Old Faithful Geyser
Yellowstone National Park encompasses 2,219,791 acres (8th largest NP) and was the first of the US national parks (established in 1872 by President Ulysses S. Grant). Yellowstone was the 5th most visited national park in 2018 (4,115,000). The park was designated UNESCO World AHeritage Site #28 in 1978 with the following description:
The vast natural forest of Yellowstone National Park covers nearly 9,000 km2 ; 96% of the park lies in Wyoming, 3% in Montana and 1% in Idaho. Yellowstone contains half of all the world's known geothermal features, with more than 10,000 examples. It also has the world's largest concentration of geysers (more than 300 geyers, or two thirds of all those on the planet). Established in 1872, Yellowstone is equally known for its wildlife, such as grizzly bears, wolves, bison and wapitis. More
Dunraven Pass is the biggest climb in Yellowstone NP
Cycling Yellowstone National Park’s Grand Loop - Ride 136 miles gaining 9,615’ passing some of the greatest scenery in the world and most of the Park’s tourist attractions.
We guarantee you will see bison (buffalo) on this loop . . .
- Considered the first national park in the world, created March 1, 1872 by President Grant. There was not another national park founded until Sequoia (9/25/1890) and then Yosemite (10/1/1890).
- 8th largest national park at 2,221,766 (3,500 square miles). Wrangell-St Elias is the country's largest national park at 13,200,000 acres.
- Spans 3 states: 96% in Wyoming, 3% in Montana and 1% Idaho.
- Larger than the states of Delaware and Rhode Island combined.
- Visitors: Here’s a problem for cyclists: 3,513,484 visitors per year (4th most visited national park behind Great Smoky Mountains NP (10,099,276), Grand Canyon (4,756,771), and Yosemite (3,882,642). See National Parks Conservation Assoc list.
Grand loop: The Grand Loop is actually a figure “8” that forms the interior roads of YNP. We did not do the traditional loop, rather we cycled the entire perimeter as we did not have enough time to photo/video the loop and include the extra 22 miles or so to take on the figure 8 route. We began our trek at Roosevelt Lodge at the Northeastern section of YNP. The 141 mile route is on “Grand Loop Road (which is also a number of highways strung together along the perimeter).
At mile 18 you can turn right onto Norris Canyon Road and do 2 Half Loops (Upper Loop - 68 miles and 5,501’ of climbing http://ridewithgps.com/routes/10088756 and Lower Loop - 96 miles and 5,237’ of climbing - http://ridewithgps.com/routes/10088767 ) or continue south on Grand Loop Road for the Full Loop (our term, not YNP’s).
Canyon Village - Mile 18.
The only confusion we encountered was at Old Faithful (mile 68 of on our route). It was not obvious to us what to do at this junction. We strongly recommend turning right into the Old Faithful area and travelling the one mile to the visitor area for lunch.
Visit Old Faithful!
We pass over the Continental Divide at Craig’s Pass at mile 61. It is always a unique and rewarding experience to pass over the Continental Divide (a few of the Top 100 U.S. Climbs do this - e.g. Cottonwood Pass, Wolf Creek Pass and Trail Ridge in Colorado pass over this unique landmark and it is not the average cyclist that ever has this unique experience.
The route has many incredible views and experiences: For example Old Faithful, Yellowstone Lake, following several rivers/streams, geysers, colorful travertine terraces, beautiful rock formations, wild animals (bison for sure and the occasional elk and bear), gorgeous valleys and meadows, rugged mountain ranges and just plain wide open spaces.
The Knock: Traffic, traffic and . . . . more traffic. If you are traffic-sensitive, the full loop is likely not the ride for you. However, we are fairly callous to heavy traffic and were able to focus on our gorgeous surroundings and to a great degree block out the frequent motorhomes and often heavy vehicle traffic.
We recommend going mid-week in the off season and leaving at the crack of dawn.
Leaving Roosevelt Lodge area (we stayed in the cheapo cabins) at sunrise.
The National Park Service actually has a Bicycling Webpage for YNP. The NPS video seems more focused on safety versus the amazing scenery and unique experience of cycling YNP. NPS Video
YELLOWSTONE NP AND NEARBY CLIMBS
Climbs in the area (beginning at Roosevelt Lodge Cabins, 1 Grand Loop Road, YNP; northeastern YNP):
DUNRAVEN PASS, WYOMING
Cycling Dunraven Pass
Ride 12.8 miles gaining 2,828’ at 3.9%
The main climb in Yellowstone is Dunraven Pass from Roosevelt Lodge.
BEARTOOTH PASS NORTH, MONTANA
Cycling Beartooth Pass North
Ride 30 miles gaining 5,743’ at 3.3%
BEARTOOTH PASS SOUTH, WYOMING
Cycling Beartooth Pass North
Ride 21.5 miles gaining 4,329’ at 3.6%
DEAD INDIAN ROAD EAST, WYOMING
Ride 13.3 miles gaining 3,070’ at 4.2%
DEAD INDIAN ROAD WEST, WYOMING
Ride 7.5 miles gaining 2,072’ at 5.2%
ALTERNATE ROUTE 14, WYOMING
Ride 13.2 miles gaining 4,855’ at 6.7%
GRANITE PASS, WYOMING
Ride 17.7 miles gaining 4,756’ at 5%
In clockwise direction beginning at Roosevelt Lodge at the northeast corner of Grand Loop:
- Roosevelt Lodge & Cabins: (where we stayed and began our loop)
- “Roosevelt Lodge Cabins, built in 1920 near Yellowstone’s Tower Falls area, is located near a campsite once used by President Theodore Roosevelt. The rustic cabins and family-style dining are a favorite of families and fisherman alike and the front porch rocking chairs give guests an opportunity to rock their stress to sleep and awaken their “Old West spirit.” A large corral operation offers horseback trail rides, stagecoach adventures and our popular Old West Dinner Cookout, where the steaks are tender, the wranglers are friendly, and the scenery is breathtaking.”
- Canyon Lodge & Cabins:
- Lake Yellowstone:
- Lake Yellowstone Hotel & Cabins: (northern edge of the lake) “The Lake Yellowstone Hotel and Cabins first opened in 1891 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Upon arrival, the hotel’s massive white columns welcome you to a time of classic, yet casual elegance. With the delicate sound of a string quartet, you’ll be captivated by views of Yellowstone Lake from the Sun Room. The historic Lake Yellowstone Hotel will have completed its interior renovations by late-June, 2014, restoring it to its Colonial Revival heritage. The multi-million dollar project includes all guest rooms, dining room, bar and public spaces and a redesigned deli. Lake Yellowstone Hotel now offers wired internet service and a business center.”
- Lake Lodge Cabins: (northern edge of lake) “Lake Lodge Cabins features a main lodge with a large porch offering a spectacular rocking chair view of Yellowstone Lake. The main lodge is constructed of logs and is the focal point of this classic and comfortable building. Located behind the lodge are 186 cabins with private baths are available in recently renovated Western and Frontier styles as well as the basic Pioneer cabins. Lake Lodge is open from early June through the end of September. The main lodge houses a delightful lobby where two fireplaces, a lounge and gift store warmly beckon guests to linger and chat.”
- Grant Village: (western edge of lake) “Grant Village was built in 1984 and named after Ulysses S. Grant, president when Yellowstone became the world’s first national park in 1872. Located near the West Thumb of Yellowstone Lake, Grant Village features 6 two-story buildings each containing 50 rooms. The lodging complex features a full-service restaurant, a lakeside restaurant with a casual menu, lounge and gift store. The village is also nearest to Grand Teton National Park.”
- Old Faithful:
- Old Faithful Snow Lodge & Cabins: “Completed in 1999, the Snow Lodge is the newest of the park’s full service hotels, and has been recognized with the Cody Award for Western Design and Travel and Leisure’s Inn of the Month. The heavy timber construction, exterior log columns and cedar shingle roof were part of the design that is destined to make the Snow Lodge a significant example of classic “parkitecture.” The Snow Lodge also features a full-service dining room, quick service “Geyser Grill” and the charming Bear Den Gift Store.”
- Old Faithful Lodge Cabins “This historic cabin facility is located near Old Faithful Inn and includes a one-story main lodge built in the 1920′s featuring massive logs and stone pillars. Tremendous views of the Old Faithful Geyser can be seen from the lobby area, which houses a bakery/snack shop and cafeteria-style food court.”
- Old Faithful Inn: “As a national historic landmark, Old Faithful Inn is the most requested lodging facility in the park. Built in 1903-1904 with local logs and stone, the Inn is considered the largest log structure in the world. The towering lobby features a massive stone fireplace and a hand-crafted clock made of copper, wood and wrought iron serving as focal points. With 327 rooms, the Old Faithfull Inn is open from early May until mid-October and features a full-service restaurant, lounge, snack bar, gift shop and daily tours.”
- Mammoth Hot Sprins Hotel & Cabins:
- “The Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel and Cabins—named after nearby springs—offers a warm welcome to summer and winter visitors. The hotel, as it stands today was built in 1936, while retaining a wing of guest rooms originally built in 1911, and features its signature Map Room containing a large wooden map of the United States constructed of 15 different woods from nine countries. Guest enjoy a variety of in-park accommodations as well as the opportune chance of spotting elk grazing outside the hotel”
 What we did, and what we suggest, is to turn right (if you are doing the loop clockwise) at the signs for Old Faithful, travel the mile to the Old Faithful area which has lodges, a store, deli and Old Faithful.