BY TIM BOSCHERT
I am excited about spring riding, especially spring riding in West Yellowstone. ThatÕs right West Yellowstone.
Everyone thinks of this town as the snowmobile capital of the world or the west gateway to Yellowstone National Park. Have you ever thought of West Yellowstone for spring cycling?
Try for just a minute to think about what Spring in the Gallatin/Beaverhead and Targhee National Forests could mean. Yes, no crowds. The snowmobile crowd is gone and the summer tourists are only thinking about making reservations. ItÕs time for cycling.
So why not take a trip now and try road riding about West Yellowstone or into Yellowstone National Park. IÕve heard that the weather can be brisk - but given the chance to ride a loop through the National Forest west of West Yellowstone is just the start of the season IÕm looking for.
A leisurely 65-mile, and optional 30-mile, organized road ride is scheduled for Saturday, April 11. Also, an alternative ride in the area can lead you into Yellowstone National Park. The Park is open, however, not to general vehicle traffic. Sounds like a biking paradise all of a sudden now doesnÕt it? No cars to contend with, just friends on bikes and some of the worldÕs best scenery.
A scenic 65-mile loop ride will start from the Chamber of Commerce building in the center of town at 9 a.m. (or start later if you wish). Head north out of town on US Hwy. 287 and ride along the north shores of Hebgen Lake. There are plenty of rest stops along the way to take advantage of the natural sights.
Next stop is Earthquake Lake. This lake was created as a result of a 1959 earthquake. Be sure to make a stop at the Earthquake Lake visitors center.
Next head south onto SR 87 and climb to Raynolds Pass and on past HenryÕs Lake. Return to Hwy. 20 and head east, gently climb to Targhee Pass and return to town. A 30-mile option ride may be available by riding to the Earthquake Lake visitor center and catching a ride back to town.
If you are interested in the organized ride call either the West Yellowstone Chamber of Commerce for registration forms (406)-646-7701, or for more info call Kelli and Melissa at Freeheel and Wheel (406) 646-7744 or Les at Yellowstone Bicycles (406) 646-7815.
Riding in the Park can be a hassle during the tourist season. Campers, motor homes and the like are tough competition for cycling in the park. So try riding when the park is not yet open to general vehicle traffic April 1-16.
The weekend of April 11-12 is the last available weekend before the motor homes return to rule the road. What a better way to experience the park coming alive in the spring.
An enjoyable ride in the park will take you in from West Yellowstone along the Madison River where you could see bison, elk, bald eagles, Trump-eter Swan, Canadian geese and even coyotes. Madison Junction is 14 miles inside the park. The junction is near the camp site of the Washburn Expedition of 1870. The group most often credited for coming up with the concept of the national park. Further along another 14 miles is the Norris Geyser Basin. Take a walk about the geyser area on the boardwalk before returning to West Yellowstone on the same route. Sorry but the road to Old Faithful area is closed to all traffic this time of year.
Want to take the family? Do it. West Yellowstone has made it their existence to cater to families. This time of year snow cover may still support skating or classic cross-country skiing on the Rendezvous Ski Trail adjacent to town. West Yellow-stone is also home to the Yellow-stone IMAX theater and Grizzly Discovery Center. If you want more information on the area try searching the Internet. WWW. WYellowstone.com will lead you to info about lodging and services in the city.
Come on. Ride with me.