Just like that, it was back to the desert heat of the Valley of the Sun. I spent the ride, which was anything but technical, pondering the trip and what I’d seen. There were so many great experiences this trip that it was hard to pinpoint a favorite. The bear on Day 5 and the bison on Day 6, as well as the entire trip through Glacier National Park are certainly top of the list. I'm already considering a return to some of these parks to spend more time soaking up the amazing scenery.
In Rock Springs, I had planned to stay in a hotel and, given the weather of the previous day, I was glad I did. After meeting some other fellow bikers, I decided to stop a little early today in Grand Junction. The days started out with another section of Highway 191 known as the Flaming Gorge Scenic Byway.
After waking up to the sound of the river and preparing a quick breakfast and some tea, I broke camp and continued down Highway 93 and out of the Salmon River Valley. It breaks into a wide valley after the town of Challis, which was my first fuel stop for the day. Here, I began riding the section of Highway 93 dubbed the Peaks to Craters Scenic Byway and the very broad valley heads toward Craters of the Moon National Monument.
Today was my full day in Glacier National Park and, with my wife who flew in for the weekend with me, we drove the Going-to-the-Sun Road. Yes, drove, since my wife had joined me and we took the car rather than the bike. For the day, at least, I was a fellow explorer. We met a number of bikers along the way that were enjoying spectacular views of broad, U-shaped glacial valleys.
I set out from Choteau, but misinterpreted some detour instructions I had received around the construction on Highway 89. I didn’t want to ride for miles on loose gravel and dirt, so I stuck to the paved sections of highway. This mistake educated me on just how sparsely populated the state of Montana really is.
Today started early, so I could walk down to the lake and catch the sunrise. It turns out, first light, and sunrise aren’t nearly so close together in the Tetons. I forgot how long the sun can be blocked from shining on a mountain valley in the Rockies. Nevertheless, I sat on the shore of Jackson Lake basking in the colossal shadow of the Tetons. When the light finally crested the mountains on the eastern side of the valley, all the cracks and crevices really started to show.
Today, I made it to the first of two places that were a big reason behind this trip. I hadn't been to the Grand Teton National Park in years and I've been looking forward to spending a couple nights here so I could enjoy a full day of hiking. Who knew I'd actually need to have my bear spray in hand at one point.
Well, I survived the first three days of Epic Road Trip 2017. My phone, however, did not. More on that later. So far, I’ve visited the North Rim and Bryce Canyon National Park for the first time and enjoyed an awesome stretch of highway called the “All-American Road” - that’s Highway 12 in Utah that winds through the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument (another first).