A week in Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana
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  1. #1
    Registered User Array doser's Avatar
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    A week in Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana

    I got back a week or so ago from a week roaming in Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana, and I've been slow to post details ( house guests, etc), but there is some remarkably fine riding to be had in this area, together with some forgettable droning, and I'll try to 'fill you in' over the next few posts. Here goes...
    In preparing for battle, I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensible.
    Dwight Eisenhower

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  3. #2
    Registered User Array doser's Avatar
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    Day 1: Idaho: Boise to Butte

    I trailered to Boise Idaho, and stayed in the Super 8 by the airport, which was 'typical', about $78 US per nite taxes in, optimally sleepable, and very convenient. Better yet, they have a big enough back parking lot that I could leave my SUV and trailer, for $5 per day, which I thought was remarkably reasonable. And there's an Applebee's right across the street, which I find to be my 'go to' chain for a decent, not overly expensive meal on the road. And gas next door... At the freeway entrance...

    There were several BIG fires in Idaho at this time, including one straddling ID 21, which runs from Boise thru Idaho City to Lowman, so there was plenty of smoke on the initial half of the day. But the riding is tremendous, especially the 'mountain' section from Idaho City to Lowman. This should rank high on everyone's 'to do' list, if you haven't had the experience yet.

    IMG_5728 (1024x768) by Don Serl, on Flickr


    IMG_5738 (1024x768) by Don Serl, on Flickr


    IMG_5750 (768x1024) by Don Serl, on Flickr



    At Lowman, you drop into the canyon of the South Fork of the Payette River. The 'Duffey Lake Loop' from Boise is to ride to Lowman, then break west to Hwy 55 at Banks, then run back south to town... but I turned northeast ( gas 4 miles east ). ID 21 carves thru the canyon in a series of beautiful sweepers ( awesome riding!) for about 60 kms to Banner Summit, at 7020 feet, before slowly dropping into the open valley leading southeast to the resort town of Stanley.


    IMG_5759 (768x1024) by Don Serl, on Flickr


    There is even better to come. The Salmon River rises on the east flanks of the spectacular Sawtooth Mountains, and from Stanley to Challis cuts east thru a great range of 9,000 to 11,000 foot peaks. ID 75 tracks the river the entire way, and is a phenomenal ride, absolutely phenomenal! However, Stanley is a tourist mecca, and heavy traffic can be expected, altho on the Sunday afternoon that I rode it, most people were headed west, back to Boise, rather than cluttering my ride.


    IMG_5765 (1024x768) by Don Serl, on Flickr


    IMG_5777 (768x1024) by Don Serl, on Flickr


    (I'll continue on a following post, cuz I think there's a limit which I'm about to exceed on the number of photos per post...)
    Last edited by doser; 10-09-2016 at 02:58 PM.
    In preparing for battle, I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensible.
    Dwight Eisenhower

  4. #3
    Registered User Array doser's Avatar
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    ... more Day 1.

    From Challis, I headed north on US 93, thru Salmon, with the 10,000 foot peaks of the Bitterroot Range bracketing the eastern skyline, and climbed to over 7,000 feet again at the Montana border, before turning east again on MT 43.

    IMG_5782 (1024x768) by Don Serl, on Flickr

    This leads down into the sprawling ranching basin and the Big Hole River at Wisdom MT. Forty-five kms north, a left turn takes you onto Forest Road 569, which breaks north thru a chain of rounded summits to reach the mining centre at Anaconda.


    IMG_5813 (1024x768) by Don Serl, on Flickr



    This is pretty much my favorite kind of riding terrain:

    IMG_5816 (1024x768) by Don Serl, on Flickr


    After a little 'look' at the famous smokestack, I rode down into Butte and deposited myself in another Super 8 ( US$ 87 ) for the nite. Dinner at a diner up the street was highly forgettable! But I'd had what I reckon to be one of my finest days of touring ever! This is SUPERB country!



    map of day 1: https://www.google.ca/maps/dir/Super...46.0038232!3e0

    605 kms 8 1/2 hrs
    Last edited by doser; 10-09-2016 at 03:00 PM.
    In preparing for battle, I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensible.
    Dwight Eisenhower

  5. #4
    geriatric hooligan Array 4.5's Avatar
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    Ha!
    Strange that you would post this today. I was just going over some maps of this area in prep for next year.
    Coincidentally I just finished a novel that took place in the Sawtooth area.
    I understand how these kinds of terrain are your favourite. Likewise.
    Nothing like a wide open sight lines.
    Lack of trees often creates some mighty scenery....and reduces the chances for critters to hide in ambush.

    I just did Kelowna>Hwy6 > 31A and back for the fourth time this year. I love these roads. When you can have that kind of movement with a more open terrain it is also damn good fun. Kind of like OR 206 and 74.

    Excellent stuff! I will be taking advantage of your generosity.....again.
    Looking forward to future instalments.
    Thanks Don.

  6. #5
    Registered User Array doser's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 4.5 View Post
    I understand how these kinds of terrain are your favourite. Likewise.
    Nothing like a wide open sight lines.
    Lack of trees often creates some mighty scenery....and reduces the chances for critters to hide in ambush.
    yup, the critter factor is a big plus for open terrain. I remember a few years ago flying thru the Aufderheide Drive with LCPeter, trees right up to the edge of the pavement, thinking: I hope all the deer are taking a mid-day snooze, the way they should be. scary... we do it, but it's still scary... ( or should be, if you want a long career riding).

    whereas in the open terrain, like this stuff in ID, etc, and (my favorite) the John Day area in northeastern Oregon, (a) there's less likely to be deer around and (b) you've got a way better chance of seeing them early. (of course, you can still come zipping around a corner onto an unexpected road occupant - more likely a cow than a deer - but there's a reasonable chance of coping with that...)

    more content to come this evening...

    p.s. interesting you mention OR 206 and 74. best of all is 218, Shaniko to Fossil, wouldn't you agree?
    Last edited by doser; 09-01-2016 at 10:52 AM.
    In preparing for battle, I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensible.
    Dwight Eisenhower

  7. #6
    Registered User Array doser's Avatar
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    Day 2: Butte to Idaho Falls, indirectly...

    Down I-15, it's 330 kms and 3 hours from Butte to Idaho Falls... but as the doser flies, it's twice the distance and 3 times the duration! Not that I avoided I-15 entirely: the first 20 kms or so south eases slowly up thru the morning sunshine to the aptly named Divide, where more interesting roads await to the west.

    I-15 near Divide MT

    IMG_5824 (1024x525) by Don Serl, on Flickr


    MT 43 west from Divide reminded me of BC 3 in the Similkameen valley:


    IMG_5826 (1024x768) by Don Serl, on Flickr

    IMG_5830 (1024x542) by Don Serl, on Flickr


    ...then the enjoyable Pioneer Mountains Scenic Byway breaks south, past Elkhorn Hot Springs, the Maverick Mountain ski area, and the lovely Tash livestock ranch:


    IMG_5845 (1024x768) by Don Serl, on Flickr


    IMG_5856 (1024x751) by Don Serl, on Flickr

    ( it's more forested than the photos would indicate...)


    MT 41 from Dillon to Twin Bridges runs thru a very fertile valley, and the southeastern branch up Ruby Creek to Sheridan and beyond is remarkably attractive, albeit not especially exciting riding terrain:


    IMG_5868 (1024x450) by Don Serl, on Flickr

    MT 287 up thru Virginia City and especially on the big descent to Ennis is quite nice:


    IMG_5871 (1024x520) by Don Serl, on Flickr


    The Madison River south of Ennis bristles with fisherman:

    IMG_5875 (1024x760) by Don Serl, on Flickr


    There's a fine stretch of twisty road along Earthquake Lake and its big impounding slide (which is dwarfed, btw, by the Hope Slide, which was about twice the volume), then the valley open towards West Yellowstone. There was a huge fire burning east of the town, throwing an enormous column of smoke into the sky:

    IMG_5882 (1024x751) by Don Serl, on Flickr


    The route south on US 20 was marred by heat, heavy traffic, and paving stoppages, and I was glad to quit the main road onto MT 47, the Mesa Falls Scenic Byway. The namesake falls are very impressive, over a hundred feet tall, and an uncrowded stop. The fine building on the grounds was built as the headquarters of a company that proposed in the early 1900s to channel the waters from the falls thru a power generation plant. Luckily, permissions were not forthcoming, and the falls survived unimpeded.

    IMG_5888 (768x1024) by Don Serl, on Flickr

    It's flatlands south of the falls, and Idaho Falls provided my home for the night - I planned on heading east to Jackson Hole, but even the Super 8 up there runs about US$300 per night! As it was, I slumped into the Fairbridge at US$ 107 ( right on the river, not that I enjoyed the view or potential strolling) - welcome to tourist country, in high season! The adjoining Bees Knees provided a decent meal, after I discovered that the nearby Outback Steakhouse did not have wifi, and the neighbouring Dennys did not serve alcohol - welcome to the 21st century, people... And the Shilo next door had a really good breakfast buffet for only $7, which beat the hell out of the free 'breakfast' on site!

    map of day 2: https://www.google.ca/maps/dir/Butte...43.4916514!3e0

    575kms 9 1/2 hrs
    Last edited by doser; 10-09-2016 at 03:00 PM.
    In preparing for battle, I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensible.
    Dwight Eisenhower

  8. #7
    geriatric hooligan Array 4.5's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by doser View Post
    yup, the critter factor is a big plus for open terrain. I remember a few years ago flying thru the Aufderheide Drive with LCPeter, trees right up to the edge of the pavement, thinking: I hope all the deer are taking a mid-day snooze, the way they should be. scary... we do it, but it's still scary... ( or should be, if you want a long career riding).
    I didn't recognise Aufderheide Drive, so I looked it up. That's the Cougar Reservoir road! I know that one very well and had me an adventure on that road. A trip altering adventure. So I do know what you mean.
    The road that came to mind for me with your description of trees right to the edge of the tarmac is a paved forest road I did with a friend years ago that started southeast of Govt Camp off 26 onto 42 which turned into 46 which took us down into Detroit. There were a bunch of miles up in the high country where the forest was like a thick hedge right to the edge of a one lane tarmac 'trail'. It was a good road, nice movement, but there was no chance of turning it up because surviving is always good. We were past by 2 guys on sport bikes like we were stopped for lunch. We found the sporties at a cross road having a smoke. They were local (Portland) and this was a regular day ride for them. Although an hour or so later there was an epic 4 mile long section road I tripled, the other terrain puts that road on my 'not to be bothered with again' list. Not enjoyable.


    whereas in the open terrain, like this stuff in ID, etc, and (my favorite) the John Day area in northeastern Oregon, (a) there's less likely to be deer around and (b) you've got a way better chance of seeing them early. (of course, you can still come zipping around a corner onto an unexpected road occupant - more likely a cow than a deer - but there's a reasonable chance of coping with that...)
    I agree 100%. Not to mention the slippy cow bi-product. I was in JD in June as well.

    p.s. interesting you mention OR 206 and 74. best of all is 218, Shaniko to Fossil, wouldn't you agree?
    I would love to agree but that stretch has eluded me. Not for want of trying. Last year, on my way to Fossil via 19 and Spray, just in time for chip sealing. Not like any chip sealing I have seen before, this was pure marble gravel with no sticky. I got half way to Service Creek and turned around, not even a tiny bit fun. So I just went somewhere else. This summer I missed it again as I was escaping a very windy, rainy, and cold system that rolled into that area. I went straight up 395 (always awesome Dale to Ukiah) and the weather broke up a tad. I went east on 74/206 at Nye, all the way to Biggs. Not really a hardship. So next year for 218 and I, and I will be going in July.
    Last edited by 4.5; 09-01-2016 at 08:53 PM.

  9. #8
    Registered User Array Steve G.'s Avatar
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    Great pics!! I've ridden those very areas and yes, the riding there is always at the very least, very good.

    Interested in your 1st hotel stop in Boise. How would you rate that hotel security wise? I assume nobody screwed around with your truck/trailer while you were riding??

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    Registered User Array doser's Avatar
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    Day 3: Idaho Falls to Cody WY via the Tetons and Yellowstone

    I had been in Jackson Hole about 20 years ago, when I climbed the Grand Teton ( Exum ridge) with a friend, and I retained positive memories. Yellowstone, on the other hand, I hadn't been too since I was a kid on summer family vacation in the early 60s. It seemed time to revisit both.

    The Snake River valley east of Idaho Falls is reminiscent of the wheat country in the Palouse in WA and east of Lewiston / Clarkston:


    IMG_5895 (1024x744) by Don Serl, on Flickr


    ... and ID 31 that breaks thru the mountains from Swan Valley to Victor is a superb little section of road. Midway, I was passed by a lone rider carving hard on a fast sportbike - out from Idaho falls for a quick rip, I suspect, and the only sportbike I saw on the entire week!


    IMG_5908 (768x1024) by Don Serl, on Flickr


    The valley at Victor opens to an awesome distant view of the Tetons:

    IMG_5910 (1024x768) by Don Serl, on Flickr


    ID 33 across Teton Pass would be a superb short rip, but it's suffocated by tourist traffic in August, of course. As for Jackson Hole, well its an impressive tourist town, which absolutely REEKS of money! Not my type of town, then... But the Teton range makes up for this. There are few mountain ranges which are so dramatic in their uplift above the surrounding plains, and in the compactness of their clustered verticality.


    IMG_5917 (1024x768) by Don Serl, on Flickr


    IMG_5926 (1024x768) by Don Serl, on Flickr


    IMG_5934 (755x1024) by Don Serl, on Flickr


    The Tetons from the north, beyond Jackson Lake:

    IMG_5943 (755x1024) by Don Serl, on Flickr

    continues on next post...
    Last edited by doser; 09-01-2016 at 09:34 PM.
    In preparing for battle, I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensible.
    Dwight Eisenhower

  11. #10
    geriatric hooligan Array 4.5's Avatar
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    Fantastic country for this days ride.
    You take great pictures.
    You must have a high level of patience. All those pics mean a bunch of stopping.
    I must be a hyper old codger as I only take pictures when I have to stop. I never stop to take pictures, well not never, but almost.
    It always seems like the most enjoyable parts of the road are where the nice scenery is.

    So, we are now in Idaho Falls.
    You are but a stones throw from a stretch of road I remember enjoying a great deal. Hwy 12 Lolo to Kooskia.
    But you are likely continuing east.....we will see.

    Edit: I guess my typing is slower than I thought.....
    Last edited by 4.5; 09-01-2016 at 09:20 PM.

  12. #11
    Registered User Array doser's Avatar
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    day 3 continues: Yellowstone to Cody

    Beyond the Tetons, Yellowstone... and almost immediate frustration. After paying my US$ 40 ( !) at Moran for entry to the two parks, I rode a half an hour, then stopped in the hot sun for 45 minutes in a huge lineup at the south entry to Y'stone - no separate lane for 'paid-up' traffic! And while parts of the road are somewhat interesting, much is simply a highway carved thru the forest... or thru the remnants of the Big Burn of 1988. And the traffic, of course, is wall-to-wall...

    IMG_5946 (1024x656) by Don Serl, on Flickr

    I hadn't expected to go ripping in Y'stone anyway, so I stayed relatively calm, and the road from Grant Village over to Old Faithful was light enough in traffic to allow reasonable flow. The parking lot at the geyser is approximately the size of that provided for a mid-sized Walmart, so I didn't tarry, but poked off down the road to some less-crowded 'attractions'.

    Biscuit Basin

    IMG_5950 (1024x585) by Don Serl, on Flickr

    IMG_5958 (1024x680) by Don Serl, on Flickr


    towards Madison WY

    IMG_5967 (1024x520) by Don Serl, on Flickr


    The run from Madison east across to canyon Village was actually pretty nice, but any hope I had of stopping for a photo op at the canyon was dashed by jam-packed chaotic traffic. Enough! I buggered off south, then east for Cody! The pass east of the lake is lovely, as is the run down the Shoshone canyon.

    IMG_5972 (1024x437) by Don Serl, on Flickr

    There's a spectacular geological contact in the roadside cut in the canyon just west of Cody, with pinkish, quartz-rich granite capped by sedimentaries:

    IMG_5986 (1024x768) by Don Serl, on Flickr

    Of course, I blundered into Cody with my typical total lack of preparation (based on travel in May and September), only to find that virtually the whole town was booked up (what was I to expect?). Eventually, with the kind help of a lovely lady at the Moose Creek Lodge (over US$ 200 per nite), I found a place in a cabin at Buffalo Bills for a mere US$157. Lesson learned!

    Dinner in the restaurant at the Comfort Inn next door was forgettable, but the breakfast the next morning just down the road at Grannies was perhaps the finest I've had in my life: eggs just perfect; potatoes crispy without being oily; coffee hot and flavourful; excellent sausages. Highly recommended!

    map of day 3: https://www.google.ca/maps/dir/Idaho...44.5263422!3e0

    560 kms 9 1/2 hrs
    Last edited by doser; 09-01-2016 at 09:52 PM.
    In preparing for battle, I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensible.
    Dwight Eisenhower

  13. #12
    Registered User Array doser's Avatar
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    Day 4: Cody WY to Bozeman MT - Chief Joseph and Beartooth Passes

    I had planned to ride both the Chief Joseph highway and Beartooth Pass on an earlier trip thru Wyoming, but bad weather kept me in the lowlands. Not this time! The morning was perfect as I headed north out of Cody, warm but fresh, with an invigorating cast. I loafed up MT 120, enjoying the light and the views:


    IMG_5997 (1024x456) by Don Serl, on Flickr


    Along the way, I got passed by a pickup carrying a load of lumber ( no worries, I was in no hurry... yet...), and when we both turned west onto the Chief Joseph highway, I followed him for a while, very impressed by his pace - this fellow plainly knew the road very well! But... well, the road 'wanted' more... so I slipped by and wound it open a fair bit... and omg, what a road! Excellent pavement, long sweepers, high elevation, virtually no traffic... bliss! There was a construction stoppage midway, where the pickup pulled up behind me, and we joked about 'pace', with me complimenting the driver on his obvious knowledge of the road ( he told me he drives it about a hundred times a year), and him jesting back that it obviously wasn't quite brisk enough for me! Good clean all-American fun!

    The descent on the north side is powerfully photogenic, but fire smoke muffled the distant views.


    IMG_6001 (1024x531) by Don Serl, on Flickr


    Next came the Beartooth Pass. This climbs to and across a broad plateau, reaching just under 11,000 feet at its highest. There is huge variety to the road, with forested sweepers, open uplands, tighter rocky sections, a cliffside, and a massive descent /ascent, all without traffic, and in the middle of nowhere, and covering about a hundred kilometres. Simply superb!

    There's a reason they call it the Beartooth...

    IMG_6004 (1024x591) by Don Serl, on Flickr


    Mid-elevation, west side

    IMG_6009 (1024x519) by Don Serl, on Flickr



    Up top:


    IMG_6014 (1024x586) by Don Serl, on Flickr


    IMG_6022 (1024x768) by Don Serl, on Flickr

    Yup, there's a hell of big drop...

    IMG_6026 (1024x768) by Don Serl, on Flickr

    ...and some switchbacks are involved:

    IMG_6039 (1024x768) by Don Serl, on Flickr

    continued on next post...
    In preparing for battle, I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensible.
    Dwight Eisenhower

  14. #13
    Registered User Array doser's Avatar
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    Day 4 continued: Yellowstone again, then Bozeman

    I rode the Beartooth east, refuelled and had a drink in Red Lodge, then turned right around and rode it back west. I had stopped for photos on the eastbound leg, so I just carried on, and on, and on, westbound. What brilliant riding!

    Back down in the valley, the road continues west to Cooke City (old and touristy), then you're back into Yellowstone. The northeast entrance is remote, so there is little traffic, and while I make a practice of NOT ripping thru National Parks, there was a wonderful 'flow' to the travel across to Roosevelt Lodge and onward to Mammoth Hot Springs. And the scenery is spectacular, and highly varied. I decided Yellowstone might not be write-off after all...


    IMG_6048 (1024x768) by Don Serl, on Flickr


    IMG_6052 (1024x754) by Don Serl, on Flickr

    IMG_6056 (1024x758) by Don Serl, on Flickr


    IMG_6068 (1024x768) by Don Serl, on Flickr


    The rest of the day was relatively unremarkable, altho getting just sprinkled by the edges of a massive, roiling squall halfway between Mammoth and Livingstone kept me focussed. Then it was into Bozeman, where the somewhat-down-at-the-heels, but clean, comfy, and reasonably priced Royal 7 provided accommodation for just US$100. No wonder I don't tend to travel in summer!


    map of day 4: https://www.google.ca/maps/dir/Cody,...45.6769979!3e0

    425 kms 9 hrs
    In preparing for battle, I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensible.
    Dwight Eisenhower

  15. #14
    Registered User Array doser's Avatar
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    whew... out of energy... more later...
    In preparing for battle, I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensible.
    Dwight Eisenhower

  16. #15
    Registered User Array doser's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve G. View Post
    Interested in your 1st hotel stop in Boise. How would you rate that hotel security wise? I assume nobody screwed around with your truck/trailer while you were riding??
    there's really not much in the way of security, but the hotel is immediately off the freeway, just off the main route from downtown to the airport, and not really in an 'inhabited' area. there's a transit lot next door on one side, and a gas station the other side. I parked at the back of the lot, as far from 'prominent' as i could get. there was room to back the trailer out onto a gravel margin, then just crossed my fingers and left it and the SUV. I put a wheel lock on the trailer, a pin lock thru the ball socket release, and locking pin on the hitch shank, but none of this would impede a serious thief. i did try 2 or 3 RV storage places in Boise in the week prior to the trip, but they all either had no space or did not respond. catch as catch can...
    In preparing for battle, I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensible.
    Dwight Eisenhower

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