Cycling Montana

Our next destination after Glacier National Park, were we are now, is Yellowstone National Park, about 700km south of here. We don’t have an exact time schedule when we want to be there but we don’t want to take it to long. The road out of St. Mary starts climbing straight away, out of the valley.

Long lonesome roads.

Native art along the road

We leave the big mountains of Glacier NP behind us and as we cycle the landscape changes quite fast from real mountains into a dry hilly landscape filled with low grasslands in autumn colors. In the late afternoon we ride into a construction area so we have to take a pilot car. We have a flashback to Alaska where we’ve bin put in pilot cars multiple times because road constructions. 🚧🚧🚧
The pilot car is just a two seater so Arjan has to be in the trunk with the bicycles. As we ride we see a grizzly crossing the road. Our first grizzly in a few months cycling in the north.

In the Pilot Car

The Pilot Car is just a two seater, guess who has to go in the back...

Made it.

After the five mile lift we move on. Trees are hard to find in this area so just hiding a tent along the roadside is gonna be difficult today. We head for the small town of Browning. A town filled with native Indian people. (The pilot car driver was from Browning as well and belonged to the Black Food Tribe and told Kim all about it)
When we arrive in Browning we see a big sign with “Lone Wolf Campground”. When we enter the place just one caravan is camping there and the reception is closed with a sign “When we’re not there, find yourself a spot and we’ll see you in the morning”
Hmmm ok, no problem. A nice spot along a small water is found easily and we put up our tent, take a shower, cook and wonder the amazing sunset above the mountains in the distance.

Amazing Sunsets

Follow, follow the sun
And which way the wind blows.
When this day is done.
Breathe, breathe in the air
Set your intentions
Dream with care
Tomorrow is a new day for everyone,
Brand new moon, brand new sun - Xavier Rudd

In the morning there’s still no one there at the reception and even when we leave at 11am the reception is still closed. Weird but thanks for the free campsite.
When we cycle through Browning it looks like a Wild West Movie but with some year 2018 ingredients like cars, roundabouts, neon signs and supermarkets. Fun to see and we like the style. We imagine how Clint Eastwood shoots one of the bad guys in a gunfight.

Wild wild west.

We leave town and a windy wild west landscape is gonna be our view for the rest of the day. We’ve no idea where we will end up today but we got used to that insecure feeling a while ago already so we don’t care at all and paddle just so far as we want and can.
During the day we pass a small country shop. We stop for a drink but when we go inside the lady with the long grey hair seems to have also a separate part in the shop for knitting. She tells they grow their own Merino sheeps and the wool of them she sells in the shop in hundreds of different colors. All this reminds Kim on the knitting she did with her grandma when she was a kid. Kim had the wish for a while already to pick up the knitting again but while on the road it’s not that easy. This little shop is the solution for this and Kim buys some fine merino wool, knitting sticks and some instructions since her last time knitting is maybe already thirty years ago or so. She has to learn it again.
When we leave the small country shop Kim feels like it’s her birthday with nice presents.

Kim happy in front of the knitting store.

We ride on to the town of Choteau were we find a campground. It’s already late when we arrive and the lady at the reception offers us to camp in the tipi which was supposed to be available anyway. That’s a nice offer. We don’t have to put up the tent and we feel like Hiawatha.

We don't no why but here a bunch stuffed animals.

Road works but no pilot cars this time

Taking photos

Sunset

Is this Africa?

We might be watch out for cowbows tonight.

Arjans first flat tire after 5000+ km

When we start cycling the next day we have lots of headwinds and we go slow. On the maps and on none of our navigation apps is some kind of campground or so to see. The coming night will be a surprise again. We ride on and ride on... slowly.

Bike problems

In the afternoon, with just 40km on the counter we past the small Wild West town of Augusta. The town seems to be pretty laid back with not much to do or to see but with a pub halfway and the sign “campground”.
When we park our bikes in front of the pub the owner comes outside and asks us if we need a camp-spot or a bed for the night. That’s a nice surprise, a hidden campground which is not known on any map our navigation app.
As we go inside the pub the owner makes himself known as Adam and he tells he bought the whole place; pub, restaurant and campground just a few months ago.
The atmosphere in the pub feels good and we order a beer. It’s Saturday afternoon so it’s a good time for it. We chat with some random people and after a while Adam offers us to eat with them. There is enough for everybody and we don’t have pay for it. The lasagna tastes good and in the meanwhile Adam tells his story about colored people, Mexicans, why he hates ex president Obama, guns and America who’s saving the world all the time without getting a thank you. We guess, he definitely likes Trump.
On the dinner table are also two guys who are walking the Continental Divide Trail which leads from the Mexican to the Canadian border. Nemo from France and George from South Korea. They’re having a few days off in this small town. We like the interesting stories they have to tell.
After dinner Adam shows us our camp spot. We put up tent, shower, hang around a bit and go back to the pub.

George who's is walking the Appalachian Trail. The AT is a classic American walk in the woods, stretching 2,185 miles from lowly old Springer Mountain in Georgia to the grandiose summit of Mt. Katahdin in Maine.

Our backyard for tonight

The night that follows is fun and with an interesting mix of Trump fans, native Americans and Mexico lovers. With honey IPA’s, tequila shots and Johnny Cash on the jukebox.
The morning after we’re still good and go out early. A long ride to Helena is ahead of us. The most interesting part is, we have to take 60km of freeway to get in Helena and technical seen your not aloud to cycle on freeways. Maybe we sleep in jail tonight, maybe in Helena. As usual, we never know where we end up at the end of the day.

Going down. I Like 🙂

Lonely Roads

After the first 60km on the highway we see the freeway in a distance. We don’t see a sign of “cycling not allowed” or something like that so we move on. Freeway it is, hopefully we don’t see any cops for the next 60km.

Saloon at Wolf Creek.

Riding on the Interstate / Freeway

The freeway is quite good cycling. The traffic is a little bit faster than on highways but the shoulders of the road are much wider so it’s safer to cycle on in our optic.
The road winds though a constantly landscape. Hills becomes mountains and becomes hills again. We have long stretches up and a long stretch down into the city of Helena. We make it to Helena without seeing any cop so we have to find a campground rather than sleeping in a jail 😬
Campgrounds in and around Helena seems to be a bit of a problem. It’s quite a big city so campgrounds are far out of town and the ones closer by are closed down. Since we did quite a stretch today we don’t feel much for another many kilometers for some sleeping.
After searching on different maps we find some info on the Great Divide Mountain Bike maps about a fairground with spots to camp on. We give it a try. The fairgrounds are quite big and it takes us some time to find the camp spots. It’s nearly dark when we put our tent and cook some dinner. We fall a sleep straight after.

Camping on the Helena Fairgrounds

On the Helena Fairgrounds

Fairgrounds breakfast

Farewell to the fairground
These rides aren't working anymore
Goodbye to this dead town
Until the ice begins to thaw. - White Lies.

Because it was quite a long day yesterday we take it more easy today. After just 55km we settle down in Townsend, along a beautiful but windy lake.
Because we arrive early we just hang around a bit the rest of the afternoon.

Lake...?

Packing up... again

When we’re on the road the next day, in a distance we see some cyclists along the road with a bicycle trailer behind one of the bikes. When we’re close by we stop to make a chat. It’s always fun and interesting to hear others stories and cycling plans. It’s seems to be a couple. The guy with a cowboy had stands at his bike with trailer, the girl sits along the road in the grass with her back facing to us. When she turns around we see what she is doing. She is giving breast to a very small four month old baby.
And their story; Havi from Spain and Sunny from Taiwan planned to cycle from Canada to Argentina but Sunny got pregnant and Ferdinand came two months before they took off for their big cycling trip. And now they’re cycling with the three of them to Argentina in two years time.
We found it quite crazy and amazing story and they were thinking about a second baby while traveling 😲 Wow amazing.
We chatted for a while and got each others contact info. Since we’re going the same way maybe we meet again down south.

Check four month old Ferdinand on her back.

When we moved on with just the two of us we discus the whole little baby thing in a bicycle trailer along these busy and sometimes dangerous roads.
So many amazing people we meet with most of the time crazy, funny, interesting and unique ideas about traveling, about life.

The plan for today is to sleep in Manhattan. No, not in New York but here in Montana. A small town but with a RV Park according our map.
The road leads through nice places but when we arrive on the RV Park in Manhattan the lady tells us they don’t do tenters anymore. “But” she says “maybe you can free camp in the local park our at the school where are some bushes to hide in”
“Euh, yeah right, thanks”

Farm entrance

Sometimes a nice cycling pad just end up in .... nothing

New York... New York...

When we cycle back in town, no idea where to go we see a police car with the window open and a cop inside.
Arjan stops at the car and explains the whole story to the cop in hope he has some better ideas.
They guy is very friendly and helpful but doesn’t have any useful suggestions in the end. We move and decide to try to find a spot along a river about 5km out of town. Since all land in the area is private owned it’s probably not allowed but hey, we have to sleep somewhere. We wait till it gets a little darker before we head to the river and indeed we find a nice spot for camping. We hide a much as possible and don’t use our flashlights. The railroad is just 50m from us and so now and then it sounds like a big train is running through our tent.
When we wake up the next morning some guys are already working just on the other side of the narrow river. We pack up our tent, they don’t see us and we sneak away.

Our illegal spot along the railway.

Breakfast at the supermarket

From here we go back in the mountains. Yellowstone NP is just a two days cycle from where we are now.
The start of the road south is full of heavy road constructions and also there’s a lot of traffic on the narrowed roads. In a flash I see the Spanish guy and the Taiwan girl with little Ferdinand in the bike trailer on the same kind of roads and I get the girders at that thought.
Into the mountains the road gets better but keeps narrow. The traffic stays pretty busy which makes the cycling uncomfortable.
After some nice hills we finally reach Red Cliff Campground. A pretty nice spot.

Amsterdam... Rechtsaf!

Tiny Housing; quite populair in the US.

The road to Yellowstone

Just a farm

Autumn colored landscapes

From here it’s not a very long road of cycling anymore till we reach the town of West Yellowstone, the gate to Yellowstone NP, but the many days of cycling in a row, the sometimes long days and the mountain passes on the last day to West Yellowstone make the last kilometers pretty though.

Yellowstone, not the real entrance but we're coming close.

Wildfires coming up.

Wildfires

We definitely need some rest. In town the first thing we do is going to the visitor center to do some internet research about campgrounds in town. We find out there are RV Parks but again, they don’t take tenters. The nice lady at the visitor center comes up with a solution. She called around a few RV Parks for us and founded a RV Park who has a small spot for a small RV where we may camp on. 👍
At the Wagon Wheel RV Park indeed we get a spot, not at a RV spot as promised but on the veranda of a permanent camper. We don’t care, we have a spot for the coming two nights that’s all what matters. 😊

Our spot before we enter Yellowstone National Park

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Cycling Yellowstone National Park

1 Comment

  1. JJ Elstgeest

    Hallo Arjan en Kim. Ik heb de twee verhalen gelezen en de foto’s bekeken. Volgens mij het het voor jullie wel moeilijk om een goed kampeerplaats te vinden. De campings zijn natuurlijk in gericht voor die grote campers die daar rond rijden. En nu nog de foto’s van Yellowstone park nog met zijn geissers.

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