Yellowstone by bike: a 1,200-mile journey through the GYE

JACKSON, Wyo. — A man can learn a lot in 1,200 miles, especially on a bicycle.

It was the 1,200 miles that circumvent the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem that Don Carpenter wanted to learn more about. The conservationist and adventurer found his attention kept turning to a map of the GYE above his desk. Carpenter and friend Gary Chrisman decided to embark on a pedal-powered journey through GYE to learn more about its inner workings.

Carpenter and Chrisman will share photos and tales from their two-week journey at a free presentation today, November 6 at 6 p.m. in the Teton County Library.

The 1,200-mile loop began in Victor and meandered through large tracts of wild, remote land, both public and private. Over mountains and through headwaters, across agricultural land and into three states, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming. They rode on gravel, trudged through mud, and over alpine traverses on high-mountain single-track. The sheer size and diversity of GYE’s terrain blew them away.

Riding on high alpine single-track. Photo: Don Carpenter

“Many individual parts of the GYE are impressive on their own, but the interconnectedness of so many pieces of wild land makes this ecosystem unique,” Carpenter writes on Greater Yellowstone Coalition’s blog. “This connection makes the sum of the GYE more significant than the parts, with habitat vast enough to sustain grizzly bears, wolverine, bison, and elk herds.”

The duo also got to ride through the towns around the GYE, bustling with tourists and locals alike. Some offered them places to stay. They even got a warm welcome from attendees of the Beartooth Motorcycle Rally, and got to ride over Beartooth Pass with hundreds of the other kind of bikes and bikers.

Two weeks after the pair left their homes in Victor, they were pushing through the final stretch of their journey over Pine Creek Pass.

“We were happy to be rolling home after a great adventure,” Carpenter writes. “After a stop at the brewpub to meet friends, we rode past Gary’s house, high fived and thanked each other. Rolling home, I looked up at the Tetons with a deeper understanding and appreciation for our extended backyard.”

Learn more about the journey tonight at the Teton County Library at 6 p.m. The adventurers will also give a free presentation at Fitzgerald Bicycles in Idaho Falls Friday, Nov. 8. Refreshments provided.

Sponsored by:

Greater Yellowstone Coalition

People protecting the lands, waters, and wildlife of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, now and for future generations

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