A Scenic Break

Day 12: Wise River to Bannack State Park (56 miles, 2,783ft)

The ride from Wise River promised only modest climbs and only paved surfaces, mostly along the Pioneer Mountains Scenic Byway—a welcome respite after a few of the most challenging riding days of our trip.

We climbed a little over 2,000 feet over 27 miles to reach our day’s only pass, passing a number of beautiful national forest campgrounds (within 10-15 miles of Wise River) and Crystal Park (a park where tourist dig for minerals and crystals near the pass) along the way.

Descending on the other side of the pass, we rode past the turnoff for Elkhorn Hot Springs (where motel and camping lodging is possible) and continued through pastureland along the Grasshopper Creek.

We joined highway 278 for a few miles and then turned south, following signs for Bannack State Park. After 4 miles, the pavement ended, and we turned into the park entrance.

The park and its quaintly preserved ghost town—the site of the first territorial capital of Montanta—was well worth the visit, and hiker-biker campsites were reasonably priced at $10.00.

Historic Bannack