We end up in front of a permanent caravan, hidden between some trees for the coming two nights.
We’ve planned a day without cycling before entering the park and we spend our day off with some site seeing in West Yellowstone. It’s quite a large village with lots to see. As in the rest of Montana it’s has a bit of a Wild West look.
The day after the plan is to cycle to the Madison State Campground, just 25km inside the park so we take it easy. First we check the internet in a small cosy bookstore with a coffee bar. That’s where we also meet Ben. Ben is an Australian guy, living in the US and is cycling through Yellowstone on a two week trip. His plan for the night is also Madison so we will meet him again.
The road into the park is nice but still filled up with cars. This park sees 4,4 million visitors a year but luckily we’re a bit off season so it’s not as busy as it used to be in high season.
At Madison a sign says “Campground Full”.
We try to check in anyway because we have a small tent. The nice lady behind the desk tells us “we never turn off hikers and biker so we have a spot for you. And in the morning we will have coffee and tea for you as well” Awesome?
She shows Kim our camp spot, which is right behind the office and in the mine while Ben shows up as well on his racing bike with panniers. After he’s checked in as well he takes the spot right beside us. We chat a lot and in the evening, together we go to the amphitheater close to the campground for a park ranger talk about the beavers in the park.
When we wake up the next morning we head to the office for hot coffee and tea. The guy at the office is very friendly and he makes good coffee.
The Old Faitfull is our destination for today. It’s the most popular geyser of the park and a small village is built around it with gift shops, hotels and restaurants. It’s about 30km from Madison but on the way there is a lot to see. Thermal springs, geysers and other thermal activity. We take the scenic ride along a river full of waterfalls. Halfway we meet Dan and Dora from San Diego, near the Mexican border. They like cycling as well but are now here with their camper van. They invite us to come over to their house for a nice meal, a bed and a shower when we close by. “Then you can go into Mexico clean and well feed” Dora jokes. That’s a nice offer.
We swap address and cycle on. After a while we find ourselves on a cycling trail between lots of big bisons. Some are pretty close to the trail and are scary to past since they can be unpredictable and are huge! We survive the bison challenge and see the first colorful hot springs in a distance coming up. And after this first one even more hot springs and geysers come up. It’s really an amazing landscape as you walk on the moon.
The small ride takes hours and hours because we stop so many times to look around everywhere.
It’s already late in the afternoon when we arrive at the Old Faitfull. We know there’s no campground around here so we have to decide what to do. Rush around Old Faitfull and cycle on till late to the next town behind two great divide mountain passes and camp there or try to get a cheap room in one of the hotels and spend an extra day around Old Faitfull tomorrow. We choose option two and check the prices off the rooms. Luckily we find a room that fits in our budget. It’s a room in the stylish Old Faitfull Inn. The largest wooden structure in the world, more then hundred years old. The rest of the evening we hang around in the hotel where is so much to see due the magnificent style of the building.
When we wake up the next day the sun is shining already. A nice to see all the famous geysers and colorful hot puts in the area. We spend nearly whole day wondering around but with in mind that we still have to cycle over the two great divide mountain passes at the end of the day to reach West Tumb/Grand Village.
When we’re done with all the thermal stuff we hop on the our bikes again. The next town is calling. It’s really a wonderful ride and the two mountain passes? We take them for granted. When we finally reach the campground the road to it is blocked with a sign “Area Closed”
We have no other choice than to go on the closed campground.
It’s quite a big campground and it looks like a ghost town when nobody it there. We find ourselves a nice hidden spot to camp on and start cooking. In about 100m we see elks passing by over the campground. Wow!!
The night that follows is dark and freezing cold with millions of stars above us. We hear the elks walking around and making elk noises all night long. Sometimes they sound pretty closely, than we turn on a light so they can see our tent and don’t walk over it. In the morning squirrels start to try steel food out of our tent but there isn’t any food in our tent, it’s all safely locked up in the bear box outside.
It’s still freezing when we pack up our tent to leave the place early so we don’t get words with a park ranger or so. When we pass the “Area Closed” sign again, this time from the other side a worker just rides up the campground, followed by a park ranger. We got out just in time ?
We didn’t had breakfast jet so we head to the store. At the store we meet two other cyclists. Or actually three, they carrying a nine month old baby girl with them as well. Wow, another cycling baby in just one week time. They are Stephan from Germany and Monika from Poland. The little girl is called Hanna. We sit in front of the store for nearly a hour having a great time chatting and swapping ideas about bicycles and traveling. They started their trip in Jasper, Canada a few months ago and planned to ride till December somewhere in the south of the US.
They told us they had the same camping problem as we had last night but they went to the ranger station and one of the rangers took them home to sleep there. Stephan and Monika wanna hitchhike to the Old Faitfull today to have a look around there and wanna hitchhike back at the end of the day so they’re a little bit in a rush now and we swap contacts and say goodbye. Nice couple, we hope to meet again.
We drink another tea and coffee at the shop and start cycling south to the exit of Yellowstone National Park. While we cycle we hit another great divide mountain pass and many beautiful lakes, waterfalls, winding rivers and deep canyons. Bye bye Yellowstone, Hello Teton National Park, which is just a bit south of here.