The Great Divide Mountain Bike Route was developed by the Adventure Cycling Association. This epic ride travels from Banff, Alberta to Antelope Wells, New Mexico on 4×4 road, dirt road, gravel,singletrack,  and pavement. The route travels through Alberta, British Columbia, Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico, traveling 2,768 miles. Since the first time I heard about this route, I was fascinated by it.  In June of 2014, I boarded a plane headed for Calgary Canada with nothing but myself and my bike to see if I could make it to Mexico via pedal power alone. Some say this route is one of the hardest endurance rides on the planet, but who is to say you can’t stop along the way and drink beer. There are 18 breweries on route for you to sit back and down a few beverages to make one awesome adventure. And not only are breweries a great place to relax and have a tasty beverage, they are a great source of information. In breweries along the ride I was given tips on places to eat, places to camp, and even offered places to stay for the night!
Photos by Andrew Jones and Brant Haflich

GDMBR Beer route (stats)What To Know

Canada – 257 miles – 0 Breweries The route in Canada travels through 257 miles from Banff to the Canada/US border at Roosville. The Canada section of the route is very remote but incredibly beautiful. And while there are no hoppy options in GDMBR-(map)-newCanada once leaving Banff, it is an amazing 257 miles, and a great way to start the trip. The route makes its way through the small towns of Elkford and Sparwood before reaching Roosville and the United States. The stunning scenery in Canada can make paying attention to the trail a challenge. Some highlights include the Spray Lake area and the many remote mountain passes as you pass deep through the British Columbia Rockies. Eventually, a blazing gravel descent dumps you out onto paved HWY 93 just a few miles from the US. Montana  – 726 miles – 5 Breweries Perhaps shockingly, the ‘Brewery Edition’ of the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route did not start out as the ‘Brewery Edition.’ 22 miles into Montana, just outside the town of Eureka, we saw a sign for a brewery. Being quite the craft brew fan, I convinced my recently met riding buddies, Brant and Reid, that we should stop. Inside Homestead Ales brewery we picked up a magazine that listed and mapped breweries in every state along the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route. A couple days later, the objective to try out as many of the breweries en route as possible was set. The Montana section of the route is overall fairly remote, but does pass through more and larger towns (although still relatively small) than Canada. The larger towns include Whitefish/Columbia Falls, Helena, and Butte, all of which had at least one brewery! The route leaving Helena was some of my favorite of the entire route, as it had much more of a singletrack feel through beautiful forest. Another highlight of Montana were the neat small towns we passed through: Eureka, which had a great grocery store and a cool brewery; Ovando, the town of 70 that loves the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route and made me feel like some kind of hero; and Lakeview, a very remote town of about 14. The biggest challenge in Montana was the tough weather. And while the weather is certainly an unpredictable factor and every year is likely to be different, the weather in Montana in 2014 was highly variable. There were gorgeous warm sunny days, many days with very cold rainy periods, and days with both. Many of the passes in Montana were still covered in snow from the snowy winter. Sometimes the snow was avoidable or rideable, often it involved a short hike-a-bike, and once required a 4+ mile slog through the snow. And while the three coldest and wettest days of the entire trip happened in Montana, the Montana experience was amazing.
Homestead Ale Brewing Tasting Room 2525 Grave Creek Rd Eureka, Montana 59917 Th-Sun: 3pm-9pm
The Great Northern Brewing Company Tasting Room 2 Central Avenue, Whitefish, Montana 59937 Mon-Sun: 11:00am-11:00pm
Lewis & Clark Brewing Company Tasting Room 1517 Dodge Ave. Helena, MT 59601 Sun-Wed: 2:00pm–10:00pm Th–Sat 11:00pm
Blackfoot River Brewing Tasting Room 66 South Park Ave, Helena, MT Open 2-8pm daily
Quarry Brewing Tasting Room 124 W. Broadway Butte, MT 59701 Mon-Fri: 3:00pm-8:00pm Sat: 1:00pm-8:00pm Sun: 1:00pm-6:00pm
  Idaho – 78 miles – 0 Breweries The ride through Idaho is short, at only 78 miles, about half of which is along a ‘rail trail.’ The rail trail follows the very scenic Warm Springs River, and although it is relatively flat, the ATV’s and dirtbikes that also use the trail create 40 tough miles of loose, washboarded, small gravel. After leaving the rail trail, the remainder of Idaho is spent riding west through field and forest towards Wyoming, often with astonishing views of the west side of the Tetons. Wyoming – 526 miles – 2 Breweries The terrain of Wyoming is either mountainous or flat. Entering Wyoming in Grand Teton National Park, the first half of the ride through Wyoming takes you along the east side of the Tetons, over the Gros Ventre, and south across the Winds. Even though there were some ferocious mosquitoes to deal with while riding through these mountain ranges, the views more than made up for it. Heading out of the Winds, you end up in Pinedale, the start of the flatter half of Wyoming and the location of the only en route brewery in Wyoming, Wind River Brewing. Once leaving Pinedale, the ~280miles left in Wyoming has some expansive views but it quite dry and can be very windy. This section also includes the Great Divide Basin, a 100+ mile section with no reliable water source, and no beer source either. My ride through Wyoming included a detour about 30 miles off route south from Moran Junction into the town of Jackson. I had never been to Jackson, and decided it would be a good opportunity to take a day off and check it out since I was so close. And even better, there happened to be a brewery in town, Snake River Brewing. Sadly I did not hear about the other 2 breweries in town, Thai Me Up / Melvin Brewing and Roadhouse Brewing, before heading back out on the ride about 30 hours after rolling into town.
Snake River Brewing Tasting Room and Restaurant 265 S Millward St, Jackson, Wyoming 83001 Mon-Sun: 11:00am-11:00pm
Wind River Brewing Tasting Room and Restaurant 402 W Pine St, Pinedale, WY 82941 Sun-Thur: 11am – 11pm Fri & Sat: 11am – 12am
  Colorado – 576 miles – 10 Breweries After the long flat sections of southern Wyoming, Colorado seems to be a constant state of either climbing or descending. The Colorado portion of the ride heads primarily south through the middle of Colorado through Steamboat Springs, Breckenridge, Salida, and finally Del Norte, all of which have some breweries to visit. Occasionally there will be a shorter (but still long) climb that is surprisingly steep, but generally the climbs in Colorado are very long with the grade being typically low making them very manageable. Fortunately, long climbs can often mean long descents, of which there are also plenty. The highest point on the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route, Indiana Pass at 11,910ft, is in Colorado. It happens to be at the top of one of the long climbs I mention, about 30 miles and 3,000 feet of climbing from the town of Del Norte. Breweries abound in Colorado. Most towns we went through had at least one, and typically a couple. On one particular day of riding, from Kremmling to Breckenridge, we managed to ride 70 miles and stop at 5 breweries! That was definitely a trip record. Fortunately those 5 breweries all came in the last 20 miles of the day, and all of them along a 20 mile section of bike path from Dillon to Breckenridge.
 Tasting room and Restaurant  1744 Lincoln Ave, Steamboat Springs, CO 80487 MON – THUR: 2pm-8pm FRI & SAT: 12pm-10pm SUN: 12pm-8pm
Dillion Dam Brewery  Tasting room and Restaurant  100 Little Dam St, Dillon, CO 80435  Sun -Thu: 11:30am – 12:00am Fri – Sat: 11:30am – 12:00am
Pug Ryan’s  Tasting room and Restaurant  104 Village Pl, Dillon, CO 80435  Mon – Fri: 2:00pm – 11:00pm Sat: 11:30am – 11:00pm Sun: 11:00am – 11:00pm
Backcountry Brewery  Tasting room and Restaurant    68 Continental Ct, Breckenridge, CO 80424   Sun – Thur: 11:00am – 10:00pm Fri – Sat: 11:00am – 11:00pm
 Tasting Room and BYO food   68 Continental Ct, Breckenridge, CO 80424  Mon – Sun: 11:30am – 11:00pm
Breckenridge Brewery Tasting room and Restaurant  600 S Main St, Breckenridge, CO 80424  Mon – Sun: 11:00am – 12:00am
 Amicas Tasting room and Restaurant  136 E 2nd St, Salida, CO 81201  Mon – Sun: 11:30am – 9:00pm
Moonlight Pizza & Brew Pub Tasting room and Restaurant

242 F St, Salida, CO 81201

 Mon-Sat: 11:00am – 9:00pm Sun: 11:00am – 8:00pm
 Elevation Brewing Tasting Room 115 Pahlone Pkwy, Poncha Springs, CO Mon – Sun: 12:00pm – 8:00pm
Three Barrel Brewing  Tasting Room and Restaurant  475 Grand Ave, Del Norte, CO 81132  Mon – Sat: 11:00am – 9:00pm Sun: 3:00pm – 9:00pm
  New Mexico – 685 miles – 1 Brewery Approaching New Mexico, it is easy to have thoughts like, it must be all downhill from here, and we’ll be to Mexico in no time. However, New Mexico is the second longest and second highest state on the route. It also happens to have some incredibly steep terrain, including the climb up La Manga Pass, immediately after entering the state. I was pleasantly surprised by the terrain in New Mexico. The northern half was heavily forested through the Carson and Sante Fe National Forests, near the middle of the state was the very interesting El Malpais National Monument, and just to the north of Silver City was the rugged but beautiful Gila Wilderness. My only complaint with New Mexico were the few very long, relatively flat paved sections. Two of them were route alternates, but we chose to take them due to the high risk of impassable mud from the rain. Even though it is the second longest state, New Mexico is quite remote and travels through very small towns, and as a result, we only passed one brewery in New Mexico, Little Toad Creek in Silver City. And actually, it was just a taproom as the brewing facility was 30 or so miles up the road.
Little Toad Creek Brewery Tasting Room and Restaurant 200 N Bullard St, Silver City, NM 88061 7 Days: 11am-11pm

Resources: American Cycling Association Maps    

8 Comments

  1. The trail itself is motivation enough. Now you’ve gone and made it even more enticing with a long list of breweries to visit.

    I need to figure out how to get the time to do this.

  2. Great piece! I am quite certain that Indiana Pass is after Del Norte though. Marshall Pass is outside of Salida and descends into Sargents, CO. I rode this section two years ago and wished I had stopped at more breweries!

    Bryan Kolasinski
    Monument, CO

  3. Pingback: Great Divide Mountain Bike Route - Montana - Bikepackers Magazine

  4. caleb stolte

    Whitefish, MT has a new brewery… Bonsai Brewing. Located on route 1/4 mile before heading east on Edgewood.

  5. Pingback: The Eastern Divide Project - Bikepackers Magazine

  6. This is very good stuff.

  7. Hello
    We are a French couple and we want to ride the great divide in july/august.
    As we want to speak english, are we going to meet people everyday?
    Thank you
    Michel

  8. Fantastic! On my bucket list… Cheers! Is there a GPX file by chance please?

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