Biking through Yellowstone on the park's roads is a great way to explore the beauty in an up-close-and-personal manner.
Bring your own bike or rent one from Yellowstone National Park Lodge at the Old Faithful Snow Lodge. Helmets, racks, trailers and accessories are also available for rent. Find more information about rentals at www.yellowstonenationalparklodges.com/adventure/land-adventures/bicycle-rentals/
Yellowstone Biking Trail Suggestions
While biking on the hiking trails is not allowed, they are plenty of paved and unpaved roads plus multi-use paths to bike on. We recommend the following routes.
West Yellowstone to Madison Junction: 14 miles (28 miles round trip) of mostly level terrain. Elk, bison and waterfowl often hang out in this area.
The end of Fountain Flat Drive to the Midway Geyser Basin: 1.6-miles (3.2 miles round trip) of gravel terrain. Open only to bikers and hikers. The route passes Goose Lake and Grand Prismatic Spring
Find more bike trail suggestions at www.nps.gov/yell/planyourvisit/bicycling.htm
Spring and Fall Biking Through Yellowstone
In order to avoid the heavy tourist traffic in the busy summer months (mid-June through Labor Day), consider planning your biking trip in the spring or fall. Getting out during the week makes for even lighter traffic conditions. Check the National Park Service website for spring and fall biking dates at www.nps.gov/yell/planyourvisit/spring-fall-bicycling.htm.
“There are several good reasons for riding a bike into Yellowstone National Park in the off season. First, and probably foremost, is the ability to take your time and really observe, smell and hear the landscape,” writes Brett French in an essay for the Billings Gazette about the joys of taking a bike trip through Yellowstone. “When visiting Yellowstone in a car, the scenery flashes by, and a passenger’s view is restricted. And it seems like a hassle to stop at the pullouts and pile out again. Not so on a bicycle. On a bike, the view is 360 degrees.”
Each year there’s a small window of time where most of the snow has melted from the major thoroughfares, but these roads are not open to general vehicle use (park employees are allowed though).
What’s generally open during the spring and fall windows?
Mammoth to the West Entrance in both directions
North Entrance to the Northeast Entrance (involves a steep, twisty, narrow ascent; road is open all year, but usage in the spring is usually light)
Watch the NPS website for dates and road conditions www.nps.gov/yell/planyourvisit/springbike.htm
What’s not typically open?
Madison Junction south to Old Faithful (it’s closed because of heavy bear activity)
East of Cooke City, Mont.
Camping for Cyclists
Cyclists looking for campsites should consider reserving their spot ahead of time (call Xanterra at 307-344-7311) since the sites are booked on a first-come, first-serve basis and often fill up quickly—especially in the busy summer months. Expect to pay $12.00 to $18.50 per night, depending on how extensive the facilities are, for a regular campsite.
All campgrounds except for Slough Creek Campground save a few campsites for hikers and bikers for $4.00 per camper, but if you’re traveling with a large group, it’s suggested that you plan ahead as the hiker/biker sites are smaller.
Tips for Biking in Yellowstone
Biking in Yellowstone National Park makes for an incredible way to see the park from a different viewpoint (and get a great workout in!). We recommend biking in the less busy spring season, but even during lighter traffic weeks when the roads are still closed to the public, be aware of your surroundings. Park administrative vehicles will be using the roads, often driving heavy machinery construction vehicles and taking advantage of the time with fewer tourists.
General Safety Tips
Remember that cell phone service is spotty
Wear a helmet
Wear bright clothing easily visible to traffic around you
Carry an extra tube and a pump in case you get a flat tire, as well as other portable bike repair tools
Be aware that emergency medical service can be delayed because park rangers do not regularly patrol spring biking roads
Use front- and back-lights when riding before sunrise or after sunset
Avoid traveling at night
Weather can change quickly and unpredictably; bring extra clothing
Road safety tips
Obey the rules of the road
Be ready to encounter snow and ice on the roads occasionally
Ride on the right side of the road (you should be riding with traffic, not against it)
Some sections have little or no shoulder
Wildlife Safety Tips
Wildlife have the right of way; do not approach, chase, taunt, etc.
Modify your riding route if bison are on the road; do not cause them to run
Remain 25 yards away from all wildlife; stay 100 yards away from bears
Bring bear spray