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[CDT-L] CDT town info
These are our observations about the towns we stopped at (and a few that
we didn't) along the trail. A lot of this will show up as part of the
journal - wehn we finally get it written. We have a lot more stuff to
write - this is only the first installment.
Jim & Ginny
Montana / Idaho --
Frontiertown/McDonald Pass - is an interesting place to visit. This was
our first maildrop and I believe we were Richard Peg's first thruhikers
- although probably not the last. He was intrigued by those who were
'intrepid' enough to attempt this hike. But call first if you're going
to do a maildrop there (406-449-3031). He has a couple of restaurants,
one steak and one good Italian, which are only open at night. He even
offered us a place to stay for the night. Unfortunately, we had to go
into Helena, MT (about 30 miles from MacDonald Pass) because of
equipment problems (stove and water filter). He drove us into town, so I
can't comment on the difficulty of hitchhiking here.
Helena, MT - We stayed at one of the many motels in town and used a taxi
(expensive) to get back to the trail the next day. Helena has a good
outdoor shop, lots of motels and restaurants, grocery stores, post
office, shoe repair - anything a thruhiker might need including a bus
system that's slow, but cheap. We didn't investigate Internet access,
but presumably the library would have it.
Lincoln, MT - hitching in and out wasn't bad at all (about ½ hour each
way). Lincoln has motels, a laundromat, camping at the local park, ATM,
restaurants (but don't get the pizza) - even Internet access at the
library. There's a hiker register at the Post Office that goes back 20
years or more. Lincoln was a nice stop - friendly people and good
food. It is fairly compact. Again equipment problems kept us there a
second night (tent and water filter). I left a failed water filter
there (Pur Hiker). I also left most of a gallon of Coleman fuel at the
hardware store - they said they'd keep it for future hikers.
Benchmark Ranch - was different. Our maildrop was there but we had to
search for someone to get it for us. We got there on a Sunday afternoon
in early season when no 'guests' were there, so Beverly had gone into
town. Eventually someone told her we were at the Ranch and she came
back out (bearing salad fixin's and ice cream). We got showers, rented
a cabin, ate dinner and repacked for the Bob Marshall Wilderness. We
bought some Coleman fuel from the handyman/hostler, but I don't know if
I would count on that. We left early the next morning.
Note: she applies only part of the 'package fee' is applied to cabin
East Glacier Park, MT - We stayed at Mark Howser's Whistling Swan Motel
both ways - headed north while we got a boot problem resolved and got
the Park permit, and then again while we were waiting for transportation
to get back to Warm Springs so we could continue south. Mark
thruhiked the AT in 1992 and he's 'hiker-friendly'. East Glacier has
several motels and 2 hiker hostels, a decent (but small) grocery,
laundromat, several restaurants, post office, an ATM at the Lodge,
transportation to Waterton Lakes, Canada and Amtrak access. Of course,
there's also East Glacier lodge, beautiful but expensive. The chili at
Mark's Two Medicine Grille was the best we found on the CDT - as were
his huckleberry milk shakes. Mark might also be able to find you some
Coleman fuel - if you ask nicely. Amtrak took us from East Glacier to
Shelby, where we caught the Rimrock Stage bus to Butte and Warm
Warm Springs, MT - has a VERY small and VERY limited grocery with VERY
limited hours. It also has a bar which apparently closes at sundown -
or when the last customer leaves. The bar owner allowed us to set up
our tents on his lawn in back of the bar, but again - ask nicely. He
doesn't owe it to anyone - even to thruhikers. You can get water there
Anaconda, MT - has motels, restaurants, a laundromat, post office, an
ATM, 2 large supermarkets, and at least one smaller grocery, as well as
Internet access at the library. The lady at the post office was
very 'hiker-friendly'. We stayed at the Marcus Daly Motel and the owner
gave us a ride to Safeway, waited for us and drove us back to the
motel. It's a 'hiker-friendly' town, though the grocery stores are each
about a mile from the Post Office, one in each direction.
Wisdom - is accessed from Chief Joseph Pass. It was a tough hitch -
over 2 hours to get into town and other hikers had much the same
experience. Wisdom has 2 motels (one of which is of the really
"cheap" variety), a small grocery (be very creative), a laundromat
(although the dryers don't dry), post office, 2 restaurants (one of
which had the best cinnamon rolls in Montana.), and a bar that actually
has good pizza. Wisdom also had the most prolific mosquito population
of any town we visited. Keep in mind that Wisdom is a 'working'
cattle/horse town. Tourists and hikers are considered nothing more than
an outside source of income. For available services and ease of access,
Salmon, ID would probably be a better choice for a thruhiker.
Salmon, ID - our stay here was unplanned, accidental (literally) and
limited. We spent nearly all our time at the Salmon Valley Baptist
Church where Ginny was recuperating. But we did explore enough
to know that Salmon has at least one motel, a large supermarket, ATM,
outdoor stores, several restaurants, laundromat, medical facilities, a
movie theater and a post office. Our entry and exit from Salmon was
unusual - Bob and Sue Martin drove us directly to the Divide above
Jahnke Lake, so we can't comment on the hitch either from or to Chief
Leadore, ID - was an easy hitch from Bannock Pass in that the first
truck picked us up - but it was over 2 hours before that truck came
along. Not a heavily traveled road. Leadore is an old mining
town. It has 2 small groceries, a post office, gas station, 2
restaurants (one of which is not always open), a laundromat, a Forest
Service office, a motel (3 rooms) that was full when we got there.
The grocery across the street from the motel has a grassy area where we
camped ($1 per night) and a shower ($1 each - no soap or towels). The
Leadore post office also has a hiker register. There's free camping at
a city park north of town, but we didn't investigate that. The town is
compact and easy to get around. Leaving Leadore was easy for us - we
met Barry Miller (a USFS employee who's also a member of SVBC and had
heard about us at church the previous Sunday). He took us back to the
trail on his lunch break.
Lima, MT - was not on our original schedule, but it looked a lot easier
to resupply there than to carry 10 days food, so we sent a maildrop from
Leadore. Lima is hard to get to - the trail runs 4 miles south of
Monida, which is the nearest Interstate access. Lima is a 16 mile hitch
north of Monida, which gets (maybe) 6 vehicles per day using that exit.
In order to get to Lima in less than 6 days (we didn't have that much
food), we had to actually get ON the Interstate to hitch. Lima has a
post office (friendly postmistress), a gas station/mini-mart, a
restaurant with a couple cabins, and a motel. There was another
restaurant and grocery in town, but they've closed.
Mack's Inn, ID - is very small, but it was a total zoo when we got
there. It's a resort and this was the height of tourist season, so
there were no motel rooms. But they have a campground, gas
station/mini-mart, laundromat, motel (if you can get a room), a
restaurant and a dinner theater. There are also a few groceries and an
ATM at the resort office. We walked into and out of Mack's Inn because
we followed Jim Wolf's route. The dinner theater was good (and included
an AYCE dinner). For those so inclined, there are also the resort
activities - fishing, canoeing, rafting, etc. It's very compact and easy
to get around. I would recommend a mail drop here, though you could
probably buy enough to get you into Yellowstone, in a pinch. Or you
could hitch 12 miles or so to West Yellowstone for supplies.
Old Faithful at Yellowstone National Park - has a post office, several
reasonably good groceries and restaurants, an ATM, VERY limited serious
backpacking equipment, lots of interesting sights to see and LOTS of
tourists. The Park uses a reservation system for backcountry camping.
Call from Togwotee Pass if you're headed north or from Lima if you're
headed south - they will take phone reservations from thruhikers. The
phone number for the backcountry office is 307-344-2160 or
307-344-2163. But watch what they give you - they tried to give us a 28
The Cowboy Resort at Togwotee Pass - accepts maildrops. But ours didn't
show up there, which may have been for the best. The Lodge has a good
restaurant, gas station, VERY small grocery and very expensive cabins.
It was a really hard hitch into Dubois. We got into town with the help
of a friend of one of the waitresses at the restaurant. Tom runs dog
sleds in winter (he keeps about 85 dogs) and works at the resort in the
Dubois, WY - is a tourist town. Lots of motels, restaurants, a
laundromat, fairly good grocery, Internet access at the library, lots of
tourist shops, a book store, and what is reportedly the most remote
post office in the continental US. Overnight service is NOT available
in Dubois except by FedEx. The owner of the Cowboy Café (and his son)
thruhiked the AT a couple years ago. The Cowboy Café puts out some
really good food - including a killer pie a la mode. Hitching out was
somewhat easier but still took about an hour. The guy who picked us up
was a local who had been on the city planning board for 6 years but was
moving to Jackson because he was opening a high-dollar, high-class
restaurant there in December. Dubois is a better stop than Togwotee
Lodge. It is compact and easy to get around.
Pinedale, WY - may be a better stop than either Dubois or Togwotee
Lodge. Pinedale reportedly has all services including an outdoor shop.
There's also a shuttle that runs to three different trailheads
in the Wind River Range - although it may be expensive.
Big Sandy Lodge - was a long stretch through the Wind River Range from
Togwotee Pass. We were told at first that our mail drop wasn't there,
but Tim found it when he checked again - it was hidden in the back of
the pile. We got there early (noon), took a shower ($7.50 ea.), camped
out across the lake (free), ate dinner ($12 ea.) and breakfast ($6 ea.)
and left the next morning. The 'package fee' ($20) was applied to our
bill. There might be cabins available, but they're expensive. Tim sold
us some cheese and gave us some Coleman fuel - but don't count on the
Coleman because he doesn't normally have any available. From Big Sandy
we went south through the Cirque of the Towers and the Popo Agie
South Pass City, WY - is at the south end of the Wind River Range and we
stopped at the Rock Shop on the highway for burgers and Pepsi and water
and beer (it was a really dry day). Then we bushwhacked cross-country
to get into BLM land and find a campsite. We were in South Pass City by
0900 when they opened. It's possible to send a mail drop here, but don't
count on sending anything out. There is a register at the General
Store/Post Office. We took the tour of the historic site, Ginny got some
coffee and we got some soda and ice cream at the VERY small and limited
store in 'town'. Reportedly, some of the locals have been Trail Angels
to some of the hikers, but we walked the 5 miles to Atlantic City.
Atlantic City, WY - we had lunch, got a cabin at the Atlantic City
Mercantile and found out that there was 'no' food to be bought here.
The Atlantic City Mercantile is NOT a store - it's a bar, with lots of
beer and good, if limited, food. And it's only open for lunch and
dinner. The Sagebrush Saloon is next door and serves breakfast and
lunch. There's another B&B in town but we didn't check it out. The
other 'services' here consist of a public telephone. We managed to buy
cheese and bread from the saloon to fill in the lunch menu for the next
couple days. There is no post office here, but the Atlantic City
Mercantile will hold packages for hikers. There is also no fuel at
either Atlantic City or at South Pass City and the nearest gas station/
mini-mart is 38 miles away in Lander, WY.
Lander, WY - is another town that reportedly has "all services"
including an outdoor shop. It's probably a better town stop than South
Pass/Atlantic City, which have no groceries, fuel or laundry.
Rawlins, WY - We took the BLM designated route around the northern edge
of the Great Basin and then down into Rawlins. It took us 4 days and 4
hours from Atlantic City. The town has a post office, laundromat,
library (which may have Internet access), lots of cheap motels,
pharmacies, ATMs, a good grocery, and enough restaurants to keep us fed,
although most of the restaurants and some of the stores in town close on
weekends. There's even a movie theater in town for those so inclined.
The town is spread out over a couple miles - the supermarket, some
motels, the movie theater, andsome restaurants are on the east side of
town. The post office, library and downtown area are in the middle and
some motels, restaurants, a laundromat are on the west side of town.
It's not set up for hikers, but its not an unfriendly town as Wamsutter
has been consistently reported to be.
Steamboat Springs, CO - is an expensive stop but has everything a
thruhiker might need, including several outdoor shops, ATM's, a large
grocery, post office, restaurants, laundromat, motels and Internet
access at the library. And it has free transportation to get where you
need to go. There are also public hot springs - both free and paid.
This is the first real 'yuppy' town headed southbound. It's also one of
the few with a movie theater. Getting into town was an easy hitch out
of Buffalo Pass - getting out could be a little harder, but we can't say
for sure because we were given a ride by the owner of the Nite's Rest
Grand Lake, CO - has all necessary services including an outdoor shop,
laundromat, restaurants motels, and a hostel, but both groceries and the
post office are on the western edge of town. The groceries (2 of them)
are small but can be used for long term resupply. Shadowcliff hostel is
one of the best hostels we've run into anyplace. Grand Lake is a
'walk-through' town - and the hostel is about 30 yards off the trail.
There's also Internet access at the library and a repertory theater
for those so inclined.
Winter Park, CO -- is a possible resupply, but VERY expensive. It's
basically a ski town for the very rich. We don't qualify. But it has
everything a thruhiker might want (including a movie theater) and it's
not a difficult hitch into town. Getting out was a little harder.
Silverthorn/Breckenridge, CO - is the last of the 'yuppie' areas. Both
towns have all services - again including outdoor shops and a free
transportation system to all the towns in the area - Silverthorn,
Frisco and Breckinridge. The trail goes right through Silverthorn which
also has a hostel close to the trail.
Copper Mountain Ski Area - is also on the trail. It has a VERY small
grocery and several restaurants. There was a pizza bar/deli that was
reasonable across from the grocery, right by the trail. But you'll need
to keep moving to find a place to camp. This isn't a place to stay
unless you're a lottery winner.
Note: none of the northern Colorado towns are hard to get around - many
have free public transportation. All of them provide ample services for
resupply and equipment replacement. All of them are expensive.
Twin Lakes, CO - is 3 to 6 miles from the trail, depending on which
route you take. There's a very small grocery with a post office in
back, a couple B&B's, the Nordic Inn and 2 restaurants (one of
which is at the Nordic Inn). Don't plan on resupply here except via
maildrop, but it's a good place for an overnight stay if you can afford
it. There's a small laundromat and motel 6 miles east.
Salida, CO - is a long, hard hitch out of Monarch Pass. It has all the
necessary services including an outdoor shop, supermarket, ATM, movie
theater and pharmacy but is really spread out. The commercial district
is a one-mile walk from the motels and most of the restaurants. That's
also where the post office and library (with Internet access) are
located. We stayed at the Apple Grove Motel and the owner arranged a
ride back to the trail with one of the locals (for a price).
Lake City, CO -- is another long hitch from the trail and somewat spread
out. Both groceries are small but can be used for resupply. The
outdoor shop has Coleman fuel (expensive) but isn't really hiker
oriented. There are several B&B's and restaurants, a post office and a
laundromat, as well as a campground.
Creede, CO - can be accessed from either San Juan Pass (10 mile walk) or
by a long hitch from Spring Creek Pass. There's a grocery, post office,
outdoor shop, several restaurants and B&B's, a hotel, motel, gas
station, theater and laundromat. Many of the restaurants and other
businessesclose about the first of October. We walked out of Creede as
part of the "Creede cutoff". It would probably be a hard hitch to get
back to Spring Creek Pass.
Pagosa Springs, CO - is a relatively easy hitch from Wolf Creek Pass.
The town has all necessary services, although it's really spread out.
Like most western towns, it's built for people with cars. But
there's a laundromat, outdoor shops, restaurants, motels, post office,
large grocery, gas stations a movie theater, a pharmacy and ATM's.
Pagosa also has hot springs for those who are so inclined. We got a
ride back to Wolf Creek Pass with a friend - ask at the outdoor shop.
New Mexico -
Chama - is the first town in New Mexico for southbound CDT hikers and
the last for north-bound hikers. For those who are doing the road-walk
to the south (or come in that way), Chama is on the trail. For those
who are doing the CDTS route through the mountains, the easiest access
is from Cumbres Pass in Colorado. It's a 12 mile hitch and shouldn't be
hard, but traffic on the road is light and it may be a while before the
first car/truck comes along. The Post Office is on 5th St somewhere in
the middle (near Fosters Hotel) and a bank with an ATM is close by.
Fosters is a good restaurant, but there are several good restaurants on
the south end as well. A good grocery, a campground with a laundromat, a
mini-mart and several motels are also on the south end of town. The
north end of town has a laundromat and campground about 0.75 mile north
of Fosters Hotel. The problem with the town from a hiker's point of
view is that it's spread out over about 2.5 miles. We stayed at the
Chama Suites, which is entirely non-smoking and serves a free
breakfast. It was a really good stop for us - especially since the
owners drove us back to Cumbres Pass. We didn't find Internet access in
Ghost Ranch - is a good place for a mail drop. If you hit it right, you
might be able to get a meal, a shower or a campsite. If not, they at
least have water, Coke and snack machines - and they will hold packages
for hikers. Contact them before you mail it though. When we got there,
they were in the middle of a conference and had no room, so we took our
mail drop, loaded up on Coke and snacks and kept on moving.
Cuba - is a town that CDT hikers walk into. Again, it's spread out, but
only over about ¾ mile. The north end has a motel, laundromat, a couple
restaurants, and a mini-mart. The south end has several motels, a
laundromat, a couple restaurants, several mini-marts and the Post
Office. In between there are several small grocery stores and 2 fairly
large groceries. Internet access is at the library, which is about 1/3
mile east of the Cuba Visitors Center. There is a hostel, but it is
about 5 miles out of town.
Grants - is another town that you can walk into. It has a Post Office
on 3rd St with a VERY friendly clerk/ trail Angel (Michelle Ray) and a
register. On the main street (Santa Fe) there are a number of motels,
several banks with ATM's, a Pizza Hut with an AYCE buffet at noon, a
Chinese restaurant with AYCE buffet and the Uranium Café which serves
really good breakfasts. The grocery is Smith's - about a mile off Santa
Fe, but you pass it on the left on the way into town on Lobo Canyon
Road. Internet access is available at the library. Again, the problem
with Grants is that it's a Western town and is spread out. But the best
part of Grants is Tom and Donna Bombaci's hostel, 10 miles out of town
on Lobo Canyon Road. The phone number is 505-285-4529. If you're
south-bound, call from Cuba and Tom will give you directions to get
there from the trail. If you're north-bound, call from Pie Town or
Quemado to let them know you're coming and they may be able to work
something out for picking you up in Grants.
Pie Town, NM - has a post office, free camping at Jackson Park and the
Pie-O-Neer Café (which is closed on Monday and Tuesday). There are no
other services - not even a Coke machine in town. There is a public
phone next to the café. Pie Town is said to be very hiker-friendly, with
several Trail Angels, but we got there at a time when none of them were
available so we can't speak from personal experience.
Quemado, NM - we didn't go there.
Reserve, NM - was a really tough 35 mile hitch from the "official" CDT.
There are 2 motels, several restaurants (some or which are closed on
Monday and Tuesday), a laundromat, a bar (the only source for beer in
town), 2 small groceries and Internet access at the small library in the
Village hall. The town is spread out but not unreasonably so. The
Village Motel and Elk Country Café are at the south end of town, the
library is up the hill behind the high school (ask for directions) and
the Forest Service office is 2 miles west of town on NM 12. Everything
else is in the main part of town. We thought the best hamburger in town
was at the Elk Country Café (they also have good pizza). Grandma T's at
the other end of town was a good place for breakfast. We got a ride
back to the trailhead from the owner of the Village Motel - it could be
a tough hitch back out there.
Gila Cliff Dwellings Visitor Center - has restrooms and water and will
hold packages for hikers. But it has no trash collection so you're
dependent on the rangers or on the kindness of tourists to dispose of
your maildrop packaging. There are no other services here.
Gila Hot Springs - is 3 miles south of the Gila Visitor Center. Doc
Campbell's Trading Post has a small grocery, microwave sandwiches,
home-made ice cream, unleaded gasoline, water and a phone. It also has
showers and a laundromat in back (ask about these). There are a couple
of campgrounds nearby and a mile south of the Trading Post on Access
Road is the Wilderness Lodge B&B with reasonable prices (breakfast
included) comfortable beds and a hot spring in the front yard.
Deming, NM - was a pleasant surprise. The town is spread out, but the
essential hiker services are all in a fairly compact area. The post
office, a couple motels, a couple laundromats, several convenience
stores, 2 big supermarkets, a number of restaurants, a bar, gas
stations, an ATM, a pharmacy and the library (with Internet access) are
within 6 blocks of the center of town. Deming also has both Greyhound
and Amtrak service, as well as being directly on US I-10.
Columbus, NM - is small. It has a post office, a motel, 2 B&B's (one of
them a couple miles outside of town), a couple restaurants, a small
grocery and a gas station/convenience store. It may have a laundromat
(if you can find it). It also has camping, water and showers at Pancho
Villa State Park. Columbus is just 3 miles from the border and Palomas,
Mexico. If you're southbound, Palomas is a good place to have a beer
and possibly a meal. It's an easy hitch back to Columbus or Deming.
Silver City, NM - we didn't stay there, but we did check it out at a
later time. This is a relatively large town with all services available
including an outdoor shop. Like most Western towns it's spread out and
not particularly easy for hikers to work with.
Separ - is on I-10 and has a gas station/convenience store, a restaurant
Hachita - has the Egg Nest, which provides meals, limited groceries,
camping, showers, fuel, Internet access and shuttles. They will also
hold packages for hikers.
Antelope Wells - has been used as a southern terminus for the CDT by a
number of hikers, but apparently is no longer the "official" terminus.
The "official" terminus is apparently some large number of miles (more
than 10?) east of Antelope Wells along the border fence. There are no
services at Antelope Wells except a water faucet. There are NO services
and apparently no road access to the "official" terminus.
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