These Car-free National Park Paths Are a Cyclist's Dream — for a Limited Time
Yellowstone National Park and neighboring Grand Teton are beautiful any time of year, but if you're a cyclist dreaming of taking in the sights while feeling the thrill of the open Wyoming road, now is your time. (And we're not even talking about the free admission being offered this weekend and next.)
For a limited time, a scenic stretch in each park has been cleared of snow, but closed off to vehicular traffic. That means prime space for just you and your two tires to explore without any disruptions from motorists. The only traffic you'll have to worry about might be some stray bison or bighorn sheep, which makes for a much better story than being stuck behind a herd of minivans.
In Yellowstone, 49 miles of car-free spring cycling can be found at the west entrance, all the way to Mammoth Hot Springs. The springs are the only major Yellowstone thermal area located outside the caldera, according to the National Park Service, and among them you'll see the travertine terraces, a unique landscape created when thermal water rises through limestone.
You will not get access to Old Faithful or Canyon until the attractions (and the path) open to cars again on April 21, but as any good cyclist knows, it's about the journey, not the destination. You'll see rivers, waterfalls, cascades, and more as you pass the Madison and Norris areas of the park.
If you want to get out there but don't have a bike of your own, Xanterra Parks and Resorts rents bicycles near the site of Old Faithful. And if you can't make it before April 21, there are still plenty of bike routes to explore as the weather continues to warm up.
One worth the pedaling is the 4.8-mile Lone Star Geyser route, along the Firehole River. The path is level, and if you time it right, you'll witness a Lone Star eruption, which happens approximately every three hours. Cyclists looking for more of a physical challenge will love the 21-mile Fountain Flat Trail, along an old, two-way freight road with views of the Lower and Midway Geyser Basins.
See all of Yellowstone's spring bike paths here, and check out more paths that are open only to bicycle and foot traffic, along with rules and park recommendations, here. And remember, bikes are not allowed on backcountry trails or boardwalks.
Meanwhile, at Grand Teton National Park, a 14-mile section of Teton Park Road between Taggart Lake Trailhead and Signal Mountain Lodge is closed to cars through the end of April. One of the most stunning stretches in the park, it will take you past Jenny Lake, with expansive views of the Tetons and probable wild animal sightings.
Another top spot for cyclists throughout the spring, summer, and fall will be the Grand Teton National Park Pathway, a 20-mile paved trail from the Jenny Lake Visitor Center that runs through Moose, a community along the Snake River, and into Jackson. If you get hungry along the way, Dornans is a local favorite for a classic American chuckwagon meal, whether you're in the mood for barbecue or all-you-can-eat pancakes. (You could also start out and rent a bike there.)
If you're the type who likes to mountain bike, follow the park's Grassy Lake Road along an old, 52-mile Native American route. The dirt road will take you all the way to Ashton, Idaho, a small town with big views of the Teton Mountains. See rules, tips, and more paths here.
And if you do all that and your legs still aren't tired, you may want to plan a trip on the TransAmerica Trail, a bike route from Oregon to Virginia that goes through both Yellowstone and Grand Teton.