Motorcycle Adventure

A motorcycle adventure traveling through the Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks, cruising the Beartooth Highway, visiting Montana’s authentic mountain town of Red Lodge and Wyoming’s town of Cody along with a night camping in the Wind River Mountains was one of my greatest adventures.
I rode on the back of my friend’s Tiger Triumph. We packed enough gear to meet our basic camping and weather needs. My friend expertly drove while I appreciated the breeze on my face, the captivating terrain and our vulnerability through precarious weather and charging buffalo!

Yellowstone Road & Motorcycle Travel

Cruising on a Motorcycle in Yellowstone National Park is a fantastic way to see the sights and experience your vacation. It provides a charged sensory experience feeling the wind in your face, smelling the fresh air and vividly seeing the changing scenery. Your vulnerably to the exposure of the wind, rain, sun, thunder clouds, gravel terrain and irritated bison snorting at you crossing their path enhances the adventure. This exposure you feel riding provides a sense of freedom and involvement with your trip like no other.

While everyone in Yellowstone National Park becomes your friend in an unbelievable shared experience, a unique understanding and camaraderie is shared with fellow motorcyclists.

Check for road construction and closures prior to your trip. You may need to plan for a detour in your travel itinerary. If you are on a motorcycle, construction may lead to maneuvering on broken up gravel roads. We faced a a bumpy ride during few road construction sections.

The Adventure Trip and Yellowstone.

In Yellowstone, we visited Old Faithful, Lower Geyser Basin, Hayden Valley, Grand Canyon of Yellowstone and Yellowstone Lake as well as other well-known, incredible attractions. I would highly recommend spending time in Hayden Valley. It is very peaceful and less crowded than the western part of the park yet full of wildlife.

Yellowstone Buffalo

On my birthday, we woke up at sunrise to a beautiful sunny day in Yellowstone. A bison strolled through our campsite. We were very polite and respectful as one should be when a 2000-pound wild animal with horns snorts at you as he passes by! As the signs posted in the park warn, “Many visitors have been gored by buffalo. Buffalo can weigh 2000 pounds and can sprint at 30 MPH. Three times faster than you can run. These animals may appear tame but are wild, unpredictable, and dangerous.” It also suggested to never grab a buffalo by the tail – probably very sound advice!

It was very daunting driving through the park only to be stopped by a herd of buffalo crossing the street in front of you. We felt very vulnerable sitting totally exposed on a motorcycle with no room to escape as cars and buffalo surrounded us. Within a mere few feet of us, a massive bison looked right at us, stuck his tongue out, and hissed. We had hoped for a close viewing of animals, yet I sure didn’t expect to get this frightfully close!

 

Motorcycle Beartooth Highway

We left Yellowstone to travel the Bearthooth Highway. The Beartooth Highway is a stunning adventure for motorcycle enthusiasts. This inspiring rugged alpine highway offers panoramic views of snow covered mountains, granite peaks and glacier lakes. To add to the adventure, we raced ahead of huge thunderclouds!

After traveling the Beartooth highway, we stayed at the Yodeler Inn in Red Lodge, a very motorcycle friendly motel in a very charming mountain town. On our way back into the park from Red Lodge, we stopped at the Buffalo Bill Museum in Cody. I would highly recommend visiting this museum and allowing plenty of time to tour the exhibits.

Grand Teton National Park

The Grand Tetons are incredibly beautiful, and we kept on stopping to appreciate the views and take pictures! We camped and dined at Jackson Lake’s Signal Mountain with a forested, lakeside campsite and organic delicious food at the restaurant.

Wind River Mountains & Fremont Lake

On our return trip home we stopped to camp and picnic at Fremont Lake in the Wind River Mountains. This area is splendid with granite peaks, wildlife, alpine lakes, forested wilderness and an abundance of trails to explore. I hope to return and spend time exploring this rugged and scenic area in Wyoming.

Motorcycle Set-up & Miles

Here is our motorcycle setup for two. I was very comfortable viewing the spectacular scenery all through the trip! Many thanks to my friend who skillfully guided us on this wonderful adventure!

5 nights and 6 days of adventures – 1200 miles total! I look forward to my next motorcycle adventure – maybe next time I will cruise on my own motorcycle!

Read more about my Yellowstone travels!

49 comments… add one
Ken

Hi Kari, just ran across your page here on Yellowstone motorcycle touring. Thanks for all your friendly and informative posts. I live in Los Angeles and plan to visit Yellowstone with my wife a.s.a.p..
I don’t care much for crowds and traffic.. Where besides Hayden Valley do you suggest we go? We are willing to miss some “must sees” to avoid the traffic and crowds. Im sure there are many beautiful places to go that isn’t congested. Thank You, Ken

Hi Ken! Since it’s April, you won’t find much open so your choices of where to visit will be limited. It takes a while for the snow to melt! The park doesn’t get really busy until mid-June, so you can beat crowds if you arrive before then and everything you visit is beautiful – just make sure the roads are open. As far as road conditions, openings and construction, check the park page. https://www.nps.gov/yell/planyourvisit/parkroads.htm
Thanks!
Kari

Mary Barnett

We are arriving in Jackson Hole on July 23rd on our Harley Trike. We will be there 3 nights what are the must sees? This is our first long trip and while we know it will be a whirlwind trip we want to know the must sees to get the most out of our time there.

Thanks!

Hi Mary! Sounds like a quick yet exciting trip planned. You will love the town of Jackson so relax and enjoy dinner out and check out the cowboy shops …and bars!

Grand Teton National Park offers the most stunning views. Plan to head by Jenny Lake and Jackson Lake. The Snake River Overlook is a famous sight seeing location for good reason.

Once in Yellowstone, so much of the terrain is uniquely spectacular. The must-sees are Old Faithful and the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone.

You will find Jackson and the National Parks to be amazing and any road you take is worth it. Enjoy the adventure and be prepared for Buffalo and wildlife sightings!

Enjoy! ~Kari

Kevin

We will be in Yellowstone with my Harley tagging along in the toy hauler in mid-May. I know the weather is a gamble but what should I expect riding conditions to be?

Hi Kevin – sounds like a great set-up! I would continuously check reports on both the weather and road conditions. I drove in late May once and the roads were so slippery that the traffic didn’t move for hours plus there’s not very many services on certain stretches. As far as road conditions, openings and construction, check the park page. https://www.nps.gov/yell/planyourvisit/parkroads.htm
When the weather is decent, riding in the best way to enjoy the park!
Kari

Eric

Hi,
I am planning a trip with my Dad for late June. We will go through Iowa, South Dakota (spend a few days in the Black Hills) then head onto Montana and Wyoming for Beartooth Pass and Yellowstone. We will be out there during the last few days of June, 25-30. What is the typical weather like then? Are the roads passable at the higher elevation or can they still be closed due to snow?

Thanks!

Hi Eric,
That’s a great time to go. Everything is open by then. Yes, you could have some variable weather still, so I would pack for all conditions and definitely check the weather in advance of traveling each mountain pass. Have a wonderful trip!
~Kari

Dr John

Thanks for answering Eric’s request for road conditions during the later part of June. I’ll be on my way to Denver from the Oregon coast and intend to have a couple days in Yellowstone. Since I only will have two days to see it all, and have tent and sleeping bag on the back seat of my Goldwing, want to make sure I see the most memorable places, and can find places to put up the tent for the night. Saw just a few sight fifty years ago as a teenager, and need a Yellowstone fix. Should reach the part June 17 and 18th. Will be sure to take the heated clothing.

Enjoy!!! You have an amazing trip planned!

Mitchell

Is it just too much to miss if we ride through the parks from Jackson to west Yellowstone in one day? We have a two week trip from So. California to Calgary, Canadian Rockies, Vancouver and coast road back to SoCal.

Hi Mitchell,
Yes, you will miss so much; however, it will be a spectacular day drive! You have a great trip planned, and driving from Jackson to West Yellowstone in a day is worth it. You’ll just want to return another year when you have more time to explore 🙂
Enjoy!
~Kari

kenny k

I retired last month and bought a new Goldwing. My first “walk about” was 8,923 miles in 24 days on all back road through out the Finger Lakes all around Maine and the New England coast and back to Ft. Lauderdale. I plan on taking the rest of the summer traveling towards Yellowstone/Sturgis area. Do you have a google map recommendation for camping and cruising. I plan on leaving July 1st.
Tks

Kenny

Hi Kenny. Your first adventure sounds amazing!
There is so much to see in Yellowstone and the surrounding areas. My playground is Jackson Hole, Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone, so, I added a quick map showing some of my favorite routes.

https://goo.gl/maps/ljZpR

Let me know if you have any other questions! Enjoy!
~Kari

Cory

Thanks for the great posting of your trip. I’m heading from California, through Utah, Wyoming, Montana and Idaho in a couple weeks and will be rolling through Yellowstone. I only hope I get the wonderful scenes and photo opportunities you had!

Cory,
Enjoy! I am sure it will be amazing! I just returned from another trip to Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone. It was another wonderful adventure.
Thanks,
~Kari

Jeffery Jowers

Traveling in late Aug. into late Sept. We will teavel from Louisiana thru Yellowstone, into Montana, Idaho, Washington State, to California, Nevada, Arizon, New Mexico, Texas and back to Louisiana. How long will it take to make the circle thru Yellowstone. I am just preplanning days and stops.

Hi Jeffery,
You have an impressive adventure planned! It’s difficult to answer that question because it depends on how much stopping and sightseeing you plan. I would give yourself a minimum of one night of lodging and two days to drive through the circle and stop to see the sights. More nights and days would be better!
Plan for construction, slow speeds and stopped traffic due to buffalo and animal crossings. We rushed one of our Yellowstone trips, and we were regretfully frustrated. So give yourself plenty of time and enjoy!
~Kari

Paul

We may be nuts, but we are flying into Seattle on a Sunday morning in a few weeks were we take delivery of a new-to-us bike, then journey back to the Minneapolis area in 5 nights, 6 days. So far it looks intriguing to go from Seattle to Lewiston (although I always thought I’d be going through Coeur d’Alene) then to Bozeman. Second night in West Yellowstone, then upon waking tour YNP and leave the NE route to Beartooth/Red Lodge, then to Cody for the night. Then I thought we’d aim for Spearfish SD for the night. Next day tour all the greatness of the Black Hills area, then to Chamberlain, then home.

Do you have any must sees especially in the Seattle to West Yellowstone leg, or an alternative to West Yellowstone? Also I can’t remember the best parts of YNP. Seems like the Mammoth area was good. Three years ago a group toured YNP, Tetons, Jackson and did the Beartooth/Redlodge. I know we’re not going to have a ton of time to kick around YNP, but that’s ok this time. Motorcycleroads.com got me thinking about skipping Coeur d’Alene and going through Lewiston to take in some 90 miles of twisties to Boseman. Sounds awesome. Can’t sleep at night because all I do is think about it!!

Paul,
Your trip sounds incredible. I personally love the Coeur d’Alene area. I have ridden from Coeur d’Alene to West Yellowstone mostly avoiding I90 and the highways, but avoiding the highways would add too much time to your trip.
Regardless, you have an amazing adventure ahead of you!
Enjoy!
~Kari

Danny

We are planning a bike trip from Kansas. Planning to ride along Jackson lake north to Yellowstone lake, then on to red lodge via bear tooth highway. Then start working our way home. Is April or May too early to plan on riding motorcycles on this route due to weather and road conditions?
Thanks Danny

Hi Danny,
Yes. Many of the Yellowstone National Park roads and the BearTooth highway will be closed at that time. The BearTooth Highway is expected to open on Memorial Day weekend.
Best of luck!
~Kari

Gary

Weather tip: I took a trip through Utah that was stunning, but hit some high elevations in June. Regarding snow possibilities, you may want to have a plan ‘B’ route ready. Anything can happen in the mountains, and it frequently does! One day I had my electric vest cranked up as the snow was bouncing off my windshield in park City. Two days later I was wearing my evaporative cooling vest in 104 degree f. heat in St. George! (Hit Escalante, Utah if you have a chance!)

Grandpa Ripper

Great advice Grandpa Ripper!!! Thank you for sharing!

Siti

My husband and I planning to go for a trip from lansing, michigan, then to milwaukee, go south to wyoming then from threre to Yellowstone National Park. The we plan to go further south to California, it is a long way and my husband owns a harley davidson road king, what is your advice because this us a first trip with the bike . Thank you

S.N. Holland

Siti,
We own a Road King as well. Back in Aug. we traveled from Pa. to Sturgis and believe me Sturgis is not the only place to go in South Dakota, Beartooth Pass, Yellowstone, Grand Tetons, Utah, Vegas, Grand Canyon, and back to Pa. over 7,000 miles and 20 states. I have one suggestion and it’s very simple. Stop every 100 miles if it’s just to walk around for 10 minutes get gas and you will have the trip of a lifetime.

Keith

This coming June, a small group of us are planning a trip from Florida to Hill City, SD, then to Glacier NP, then crossing the border into Canada for a day, then back down to Yellowstone NP, then Grand Teton NP, then down to the Grand Canyon, then on to the Carlsbad Caverns, NM, then home. It looks to be about 5700 miles round trip in 30 days. From what you’ve seen, in Yellowstone NP and Grand Teton NP, what sights would you recommend over others, since we’ll be working with a limited time frame at each park? Thank you in advance for your input, it will help us plan our stay.

Hi Keith,
What an amazing trip your group is planning! Here are my top recommendations.
I love the Jenny Lake and Jackson Lake areas in Grand Teton National Park. The views of the Tetons are spectacular along this stretch of road.
In Yellowstone, I would recommend the popular Old Faithful and Lower Geyser Basin area. A favorite motorcycle stretch of mine is from Bridge Bay though Hayden Valley and then north. On this stretch, a must-see is the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone (Lower & Upper Falls). Hayden Valley is not as populated as other areas, the wildlife viewing is great and the drive is stunning.
Feel free to ask more questions. Best of luck!
~Kari

Logan

Hello Kari!
I am planning an escape trip from springfield Mo through Jackson Hole, WY and up through Yellowstone, any particular sights (other than all of the ones inside Yellowstone) that you think I should stop and see? I have been through this area before, but in a minivan, not my bike. I did not choose the stops.
Thanks! -Logan

Hi Logan!
Wow. You have a great trip planned. If you are staying in Jackson Hole, I would recommend stopping in Teton Village. Grand Teton National Park is so stunning. I love the Jenny Lake and Jackson Lake areas.

I always suggest heading over the Beartooth Highway to Red Lodge, Montana. Another spectacular ride is over the Chief Joseph Scenic Highway (NE of Yellowstone).

Will you pass through Sturgis, SD? Someday I want to ride on the roads to Mount Rushmore National Monument.

Have an incredible trip. Let me know if you have more questions (in the Wyoming/Montana area). And if you get a chance, share your route with us!
Thanks,
~Kari

Debbie

Kari
We are planning a similar trip August 12 thru the 23rd. Our start is Bozeman. Do you have a list of miles and destination you traveled each day?

Hi Debbie,
We’ve actually rode this trip several times and varied each trip. While the first time we started in SLC, the following times we started and returned to Jackson Hole. Here’s a sample trip we liked.
-The Town of Jackson, Wyoming to Jackson Lake in Grand Teton National Park. We camped near the lake at Signal Mountain Campground (first come- first serve – water but no showers). Since it’s first come/first serve, we left Jackson Hole early in the morning & found our spot at the campground by 11am. We then drove around and enjoyed the many sights at Grand Teton National Park. I would recommend staying another night – or more! in GTNP because it is so stunning.
-Signal Mountain Campground to Canyon Campground in Yellowstone. This is a popular campground in Yellowstone. You can make reservations in advance and they have showers, towels, laundry, a small store and food services nearby. On this day, we did lots of sightseeing and, in the late evening, we headed to our campground.
– I would recommend enjoying another day or several more days in the park and camping or staying in a location at the Northern part of Yellowstone the next night.
-Canyon Campground (or a more northern campground if staying another night or two) to the Beartooth Pass and then stay in Red Lodge, Montana.
-At Red Lodge, we stayed at the Yodeler Motel. You can park in front of your room – and this is a very popular place for motorcycles. You are within walking distance of dining and bars. This is a great small town with awesome food & drinks!
-From Red Lodge, we usually headed back home over the Beartooth Pass again. We usually headed to the Mammoth area and enjoyed the sights heading south and then to West Yellowstone & camped a night in that area.

We always varied our routes and driving times a bit. I like to check out so many viewing sites, so I find if you try to ride too many miles in one day, you won’t be able to sightsee and enjoy as much. Remember, you”ll probably cover lots of additional miles by traveling to various sightseeing spots on your way.

Here’s a google map of the general route we like to travel.


View Larger Map

Have a great trip! Feel free to ask more questions!

Thanks!
~Kari

greg

we r going from jackson hole to red lodge to sturgis in august. just wondering about how cold it will get? will we need leathers or just long pants & jackets. thanks,Greg

Hi Greg!
While August is generally a warm time traveling on the road, I would suggest being prepared for EVERY weather situation on your trip. I’ve been on a few trips in late August – early September in the Jackson Hole/Yellowstone/Red Lodge area. I did not wear leathers; however, I very carefully layered clothing. I would suggest some light, cooler under layers, a few warm layers of clothes and a waterproof top layer. Here’s a quote I took from http://www.beartoothhighway.com, “Reaching 10,977 feet at Beartooth Pass, and surrounded by 20 mountain peaks that reach over 12,000 feet, the Beartooth Highway crosses some of the most extreme country in the world. The high alpine climate ensures that severe weather conditions occur almost every month of the year. Summertime temperatures can range from the 70s on sunny days to below freezing during sudden snowstorms.”

So, I would be prepared for every situation and check the weather before you leave! Have a wonderful trip!!!
Thanks ~Kari

Monique and Billy

We really enjoyed, with much interest, your Yellowstone adventure. We are going on our adventure to Sturgis and then to Wyoming. We have put aside two weeks and are getting very excited!! We each have our own motorcycle. We are from Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada. Thank you for sharing your experience, it will help us with our trip!!! ~Monique

Hi Monique & BIlly.
Your planned trip sounds fantastic. Enjoy your adventure!
Thanks! ~ Kari

Matt

thanks for the info, and enjoy your backpacking – that’s way too much work for us! A short hike is all we enjoy. Alaska Highway and all the way to Patagonia are my dream trips. We’ll let you know how it went.

Matt

How much gear did you pack for this trip? My girlfriend and I are considering a similar trip this fall and she wants to pack the kitchen sink. I’m worried about weight on the bike and being able to load/unload quickly. Any advice would be helpful, she has never been on the bike more than a day at a time and is quite nervous.

Great site btw

Hi Matt! Thanks so much for reading my post. This was the most amazing trip, and I would highly recommend it!!! We brought a tent, sleeping bags and sleeping pads along with one duffel bag each. A few miscellaneous extra items we kept assessable included maps, sunscreen, rain gear and water. There are several options to consider. If you stay in motels, you can eliminate all the camping gear, bring more personal stuff and travel lighter. If you eat out, you can limit bringing cooking items and food. In our case, we chose to camp but eat out or buy cold cuts at the store right before getting to our campsite. We spent one night at a hotel to relax and clean up. It was a nice break.

This was my first long trip on the bike! I wanted to pack the kitchen sink also! It took me days to narrow down what I really needed. At the end of the trip, we decided we had brought too much. The bike was heavy and more difficult to handle. It also took time to quickly load and unload. We felt it would be safer and easier to pack lighter next time. Yet, we also realized so many items we brought were important for our comfort. Finding the right balance is a real challenge!

You will both need to work together on making this work. Planning for the trip can be just as important as the actual trip. Here are a few tips that we learned.

• Pack lightly for your safety in steering the motorcycle, yet make sure you both bring enough to be comfortable and enjoy your trip.
• Ensure you have waterproof bags and a tarp to cover up everything when it rains. Plan on rain!
• Ensure she is comfortable. It is a long trip. The set-up you see in the picture was very comfortable for me.
• Plan to take plenty of short stretching breaks and carefully break up your trip in segments. If you ride too many miles each day and push too hard, the trip will become more stressful than fun. Find that right balance to ride, play and enjoy.
• If you bring the right gear and pack wisely, you don’t really need too much.
• Focus on packing functional, warm, waterproof, and weather smart clothes. I am very much the girl, but in the end, the only clothes I cared about were those that kept me warm and comfortable.
• Take a test ride a day or two before you leave. Ensure you are comfortable with the heavy load. Ensure you have everything strapped down. Ensure she is comfortable too. After your test ride, plan to modify if needed.

Good luck! Feel free to ask more questions. If you want more specifics, you can also email me. I would also be happy to recommend some packing trips from a girl’s perspective!
~Kari

Matt

Thanks for the quick reply!! We are going from Taos, NM to Glacier NP, MT thru Colorado and into Yellowstone. How many miles a day did you average? I have done up to 850 in one day, but it was brutal!! Thinking about 450 per day will be a good compromise for the time we have available. Will be about 16 days total. We leave on the 12th, we’re so excited.

Wow! You both have an amazing trip planned. We did around 450 miles or more on our major travel days; however, we put in much less miles on the days we wanted to enjoy the parks and take a break from being on the road. Make sure you check and plan for construction on the roads through the parks because it can really slow you down.

You’ll have to let me know how it goes! You are planing a trip that I would love to do one day, so I hope to hear more from you both on how it goes!

Matt

Thanks again. Leigh is very freaked out about 7 hour days on the bike. We are planning to be tourists at least 2 days in each park. One more question – what did you guys carry for tools in case of breakdown? Also what size bike is that? We have a Suzuki Vstrom 1000, but your bike looks bigger? Any trips for you this fall?

Hi Matt and Leigh. Sorry, I am not savvy about what type of tools we brought or bike comparisons. I am just the lucky passenger who gets to enjoy the ride! As far as the hours on the bike, we modified our route several times and cut the miles down before deciding on a final route plan because we were also worried about too many long days being on the bike. I think Leigh will be fine with a few 7 hour days, but I recommend following each long 7 hours day of riding with a few shorter days on the bike so you can relax and play.

This fall a few backpacking trips are planned, and I hope to post some of the adventures before ski season. Hopefully, I will be back on the motorcycle next summer and fall. I want to do Glacier NP next year, so I hope you and Leigh tell me how it goes! Another dream I want to make come true in a few years is the Alaska Highway.

Denny

We are planning a similar road trip. Thank you for your recommendations.

Hi Denny, Thanks for reading my website. Enjoy your trip and let me know how it goes!
~Kari

Jen

LOL, Kari. I want to join you. Let’s get our own motorcycles and tour next summer! 🙂

Where should we go?

That would be so much fun! It’s tough to decide where to go – so many incredible places left to explore. We could meet halfway and explore the amazing Glacier National Park?

Larry

Sounds fun!
How ’bout round trip to Sturgis SD on my “Fatboy” and my friends “Road King”, leaving Aug 6th, from Seattle.

Hey Larry! Thanks for looking at my site! What an incredible trip you have planned. When I passed through Red Lodge, Montana, I spoke with some bikers who rode from Montana through Wyoming and to Sturgis, SD and back. They said the ride was amazing!

I would love to see your itinerary and the route you plan to travel!

~Kari

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