Ride The Great Divide Mountain Bike Route - Banff, Canada To Whitefish, Montana
The Great Divide Mountain Bike Route (GDMBR) is the longest off-pavement bicycle route in the world. The GDMBR is Adventure Cycling Association’s (ACA) premier dirt cycling route, stretching about 2700 miles from the North in Banff, Canada to the South in Antelope Wells, New Mexico along the Mexican border. The epic route is defined by the word "remote" and is known for long wilderness sections without supplies or resources. The entire route is basically dirt-road and mountain-pass riding with some singletrack and double track miles. Pavement sections exists to link and connect the dirt roads and trails. In total, it has over 200,000 feet of elevation gain. Many journey the entire length during a season but with time constraints, picking and choosing the most scenic sections can be rewarding.
For the Banff To Whitefish Section - riders can cover the miles in 4-10 days depending on your riding style and the weather. There are many highlights along the way that might slow you down, starting with the town of Banff. Escaping this quaint town is sometimes hard but once you start to pedal south, the scenic expansive views of the Canadian Rockies await around every corner and over ever hill to keep you going south. Here are some things you have to look forward to:
- Spray Lake will offer the first of many of these amazing views.
- Elk Pass will be the first challenging climb and the picnic table at the top will be a welcome sight for all riders - enjoy your efforts with a peaceful and scenic view!
- The Flathead Valley Route is a long remote and wild section with both open scenic views and animal encounters.
- Descending from Whitefish Pass to the North Fork Road will be your first peek at Glacier National Park and it is all but a peek - the views are endless and will take your breath away - prepare to go slow and take it all in! Then enjoy the Park views along the North Fork Road Section.
- Red Meadows - this mountain pass with a small, high alpine, pristine lake is hard to pass without stopping to enjoy.
Some Resupply/Accommodations Options Along Route:
- Engadine Lodge - located South End of Spray Lake just off Smith-Dorrien Road - offers B&B and meals - reservations required.
- Bolton Camp Store and Grill - located just north of Elk Pass - offers resupply, meals at the grill, and camping
- Tobermory Forest Service Cabin - south of Elk Pass - first come first serve cabin with cots and wood stove
- Elkford - first real town to resupply and get a hot meal - camping and hotels available
- Sparwood - last town to resupply before heading in to the Flathead Valley - resupply, meals and lodging all here. If you are taking the Fernie Alternate Route, you will have opportunities to resupply in Fernie and remember to hit the Dairy Bar before you hit the US.
- Butts Patrol Cabin - this forest service cabin is located about halfway down the Flathead Valley Route before the turn to ascend Cabin Pass and has bunks, picnic table and wood stove for use - first come first serve.
- Eureka - first town to resupply after crossing into the US - resupply, meals and lodging all available here.
- HA Brewery - brewery located right off the GDR on Graves Creek Road - hours of operation are limited so plan your visit if interested.
- Polebridge Mercantile - located 6 miles off route but worth it - continue south on North Fork Road before turning right onto Red Meadows Road - limited resupply, meals if open and lodging. Some of the best baked goods on the route.
- Whitefish - resupply, meals and lodging available