The Best Biking Day Ever

Bike Riding in Glacier National Park
Clouds rolling over the mountains of Glacier National Park

Our Nation’s National Parks are treasures. They are national parks for a reason, their scenery, views and grandeur.

Now throw biking into that mix and you can take it to the next level. The first national park I biked through was Yellowstone in early spring…it was nearly a disaster.  Last year five visitors were killed by bison. I was not charged, but I was certainly stopped short when a bison lifted his head from grass-munching to face me as I rode up.  I immediately stopped and dismounted, heart pounding as I backed up slowly-but never turning my back.  These unpredictable animals are still wild and can attack when you get too close.  Per the Washington Post.

“On Tuesday, a 43-year-old Mississippi woman and her six-year-old daughter were snapping a selfie in front of a wild bison when the massive animal attacked.

The woman, who had her back turned to the bison even though it was barely six yards away, tried to flee but was overtaken by the bison and tossed into the air. The unidentified tourist was taken to a clinic nearby and treated for minor injuries.

The attack is the fifth so far this year in which a Yellowstone tourist got too close to a bison.

On May 15, a 16-year-old Taiwanese exchange student similarly turned her back on a bison to pose for a group photo when the even-toed ungulate took umbrage.

So, okay you get the point.  However I still wanted to bike the parks and my next try was Glacier National Park.  This turned out to be perhaps the greatest single day bike ride ever!

A defining feature of this park is the famous Going-to-the-Sun Road. This road is only road that traverses the park crossing the Continental Divide through Logan Pass at an elevation of 6,646 feet. Construction of the road began in 1921 and completed in 1932. Cut into the near vertical mountain side and built for cars the size of a Model T, the short or non-existent guardrails, blind hairpin, switch-back curves, overhanging rock ledges, weeping walls, waterfalls and sheer 800 plus foot drop offs make for a heart stopping ride. But now do this on two skinny tires. Talk about an adrenaline rush.  

Bike Riding in Glacier National Park
Jeri Rutherford facing east while biking Glacier National park.

To limit traffic over this road the park features a free shuttle. To make for the greatest single day ride ever, we took full advantage of this service. Beginning with the first shuttle from the west entrance of the park, my husband and I rode with our bikes to the summit. Dismounting from the shuttle we rode down 18 miles to the east side entrance, dropping 2200 feet. Stopping a half mile short of the park boundary to watch a Mama Moose and two calves wade and munch in the river.  After grabbing a ice cream cone, again boarding a shuttle, we rode back to Logan pass summit and again hopped on our bikes this time descending down the west side 32 miles to the west entrance, passing through some of the most spectacular scenery in the park and in the lower 48 states!

Red Bus passing waterfall in Glacier National Park

This stunning scenery adds its own sense of danger as divers of upcoming vehicles are often staring out their windows and not at the road and consequently can be found out their narrow lane on any given curve. Waterfalls cascade down the vertical moss and fern covered walls splashing you as you pass by. Waves of wildflowers bend to the wind, clouds bunch up against the mountain sides, tumbling over and slipping down the sides.

Although the total mileage covered was  not that great, this was an exhausting ride, full of climbs as the road follows a river to the park’s edges.  One of the things that helps me find comfort on long rides is our FireFly bike grips. The ergonomic design and padded grip handle helps to reduce wrist, shoulder and neck fatigue. It is odd how such a small change can make such a big difference. See:

RideOut’s FireFly Bike Grips
Shooting Star Wildflowers

Words, photos and exclamation points simply cannot began to capture the massive glacial carved valleys, 10,000 foot ice capped peaks and roaring waterfalls, and hand built stone tunnels. To understand you may well have to ride it yourself and I hope it becomes your best biking day ever too!

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