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Close Encounters of the Moose Kind: A Motorcycle Trip Out West

(day two map: part 1, part 2)

I have long held the moose as my favorite animal, loving the huge majestic antlers and stature of the Bull Moose, and respecting the fierce attitude they are rumored to have. Even the word, "Moose" is fun to say. Go on, I can see you pursing your little lips right now, trying not to smile. It is so much fun to say the word Mooooose! And yet I had never seen an actual live moose in person. Little did I know, as we rode into Yellowstone National Park that today would be the day!

I think we have all heard the name Yellowstone National Park all our lives, at least if we live in America and stick our head out from under our rock once in a while. Maybe you spell it Jellystone and have Yogi Bear associations, but it probably still rings a bell right? I had heard of it, but wow... I had no idea what was in store for me- or just HOW much was in store for me in those 2.2 million acres of park.

We saw wildlife up close and personal around many corners, boiling springs, geysers, and extraordinary views that made me proud to live in a country that took such pride in preserving this phenomenal natural habitat for us to visit and experience.

I pulled over to wait for a big lumpy camper to drive out of my photo range, and as I put my kickstand down, I noticed some wildlife step out of the trees. It was two young female moose and they were heading our way!

Ignoring every moose aggression story I have ever read, I jumped off my bike and walked toward them snapping off photos as I approached. At 50 yards away, I just sat down on the side of the highway and continued shooting photos- delighting in my first experience of being near a live moose. Apparently, the one moose was just as delighted to be experiencing my presence because she did not stop her approach. As I sat on the side of the road grinning like a kid being handed her first puppy, I vaguely remembering my husband telling me I was too close. He was taking my photo WITH the moose being too close for safety, but I still had my helmet on, so if there was a viscous attack by this sweet-faced female moose, my head would have been protected AND we could have it on film!

I knew who was boss on the side of that road. I slowly backed away, silently singing to myself, "I saw a Mooooose, I saw a Moooooose!" and aching to call everyone who had been buying me Moose slippers and Moose magnets and Moose tshirts and stuffed Moose toys all these years to share my excitement with them.

The ride truly was incredible. The boiling springs were magical to come upon in the morning light. The cold air I might whine about, most likely contributed to the spectral twisting of mist that rose from the creek running away from the boiling spring. It made for incredible photographs.

We stayed on the Grand Loop heading up the West Side of Yellowstone that entire day. We did not make a great deal of mileage, but we did create a lot of memories. Our destination for that evening was Red Lodge, Montana. we stayed at a fascinating hotel called The Pollard that has a list of former guests such as Buffalo Bill Cody and Calamity Jane. The entire town is chocked full of Old West charm, which we spent that evening soaking up.

As we sat down to dinner that night, after a full day of unrivalled riding, magnificent scenery, boiling springs, wildlife ranging from buffalo to bears to deer and elk, my dear husband asked me what my favorite part of the day was - I shout out the word "MOOSE!" without a second thought. Even he had to shake his head, I rode the most beautiful roads in the country and what stands at the forefront of my mind is a five minute encounter with a moose. To each his own I guess.


ruffrider says:

Holy Moose! That is one sweet moose encounter! :) thanks for sharing your story!
Thu Jun 6, 2013 at 7:52 AM

BikerMeme says:

Ragan....thanks for your article. It brought back memories of the trip my husband & I took in 2009. We were 4 couples riding from Winnipeg, MB Canada. We rode through 8 states total....but my favorite part of the trip was riding through Yellowstone and the Bear Tooth hwy. Another beautiful ride was the Chief Joseph hwy. which we rode coming back from Red Lodge, Montana. This was a 2 week trip....and what beautiful scenery we took in. At the time I rode behind my husband. Since getting my license 3 years ago I want to do that same trip again....but this time on my own motorcycle. What a thrill that would be. Keep riding safe

Wed Feb 15, 2012 at 1:16 PM

UtahDave2 says:

The blue of Bear Lake (1st picture) is different from any other lake I have ever seen. The state has put in a big pullout / rest area where you took you picture. Great ride - good article. Thanks for reminding me to go that way again this summer.
Mon Mar 28, 2011 at 6:01 PM

jeannine57 says:

Best memories for sure. I turned 50 in '07 and decided I'd find out if I was too old to keep riding. Headed out from Visalia, CA in late July. I kept going through many of the roads you wrote about. Destination Sturgis. 2 weeks later and 5000 glorious miles added to my Dyna I felt younger than ever! You've inspired me to write about the next adventure. Thanks!
Thu Mar 18, 2010 at 10:10 AM

duhbaglady says:

Your story brought back good memories, in 07, I decided it was time to go west, had wanted to do this for long ---Being an alabama girl ,i knew it would be a long trip, so I start checking the miles , GOOD GOD !! 5 days to get where I wanted to go ? So, by July 08 I had gotten over the shock and went for it , me and my road king. There is truly no words or photos to describe it. So, when I got home , my friends wanted to know about the trip. I just had to say , I can't do it justice with a few words. Find out for yourself.
Sat Nov 21, 2009 at 6:20 PM


I am also a South Florida rider. I would love to ride this area during the summer. I have only ridden in the Blue Ridge. I am a little squimish of heights. How was the riding in this area, I kmow you said your husband was a little nervous...also, what about the wildlife, did they ever approach you while riding? I want to be able to ride these areas but I don't want to nervous.
Thanks for the info from anyone.
Sun Mar 15, 2009 at 2:47 PM

felon says:

Depends how big the trailer is. Either way it sure wouldn't be as fun as riding!!
Fri Jan 9, 2009 at 4:09 PM

pego says:

How hard would it be to do the "Bear Tooth Pass" with a trailer?
Tue Jan 6, 2009 at 11:33 AM

felon says:

JoeMc: We ran Hwy. 78 between Columbus and Red Lodge, didn't make it up to Roberts.
Fri Aug 29, 2008 at 4:01 PM

JoeMc says:

Hey Ragan, nice report. I have ridden some of the roads the roads you mention in '98 and your descripton and pics are excellent.
When you rode through Roberts MT did you happen to notice if Montana Mikes was still there?
Mon Aug 25, 2008 at 5:04 AM

Pete4750 says:

Leathers don't keep you warm enough out here in the mountain west. I'm surprised Eagle Rider didn't know that. The elevation is what gets you. I've had days with a 5,000 foot elevation change and a 50 degree temperature change. The only thing that works as far as protective clothing in this environment is high-tech fabric clothing with zip-in liners. Even then, there are times I wished I had an electric vest and gloves.
Mon Jun 16, 2008 at 6:15 PM

mjdegeiso says:

You know it seems like we all come across a moose one time or another. It is amazing how big they are. Great story.
Thu Jun 12, 2008 at 1:51 PM

SgtRock says:

What a neat trip. Makes me want to do the fly-ride thing.
Tue Apr 1, 2008 at 8:43 PM

Pusanguy says:

I was born and raised in Logan, Utah. I've been on those roads countless times. I spent 23 years trying to get out of that town and the next 15 trying to get back. I look forward to riding those roads each summer when I go back for vacation. The ride up Logan Canyon to Bear Lake and Garden City is a gorgeous ride along twisting alpine roads. I spent many days skipping high school and university classes to make the run to Bear Lake to have a raspberry shake at La Beau's diner in Garden City. Flaming George is also an absolutely breathtaking piece of country. I'm glad you enjoyed the ride.
Fri Mar 21, 2008 at 12:53 AM

felon says:

Female moose, they don't have horns.
Tue Feb 19, 2008 at 4:04 PM

lmartin780 says:

The west is great for riding. I've done a similar trip several times..... but I'm not too sure that was a moose. Hard to tell with it's head down, but that sure looks like an Elk.

Great pics either way! Larry
Wed Jan 30, 2008 at 9:59 AM

TQ says:

Way to go Ragan .....passing your article over to all the gals in our chapter...
Wed Jan 30, 2008 at 3:45 AM

Birdman says:

Great article, make's me want to book a plane and check it out!
Mon Jan 14, 2008 at 1:23 PM

lillypad1752 says:

Excellent,fun article!
Tue Oct 23, 2007 at 12:12 PM

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