well, i have done that for sure... but on tight, twisties, doing this makes me feel uncomfortable about having to break into their formation and as a result, riding a whole lot closer to them than they might want.
the former is a bit rude, the latter is probably more dangerous to me than it is to them.
I have a cabin less than an hour from Red Lodge and I've gone into town during the rally. In years past it wasn't that crowded, in town or going up the Beartooth.
If you want to camp near town, I would suggest the Rock Creek forest service campground just about 8 miles south of downtown. Be sure to check out "Fishtail" Montana just a few beautiful twisty turns down the highway from Red Lodge, just be aware of the deer and antelope.
I attended the '06 Beartooth Rally. It was blast! I wasn't riding a Harley.
I arrived a few of days before the rally and setup camp just outside of town at the Basin Campground in the USDA Forrest Service - Custer National Forrest off of the West Fork of Rock Creek Road, six-miles from downtown. The site was primative, but scenic and one of the most enjoyable campsites in which I have ever stayed.
The Beartooth Rally is usually a three-day event: Friday Golf Tournament; Saturday Poker Run; and Sunday Biker Rodeo. The crowd is predominately riding H-D, but not exclusively. The people ran the gamut. By Monday night the town is pretty much back to normal.
I can't tell you exactly how many people attended the rally, but crowds weren't a serious problem at all. During the poker run, I never encountered more than fifty bikers at each card stop.
The Beartooth Pass and the Chief Joseph Scenic Highway are the main riding attractions. I stayed one week -- making nine passes over the Beartooth Pass.
While the Rally may impact lodging, it won't otherwise hamper your enjoyment of one of the finest riding areas in this country. I wouldn't hesitate to go to Red Lodge, the Beartooth Pass and the Chief Joseph Scenic Highway just because of the Rally.
If you think most of the rally attendees look strange festooned in all of that black leather, try to imagine what your Aerostich Roadcrafter and floppy hat outfit looks like to them. Relax. You'll have a blast.
Since you are a local I have a question for you. I am planning to attend Gillette and will be coming in from the west. I was planning on getting a motel around Columbus or Laurel, MT on the Wednesday night before and then arriving in Gillette sometime late Thursday. How long do you think it will take to ride from Laurel across Beartooth, Chief Joseph and back across to I90 at Sheridan (via hwy14)? or Buffalo via hwy 16? Rough estimates are okay. I am just trying to figure out how much extra time I will have for stops, photo ops and sightseeing before I beat a path on to Gillette.
Neal - '09 R1200GS / '81 R65
Be the person that your dog thinks you are.
You are going to love that section of road. You should figure on a very full day to ride from Columbus to Gillette. If you have the time I would just ride to Cody and then the rest of the way the following day.
But if not here is my suggestion: First, stay in Columbus not Laurel and take Highway #78 out of Columbus for Absarokee and on to Red Lodge, a good little side jaunt is to visit Fishtail if you have the time. Columbus to Red Lodge is a beautiful ride, twisty roads through fertile ranchland with the Beartooth mountain range rising up on you're immediate right, this section takes about an hour. Red Lodge is a great little town, stop and go in the "Candy Store" it's worth checking out even if you're diabetic.
Once you leave Red Lodge you'll begin the climb onto the Beartooth....enjoy....this is Highway 212. I'm rambling so....take 212 to 296 and down into Cody and then blast east on #14. I hope this helps, it's an amazing section of roadway, one of the best in America!
All the stuff from bigskyrider is true. I think it's best to break up the trip into two days. Follow his route into Cody and spend the night. You can then head east over the Big Horns via Lovell, Wy. The switchbacks up to burgess junction are pretty cool and there is also the route from Greybull through Shell Canyon. I live in Cody and have ridden all these roads. Let me know when you come through Red Lodge and I give you my list for the candy store . Let me know if I can be of any assistance.
You need to go to the Back of the Candy Store! Don't just walk in, go to the rear. (I'm not giving away the rest...)
I also like the Grizzly Bar in Roscoe but the turn to Roscoe is easy to miss, look for the sign for a welding shop. Downtown Roscoe is just two buildings and a bridge across the creek.
Don't stay in Laurel because it is mostly a petroleum processing facility. That is a really long day, even starting from Columbus.
Just mu .02, if you are coming from far away you shouldn't miss this ride. I have never ridden the dragons tail, but I've talked to people who've ridden both and they have all said that Bear Tooth Pass and the Chief Joe Highways are the better ones to ride. I know everytime I ride them I love it! As far as crowding, two years ago we rode over to Red Lodge and back while the Hells Angels International Rally was going on at Cody, WY (south end of Chief Joe's highway) and we didn't even notice that much crowding. There are many miles of road and lots of pull outs so, "Ride em if you get a chance." You'll thank yourself if you do!
Thanks everyone for the great responses. I only have the one day in my schedule so I will have to make the most of it. It sounds like I won't have much time for stopping and gawking but that's okay, I enjoy riding too! I just didn't want to get into Gillette too late in the evening - I will have friends, cold beverages and live music waiting on me. I do hope to spend more time in the Red Lodge area sometime in the future. I will only have one full day at Gillette as it is and then must head back home Saturday.
Neal - '09 R1200GS / '81 R65
Be the person that your dog thinks you are.
The Brotherhood of the Road by Shalom Auslander
I love motorcycles, and I love riding. Like many of you, what first drew me to bikes was not just the experience of riding, but the feeling that I'd become part of a special community? a brotherhood, really. Nothing calms me more than a long ride down the interstate, waving to the members of my beloved clan.
Except when I pass Harley guys. I hate Harley guys. Hate, hate, hate. When they pass me on the highway, you know what I do? I don't wave. With their little tassle handlebars and the studded luggage and the half-helmets? God, they drive me crazy.
You know who else I hate? BMW guys. Oh, I do hate those guys. I don't wave at them, either. They think they're so great, sitting all upright, with their 180-degree German engines. God, I hate them.
They're almost as bad as those old bastards on their touring motorcycles. You know what I call those bikes? "Two-wheeled couches!" Get it? Because they're so big. They drive around like they've got all day. Appreciate the scenery somewhere else, Grampa, and while you're at it, I'm not waving to you.
Ducati guys? I don't wave at them either. Why don't they spend a little more money on their bikes? "You can have it in any color you want, as long as it's red." Aren't you cool! Like they even know what a desmo-whatever engine is, anyway. Try finding the battery, you Italian-wannabe racers! I never, ever wave at those guys.
Suzuki guys aren't much better, which is why I never wave at them, either. They always have those stupid helmets sitting on top of their stupid heads, and God forbid they should wear any safety gear. They make me so mad. Sometimes they'll speed by and look over at me and you know what I do? I don't wave. I just keep on going. Please, don't get me started on Kawasaki guys. Ninjas? What are you, twelve years old? Team Green my ass. I never wave at Kawasaki guys.
I ride a Honda, and I'll only wave at Honda guys, but even then, I'll never wave at a guy in full leathers. Never, never, never. Yeah, like you're going to get your knee down on the New York Thruway. Nice crotch, by the way.
Guys in full leathers will never get a wave from me, and by the way, neither will the guys in two-piece leathers. And I'll tell you who else I'm not waving at those guys with the helmets with the loud paint jobs. Four pounds of paint on a two pound helmet? Like I'm going to wave back to that! I'll also never wave at someone with a mirrored visor. Or helmet stickers. Or racing gloves. Or hiking boots.
To me, motorcycling is a like a family, a close-knit brotherhood of people who ride Hondas, wear jeans and a leather jacket (not Vanson) with regular gloves and a solid-color helmet with a clear visor, no stickers, no racing gloves and regular boots (not Timberlands). And isn't that what really makes riding so special?"
Bud Meade W9BUD IBA 44018 MOA Lifetime Member
Paul is right, as usual. I stopped going to Sturgis two years ago after twenty or so years of visits. The reason was the crowds of poor riders in the area. This is one of the reasons I was so excited that the rally is in Gillette this years. I intend to ride those great black hills canyons hard going and coming without having to fight the crowds....wj
"I like to watch." --Chauncey Gardner