The thing about road trips is that there will inevitably be days where the main aim is to eat up the miles and get closer to the next big destination. But in the spirit of life being all about the journey, we did our best to make sure we saw something cool even when we were just on our way. We wanted to make sure that the couple of days in between the Rocky Mountain National Park and Yellowstone National Park were not wasted; and so we took a bit of a curvy route to see some of the other seemingly random places we’d marked up on our google map before we left the UK.
My bike on a gravel road that went through Bear Lake.
From Steamboat Springs, perhaps wishing we’d had a day off there to visit the hot springs and explore the mountains, we headed off into the Colorado countryside on what was an absolutely beautiful day. A deer ran out in front of us as we rode along; road kills is a huge problem here but thankfully we spotted her in time and were able to stop to allow her to cross safely. The road wound and rolled through farmland and hills, went from paved to dirt and back again (something that we have got used to), passed mines and farm buildings and cattle herds and old railroad stations. It might have been slow progress but it was such a nice ride that morning – green grass, blue sky, no-one else around.
LincsGeek’s Tiger Explorer and some beautiful countryside. This is what road trips are about!
Dinosaur National Monument
We joined a more major road which turned into one of those iconic straight roads everyone thinks of when they imagine road tripping in the USA. The road would be arrow straight for miles, there would be a few twisty bits to get you over a hill, and then it would be dead straight again. I’m torn with roads like this – they certainly have a beauty that I appreciate, with views for miles and miles, but they turn motorcycle tyres square and can be very tiring to ride and it’s easy to lose concentration.
Dinosaur National Monument.
Dinosaur National Monument, a mountainous area straddling Colorado and Utah, is supposed to be one of the best places in the world to see fossils. As we rode through there were signs along the road pointing out which dinosaurs roamed in that area, based on remains and petroglyphs that have been found there. While a lot of fossils have been removed and placed in museums (all over the world), many are still embedded in the rocks and you can walk up to them and take a look. As this was a travelling day we didn’t have much time, but it was really cool to ride through what felt like Jurassic Park and think about the history of our world.
LincsGeek having a look at the view and learning about a huge fire.
The Cattle Rancher in Mountain View
The ride up from Utah into Wyoming was mainly about little towns, cattle ranches and mountain passes (although on a slightly smaller scale than in Colorado). We pulled into a gas station in Mountain View where we caught the attention of a Cattle Rancher who came over to chat. When someone introduces themselves as “the man who owns all the fields you’ve ridden through today” you know you’ve met a proper rancher… wearing a cowboy hat, string tie and boots of course. Encounters like this were very special for our trip; I’ll readily admit that as an introvert I tend to shy away from introducing myself to strangers, preferring the safety of being with people I know well, and so when someone walks over to me and starts up a conversation I have to fight all urges to run away. But I think I did pretty well… we chatted for what must have been 30-40 minutes about all sorts – cattle, the weather, camping, motorcycles, trucks, guns, Trump, the price of gas, Wyoming, beef, the UN and NATO, shootings, the police, work, the UK. We may not have agreed on many things but it was truly fascinating to meet a local (who was definitely not an introvert) who was just interested in what we were doing there.
Sheep Creek, a view from Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area.
The following morning, after overnighting in Diamondville, we did a bit of State hopping so we could see Bear Lake. Bear Lake is a large turquoise coloured lake that straddles Utah and Idaho, popular with people wanting to mess about on and in the water as well as wildlife – the bottom two thirds of the lake is a State Park, and the top third is designated a Wildlife Refuge. We discovered after taking a few roads in the right direction that you can’t get to the lake shore without paying to go into the State Park, which was a shame, as we weren’t planning on staying long (I just fancied dipping my toes in the water to see how warm it was). But we did find a way to see the lake up close a bit later…
FAMOUS raspberry milkshakes.
I had seen a couple of mentions of famous raspberry milkshakes when I’d been googling the lake the previous night and had said to LincsGeek I wanted him to find me this famous milkshake shop, thinking that we were unlikely to come notice it as we rode along. But as we came into one of the small towns around the river there was a huge parking lot with a fast-food style building that had “raspberry milkshakes” written in huge letters on the roof. Yay! I’m so glad we found it – they were just amazing; fresh raspberries mixed with good ice cream – milkshakes here don’t really have much milk in them, they’re more like an ice cream sundae that you eat with a spoon. We’d both ordered the large size, and it turned out we could have easily shared a regular sized one. Oops!
Bear Lake, Idaho.
Knowing that I was very keen to see the lake properly, LincsGeek continued to take various turnings towards the water. At one point we found ourselves on a fantastic gravel road which seemed to stretch right across the lake, we had water lapping both sides of the road at one point. By this time we were in the wildlife refuge area and there were lots of birds to see as we rode along. We couldn’t resist stopping to take some photos – a road for the memory banks.
The road “through” Bear Lake, Idaho.
Mountain Road through Henry
We’d heard that the ride over Tincup Mountain was rather special and so we headed out to Soda Springs (another great name for a town) where we picked up the 34 through the Caribou-Targhee National Forest. We spotted plenty of Eagles and Cranes but unfortunately no big game here, although we had high hopes that we’d get our fill of big animals over the next few days as we headed to Yellowstone National Park.
Our bikes at The Henry Store.
This particular route was labelled as a scenic drive, and scenic it was; lots of historical markers including one at an old derelict general store in Henry which looked like we could just get inside and wander around but thought we perhaps shouldn’t. At another stop we found hundreds of shell casings on the ground like there had been some kind of shoot out there; actually we found most of the road signs in this area had bullet holes in them, needless to say we didn’t hang around for too long!