a pass through the park last September.The major issue, as noted above, is that nearly all the drivers are extremely distracted by the sights, and many will make split second, unsignalled, maneuvers to facilitate the sight seeing.

Also, do not rely on the road markings: for example, you cannot rely on a broken centre line to afford you a safe passing zone. The Wyoming marking system is haphazard.

I wouldn't worry about the natural animals.

05-15-2009, 09:28 PM
I rode through (and camped in) Yellowstone last summer returning from the Rally.

No Bison on the roads, just traffic to look at the wildlife. I only saw lone Bison in Yellowstone, no herds

Lots of Bison on the road in Custer State Park (SD).

05-15-2009, 10:33 PM
I've been to Yellowstone many times and some of the best were on a bike. I encountered Buffalo and Elk on the road. No problems what so ever. This is not a place to go speeding around. You can usually spot a herd in enough of time to just stop in advance and just let them do their thing. There have been times where a herd of buffalo decided to walked down the middle of the road, that's when I try to position myself near a car or between two cars although I doubt doing that is really necessary as they seam to just miss everything unless someone does something really stupid like trying to put their child on the back of one these animals ( yes I really did see a person trying to do that)
At that time of the year the elk could be starting their rut (it might be a little early) and you'll see many especially in the northern part of the park. They start acting a little goofy so just keep your distance. I've also have been lucky enough to see a mountain lion which is a very rare animal to see. Bring a good pair of binoculars, sometimes if you look at a herd of whatever in the distance you might witness a grizzly feeding on a carcass.
Don't forget the Grand Teton National Park to the south and Jackson Hole absolutely beautiful...........I hope the next time the MOA goes to Wyoming they find a spot near there. Enjoy, it truly is one of the greatest places on earth!

05-15-2009, 10:37 PM
You're more likely to be hurt by a car than an animal while you're on your bike in the park. Remember, everyone is sight seeing, and they somehow think it's safer at 25 mph.
The exception being bull elk during the rut (around September) absolutely DO NOT honk your horn; or you may be treated as they would another bull bugling a challenge.
You're also more likely to be hurt by an animal when on foot and ignoring the ranger's guidance about proximity. More people are hurt or killed by their own foolishness in the park than by being innocent passers-by.

05-15-2009, 11:35 PM
Been there many times on the bike, recently, last year following the rally. My brother and his son were traveling with us, and following a nice breakfast in Cooke City, we traversed the Lamar Valley. We herded bison down the road a few times, but no issues with animals. (4 legged type). Traffic builds up around wildlife sightings and can be agravating. At one point in the Lamar Valley, at a pull out/parking area, everyone is standing looking through spotting scopes and such, trying to watch wildlife, while on the road right in front of us is one of the most rare animals, a wolf. It was walking within 2-3 feet behind everyone with their scopes and they were unaware of this great animal. The reaction was a kick to watch when they figured it out.

Use common sense and you should have no problems. Just watch the traffic, because they will not watch you.

bob still

05-16-2009, 01:10 AM
Thank you all very much. Now I've got some ammo.

05-16-2009, 01:28 AM
One tidbit of interest:

99% of the folks that visit Yellowstone only see it from the roadway.
They drive in, visit the gift shop to pick up postcards and drive out. I'd suggest, if you want to see some beauty and get away from the crowds, is to take a hike on one of the many great trails. Just be sure to pack 1. Dirty Harry Model 44 Mag. 2. Bear spray.
Just kidding.........

Have a great time and also visit Bozeman and we can have a brew or two.
By the way Bozeman would be a fantastic place to have the national!



05-16-2009, 01:48 AM
Here you go:


(scroll down and watch the respect for wildlife video)

We took my brother and nephew to the park a couple years ago while they were visiting. My brother's an avid photographer and during the course of several hikes was able to get great pictures and video of scenery and wildlife, including wolves. All from a safe distance, through the magic of telephoto and zoom.

05-16-2009, 08:09 PM
I have been thru Yellowstone on a bike several times. When there is a Buffalo jam on the road I have used the car in front of me as a shield. Traffic will be stopped or barely moving. Just pull up close to the car ahead on the opposite side that the wild life is. The critters are very used to ignoring people. But I position the bike so that I have an escape path keeping a car between us and the animals. Never had needed to use it though.

But every year some bonehead dies when they decide to try and pet the "tame" buffalo. Very bad idea. And remember, those big slow lumbering animals can hit over 30 MPH if they want to. Ya aint gonna out run one.

The biggest obstacle you will have in the park are the horrible roads. Half the roads are potholed and frost heaved. And the other half will be under construction. I have been going there every couple years for about 20 years and the one constant is that the roads pretty much suck. Just ride slowly and injoy the views.

My wife also was afraid of riding thru the park. Add fear at seeing big animals upclose on a motorcycle and it will be a trip that your wife will remember. Ya tend to remember in greater detail things that scare you.

05-17-2009, 01:18 PM
Yellowstone is great. It seems there are always Bison on the roads, but it's the other drivers you need to be careful of. Respect the critters--don't act aggressively toward them, give 'em a bit of space--and you'll have a great time. Just remember that traffic can be a bit unpredictable. I'm hoping to get up there again later this year.

05-17-2009, 01:57 PM
+10 on the stupid drivers

I was there in a car (family does not bike) and there were Bison crossing the road in front of us. Idiot in car in front decides to honk at Bison. Lead Bison bull turns to face him, lowers head. Idiot throws car in reverse. Ever see what happens when the front 5 MPH bumper of a big ole Bonneville is hit by the non rated rear of a Ford Taurus. It ain't pretty.... for the Taurus. The blue paint rubbed right off the chrome bumper.

I called the Ranger, so there was documentation, just in case stupid driver changes story. Ranger explained to the driver that Bachelor Bulls are usually former herd bulls that can not fight well enough anymore to get the ladies. As such, they are normally in a rather fowl mood. He had a 3 ring binder with some pictures in it of destroyed cars, he said were from pissing off the bulls. I think the cars crashed but he was making a point. A bull is big enough. Look on face of stupid drivers wife was priceless. Oh to be a fly on the wall.

+100 on the hikes and the camping. It can not be much more beautiful.