Day 5: 257 miles
Originally I had planned Buffalo, WY to be the jumping off point for my visit to Yellowstone, but when I discovered that would not work, I decided to explore Bighorn National Forest. There are a number of signs along the highway (I-90) recommending US Route 16, so that where I started.
US Route 16
The spine of Bighorn is a mountain range running north & south. In the southern region, Route 16 runs up and down the peaks with lots of twisty road and switchbacks with rock cliffs on one side and a drop off on the other side.
The views were spectacular, but the road also has some very scary parts. I normally don’t pay that much attention to the yellow (recommended) speed limits signs, but in this area, they are to be taken very seriously.
US Route 14
After surviving the US-16, and lunch in Worland, I decided to check out the unadvertised northern route, US-14 (I had to get back to Buffalo somehow). As you head into Bighorn, from the west, the road winds along the bottom of a rocky canyon (this was my favorite part of the ride), then quickly rises up the mountains. Unlike US-16, once you reach altitude, the road run thru the plateau for many miles.
The descent on the eastern side rivaled my morning ride for challenging switchbacks (and fear factor). This routes seemed to be more popular with locals, which adds to the fear factor: since they drive these roads regularly (I assume), they run up & down the mountain at speed, leaving the rest of us nervous drivers to use pull outs to clear a path. Don’t take this to mean the drivers are rude or obnoxious – people tend to be very polite – there’s just 2 very distinct types of drivers on these roads.