Beartooth/Big Horns Biking & Hiking Tour
Assembly Point: Billings (Laurel, MT)
|Tour Cost: $2,650
(includes all lodging, breakfasts and dinners, support van, leaders, transfers, tour maps & narratives)
The sign is somewhat weathered, the words slightly faded and difficult to read, but the message is such that the excitement builds on this biking and hiking tour. Out there on the fringe of the Big Horn Basin, under the biggest, bluest sky that the Big Sky Country of Montana can offer, we're about to enter Beartooth Country. That sign confirms that we're headed for Beartooth Highway "the most beautiful highway in America." Hyperbole? Chamber of Commerce rubbish? If anything, when we're climbing Beartooth, you'll believe that the late Charles Kuralt's words were grossly understated.
Timberline's legacy since its inception has always included spectacular alpine ascents among the highlights of its biking trips. Trail Ridge, Loveland, Slumgullion, Independence, Red Mountain, Wolf Creek the mighty Colorado passes that carry us to timberline and beyond they pale in comparison to the absolute challenge and awesome beauty of Beartooth.
Our tour assembles in Laurel, MT, just west of Billings and we'll ride toward the mighty Beartooths on Day 1. Our destination this day is Red Lodge and the magical Rock Creek Resort at the gateway to Custer National Forest and the Beartooth road. We'll pause at Red Lodge on Day 2 and hike to beautiful Timberline Lake, nestled in a glacial cirque at timberline with phenomenal views of the towering snowclad Beartooth peaks (9 miles). We'll spend a second evening at Rock Creek, awaiting our engagement the following morning with Beartooth.
We could go on and on about the Beartooth experience it is the absolute best! No matter what and where you've cycled in the past, and notwithstanding what lies ahead, Beartooth is without equal. The climb begins as soon as you leave the breakfast table. Twenty-five miles later as you crest the 10,947' summit, with a sense that you are the highest creature on Earth, you'll agree that the thrill of alpine cycling is the climb, and not the descent.
The Alpine Lodge in Cooke City is our home for the next two nights of this biking and hiking tour. The Northeast Entrance of Yellowstone is only a few miles west of Cooke City and we're headed into this quiet sector of the park on Day 4 for one of the park's best hiking opportunities. We'll trace the course of Pebble Creek as it meanders through beautiful meadows ablaze with an incredible array of wildflowers. We're ultimately headed for Bliss Pass (9,500') with it's magnificent views of the Lamar Valley (12 miles). For those who prefer a cycling option in Yellowstone on this day, a ride through the Lamar Valley to thundering Tower Falls is an intriguing choice.
In so many ways, Day 5 eloquently illustrates all that is so extraordinary about cycling in the Rocky Mountain West. Chief Joseph Highway provides the link between Cooke City and Cody in other words this is the sole choice for those traveling between these two towns. The good news for us is that not many folks have much need to make this trek on any given day and that translates into one of the greatest cycling days you will ever experience. We'll begin with a plunge to the brink of the Clark Fork Gorge, ascend the switchbacks above the gorge to awesome Dead Indian Summit, and then it's downhill into the Big Horn Basin and on into Cody. We'll arrive in Cody early enough for a visit to the renowned Buffalo Bill Western Museum and perhaps even experience a western rodeo that evening.
As we ride the Big Horn Basin on Day 6, the mighty Big Horns, at first barely visible on the eastern horizon, are an ever-present reminder that the final day of this adventure will be anything but anticlimactic. We'll spend a final evening at the Kedesh Guest Ranch at the gateway to Shell Canyon and then begin our climb into this ruggedly beautiful canyon the following morning. We'll visit Shell Falls and our climb continues to the summit of Granite Pass (9,033'). And then, what better way to conclude this week-long biking and hiking tour than with an incredible 18-mile downhill to Ranchester, and a final van shuttle return to Billings.
|Day 1||Laurel - Red Lodge; overnight at Rock Creek Resort||45 miles|
|Day 2||Red Lodge - Layover Day; hike Timberline Lake (9 miles); overnight at Rock Creek Resort|
|Day 3||Red Lodge - Beartooth Pass (10,947') - Cooke City; overnight at the Alpine Lodge||61 miles|
|Day 4||Cooke City - Layover Day, hike Pebble Creek/Bliss Pass in Yellowstone Park (8 miles); or cycling option into Yellowstone through Lamar Valley to Tower Falls (60 miles); overnight at Alpine Lodge||(8 miles)|
|Day 5||Cooke City-Colter Pass - Chief Joseph Highway - Canyon of the Clark Fork-Dead Indian Summit - Cody; overnight at the Sunset Lodge||76 miles|
|Day 6||Cody - Big Horn Basin - Greybull - Shell; overnight at Kadesh Guest Ranch||68 miles|
|Day 7||Kadesh Ranch - Shell Canyon - Shell Falls - Granite Pass (8,950') - Ranchester; van shuttle return to Billings (Laurel); tour concludes||66 miles|
Total cycling mileage 320
Total hiking mileage 21