The Great Divide Mountain Bike Route (GDMBR) Planning Guide

  • Distance

    2,696 Mi.

    (4,339 KM)
  • Days


  • % Unpaved


  • % Singletrack


  • Difficulty (1-10)


  • % Rideable (time)


  • Total Ascent


    (45,618 M)
  • High Point


    (3,631 M)
The Great Divide Mountain Bike Route (GDMBR) is the most recognized and important off-pavement cycling route in the United States, if not the world. The route crisscrosses the Continental Divide from north to south starting in Banff, Alberta, Canada and finishing at the US/Mexico border in Antelope Wells, New Mexico.
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The Great Divide Mountain Bike Route (GDMBR), developed and mapped in 1997 by the Adventure Cycling Association, is approximately 2,700 miles long and is considered by many to be the birthplace of bikepacking as a sport. The route follows the Continental Divide and is 90% off-pavement using high-quality dirt roads, gravel roads, trails, and a few short sections of unmaintained tracks. Bikepacking the GDMBR requires only intermediate off-road mountain biking skills, but it is a painstaking test of endurance based on the sheer scale of the route, with over 200,000 feet (60,960 meters) of elevation gain and loss.

The GDMBR is routed through a cross-section of the American West defined by spectacular scenery, a variety of landscapes, historic mountain towns, and boundless remote wilderness. Highlights include the Flathead Valley in Alberta, Grand Teton National Park, the Great Divide Basin in Wyoming, South Park, Boreas Pass in Colorado, Polvadera Mesa, and the Gila Wilderness in New Mexico. Colorado’s Indiana Pass, at 11,910 feet (3630 meters), is the highest point on the route. Throughout the route riders encounter wild river valleys, remote mountain wilderness, open grasslands, high desert, and towards the southern end of the route, an amazing span through the Chihuahuan Desert.

  • Great Divide Mountain Bike Route, GDMBR
  • Great Divide Mountain Bike Route, GDMBR

The route is best known for the Tour Divide, an annual self-supported race. In this event, the race clock runs 24 hours a day and riders are allowed no outside support other than access to public facilities such as stores, motels, and bike shops. The record time to complete the Tour Divide is 13 days, 22 hours and 51 minutes and was set in 2016 by Mike Hall (see Trail Notes for a full list of records). The Tour Divide has been raced and completed on both single speed bicycles and tandem bicycles. The race, which has neither entry fees nor prizes, usually starts in the second weekend of June.

Route Difficulty: While we awarded the GDMBR a difficulty rating of 5.5, it shouldn’t be taken lightly. The surfaces and terrain that make up the GDMBR are largely gravel and dirt roads, and therefore not technical in nature. Most Tour Dividers cycle it with a drop-bar bike similar to the Salsa Cutthroat. However, this route is very long and requires a lot of planning as it pertains to proper weather gear and resupply. Other dangers that amp up the difficulty include wild animals, such as grizzly bears in Montana. Most riders carry bear spray. And, needless to say, there is a lot of climbing at higher altitudes. Do your homework.

Note that the route and GPX featured here are the Tour Divide route and not the full GDMBR. The differences are fairly subtle, but there are a few reroutes to avoid mud and other obstacles, mainly in New Mexico. For the latest Tour Divide GPX data from TopoFusion, click here. Also, we recommend using the Adventure Cycling Association’s GDMBR mapset. Unless you typically rely only on a GPS, these maps are important and quite easy to navigate.

Before you set off, it is crucial to check Adventure Cycling Association’s updated Addenda. Throughout the season, riders contact ACA about current route conditions and offer helpful reroutes for impassable sections. We forgot to do this early on and ran into a deadend created by a massive washout. To avoid significant backtracking, we twice forded a massive river. Also, check the Temporary ACA Route Road Closures forum thread for more up to date issues. Also, see Trail Notes tab for more information on GPX and navigation.

  • Highlights


  • Must Know


  • Camping


  • Food/H2O


  • Trail Notes


  • Resources


  • Riding through a cross-section of the American West defined by spectacular scenery
  • A variety of landscapes, historic mountain towns, and boundless remote wilderness.
  • The Flathead Valley in Alberta
  • Grand Teton National Park
  • The Great Divide Basin in Wyoming
  • South Park
  • Boreas Pass in Colorado,
  • Polvadera Mesa
  • Gila Wilderness in New Mexico
  • Colorado’s Indiana Pass, at 11,910 feet (3630 meters), is the highest point on the route
  • Wild river valleys and remote mountain wilderness, open grasslands, high desert
  • An amazing span through the Chihuahuan Desert.

Weather and When to Go

Weather on the GDMBR is always changing. At elevation, the weather can switch in the blink of an eye. In general, the route is mostly passable during late June through mid-October, but be aware that it can snow at elevation any time of the year. After much research, we decided that a mid August departure date would be close to ideal. The weather in Canada and northern Montana would be relatively warm and we would beat the snow in Colorado while escaping the heat of New Mexico. We were pretty spot on with our assessment but overlooked the monsoon season in New Mexico.

During our travels we woke up with frost on our tent a few times. But, with sleeping bags rated to 20 degrees we were fine. Layering is a necessity, and if you are packing ultralight, consider a sleeping bag liner for higher elevations.

If you decide to travel during June or early July, be aware that you will most likely experience snow in the high mountain passes. Also, if places along the route experienced heavy snow that season, the rivers and streams may be much higher than normal.

Getting there and Getting Started

The best way to get to Banff is to fly into the Calgary International Airport (YYC). Banff is approximately 80 miles (125 km) west of Calgary. From the airport there are a few options to get to Banff. You can rent a car, hire a shuttle, or ride. We decided that it would be easiest to rent a car and split the cost between two people. This allowed us the freedom to choose a starting point own and travel at our leisure.

Once in Banff, a small, posh mountain resort town, we found a parking structure and set about assembling the bikes and kits. There are a few bike shops in town, and if you need any help or last minute supplies, we highly recommend visiting the friendly people at Snowtips-Bactrax. We encourage you to allow yourself more time than you think for last minute errands. We found ourselves running out of daylight after grocery shopping and bike building delays. It may be helpful to book a room at one of the many hostels in town. If you go this route, reserve in advance, because the lodging in town is not cheap! We ended up riding a little out of town to Tunnel Mountain Campgrounds, which was also a touch expensive.

Getting Back from Antelope Wells

Once you arrive in Antelope Wells, instead of a grand finish line, you’ll be met with an anticlimactic border fence. No crowds around the finish, just the Chihuahuan desert and border patrol agents. To avoid an extra 200 mile ride to the airport, it is best to secure a pickup from a shuttle service. From there, you have the choice of two airports. Fly from El Paso, TX (ELP) or Tuscon, AZ (TUS). Both are around 3-4 hours drive from Antelope Wells. After much debate, we decided to fly out of El Paso. We also shipped our bikes via Amtrak… cheap and easy to pack.

Much of the route passes through BLM, national parks, and dedicated wilderness. There are plenty of primitive camping sites along the route. The guidebooks and ACA maps will have accurate camping and lodging recommendations, so depending on your daily pace and number of stops throughout the day, you can plan accordingly.

There are quite a few options for lodging through along the route. Check them out in advance and download the app to figure out as you are on the ride.

Also, take advantage of the cyclist only lodging listed on the map as much as possible. Some of them are truly magical.

Tip: Be sure to call ahead for the cyclist only lodging after Lincoln and just before Helena. It is HIGHLY recommended to stay the night there. Brush Mountain Lodge is also a must. Very affordable and the crew there is incredible, very knowledgable and supportive of the GDMBR. Also, a jaccuzzi.

During the Divide you’ll be faced with plenty of long stretches where there are limited to no supplies. Reliable food and water sources on some portions of the route are over 100 miles (160 km) apart. If you follow the ACA mapset, you will get a good idea of where you need to pack extra supplies. Packing a water filter is highly recommended. There are only a few days on the trip when you will not be passing through a town with at least a gas station. But always pack more food and water than you think you’ll need. Better safe than sorry. A couple notable stretches void of supplies include the Flathead Valley, Great Basin, and Polvadera Mesa.

The GDMBR passes through some larger towns, including Helena and Butte, Montana, Pinedale and Rawlins, Wyoming, Steamboat Springs, Breckenridge, Salida, and Del Norte, Colorado, and Grants and Silver City, New Mexico. Otherwise, it’s the occasional small town, with a limited variety of goods and services available to riders.

Tip: Before the Great Basin, stock up properly in Pinedale… Atlantic city was completely closed when we passed through.

Tip: The Diagnus well in the GB is really easy to miss. Really pay close attention to your milage. It could have changed by now, but look for piled up rocks and a stick with a bright colored tip.

Tip: Hopewell Lake campground has very delicious water, great place to fill up and listen to coyotes at night.

Tip: Toaster House in Pie Town

The Route GPX

We used the Tour Divide GPX here. It is NOT the official GDMBR ACA route, as described on the ACA maps. It includes several alternate sections not sanctioned by ACA but required by the TD event, including a route that skips Rawlins, WY, instead using the town of Wamsutter for resupply. Some of these alternates are described below per TopoFusion.

  • Added new TD-specific Fernie Alt. This alt is not recommended for a BoB trailer!
  • Added High Rockies Trail-North, west side of the Spray River
  • Added new route through Butte including singletrack on “Big Butte”
  • Changes to Kanasakis Lakes Provincial Park Road instead of bike path through park.
  • Adds new two re-routes in Wyoming, scouted by Matthew Lee. 1) Union Pass / Fish Lake. 2) Great Basin/Wamsutter (skipping Rawlins and the heavy construction south of town).
  • Added new ACA alternate into Butte, avoiding freeway riding.
  • Added FR 212 detour near Kremmling, CO and the Gold Dust trail near Breckenridge.

Additional Navigation Materials and Tips

You may want to check out Michael McCoy’s Cycling the Great Divide guidebook. This book can be instrumental to your daily planning. Although the book and maps have the same cue sheet, they are slightly off in the actual mileage, so take each with a grain of salt. The book is broken down into 70 riding days with elevation details and local history. We would read ahead to get a good idea of what was in store for us. Typically, we rode one day to each of the book’s two days. Both the guidebook and map offer a couple of route alternates. We usually rode the original route but a few times we had to either make up time and take a paved alternate or create our own alternate to avoid impassible sections that resulted from monsoon rains.

Tip: Take the map and guide book with a bit of skepticism and prepare for the worst. Towns might be closed (Atlantic City and Pie Town were both closed down for us), important creeks for water might be dry, and you will be climbing a lot, even if it doesnt say it.

Tip: The roads in New Mexico are the most primitive and washboarded of the whole route. Use caution. We rode on fully rigid rigs and were wished we had front suspension or a thud buster seatpost most of the ride… especially in New Mexico. A 29+ bike may be ideal, although some sections the extra fat could definitely slow you down.

Timing and Records

It’s a small and select group of athletes.  Here are your Grand Depart winners since the inception of the race in 2008.


Men: Matthew Lee – 19:12:00
Women: Mary Collier – 29:17:37


Men: Matthew Lee – 17:23:45
Women: Jill Homer – 24:07:24


Men: Matthew Lee – 17:16:10
Women: Cricket Butler – 26:09:36


Men: Kurt Refsnider – 15:20:51
Women: Caroline Soong – 22:09:59


Men: Ollie Whalley (R) – 16:02:54
Women: Eszter Horanyi – 19:03:35


Men: Mike Hall – 14:11:55
Women: Sara Dallman – 22:19:05


Men: Jefe Branham – 16:02:39
Alice Drobna (SS) – 22:06:36


Men: Josh Kato – 14:11:37
Bethany Dunne – 19:02:37


Men: Mike Hall – 13:22:51
Jackie Bernardi – 19:21:41


Men: Brian Lucido – 14:22:50
Women: Marketa Peggy Marvanova – 22:18:04

Notable ITT’s

Jay Petervary – 2011 – 17:09:01
Jay Petervary – 2012 – 15:16:04
Billy Rice – 2013 – Yo-Yo (NoBo & SoBo) 44:42:00
Lael Wilcox – 2015  – 15:10:59

Current Records

Men: Mike Hall – 2016 – 13:22:51
Women: Lael Wilcox – 2015 – 15:10:59

(*) Year with a re-route, race records could not be made; (R) Rookie; (SS) Single Speed.

Helpful links

Gear Planning

Researching and procuring gear is a long and important process in preparing for the GDMBR. Weight and consideration for food provision space are paramount details when building your kit. There are many ways to approach a gear kit for the Tour Divide. Matt and Brett both rode nearly identical Surly Ogres, equipped with XT/SLX drivetrain and hydraulic disc brakes. Their bikes featured Velocity Blunt 35 rims laced to Alfine dynamo hubs up front and XT in the rear. Their tires of choice were Maxis Ardents 2.3” set up tubeless.

Fortunately neither experienced mechanical issues during the route. The only things that broke were the racks, which is a pretty good case for using a soft bag setup on such a route. Packlists will vary by riding style, goal completion time, and skill level, but, for what it’s worth, this is their complete list:

Clothing from Kitsbow

  • 2 X Jersey – one Polo, one ventilated riding jersey
  • 2x overshorts
  • 1x ventilated undershorts
  • Arm/knee warmers
  • Wind Vest
  • Racing bibs
  • Giro Merino base layer
  • Giro Insulated vest
  • Giro Terraduro Shoes
  • Giro Full fingered Gloves
  • t shirt
  • boxers
  • 3 socks
  • Icebreaker merino long underwear/top
  • Rain Jacket
  • Rain Shorts


  • Tent: Sierra Designs lightning 2
  • Sleeping Bag: Enlightened Equipment Revelation Pro 850 Drydown Quilt
  • Sleeping Pad: Thermarest prolight.
  • Cooking: Solo Stove x 2
  • 8 inch cook pan
  • Knife
  • Spork
  • Headlamp from Black Diamond
  • Katadyn Hiker Pro Water Pump Filter
  • Battery bank for charging devices
  • Garmin 500
  • Sinewaves Revolution USB Dynamo Charging Device
  • Kindle – with Cycling the Great Divide Guidebook by Michael McCoy
  • Iphone
  • ACA Mapset


  • Frame: Surly Ogre Medium
  • Fork: Surly Ogre
  • Headset: Cane Creek 40
  • Stem: Thomson Elite X4</li>
  • Handlebar: Salsa Bend
  • Shifter: Shimano SLX
  • Grips: Ergon GC1
  • Seatpost: Thomson Elite
  • Saddle: Brooks Cambium
  • Seat Clamp: Blue Salsa
  • Front Hub: Shimano Alfine DH-S501 32h
  • Rear hub: Shimano XT 32h
  • Rims: Blue Velocity Blunt 35
  • Tires: Maxxis Ardent 2.25
  • Cranks: Shimano SLX 36/28
  • Pedals: Shimano spd
  • Bottom Bracket: Shimano
  • Cassette: Shimano 11-36
  • Chain: Shimano HG54
  • Brakes & Levers: Shimano XT hydraulic
  • Light: Supernova E3 Triple


  • Racks: I’d highly recommend Tubus or Racktime
  • Frame Bag: Surly branded Revelate
  • Seat Bag: Revelate Pika
  • Handlebar Bag: Swift Industries Paloma
  • Cage: Salsa Anything Cage
  • Panniers: Ortlieb Front Roller
  • Additional: 2 Seal Line Nimbus Stuff Sacks

Terms of Use: As with each bikepacking route guide published on, should you choose to cycle this route, do so at your own risk. Prior to setting out check current local weather, conditions, and land/road closures. While riding, obey all public and private land use restrictions and rules, carry proper safety and navigational equipment, and of course, follow the #leavenotrace guidelines. The information found herein is simply a planning resource to be used as a point of inspiration in conjunction with your own due-diligence. In spite of the fact that this route, associated GPS track (GPX and maps), and all route guidelines were prepared under diligent research by the specified contributor and/or contributors, the accuracy of such and judgement of the author is not guaranteed. LLC, its partners, associates, and contributors are in no way liable for personal injury, damage to personal property, or any other such situation that might happen to individual riders cycling or following this route.

  • Jennifer H. Milyko

    Great write up of the what to think about and expect when riding the GDMBR! May I make one suggestion? Add a link to our Temporary ACA Route Road Closures forum conversation ( During the bad floods in Canada summer of 2013 there was a lot of helpful information posted by locals and riders who had just come through the area. The addenda typically has more staid kids of changes like services or permanent route alterations while the forums can be more dynamic. Thanks again for your support of the route and organization.

    Jennifer H. Milyko
    Adventure Cycling Association
    Assistant Director of Routes & Mapping

  • Thanks… and thanks for the pointer! I added it under links as well as the navigation section…

  • Jennifer H. Milyko

    Excellent! Thanks for including the info.

  • Joseph Smith

    Great article! We did the section of the Divide from Banff to Jackson Hole two years ago and found it to be one of the best cycling trips I’ve ever done. I rode a Surly Big Dummy. One thing I would recommend if your not racing or traveling ultra light is a water filter. Having one for us took some of the worry out of the longer stretches without services. We used it in puddles that looked really bad but had no issues with drinking the filtered water.


  • steeldave

    I found this via Twitter – Great article ! I am doing the GDMBR in July 2015 with four friends, been planning for some time now and your article has really helped. I liked the tips about lodging at Banff and the Amtrak option for the bikes at the end. Many thanks Dave. Staffordshire UK.

  • Fietsjunks

    Can’t wait to ride it! We’ll be riding from South to North (we are in Colombia now) and hope to pass the Mexican-US border somewhere in June.
    Thanks for the info! Elmar & Ellen

  • Thanks Joseph! A filter is definitely a must. I carry a Sawyer Mini and love it… just used it in Big Bend.

  • Nice! Should be good timing!

  • Glad it has helped… hope your ride is exceptional!

  • steve reynolds

    Wanted to know what you carried on your rear rack couldn’t tell from photos too far away!

    Also you mentioned your rack broke how far out were you from beginning and would use same rack next time
    I am riding the divide this August and still acquiring gear and making decisions on that


    Steve Reynolds

  • Hi Steve,

    The rear rack that we used were the Axiom Journeys. They worked pretty well, but if I were to ride it again I would definitely invest in a Tubus Logo or Cargo. The Axiom is aluminum whearas the Tubus are Steel. I think over time the weight from the pannier, combined with all of the rocks and bumps, caused the aluminum to fatigued and just split at the seam. It broke about 10 days from the finish. Brett’s Rack (which was loaded without panniers) is still in fine shape.

    The pack-list for the rear rack is as followed. Tent poles wrapped in a tarp that is attached to the left by Salsa Anything straps. On the right is an Ortlieb Front Roller filled mainly with food. On top is a dry bag that has my sleeping pad, electronic chargers, and small towel. Overall, it couldn’t have been more than 20 pounds max.

    In the end, get the toughest equipment you can afford. The Divide really punishes your stuff.

    Have fun this fall and I hope this helps!

    Matt McLoone

  • Matthew

    Hi Logan,

    Now that you have a Krampus, do you think you would complete this trip on your Krampus? What would you do about the lack of racks? Do you think bikepacking soft bags would be enough to carry all your gear and supplies, split across two people?

    Also, with a Krampus, would you run this route without suspension forks?

  • I think I’d do the GDMBR with my Rohloff/ECR to be honest. It might be a bit heavier, but the comfort factor would take precedence for a lot of long gravel and dirt road riding. No suspension or racks needed. I would stick with soft bags (seat pack, Frame bag, and handlebar sling/roll).

  • Wild Bill

    hello we at Wild Bill’s Guns located right on the trail in Atlantic City, Wy. have trail food and supplies to restock your packs. We also offer sleeping cabins and showers, internet connections available. Call or stop by for reservations 307-332-5981. Bill & Carmela

  • Matthew

    Hi Logan,

    What percentage of the trail would you say is campable with a hammock vs a tent?

  • Hi Matthew. Sorry, missed this one first time around. I am honestly not positive on that, but the southern bit would be challenging/impossible with a hammock.

  • Alex Glassman

    Which parts of the route are single track? Aside from those parts, most of it is forest service road? Thanks.

  • Sara Hansen

    Hello! Just curious how the tubless setup worked for you guys for such a long trip. Currently debating tubes vs ghetto tubless when I attempt it this summer. What did you bring for your tubeless repair kit? Any tips? Thanks love the site :)

  • Aidan Acosta


    My name is Aidan Acosta, I’m a senior in High School living in Rockport, Maine. I’ve been mountain biking pretty seriously since my sophomore year, racing on the team and working at our local shop. Next year I am going to be taking the first semester off before heading to college in mid February and I am trying to figure out how to spend this time. Instantly bike packing popped into my mind because I love camping, I want to travel and I love biking (seemed like a perfect fit!!). I had been looking at routes in Europe and South America on the sight, but then recently I’ve been thinking about how much of the US I have never explored and figured that I can go abroad during college. I was wondering if you have any insight into this idea? Does bike packing the Great Divide seem reasonable for someone who normally rides 35miles a day maximum during the summer/fall (mostly single track though, so dirt roads would be a bit less strenuous I assume)? I would be traveling with a friend of mine who rides with me on the team and works at the other local bike shop. We both have pretty solid mechanical knowledge and access to pro deals, which will be helpful since we are both on XC race bikes at the moment. We both have pretty good outdoor skills and would do some practice bike packing in northern Maine before departing if this idea comes to fruition. Let me know what you think, I look forward to hearing from you!

    Thank you,


  • Anthony Beatty

    After racing the TD2015, tubeless was clutch. Ran my same tires 2800mi with no issues but I consider myself lucky. Carried extra 2oz of extra sealant that I put in halfway through. Kept my psi on check and also carried a pump, tire levers, boot, patch kit and spare tube… just in case.

  • Anthony Beatty

    Majority of the route was on secondary/service roads. I’d guess I rode, maybe, 10% single track but I think that’s generous. The single track is spread out throughout the route.

  • Sara Hansen

    Awesome thanks so much for the info. The bike shop guys were telling me it was a bad idea/finicky. I really wanted to get advice from someone who’s done it. I will try it out with some upcoming shorter trips. Cheers

  • Whoops, sorry I missed this Q the first time. Stay tuned tomorrow… we have a post coming called ‘Guide to Traveling Tubeless’…

  • Anthony Beatty

    A lot of riders went tubeless and never had an issue but a few did. A mix of bad luck and fatigue were their doom. I have a list of randumb thoughts post-race if your interested that summed up the do’s and don’ts that worked for me.

  • Sara Hansen

    Sure! I’m not racing it, but any advice would be great.

  • Anthony Beatty
  • john o ely

    Did any of you bikers encounter any dangerous wildlife while on the route The Great Divide? Grizzlies or mountain lions?

  • It certainly happens. A lot of folks carry bear spray.

  • Ian

    Hi great article, i am currently at looking at bringing a team of 8 out from the UK next year to do the GD and just wondering which is the best time to plan to start the ride, how many days will it take to complete the full route from Banff for above the average fitness men and did you have any issues with altitude sickness in Colorado and New Mexico?

  • Thanks. There is some info about when to go in the dropdown menu above. It’s hard to say how long; I would think between 30 and 45 days. Regarding altitude… the route only goes over very high passes briefly, so unless you are very sensitive to it, you shouldn’t have a problem…

  • Becky

    Hi there
    I am contemplating doing this with a friend. We are both keen cyclists, although have never done any long bike touring, but we are fit, keen for adventure and ding like to do things by half, or that are too easy.
    Would this be a disaster to do with limited experience, but buckets of enthusiasm and faith?

  • Enthusiasm and the spirit of adventure speak volumes for a trip like this. And being fit helps. It really depends on how long you want to take to do it, and your endurance threshold. But I would say, go for it. The worst thing that happens is you bail out early and catch a train or a ride. If you pack light and smart, like cycling and camping, you should be fine. Do some smaller trips to prepare!

  • Pavel Schneider

    Hello, Thank you for the article. I find it really helpful. Do you think is it too late to start the route in the late August or beggining of September?
    Many thanks Pavel

  • Donnieboy

    I usually say that to people who are not mechanically adept and convince me they have a willingness to physically apply their learning. But you can definitely succeed with tubeless. It depends how you do it. Consider your riding style (over or around sharp stuff) and practice doing tubeless maintenance beforehand and bring your emergency tubes/pump/patches/sealant. It’s all in the practice prep.

  • Scott tyler

    I was wondering if anyone knew of the record for youngest cyclist to complete the whole route and or youngest to solo the whole route?

  • Lou Lam

    I want to do this !!!!!

  • Julia Liatti

    Hi there, I’m considering doing the GDMBR, starting in late July/early August of 2017 and would love some input. I’ve done several self-supported road tours before but no mtbs; I got interested in doing mtb tours while I’ve been doing Peace Corps overseas and my trusty bike has to be an mtb to account for the crap pavement/surprise mtbing here. I think the biggest questions I have at this time are…

    1. Bike. I will not be taking my PC bike home with me and it isn’t suited for that anyways. As a 5’4” female who seems to have a short torso, would the Surly models mentioned (Troll, Ogre, etc) be good for me (hopefully someone of a similar stature can weight in)? I unfortunately no longer have an mtb back home, but I’m definitely willing to invest in something that will last me a long time and let me take a lot of trips on it.

    2. Suspension. In perusing said Surly models, no suspension forks come with most but it seems there’s a recommendation for at least front or seat suspension on this route. I’d be really curious to hear other people’s takes, especially if there’s a saddle/suspension combo that seems most effective. On my old steel touring steed I’d done some off-roading with full weight (including on those dratted southern AZ washboard cattle roads) so I’ve got no problem getting out of the saddle to use my arms/legs as shock absorbers but I don’t think it’s wise to ONLY rely on that previous experience to make the call.

    3. Panniers or no? I have a full set of Ortlieb front/rear rolling close panniers from the road touring and have seen people using the front ones only on this route. Is there a marked difference in weight/maneuverability using those with racks vs. using frame/handlebar/seatbags? I’m intending to do this with one other person so I thought the panniers might be nice for food but I would appreciate the input of someone who has used them and also ridden with the other set up.

    4. Maybe silly, but how many padded bike shorts/mtb specific shorts do people normally bring and do they just wash them along the way? I’m used to bringing 2 jerseys and 2 cycle shorts and washing in sinks along the way, so that’s where my brain is, but I don’t want to haul along more than necessary! And after 2 years of bucket bathing, no toilet paper and squat toilets I don’t think being grimy is gonna bother me much.

    And any other tips are appreciated! I figured if I haven’t killed myself going down crazy tropical mountain switchbacks in the monsoons yet it’s time to see the GDMBR for myself. Love this website, so many ideas for future trips and I love everything I’m learning about being a more self-sufficient traveler.

  • Hi Julia, I will try to provide an answer for each of these:

    1/2. Bike and suspension. Truly any mountain bike will do. I would recommend going to some demo events to try a couple before making a decision. It’s imprtant that you find a bike that fits and that you are comfortable on. Whether it’s a hardtail or rigid is definitely a personal preference. For something like the GDMBR, I would lean toward a rigid bike — but this route is primarily gravel and dirt roads. If you are looking to ride more trails, consider a hardtail. There are a lot of great inexpensive hartails out now. Think about plus size tires (2.8or 3″)… these provide great traction, added floatation for sand, and a bit of extra suspension quality, especially when run tubeless at lower pressures. Three bikes that come to mind: 1. Surly Troll (26+ is a great format for smaller riders; the larger tires will add a little suspension, and the fact that it’s not suspension corrected will still leave a large triangle for a framebag); 2. Jamis Dragonslayer or Dragonfly… these are both plus as well; and they have a suspension fork. 3. If you are interested in drop-bars, check out the Salsa Cutthroat… it was designed for the GDMBR.

    3. Panniers. I always recommend no. Or if you do, perhaps check out smaller ones to use on the rear of the bike. That said, given your height, depending on your bike choice, it might be hard to fit a larger seat pack between the saddle and the tires. If space is an issue, yYou could use a small seat pack and two small panniers, with a very minimal rack … like Revelate’s Nano Panniers.

    4. For me, just one pair. But I am probably in a minority here. :)

  • Jack Whorton

    I am planning on riding this next year (August) but not 100% sure on which bike to take. I have a hard tail steel frame 29er mountain bike with a 100mm sus fork but also a Condor Heritage steel road bike.. The latter is converted to 650b and I can run a WTB nano at the back and a front tyre around 2.2-2.3.. I’ve done a lot of mileage on the condor with lots of 100 mile plus days (on road). It also has more brazeons (3 on the frame) and could fit a much larger frame bag… I won’t regret using this bike will I? I could run tubeless as well for lower pressure/ more comfort. Also thinking of adding thud buster seat post.. Would I miss the front suspension or not as the balance of single track to gravel is so small?

  • That’s a tough call. I would go for the 29er with the fork due to a lot of rough and washboard roads; but in the end it should be the bike you are most comfortable on for long days in the saddle.

  • Jack Whorton

    Thanks. The 29er is a recent acquisition and I have time to make some changes to it to suit. Any thoughts on tyres? I was thinking of using WTB nano tubeless?

  • The Nano is a fine choice, IMO. Fast rolling and durable. Although I don’t personally have long term experience on that tire.

  • Jack Whorton

    Thanks again! If anybody else is looking to do this next year starting c August 22nd and would like to ride together at least for the first couple of days let me know.

  • Bryce Mihalevich

    Jack, I’m doing the ride but will likely be starting in mid July.

  • Jack Whorton

    Ah unfortunately I am limited by a couple of factors that stop me flying out any earlier!

  • Julia Liatti

    Logan, thanks a lot for the information! Super helpful, definitely has helped me narrow down things to look at. Question about stoves: do most people wind up bringing camping stoves and if so, is fuel easy enough to find when you go through civilization?

  • R C

    When I turned 50 in 2009, I fixed up a 1986 Schwinn High Sierra and did the ride from Montana to New Mexico in 50 days. You don’t need all the high tech bike stuff. I paid $90.00 for my bike and had some wheels built for it. Its not a fashion show.

  • David Wyrick

    Thank you for the write up! I recently acquired the Specialized sequoia last November and have been debating whether this could handle most of the GDMBR. Equiped with 2″ mountain bike tires, perhaps a flat bar, frame bags, do you think a gravel grinder could be an enjoyable steed for the route? The dirt roads look pretty smooth! Also, what time would you star if you were going South to North?

  • Jack Whorton

    If I started mid September and went as far as Denver is it likely to be cold and miserable or a fair chance of some decent weather? I’m from the uk so 15-20c would be decent in my book.. I can take a 4 season minus 20 c rated sleeping bag and have plenty of wet/cold weather gear. I’ve looked at average temperatures etc but that never tells you much about what it’s really like, especially at altitude.

  • Bryce Mihalevich

    Looking for shoes for when I ride this next summer. How did the Giro Terraduro’s hold up? Any other shoes you would recommend trying?

  • Jaap Scheele

    Next year, I hoped it was about 2018, but I guess it is about 2017. I don’t know if I will be able to make it in 2017. But please keep me posted Jack

  • Monica Gallagher

    Hi Julia, I plan on doing this abIut the same time ypu are. Did you decide what bike you are going to get? As a 5’1 female I have been torn between the Troll and the Dragonfly (as Logan suggested) and was curious as to what you landed on. God knows no shop actually carries any small sizes in stock to try. Cheers!

  • Jaap Scheele

    Hi, a practical question: if you fly into Calgary, and out of El Paso for instance, how did you get your bike-bag or bike-case from Calgary to El Paso?

  • Logan Watts

    For that type of situation, try BikeFlights…

  • Logan Watts

    You’d definitely run a risk starting that late… It’s hard to predict mountain weather. Hell, the TD has seen snow in July!

  • Logan Watts

    I don’t see why not. The route is mostly gravel, and I found the Sequoia to be a very capable bike. It really depends on your comfort level… whatever bike you can be comfortable riding over a rough surface for 30 days!

  • Logan Watts

    check out our gear > apparel section… I like the Scott shoes.

  • Jaap Scheele

    thank you!
    I’ve googled them, but find not many great reviews, a lot of people complaining about being expensive whilst not providing great service, at least that was the case in 2014…

  • Julia Liatti

    Monica, unfortunately I can’t do too much about the bike yet! I’m still overseas, finishing up my last 3 months of of PC Service, so I’m mostly just accumulating recommendations/options now so that when I get home I’ve got a direction for my search. Have you found something to your liking at this time? A lot of people I used to ride with are big Surly devotees, so that will probably be the first thing I investigate, but since you and I have the same no-bikes-fit-me woes, I’d definitely want to know what you find that works. When are you planning on heading out?

  • George Beesley

    Thanks for all the info. Super useful. The gf and I will be cycling Alaska to Argentia via GDMBR next month (wahoo).

    Lots of people asking about which bike for the GDMBR below, but please could you also advise on what bike you’d use if you were doing the GDMBR and then carrying on all the way down to Ushuai?

    A couple of considerations i) were from the UK so not many Surly’s here (but we could buy them when we’re out there if necessary) ii) we don’t have loads of cash so probably looking to buy second hand and not spend more than $1,000 each.

    A friend has offered to lend the Koga World Traveller – no sus. Would that be a wise choice for this? She mentioned it was very heavy and my gf is a bit of a weed, so we’re tempted not to.

    Another option is the Surly LHT with wider wheels as this guy recommends.
    Any thoughts on this?

    We’re looking for ideal as opposed to possible, so 3 or 4 top choice bikes, tyres, etc. suggestions would be ideal.

    Given were on the road for 18 months we probably need panniers as opposed to bike packing set up. Thoughts on this would also be massively appreciated.

    We fly into Anchorage on 6th May. BOOM!!!

    Thank you so much and happy Friday.

  • Art Paolini

    Hi, I was thinking about giving the section from Salida to South Park a try over Memorial Day weekend…does anyone know if the route is normally (usually?) free of snow at this time?

  • rachel kahn

    Does anyone have any updates on the route for this season so far? Or know where I can find more information?
    I know it’s been a heavy snow year out west and I was planning on leaving in mid-June but I’m trying to gauge it.

  • Fletcher Haaga

    Anyone looking to set out early to mid august? Running it solo and would love join along with someone for the first section if possible.

  • Chris Chrisenbery

    I will be starting this route July 29th 2017. Would love some company going through grizzly bear country if anyone will be on the trail around this time.

  • James Martin

    Sounds like one hell of a trip. Good luck!

  • Linda Gryczan

    –Bike. Work with a shop that understands women’s fit so you will have a comfortable ride. I sure wouldn’t ride this without at least front suspension. Some of the roads are pretty gnarly.
    –Panniers. I recommend not, though you may have to bend on that because a small bike won’t have clearance for an under the seat bag. You might try using a front and/or a rear rack with rack bags.
    –Other ways to carry your stuff: Most behind the handlebar bags are tiny. Bedrock makes them large enough to hold a water bottle, and they fold flat for smaller loads. Bedrock also makes a down tube bag that fits just in front of the bottom bracket.
    –Top tube bags are also ridiculously small. Skinz Protective Gear makes one big enough for a full day of snacks.
    –Most handlebar rolls have the option of an add on pocket. Get one.
    –I’ve seen riders strap a hold-anything bottle cage to their forks, though never tried it myself.
    –Ahem, we women need two pairs of shorts. Wash one, wear one. Unless it’s raining they will dry quickly in the dry air.

  • Linda Gryczan

    Adventure Cycling recommends not leaving before early July. Because this has been a high snow year, I’m giving it a couple of weeks beyond that.
    Atlitude–I’ve guided road bike tours in the Rockies and found most riders who fly in, are used to the altitude by three days. You will be approaching them much more gradually, If you are used to sea level, give yourselves a day or two to acclimate before starting to ride.

  • Linda Gryczan

    You may not see bears at all, but be absolutely prepared. Read up on grizzly bears and learn how to use bear spray. For your own safety and those who travel after you, follow the rules about suspending food in trees, and sleeping a distance from where you cook and store food. I know a Glacier Park ranger when she tried to get people away from a sow grizzly by the side of the road, a tourist assured her, “if they were dangerous, they wouldn’t be allowed to run around out here.” Not. If you do see a bear, stay 100 yards/meters away.

    This post is in memory of my friend Mary Pat Mahoney who was killed by a grizzly in Glacier Park. She did everything right, but some previous slob campers had attracted bears with improperly stored food.

  • Linda Gryczan

    Go for it Aidan! As a young racer, you are stronger than the average rider. Knowing how to turn a wrench is a bonus.

  • Katelyn DiGioia

    Also look at ShipBikes.Com (very friendly customer service, I just haven’t used them myself), or doing FedEx on your own.
    From the ACA:

  • Katelyn DiGioia

    For the folks who have ridden all or most of the route: if you had to choose a section to leave out, what would it be? The most northern end or the most southern end? My husband and I are starting in late August of this year, and will have about 5 1/2 or 6 weeks after taking into account travel time and wanting to hike on foot for about a week in Yellowstone. We’re trying to decide between starting in Calgary or Kalispell. With starting so late would it be better to start a bit further south? We’re also open to leap-frogging further south and missing a middle section… thanks for any insight!

  • Quent

    Hey man !!! Congratulations for your post and your adventure it’s pretty cool !!! I have two questions :

    About your bike your configuration what’s perfect or you get some problem ( transmission, hub or luggage)

    About bear what was your experience

    Thanks you dude

  • Jamie

    Did you go tubeless?

  • Robin Fuhrman

    A friend and I, both female, are going to start the GDMBR on August 3rd and would be interested in riding with you, at least through grizzly country, if you’re interested.

  • Calista Campbell

    This is super helpful! Thanks for posting!

    FYI to readers… 25f here riding solo, leaving from Banff in the middle of July 2017 (I’ll be driving there so I’m slightly flexible). I’d love to have some touchpoints with folks along the way. Particularly through grizzly country………… haha!

    If you’re interested in touching base along the way at all, please get in touch !! :)

  • Calista Campbell

    I’d be interested in riding too, at least for a time! I’m starting beginning of July, but taking about 10 days off in the middle of august. So there is a good chance you’d catch up with me!

  • Robin Fuhrman

    Sure, if we catch you. Let’s stay in touch.

  • Kelley Carter

    I will also be riding solo and have been looking to find someone doing the same. Very nervous about grizzly country. My plan is to leave the beginning of July though.

  • Calista Campbell

    Kelley, how flexible are you? I could start as early as the 10th I think.

  • Kelley Carter

    Unfortunately not very flexible with time. My time off from work is limited to a particular date range. I plan on hitting the trail about June 30.

  • Calista Campbell

    Ah, understood. Well, good luck! Have fun out there :)

  • jamie

    Good day Logan,

    I have a quick question for you. You seem to live out these amazing experiences all over the world on your bike, yet it doesn’t sound like you’ve attempted something like the GDMBR. For someone starting out, would you say going overseas for a 1-2 weeks is ideal rather than attempt something like this 30-40 days GD?



  • Julia Liatti

    Sorry I missed you! I’m not yet sure exactly when I’ll be headed out (going with one other person) but we’re hoping to iron out those details in the last week of this June or first week of July, I get back to the States after working abroad at the end of this month. I’ll try to keep you posted. It would be awesome to meet up for part of the way.

  • Chris Leydig

    Doing the Divide this August. I was planning on rolling with 27.5 x 2.6 rocket rons, but I’ve heard there are issues with the durability – are these going to last the whole trip? Otherwise they seem like a perfect tire- fast rolling, good cush, lightish, snakeskin protection. Not going for rocket speed but want some comfort and I cannot fit 29ers in my bike.

  • Hi Jamie. Yeah, to be honest, the GDMBR just hasn’t piqued my interest. I am sure it’s beautiful, but if I have a month to kill, there’s always something else on the bucket list. That said, I’ll do it one day :). As far as what to do with a couple of weeks, it really depends on your interests; there are a lot of great routes and places to choose from. Logistics is always a time hog though. For transportation, a loop is always the easiest; otherwise you have to plan on figuring out how to get back. Hope that helps.

  • Monica Gallagher

    Hi, Just saw this as I am getting ready for my trip. I am an F riding solo and arriving in Banff July 15th. I would also love to have some touch points.

  • Calista Campbell

    Dude, I’m too stoked to hear it. Been struggling to line anything up. 7/15 was my plan too.

    Shoot me an email?

  • flail

    I am also starting August 1st from Eureka Mt.and totally would ride with you….I don’t want to get eaten either.

  • Flail Flail

    Leaving from Eureka Mt. Aug.1 2017 going south. Maybe around 50 miles a dayish. Anyone want to join me…besides any grizzlies

  • Geoff Campbell

    I’m a Canadian about to ride the divide… what US phone carrier would be most reliable along the route?

  • Anthony Ladd

    Bags or trailer?

  • Jamie

    Thanks for sharing Logan. A plan is in the works.

  • leonardo gomes da silva

    Hello!! Will leave Banff on august 13th, by myself so far. Anyone taking the road same day just let me know!

  • Josh Clift


  • Geoff Campbell

    Thanks! Do you know if att is reliable too?

  • hldonmgnolia

    Anybody have anything to say about starting in Whitefish October 1st on a Cross Check?

    Is it stupid? Would it be significantly more realistic on a 29er/27+ bike?

    I have 30-45 days to go anywhere that Amtrak will take me (from Chicago). Should I just do the PCT or Sierra Cascades and try the GD another time?


  • Fletcher Haaga

    I am flying to Banff tomorrow. Hoping to hit the trail starting on the 17th. Hope to see you out there

  • David N Woodbury

    You’re going to get snow in October. If you have cold weather gear it’s doable I think, but won’t be comfortable. The PCT will get dumped on with rain that time of year. Personally, I’ll take snow over rain. I’d run tubeless 27.5×2.8 chupacabras. Beefy tire that will get you through snow.

  • abdulmalik

    get a pair of decent wheels, shut up and ride

  • abdulmalik

    this must have been epic…, self supported isnt always the easiest way to go though it is more satisfying and a true test of what it is we are really made of.

  • ross

    Anyone else currently on trail? For the first 500 miles it was extreme forest fires, smoke, major rerouting now it’s a major front moving in dumping a foot of snow over 6,000ft!

  • Dylan

    Bill & Carmela, you guys rescued us after we arrived in Atlantic City in Sept 2016. We had missed the bar/restaurant hours due to a sliced tire that needed repair. We also didn’t have enough food to make it Rawlins! ATV stans to help seal the tire with the aid of a tire plug from another rider, a compressor to re-seat the tires, a well stocked trail food re-supply, a place to lay our heads that night, and of course the amazing spaghetti dinner and cream pie dessert! Amazing hosts, thanks guy!!!

  • Sir Seager Yapsalot

    Great writeup! A couples questions:

    Why did you run panniers with the bike packing setup? Did you need to carry a lot of food? I’m not anti-pannier, just wondering if the divide requires a lot of extra stuff.

    Also, did you ever wish you had a front shock?


  • Christina Spindler Berta

    You will not get AT&T coverage in Wyoming. You may pick up roaming off of the local company, Union Wireless, but I assure you that Wyoming is not a mecca of cell phone towers.

  • Luca Demarco

    I’ll be starting the route from Banff late July. Would be ace to find a buddy to ride with for a bit.

  • אריאל מייזליש

    hello i am from israel and i plan to ride the route this summer.
    anybody knows if its a good idea to start from new maxico at june?

  • Jim Sutherland

    Flying into Calgary on 4th of July then heading to Banff for a Southbound start on 6th. Just throwing it out there in case anyone else is about? Cheers Jim

  • Linda Gryczan

    You will find lots of company that time of year. In July, 2017 I encountered 11 other riders in 5 days of Montana riding, and a few during a Colorado ride in September.

  • Jason Torbitzky

    Any good resources for spreadsheets previous riders have used to plan resupply, daily mileage projections, etc? I’m looking at putting information from the guidebook at map set into a spreadsheet to aid in planning, but I’m thinking/hoping someone else has taken the time to do this already?

  • Andrew Wade

    I did, but it all went out the window once the ride started. I would avoid this kind of over thinking and just do your research so you’re aware of where the next re-supply is and how critical water is in certain areas. Enjoy the ride.

  • Jay Bean

    That is so freaking awesome!

  • Chris Watt

    JIm- starting roughly same time as you though still some moving parts to my plan- let’s keep in touch

  • Jim Sutherland

    Likewise Chris,



  • Wilson Sackett – this one’s good, click on the actual document that he posted. you can download it

  • Asa King

    Does anyone know anything about the extension up to Jasper NP that’s coming out this year? I keep hearing rumors.

  • Jeff Boyd

    I am starting on July 1 from Banff, looking to do 80 to 100 miles a day. hope to see any of you out there.

  • Chemicalburn

    Hi, I’m thinking about doing the devide Trail starting sometime in June. My only question is would it be possible in other people’s opinions to do it with a 5 year in a trailer taking my time . Is that being too ambitious with the terrain? I’m guessing Max of 50 per day .

  • Wilson Sackett

    Hey ya’ll, I’m planning to do the same alternate taking the roadside singletrack into Fernie and then up Lodgepole Rd. to connect into the Flathead Valley. How was the road up and over Harvey Pass? Did the fire close or damage anything?


  • Kenneth Bruun Jørgensen

    Hi Asa
    We were just at the ACA office in Missoula today. They say the extension will be released mid June this year. Both on paper and GPX.

  • Jaap Scheele

    Hi Jeff and Jim, I hope to start either on July 1 or (more likely) on July 2. This is still all up in the air, waiting on the visa… But your daily mileage is (not even a bit…) too much for me. I plan to do those numbers, but then in km… :)

  • Paul Taylor

    I bought a Schwinn High Sierra brand new in 1984…still have it…you are the MAN!
    Breaking in my new Salsa Cutthroat at 64, getting ready for the Great Divide, wish me luck.

  • madnordski

    Yeah, what Jay said .

  • Chris Watt

    Jim- are you still on for GDMBR? A buddy and I are now confirmed for arriving Banff late aft July 5 and an early morning departure July 6. He’s riding only to Butte, after that I’m solo.

  • Jim Sutherland

    ‘fraid not. Have a great ride. Jim

  • tom

    Mike Hall’s TD record is 13 days, 22 hours and 51 minutes.

  • Thanks. I believe we got that number from Topofusion, but the change was made after verification.

  • Alan Kimber

    What are the shuttle options for getting to Banff from Calgary with your bike?

  • bz575

    I’m planning to ride the GDMBR van-supported in July 21 2019, I’m considering a Kamp-Rite Compact Extra-Large Tent Cot for sleeping. Anyone have experience with this type tent? And what are your impressions?

  • Brandon Toro

    Anyone know of the general cost to bike the entire trial in the amount of time it usually takes the average person to complete?

  • Alan Kimber

    Any ideas on getting back to Banff after 500 or 600 miles going south? Three people three bikes.

  • marcel b.

    Alan, I’ve been looking into this but all public transport from like Kalispell (appr. 550 miles) goes over Vancouver (!!) and takes buses, trains etc. for more than 22 hrs.. There is car rental in Kalispell but will be expensive to drop off in Canada (if possible).

  • s, high desert, and towards the southern end of the route, an amazing span through the Chihuahuan Desert.

  • Paul Austin

    It depends on your taste for motels and whether or not you aim to stay in or out of them as much as possible. Lodging is the only real expense if you choose to go that route. Otherwise, just estimate your taste for food at 5k to 7k calories/day.