Yellowstone On Two Wheels: What Motorcyclists Need To Know About Riding In The Park
A record number of American households now own a motorcycle: over 8% in 2018, according to a survey conducted by the Motorcycle Industry Council. More and more people are choosing to explore the world on two wheels, and what better place to explore than Yellowstone National Park? If you’re thinking of visiting with your motorbike, you might be concerned about the rules, given the prevalence of wildlife, but rest assured, although there are a few guidelines, Yellowstone welcomes respectful motorcyclists.
Rules And Regulations
Yellowstone National Park has a maximum speed limit of 45 miles an hour, and some areas have a lower limit than this. This ensures that wildlife is protected and keeps other visitors safe and noise levels to a minimum. There are speed radars within the park to ensure that limits are respected, and regular traffic laws still apply. Helmet laws are a little more complex: Yellowstone is spread over three separate states – Wyoming, Montana and Idaho – and each one has different laws regarding helmets. Motorcyclists are advised to wear a helmet at all times to avoid breaking any laws, as well as for optimum safety, but for further details, check the laws in each state and check where the state borders are within the park. The speed limits and wildlife means that sports motorcycling is not permitted. However, all kinds of motorcycle are welcome, so feel free to bring adventure bikes – these make good steeds for adventuring around the park, due to the uneven road surfaces, which can be slippery and attract natural debris, despite being well-maintained. Despite the lower speed limits, touring the park still offers plenty of opportunity for adventure.
The Grand Loop lends itself well to motorcycle travel: it’s a long road, covering 142 miles and curving round in a figure eight, passing some of the park’s most spectacular scenery. Biking the entire road takes anything between four and seven hours, depending on the traffic, which can be quite high during the warmer months. Stopping regularly to take in the scenery might make it best to break the loop in two, driving one side of the figure eight each day. There are plenty of camping spots within the park, and stopping over will allow you to really explore everything there is to see. Bear in mind that the temperature can drop at any time of the year, and there are some higher altitudes on the route, which can be particularly cold – be sure to dress warmly, and be vigilant for ice on the road.
Motorbikes And Wildlife
All traffic, motorcycles included, must stop when an animal crosses the road. Remain still and turn off your engine until the animal has gotten off the road. Yellowstone National Park is home to some large wildlife, which could be a safety hazard for a motorcyclist if caution isn’t taken. There are around 4,000 American Bison in the park, which can weigh up to 1,800lbs – both for your sake and the sake of the animals, keep your distance while you’re driving. The park is also home to black bears, grizzly bears, elk, moose and bighorn sheep, as well as many other smaller animals. The wildlife is probably one of the reasons you’re visiting, so to maximize your chances of a sighting and to reduce the risk of injury – both to yourself and to the animals – be respectful of speed limits and traffic laws, and keep your eyes on the road at all times.
Yellowstone National Park makes for an excellent adventure for a motorcyclist. Riding the Grand Loop and stopping to take in the breathtaking scenery and watch for wildlife is sure to be an experience you’ll never forget. Be mindful of the park rules, animals and the enjoyment of other visitors, and you’re sure to have the ride of a lifetime.
AUTHOR: JACKIE EDWARDS