Epic Road Trip 2017 (Day 0)

Published on July 22, 2017

I thought I’d give a little more detail on this trip ahead of time - before I start the actual trip and posting all the awesome pictures from the adventure. At the time of writing, it’s T-minus 6 days until I leave. At this point, I don’t really remember where I originally saw the idea, but as soon as I did I was on Google Maps figuring out the route. Highway 89. Arizona to Montana. FIVE National Parks.

I’m excited about the trip and I think the people I’m meeting at during the week may actually be a little tired of hearing about this kickass trip I’m about to take. Some of them think I’m nuts (for riding solo; for taking two weeks; for camping). Oh well. I’ll take a long road trip and some tent nights over a long flight any day. So, about that trip…

Highway 89 starts in Nogales, Arizona on the U.S.-Mexico border. It winds north through desert, mountains, and forests all the way to the U.S.-Canada border, just east of Glacier National Park. Along the way, with some easy detours that connect back to Highway 89 further along (no backtracking!), you can check out some pretty amazing places. If you decide to take this route, make sure you purchase an annual National Park Pass. It’s $20 per motorcycle, so visiting four of the five parks along the way pays for it -- and it’s good for a whole other year.

Day 1 - Phoenix to Jacob Lake

Grand Canyon

I actually rode the South Rim with friends last summer, so this wasn’t a high priority for me. I have never been to the North Rim, though, so I’m taking this trip and staying the first night near Jacob’s Lake. I’ll get to see the Vermillon Cliffs, which I hear are amazing, and enjoy some higher altitudes on day one.

day2 jacob lake bryce canyon

Bryce Canyon

It’s a very short ride to Bryce Canyon National Park. I’ve never been, so I’m really excited about this stop. Since day two is such a short one, I’ll actually get to explore the park a bit more. It’s a developed campground with a store (much like Lake Powell), so supplies will be available.

Day 3 Salt Lake City, UT

After Bryce Canyon, it’s a long day three to Salt Lake City. This is the first hotel day of the trip and the journey there involves Highway 12, another stretch of new-to-me highway. My time exploring Salt Lake City will be limited, mostly because I’ll probably be arriving late, but also because everything closes down so early.

day4 slc teton np

Grand Teton National Park

The third national park I’m stopping at is one I’ve been to before, but it’s been so long that I don’t remember anything about it. After winding along the highway through northeastern Utah, past Bear Lake, and western Wyoming along the Snake River, I’ll be stopping at Jenny Lake and camping (possibly Signal Mountain on the shores of Jackson Lake, depending on how busy things are). I’ll be camping for two nights, giving me a full day to do some hiking around the park and lakes.

day6 yellowstone np

Yellowstone National Park

Day 7 - Yellowstone NP to Monarch

Yellowstone is going to be a simple drive through. I’ve been before and I remember it, but never on a motorcycle. And everything about road trips is better with a motorcycle. Although I’m a little nervous about riding the main road through the park (I’ve considered detouring through West Yellowstone), I can handle the tourist drivers and I don’t tend to provoke bison. I’ll camp somewhere between Yellowstone and Glacier National Park.

day8 monarch glacier np

Glacier National Park

This is the real reason for this trip and someplace that has been on my bucket list for quite some time. I’ll get a preview of the park by riding through on my way to the Airbnb. Then I get to spend the weekend exploring and hiking this adventure location.

The Way Back Home

I won’t take the same route south to home (because, what fun would that be). That said, I have a couple big sections of highway that I’m excited about. The first is Highway 212 from Red Lodge, Montana, to Cooke City, Wyoming. It’s rated as one of the top 13 motorcycle rides in the country and will drop me back through Yellowstone. I’m planning to either camp there or stop around Cody, Wyoming, for the night.

The second stretch I’m excited about is the entirety of the Million Dollar Highway (Highway 550) from Montrose to Durango, Colorado. I’ve ridden part of this (Durango to Silverton), but was prevented from riding to Ouray by heavy rain and hail (I thankfully missed it, but it pushed the ride’s start time back). From Durango, it will be a one-day shot back to Phoenix.. And the desert heat.

But, along the way, from Montana to Phoenix, I’m going to be in the neighborhood of Dinosaur National Monument, the Green River, and host of other adventure locations.