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Thread: Suggestions for our first trip west

  1. #1
    Bluegrass Rider Kentuckyblue's Avatar
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    Suggestions for our first trip west

    This will be our first trip west; actually first trip together with the bike ever. We will be trailering our LT as far as Rapid City, SD. We're leaving our SUV and trailer in Rapid City and riding the LT over through Wyoming to scope out a vacation site for my daughter and her family in the Jackson Hole area. We would like to see that area, maybe ride the loops around Yellowstone, and head back for the Curve Cowboy Reunion in Rapid City first week in September. We have around a week or ten days before we need to be back in Rapid City. Any routing suggestions or recommendations would be appreciated. Also would like recommendations on what to see, where to eat and where to stay (no camping). We like neat places and local flavor. Thanks for your input.

    Ray

  2. #2
    Registered User RINTY's Avatar
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    You have a nice trifecta of riding destinations in that area: Black Hills, Big Horns, and Beartooth.

    Just do a search here under the latter, and you'll pull up tons of threads.
    Rinty

    "When you don't know where you're going, any road will get you there."

  3. #3
    Rock 'n roll! jeremell's Avatar
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    You should check out the Sylvan Lake Lodge. It has cool little cabins and a great restaurant. I also recommend Devil's Tower, it is incredible.

  4. #4
    Registered User RTRandy's Avatar
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    From Rapid City I would slab it on I-90 to pick up 14 at either Gillette or further along at Ranchester,WO and take 14 and 14a to Cody. The key is the road from Cody to Red lodge. Hwy 296 just north of Cody is Chief Joseph Hwy which runs into 212 going north east over the Beartooth Pass. Incredible !

    I've always come from east Yellowstone on 14 to get to Cody so to get back to Yellowstone, you could back track on 212 to get into the north entrance or continue north on Hwy78 out of Red Lodge through Absarokee and take I-90 to 89 south. Kind of long and I think the 212 route would be much better.

    If also trying to take in Jackson, WO you really don't have a lot of choices other than to take Hwy 191 out of the south entrance of Yellowstone through the Grand Tetons. Great ride as well.
    Luck favors those who are prepared.

  5. #5
    Brett
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    I third Beartooth pass don't miss it. If you have a few days, one each way and one to explore go north to Glacier National park in northern Montana. Great ride all back roads from Red Lodge through a ski resort area etc. Lots of riding but worth every second. While there do the "Going to the Sun Highway" Again don't miss Beartooth

    Brett Endress
    Altoona Pa

  6. #6
    Focused kbasa's Avatar
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    Lolo Pass.
    Dave Swider
    Marin County, CA

    Some bikes. Some with motors, some without.

  7. #7
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    Last year following the National, Heidi and I met up with my brother and his son in Buffalo for a quickie tour of the west. First time for my brother and his son.

    Day 1 - Buffalo to Cody. Stayed at the Irma Hotel. Great place (hwy 16 is a blast)
    Day 2- Cody to Red Lodge via Chief Joseph and Beartooth
    Day 3- Red Lodge to Cooke City, into Yellowstone, across the Lamar valley to West Yellowstone
    Day 4 - West Yellowstone to Jackson - white water rafting in Jackson
    Day 5 - Jackson to Glenwood Springs - swimming at the GS pool
    Day 6 - G.S to Paonia

    This year we expanded on the west tour and met the group in Ft. Collins Colorado
    Day 1 - Ft. Collins to Billings Mt. (Custer Battlefield)
    Day 2 - Billings to St. Mary's Mt, Going to the Sun Road to W. Glacier
    Day 3 - West Glacier to Lolo Mt. and down the Lolo trail to Kooskie, then south to Cascade. Should have stopped in Mc Call
    Day 4- Cascade to Manila Ut. (West side of Flaming Gorge)
    Day 5- Manila to Durango Co.
    Day 6- Durango to Paonia.

    From Rapid City, you have many choices, but enough time to cover most of the same route/desinations. Cody, Chief Joseph, Beartooth, Lamar Valley, Lolo Trail are all must do's on a motorcycle, and you should have enough time to plan a nice trip to cover them all, and still have time to sight see in the Black Hills when you return for the CCR.

    Have a great ride.

    bob still

  8. #8
    Registered User RTRandy's Avatar
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    Ray,

    Because this part of the country has all the top places and roads to ride, everyone here making suggestions is right. If the weather cooperates it will be the ride of a lifetime. The challenge becomes what can you take in for the week to 10 days you have.

    To get from Yellowstone to either Glacier or the Lolo Pass, and both are great, I would recommend Hwy 287 out of West Yellowstone. 287 is wide open with zero traffic and easy to make time. Be sure and ride the part just north of West Yellowstone along Hebgen Lake. A lot of people don't realize this, but that stretch of 287 is the same Hwy 287 that runs from Decatur, Texas to Amarillo and cuts through Colorado.

    In any case you pretty much need to head in the direction of Missoula so I-90 is your best bet for time. If you can get to Glacier which is one of the most beautiful places on the planet, I would recommend staying in Big Fork which is on the NE tip of Flathead lake and a little over an hour from the entrance to the park. Very cool little town with good lodging and dining.

    Riding Lolo would be super. The only down side is time. Once you get on it at the SW side of Missoula, Hwy 93 and hwy12, you're pretty much heading west to Lewiston on the border of Washington state. From there you're pretty far out with few direct ways to get to Rapid City other than to try to get back on I-90 east or turn around and ride it eastbound.( Nothing wrong with that)

    If you end up in Jackson and have already been through Yellowstone, you could head west towards Idaho Falls to pick up I-15 and then get north toward Missoula. That in itself is pretty much a day of riding.

    Let us know what you end up with.
    Luck favors those who are prepared.

  9. #9
    Bluegrass Rider Kentuckyblue's Avatar
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    Thanks very much for all the input. I am trying to incorporate as many of your suggestions into our trip as I possibly can. We have had a slight change in plans. Instead of trailering to Rapid City, we have decided to ride the LT the entire trip. Right now, it looks like we will go from Omaha to Cheyenne, Laramie, Jackson, maybe a side trip over to Victor, ID, around Yellowstone, Cooke City, Cody, and then head for Rapid City. Beartooth Pass is still under consideration. It's something I have wanted to do for some time, but I'm a little apprehensive 2up on an LT. Maybe I'm thinking too much about it. That's just what I do.

    During the CCR week, there are many rides planned in that area including Mt. Rushmore, Badlands, Black Hills, Spearfish, etc. Estimated around 4500 miles by the time we get back to Lexington. We are very excited about the trip and anxious to hit the road. Who knows, maybe we'll meet some of you along the way. Thanks again.

    p.s. Still open to thoughts and suggestions.

  10. #10
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    The LT will be great 2 up. Heidi and I rode 2 up on a return trip from Boise Id to home in Yuma, in one day. A little over 1k. Bike and passenger arrived in good shape.

    You should limit yourself to around 3-400 miles max per day when sightseeing/traveling the west. Too many things to see, road to experience, etc.

    From Cheyenne, it is a one day ride or so to Jackson. Stay there for a day or so, and Yellowstone is a short couple of hours north. Stay in the area for a day or so and exit via the East to Cody, then up the Chief Joseph to Cooke City and on up the Beartooth to Red Lodge. The Yodler in Red Lodge is bike friendly and a nice clean place on the south end of town. You can return via the Beartooth or take a shorter route back down to Cody then to the Black Hills, a one day ride. Piece of cake.

    Have fun.

    bob

  11. #11
    Bluegrass Rider Kentuckyblue's Avatar
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    Good idea Bob. Now I'm thinking that maybe from Red Lodge we may just take 212 across Montana and drop down to SD at Belle Fourche, and then to Rapid City. We didn't have much on our "to see" list between Cody and Rapid City and this would give us a look at part of Montana. What do you think about that?

  12. #12
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    Taking US212 from Red Lodge to Belle Fourche is not a bad idea. Just a little of Interstate, with the ability to stop and visit the Little Big Horn National Battlefield. (Custers last stand) Quite a bit of history at that location. When you are in the Black Hills, be sure to visit the Crazy Horse Mounument. When you enter the visitors center, you will view a short film. Some of the Souix Chiefs in the film were present at the battle. Just think what they saw in their lives, from being a nomad on the plains to all the modern conviences. Just amazing.

    When in Belle Fourche, check out Bob's Cafe. Located on the west side of the main drag (US 85). It is a visit back into the 50's

    Also, you could scoot up I94 a little ways to Pompey's Pillar National Mounument. Has Lewis or Clark autograph etched in the side of a hill. Its an original, dating around 1804 or so.

    Enjoy and have a great ride.

    bob

  13. #13
    Bluegrass Rider Kentuckyblue's Avatar
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    well we're on our way west. In St. Joseph, MO for the night. Tomorrow we start across Nebraska. Looks like a long ride to Cheyenne. Looking at the map, it looks like we can cut over from 29 south of Omaha and pick up 2 over to I80 and bypass Omaha. Anybody confirm that idea? Looks like it will take us longer than I thought to get to Jackson Hole, but we're not spring chickens and we have to stop when we reach our limits. I have to say that it is so great for the two of us to be alone and seeing all new and beautiful parts of this big country. Quite exhausting especially getting around metro areas like St. Louis and K.C. where traffic is very heavy. Hope to get into some open roads less crowded. Got off to a rough start. The big girl decided to lay down in St. Louis. Broke the right driver floor board off and broke the right side mirror off. Bike looks like its been ridden hard and put up wet! Really got down on myself when it happened. Luckily I had the stock pegs with me and was able to put them on. Took a while to regain my composure. Good thing is we're not injured. Bike can be fixed.

  14. #14
    Registered User RTRandy's Avatar
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    Was just checking to see if you ever took off. Looking at map, you can take Hwy 2 which looks to hit I-80 at Lincoln. Sounds like a plan. Not sure if your new plan is to go to Cheyenne instead of Rapid City as originally posted. If you get to Rock Springs taking I-80 across and finished for the day, there is a real nice Quality Inn there with each room opening to parking lot. Always easy to park right in front of your room. If you get further going north on 191, Pinedale has some decent places to stay as well.

    Pinedale is an hour south of Jackson so if you spend the night there the morning ride is spectatular heading into Jackson. Jackson is top dollar for rooms in the summer while Pinedale is somewhat less. The problem with places like Rock Springs and Pindale is there is a Natural Gas boom going on in western Wyoming so many of the rooms are filled with employees in the gas business. There seems to be a shortage of rooms, so best to figure out how far you're going to get and try to make reservations. Nothing worse than being super tired and no rooms. Been there done that.

    Sorry about the LT spilling and glad it's behind you. Unfortunately not a new story for friends with LT's.

    Will look for new posts.
    Luck favors those who are prepared.

  15. #15
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    Jackson Wy

    Last year we stayed at the Ranch Inn in Jackson. A very nice place, one block from the town square. Everything is in walking distance, and parking is pretty easy.
    Go to www.ranchinn.com. They are offering internet deals. Rates right now are 95 for a standard and 100 for luxury, and then you have a $25 discount internet special discount.

    Have fun and enjoy the area. There is nothing like it anywhere else.

    bob still

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