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  1. #1
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    They wouldn’t let me ride a fat bike in Yellowstone

    I’ve always wanted to see Yellowstone National Park in the winter so I decided to do it by fat bike. My plan was to stay on the roads and figured since the roads are open to over snow vehicles that I would be OK. But it turns out they don’t allow bikes in the park at all during the winter. So we had to do it by foot instead. Here is the video: https://youtu.be/eLKrlaKoRkU

  2. #2
    All fat, all the time.
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    Beautiful!
    Weird they wouldn't allow fat bikes...

  3. #3
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    Yeah it makes no sense that snowmobiles and snow coaches but no bikes. All of their “reasons” are ridiculous.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mtbeagle View Post
    Yeah it makes no sense that snowmobiles and snow coaches but no bikes. All of their “reasons” are ridiculous.
    Get a snowmobile permit for $35. LOL Its all in what ya call it!

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    I get it, most Yellowstone snowmobilers rent sleds and go on tours. you would more than likely get ran over. it is not like going to a "normal" snowmobile trail head and riding there where the sledders show up with there own equipment.

    Also I bet you could have rode your fatbike on the roads open to cars.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by tim208 View Post
    I get it, most Yellowstone snowmobilers rent sleds and go on tours. you would more than likely get ran over. it is not like going to a "normal" snowmobile trail head and riding there where the sledders show up with there own equipment.

    Also I bet you could have rode your fatbike on the roads open to cars.
    It isn’t narrow trails, these are wide groomed roads. They had no problems at all with hikersg, snowshoers, or skiers sharing the roads with the snowmobiles and snow coaches. It is really a completely nonsensical rule.

  7. #7
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    Are these roads that permit bikes during other seasons? If so, challenge the rule.
    I will suffer no butt-hurt fools!

  8. #8
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    In a very weird and convoluted way, the rules that prevent one from fatbiking in yellowstone also, somehow, define what the Feds consider an e-bike to be, and this is where the ban on ebikes on non-motorized trails in federal lands actually has its footing. So, I will gladly not ride my fatbike in yellowstone on a snow machine highway to keep ebikes off non-motorized trails.
    I would advise not taking my advice.

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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by watermonkey View Post
    In a very weird and convoluted way, the rules that prevent one from fatbiking in yellowstone also, somehow, define what the Feds consider an e-bike to be, and this is where the ban on ebikes on non-motorized trails in federal lands actually has its footing. So, I will gladly not ride my fatbike in yellowstone on a snow machine highway to keep ebikes off non-motorized trails.
    I have no idea what that means or what fatbiking on a snow covered road could possibly do with riding Ebikes on trails, but I guess it's the government and anything is possible...

    Seems to me that a fatbike would be a great way to see Yellowstone in the winter!

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtbeagle View Post
    The park also has concerns regarding wildlife and safety when it comes to using fat bikes in the winter months, Vagias said. Wildlife tends to congregate in river bottoms near roads. People riding bikes might suddenly find themselves in a herd of bison, he said

    Huh?

    Because that situation isn't possible with the other user groups roaming around Yellowstone? That has to be the dumbest thing I have read in a while.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by prj71 View Post
    Because that situation isn't possible with the other user groups roaming around Yellowstone? That has to be the dumbest thing I have read in a while.
    Yeah there were times that I was a bit nerves about the bison, I think being able to move a bit faster on a bike would have been safer.

  13. #13
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    It's a dumb rule, but it's not like it's a secret one. Has been discussed here at some length before.

    Not sure how being on a bike would be any safer around wildlife. It's not like you'll be able to go fast enough to outrun bison if you piss 'em off.

    Yellowstone does have to be concerned with wildlife safety, though. So many incidents prompted by raging idiots. But on that end, prohibiting bikes in the wintertime isn't going to make anything better in that regard, either.

    I also fail to see how the federal definition of an ebike relates at all to fatbike use of snowy roads in Yellowstone in wintertime. Got any references for that statement? 'cause I'm calling bunk on this claim.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold View Post
    It's a dumb rule, but it's not like it's a secret one. Has been discussed here at some length before.

    Not sure how being on a bike would be any safer around wildlife. It's not like you'll be able to go fast enough to outrun bison if you piss 'em off.

    Yellowstone does have to be concerned with wildlife safety, though. So many incidents prompted by raging idiots. But on that end, prohibiting bikes in the wintertime isn't going to make anything better in that regard, either.

    I also fail to see how the federal definition of an ebike relates at all to fatbike use of snowy roads in Yellowstone in wintertime. Got any references for that statement? 'cause I'm calling bunk on this claim.
    The OSV ruling sets rules and definitions and for what an OSV is, fatbikes aren't, therefore aren't allowed in OSV areas. Read the whole article to get a sense of what they're talking about. They had to make a designation that a motorized fatbike is also not an OSV, but IS a motorized vehicle. This is the basis of the Fed's ebike ban on non-motorized routes. All references come back to this.

    https://www.federalregister.gov/docu...anagement-rule

    "Comment: Some respondents stated that fat tire bicycles should be regulated under the proposed rule. Some respondents stated that the Forest Service should explicitly incorporate a definition of bicycles that unambiguously distinguishes them from motor vehicles, including OSVs, and should provide guidance to ensure that bicycles are managed as a non-motorized use. Some respondents commented that bicycles should be managed on their own merits and not as an afterthought to motorized travel management."

    "Response: Regulation of non-motorized use, including bicycles without motors, is beyond the scope of this final rule, which addresses motorized use, specifically, OSV use. The Forest Service has clearly defined the term “bicycle”, which includes new fat tire bicycles, in Forest Service Handbook 2309.18 as “a pedal-driven, human-powered device with two wheels attached to a frame, one behind the other.” Management of bicycles, including fat tire bicycles in winter, would be addressed as part of trail management planning for non-motorized uses. New technologies that merge bicycles and motors, such as e-bikes, are considered motor vehicles under § 212.1 of the TMR."

    The response above, quoted from the article, is THE actual point where e-bikes are designated as motorized vehicles, and the Forest Service and BLM memo's pertaining to ebike restrictions, reference the regular TMR, which references this response published in the OSV TMR.
    I would advise not taking my advice.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold View Post
    It's not like you'll be able to go fast enough to outrun bison if you piss 'em off.
    .
    So true. At one point there was a Bison right next to the road and we didn't want to get that close to it. So when the next snow coach came by we asked the guy if he would act as a screen between us an the bison. As we passed the bison seemed like it was trying to get ahead of the snow coach and come around. It took a while before it gave up and let us pass.

    I'm not sure if I am explaining this well, but the bison seem to not want to expend any more energy then they have to, after all they are just trying to survive the winter. Being able to get past it a bit quicker would have been nice.

    Also there is a segment in my video where I say something about the bison charging me. Actually it wasn't charging me. It just came out onto the road and kind of lazily walked towards me as I was crossing a bridge. Being able to put a little more space between me and the bison a little quicker would have made me feel more comfortable.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by watermonkey View Post
    The OSV ruling sets rules and definitions and for what an OSV is, fatbikes aren't, therefore aren't allowed in OSV areas. Read the whole article to get a sense of what they're talking about. They had to make a designation that a motorized fatbike is also not an OSV, but IS a motorized vehicle. This is the basis of the Fed's ebike ban on non-motorized routes. All references come back to this.

    https://www.federalregister.gov/docu...anagement-rule

    "Response: Regulation of non-motorized use, including bicycles without motors, is beyond the scope of this final rule, which addresses motorized use, specifically, OSV use. The Forest Service has clearly defined the term “bicycle”, which includes new fat tire bicycles, in Forest Service Handbook 2309.18 as “a pedal-driven, human-powered device with two wheels attached to a frame, one behind the other.” Management of bicycles, including fat tire bicycles in winter, would be addressed as part of trail management planning for non-motorized uses. New technologies that merge bicycles and motors, such as e-bikes, are considered motor vehicles under § 212.1 of the TMR."

    The response above, quoted from the article, is THE actual point where e-bikes are designated as motorized vehicles, and the Forest Service and BLM memo's pertaining to ebike restrictions, reference the regualar TMR, which references this response published in the OSV TMR.
    I think you're conflating a few separate issues.

    So the definition of "over-snow-vehicle" pretty much covers snowmobiles and other tracked vehicles with motors. Pretty clear that neither human-powered bicycles nor e-bikes fall under that definition. And not quads or dirt bikes, either. It says in the article a number of times that even under this definition, the specific permissions of OSV use are local decisions.

    The comment you quoted here specifically says that bicycle management falls under entirely different rules, wintertime or not.

    Frankly, it looks to me like wintertime bicycle access needs to be addressed during the next master planning cycle, and probably the biggest reason it's not permitted is because not enough people have demanded it before. This document does not prevent non-motorized bicycle use of snowcovered roads or trails, and it does not keep ebikes off of trails at any point in time. This document SPECIFICALLY modifies subpart C of the 05 Travel Management Rule:

    to provide for management of OSVs on NFS lands consistent with the EOs, the court's order, and subpart B of the TMR. Specifically, the Department is amending subpart C of the TMR to Start Printed Page 4501require the Responsible Official to designate NFS roads, NFS trails, and areas on NFS lands where OSV use is allowed in administrative units or Ranger Districts, or parts of administrative units or Ranger Districts, where snowfall is adequate for OSV use to occur. The Department is not removing the exemption for OSVs from subpart B.
    Bicycle and ebike management falls under different parts of the TMR, which you reference.

  17. #17
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    Harold or Watermonkey,
    Are Department of Agriculture, US Forest Service, rules (TMR, OSV) published in the Federal Register applicable to Department of Interior, agencies, BLM, National Park Service? I'm just trying to get an idea how federal law works.
    I think it would be outlined in the Park Winter Use Adaptive Management Plan.

    https://parkplanning.nps.gov/documen...cumentID=76763


    Quote Originally Posted by watermonkey View Post
    The OSV ruling sets rules and definitions and for what an OSV is, fatbikes aren't, therefore aren't allowed in OSV areas. Read the whole article to get a sense of what they're talking about. They had to make a designation that a motorized fatbike is also not an OSV, but IS a motorized vehicle. This is the basis of the Fed's ebike ban on non-motorized routes. All references come back to this.

    https://www.federalregister.gov/docu...anagement-rule

    "Comment: Some respondents stated that fat tire bicycles should be regulated under the proposed rule. Some respondents stated that the Forest Service should explicitly incorporate a definition of bicycles that unambiguously distinguishes them from motor vehicles, including OSVs, and should provide guidance to ensure that bicycles are managed as a non-motorized use. Some respondents commented that bicycles should be managed on their own merits and not as an afterthought to motorized travel management."

    "Response: Regulation of non-motorized use, including bicycles without motors, is beyond the scope of this final rule, which addresses motorized use, specifically, OSV use. The Forest Service has clearly defined the term “bicycle”, which includes new fat tire bicycles, in Forest Service Handbook 2309.18 as “a pedal-driven, human-powered device with two wheels attached to a frame, one behind the other.” Management of bicycles, including fat tire bicycles in winter, would be addressed as part of trail management planning for non-motorized uses. New technologies that merge bicycles and motors, such as e-bikes, are considered motor vehicles under § 212.1 of the TMR."

    The response above, quoted from the article, is THE actual point where e-bikes are designated as motorized vehicles, and the Forest Service and BLM memo's pertaining to ebike restrictions, reference the regular TMR, which references this response published in the OSV TMR.
    ptarmigan hardcore

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    "Not sure how being on a bike would be any safer around wildlife. It's not like you'll be able to go fast enough to outrun bison if you piss 'em off."

    You don't need to outrun the bison, just the hikers/snowshoers/skiers.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold View Post
    The comment you quoted here specifically says that bicycle management falls under entirely different rules, wintertime or not.

    Bicycle and ebike management falls under different parts of the TMR, which you reference.
    The over snow vehicle travel management rule when seasonally applied to designated lands IS the rule governing travel in the winter, the "other" TMR is superceded and not applicable at the same time, for the same land management unit. The OSV TMR is effectively a white list, that identifies specifically what CAN be used. Its not a black list, that excludes other forms of travel. If your mode of travel isn't included in the OSV, then you don't get to play. To illustrate this, in OSV travel managed areas around here, moto snow bikes aren't (or until recently, weren't) allowed, because even though they're a motorized, tracked vehicle with a ski, it doesn't actually meet one of their prescribed definitions of an accepted OSV.

    A fatbike isn't an OSV, because it doesn't have a motor. An e-fatbike is a motorized vehicle, but still doesn't meet the prescribed definition of an OSV - no winter travel for you either, on federal OSV lands or federal non-motorized lands.
    I would advise not taking my advice.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by watermonkey View Post
    The over snow vehicle travel management rule when seasonally applied to designated lands IS the rule governing travel in the winter, the "other" TMR is superceded and not applicable at the same time, for the same land management unit. The OSV TMR is effectively a white list, that identifies specifically what CAN be used. Its not a black list, that excludes other forms of travel. If your mode of travel isn't included in the OSV, then you don't get to play. To illustrate this, in OSV travel managed areas around here, moto snow bikes aren't (or until recently, weren't) allowed, because even though they're a motorized, tracked vehicle with a ski, it doesn't actually meet one of their prescribed definitions of an accepted OSV.

    A fatbike isn't an OSV, because it doesn't have a motor. An e-fatbike is a motorized vehicle, but still doesn't meet the prescribed definition of an OSV - no winter travel for you either, on federal OSV lands or federal non-motorized lands.
    Then how do hikers, skiers, and snowshoers get to play, since they are also not OSV's?

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Co-opski View Post
    Harold or Watermonkey,
    Are Department of Agriculture, US Forest Service, rules (TMR, OSV) published in the Federal Register applicable to Department of Interior, agencies, BLM, National Park Service? I'm just trying to get an idea how federal law works.
    I think it would be outlined in the Park Winter Use Adaptive Management Plan.

    https://parkplanning.nps.gov/documen...cumentID=76763


    USDA docs are not directly applicable on NPS lands, though the two agencies MIGHT work together to maintain some level of consistency when developing plans on similar issues. The document you linked is absolutely the relevant one, though it's taking bloody forever to load on my computer.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold View Post
    USDA docs are not directly applicable on NPS lands, though the two agencies MIGHT work together to maintain some level of consistency when developing plans on similar issues. The document you linked is absolutely the relevant one, though it's taking bloody forever to load on my computer.
    Thanks that helped. 68 pages in that plan and it took some time for me also. Most of the plan is about the impact of motorized use, (noise and air emissions) drizzled with a little local economic impact of guides and rentals for good terms.
    ptarmigan hardcore

  23. #23
    sluice box
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    BTW I think you can bike the Denali Park Road and Kenai Fiords NP Road and in Wrangle St. Elias in the winter. I've never been stopped, but to be fair I never asked if it was ok either.
    I think we may be different in AK with ANILCA.
    ptarmigan hardcore

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    Every year or so I contact the National Park about this rule and others regarding bikes. In years past they would say that bikes are banned because they have wheels. Now the snow coaches have wheels so they have changed their story saying bikes are banned because there isn't enough demand. The fellow last year said that he only gets a stray request once or twice a year. A lot of people have an anti bicycle attitude that can be overcome if we make our voices heard, and show up either in messages over the internet, phone or in person.

    If it was feasible for me I would ride my bike to the gate everyday and force them to tell me or occasionally ticket me to engrain that bicyclists want this access.

    We can all put pressure on these assinine Federal bans on bikes by posting messages asserting our existence. They cannot legally hold on to these antiquated, often illegal, bans if we have a clear presence. Being a vocal advocate for bicycling is fairly easy, start by bombarding these agencies on social media.

  25. #25
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    Riding fat bikes on a roads/trails open to snowmobiles is not the greatest idea. While the speed differential is less than that of walkers/snowshoers, bikes (bikers) are less predictable. Holding a line does not always happen, especially with casual riders.

    As far as animals go, perhaps the chase instinct of some species could play a role. Dogs sure seem to like to chase someone on a bike vs someone walking.

  26. #26
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    https://www.change.org/p/yellowstone...share_petition


    Here is my first attempt at a petition. At the very least it will show Yellowstone that more then one person wants this. That is if we can get a few signatures.

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    as a person who has been charged by a bison, it don't matter, the bison congregate on the groomed roads because it is easy walking. I was also 16 at the time, and the bison got trapped between 2 groups of sleds. the bison didn't know what to do and charged at me. I gunned it and slipped right on by. the bison then turned and charged someone else.

    also it is a national park, common sense has been thrown out the door there. By both the tourist and the park service.

    if you ever get a chance to drive thru the lamar valley at sunup, the bull elk are fricken outstanding. Just huge bulls.

  28. #28
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    Correct. USDA regs are inapplicable in the Park. The rule that bans bicycles in Yellowstone is 36 CFR 7.13(l)(16)(iii) (note the (l) after 13 is a little L and is the section dealing with snowmobiles where they gratuitously decided to ban bikes. Is it arbitrary and capricious? Who knows. Seems a bit odd given they allow skiers and snowshoers, but not bikes. Note also that every park has its own set of regs, so what's disallowed in Yellowstone may be allowed in Wrangel St. Elias or Denali. Here's what the reg says:

    Dog sledding and ski-joring (a skier being pulled by a dog, horse, or vehicle) are prohibited. Bicycles, including bicycles modified for oversnow travel, are prohibited on oversnow routes in Yellowstone National Park.

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