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Week 3 : Butte - Teton NP

Start : Butte, Montana, USA
Finish : Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming, USA
Dates : August 28th - September 4th, 2017
Riding days : 6
Distance : 355 miles

As we leave the mining town of Butte behind, we will quickly return to the natural environment of the
Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Park. You are never very far from the Continental Divide in this streamless country. The mixed landscape is of timbered hillsides, eroded rocks and rolling grassland. Here the cows can block your way on the undulating country roads before you drop back down to Interstate 15. And then it’s only up, up and up. The route follows a quad trail to Fleecer Ridge, a section that every Divide rider remembers; maybe it’s the tough uphill, but definitely the neck breaking 38 per cent gradient downhill. Except for the most courageous riders, this is a hike-a-bike section.
After this tricky descent, you can spin the pedals again and cycle onwards through the lush forest to the saloon in
Wise River. This little village is surrounded by a half-million acres of peaks, lakes and headwaters in the Pioneer Mountains. This is a village of rustic charm where the only rush hour traffic is the local cattle drive that offers a welcome retreat from the pace of life in the 21st century.
 
The next dozen miles are well paved but motorized traffic is still a rarity and you are more likely to meet cowboys on their horses driving cattle over the prairie in the traditional way. This is the frontier – you are back in the Wild Wild West.
Along the way, you can treat yourself to a little “luxury” when coming in “off the range” by soaking down in the baths of the
Elkhorn Hot Springs before continuing over the wide floodplains to one of the best preserved ghost towns of the American West, the old mining town of Bannack. Gold was discovered in the Grasshopper Creek in 1862, where miners flooded into the area. The town became known as the New Eldorado and the population eventually swelled to some 10,000. Bannack is a good example how a place can change from gold town into ghost town. 
Not only is the town of Bannack now empty but almost the whole surrounding territory is empty save for some huge cattle ranches. Asphalt gives way to gravel again when you come to the Medicine Lodge Backcountry Byway around the Tendoy Mountains. It’s a scenic 50 miles stretch through the hidden backcountry of southwestern Montana. You’ll get to see the country exactly as it was experienced by the Indian tribes and by the first mountain men. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has placed very clear signs along this section of the route reading “impassable when wet” - meaning that you must carry your bike if it rains. If you ignore this warning, your bike will be weighed down with wheel-clogging mud within a few yards and then you will carry your bike and the mud! The Backcountry Byway continues between the high rock cliffs of the Big Sheep Canyon where you will see lots of trout in the clear deep pools of the creek bearing the same name.

Read more in the BROCHURE..