Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Wyoming to Montana

We woke up in Wyoming, rode 502 miles through spectacular country, and spent the night in Montana. A fun day on the BMW!

Before we started our ride, we took advantage of the free mineral water soak at the Thermopolis Hot Springs State Park. This is the largest mineral springs in the world, and the state park offers free 20-minute soaks in the 104 degree water. It's a fantastic way to ease out the aches and pains accumulated from several days on the motorcycle.

We planned a shorter ride today so that we would have time in the evening to spend with Sharon and Chris, friends from Vermont who now live in Bozeman, Montana. From Thermopolis we headed northwest on route 120 120 toward Cody, passing through farmland with rugged hills and mountains in the background.

In Cody, home of Buffalo Bill Cody who helped create the town at the western edge of the Bighorn Basin.  We rode past Alkali Lake with distinctive white patches from the high sodium content of the water. Fish can't survive in the high concentration of alkaline metals in the water, but it's an important stopping point for migrating birds.

North of Cody we turned west on the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway, a twisting road that climbs and descends through the Absaroka Mountains.

The highway is named after Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce, who led his tribe on an unsuccessful bid to flee to freedom in Canada. The road goes through Dead Indian Pass, named either for the heroic attempt of the Nez Perce to escape the US Calvary through the narrow gulch, or for an unrelated incident with Native Americans.

We rode through a stretch of highway construction that had the paved road down to sand and gravel, conditions that the BMW handled without any problems.

The Chief Joseph Scenic Byway drops down onto the Beartooth American Road, heading into Yellowstone National Park. The highest point of the pass is at 10, 947' with more twisting hairpin turns and wide-open vistas of the mountain ranges.

We stopped for lunch before entering Yellowstone in Cooke City, Montana. This gold-mining town high in the mountains was originally known as Shoo-Fly until 1880 when it was named after a mining investor. Mike chatted with a man from England who was half-way through an 8-week cross-country trip riding a BMW S1000XR he had shipped here from England.

We entered Yellowstone at the Silver City entrance, and almost immediately encountered a buffalo grazing alongside the road.

We were surprised at the lack of traffic as we rode through the Lamar River Valley in Yellowstone, seeing more buffalo than I ever expected.

We stopped for a group of horseback riders as we turned onto the Grand Loop Road,

and saw several elk lounging near Mammoth Springs.

We excited the park at the Gardner entrance, continuing on Route 89 into Bozeman. Another amazing day with spectacular scenery!

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