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We recently took a bike trip through Idaho, Eastern Oregon and Western Montana. Our trip covered a number of different roads and took 8 days to complete. Any one of these roads would make a great day ride. These are roads that seem to have been built for bikes, with tons of curves, switchbacks and great scenery. I have listed each "ride" as a separate component, in the order that we did them.
The portion of this highway that goes from Priddis, Alberta at its north end to highway #3 at its south end parallels the Porcupine Hills and the Canadian Rockies for the entire distance. The ride will take you through a collection of small towns, each with its own points of interest.
Bragg Creek at the north end of this road has some great artists' shops, several restaurants and bars where you can wet your whistle.
Next town south is Millarville, home of the Millarville Farmers Market. This makes a great morning stop. The market runs every Saturday in the summer months from 8 am to 1 pm. Get there early for the best selection.
Further south are the towns of Black Diamond and Turner Valley. There are a lot of unique shops in Black Diamond. Check out the Black Diamond Hotel if you're looking for a rest stop. The burger joint across the street from the hotel makes great home made burgers, if you're hungry.
Next stop south is the village of Longview. The Longview Hotel has an outdoor deck, cold beer and good food. We make this a regular stop when we're on this ride. Longview is the last town on this road, so be sure to gas up here.
South of Longview you will find the Bar U Historic Site. This is an historic ranch, still in operation and now a national park site. Park employees are available throughout the ranch to tell you a cowboy poem, show you how to lasso a steer, or even how to make a rope.
As you drive south from the Bar U, you will pass Chain Lakes Provincial Park and then begin a gradual upward climb into the Porcupine Hills. From here to the #3 highway, it's nothing but hills, curves, mountain views and rolling farm land.
This road is about 160 km, or 95 miles, in length.
When you reach the end of the #22 Cowboy Trail, turn west onto Highway #3. This area is rich in history, with most of the towns along this road originally getting their start as a result of coal mining that still continues in this area. This road will take you past the ruins of the Leitch Colleries and then through the Frank Slide. The interpretive center for the slide sits atop a hill overlooking the slide area. This is a must-see site for anyone travelling through this area.
Further west is the town of Bellevue, where you can do an underground mine tour. From here you will arrive in the towns of Coleman and Blairmore. There are old abandoned mines and mining equipment all over in this area. Many of the original buildings are still intact in these towns and several are impressive to see.
From here, continue west to Sparwood, British Columbia. This is home of the world's largest truck, on display alongside the highway as you come into town. From here, the road continues west to Fernie, Jaffrey and Cranbrook.
The guys at Harley Davidson of the Kootenays, in Cranbrook, offer amazing great service. If you need something for your bike, this is the place to stop. On a recent road trip (2008) one of our buddies blew the tranny in his bike. Their mechanic stayed well into the evening of the long weekend, to fix it and get us back on the road. They are located at the east end of The Strip in Cranbrook.
(The link shown is my own webpage with photos and info about things to do in this area.)
This ride is about 185 km, or 110 miles, in length.
From Cranbrook, take Highway #3/95 south towards the US border. This road will follow the Moyie River and Moyie Lake for much of its length. A favorite stop is the Kokanee Cove Hotel in Moyie. This is a great spot to stop for lunch, their food is amazing. The burgers and fries are home-made, same with the fish and chips, and the steaks will melt in your mouth! From here, you can continue south to Yahk and the Kingsgate border crossing.
This section of the ride is about 55 miles.
The ride from the border to Sandpoint is fairly interesting, with plenty of twists and turns. There is lots of great shopping to be had in Sandpoint. There are also plenty of great food and beverage selections downtown. MickDuff's is one of favorite places, it's a brew pub situated downtown.
The section of road that goes from Sandpoint to Coeur d'Alene is pretty basic, but it's worth it when you get to Coeur d'Alene. The town of CDA is quite scenic, being situated right along the lake. When we were there, we stayed at the Budget Saver Motel - I would highly recommend it. (see my hotel review) The hotel was $39.95 for a single room and included a fairly basic continental breakfast. Our room (#110) was recently completely overhauled - new carpet, new furniture, new counters, new shower, toilet and tile floor. It was spotless, and the management was really friendly and helpful. Check out the Iron Horse Bar & Grill downtown for great food. They have an outdoor seating area where you can relax & watch the world go past. Really nice spot.
When you leave CDA, stay on highway #95 for the road less travelled. This highway meanders along for about 110 miles. For the last few miles coming into Lewiston you drop down an amazing piece of road, with several switchbacks on the way. As you arrive in Lewiston, look to your left and you'll spot Shumate Harley Davidson. I'd also highly recommend the guys at Shumate. They go above and beyond for customer service. They treated us great and their prices were really incredible. The little restaurant next door to the HD dealership serves up great, simple food and the service is friendly.
This ride is about 225 miles in length.
As you leave Lewiston, take highway #129. When you arrive in Asotin, WA make sure you get gas if you need some, it's the last gas station for 80 miles.
When you leave Asotin, the road will begin to climb steeply for about a mile. From here, you travel along a flat, winding road until you reach Anatone. Then you will go through the Rattlesnake Canyon, which is one of the best bike roads we've ever travelled. You drop down into the canyon for what seems like miles, and then you begin your ascent up the other side of the canyon, into Oregon.
In Oregon you travel alongside Joseph Canyon for several miles and ultimately you will arrive in Enterprise. There are several spots to stop for a rest in Enterprise.
This ride is about 86 miles but will take you at least 2 hours, because of the turns in the canyon.
From Enterprise, take highway #82 west. The road goes through Lostine, Wallowa, Elgin and La Grande. From La Grande take highway #203 to Union and North Powder, then highway #30 through Haines and on to Baker City. Once you reach historic Baker City, jump onto highway #86 and travel through Richland and Halfway and then head into the Hells Canyon. You can drive up to the Hells Canyon Dam, then come back to the main highway and continue down the road to Joseph and finally Enterprise. This route is about 350 miles, if you include the detour up to Hells Canyon Dam and back. We broke this ride into 2 days.
For great places to eat, check out Haines Steak House in Haines, El Erradero in Baker City, and Annie's in Richland. There is also a little spot just before the turn off to Hells Canyon Dam, called the Hells Canyon Inn that serves great food and a store called Scotty's Hells Canyon Supply. Be sure to gas up at Scotty's, as it's the last place for gas for quite a distance.
Take highway #7 south out of Baker City about 6 miles to the Hereford-Unity cut off on Highway 245. Take highway 245 over Dooley Mountain (elev 5392). You'll come off the mountain into the Burnt River Valley and follow the river all the way to Unity. At Unity head back west on Highway #26 to Austin Junction and turn right onto highway #7 towards Sumpter. At Sumpter you can check out the gold mining dredge, the Sumpter Valley Railroad and several pubs. Good food can be found at the Elkhorn Saloon. From Sumpter, continue west to Granite. You can get gas in Granite if you need it. Head north from Granite about 10 miles and turn right onto the Anthony Lakes road. While this road is paved all the way, keep your eyes open for loose gravel patches and potholes. Anthony Lakes is near the summit of the Elkhorn Ridge of the Blue Mountains, with elevations of 9000 ft. There is some beautiful scenery here. As you come down from the mountain, turn onto Highway 30 and go south to Haines. From Haines, you can continue on to Baker City, if you want.
(The link is to my own webpage with photos of Hells Canyon and the Sumpter gold mining dredge.)
This road is about 160 miles in length.
Take highway #86 east into the scenic Hells Canyon. At Oxbow Dam, turn right onto highway #71 towards the Brownlee Dam. From the dam continue on to Cambridge.
Cambridge is another historic town with plenty of neat little spots to stop for a break. From Cambridge, take highway #95 to Grangeville. The road from New Meadows to White Bird is just spectacular, following the Salmon River most of the way. Just north of New Meadows there are several pull-outs where you may want to stop and take some pictures of the Salmon River - it's a pretty rugged river. Be sure to stop in Riggins at the Seven Devils Steak House for some great food, cold beer and friendly service. The walls of this place are covered with the names of previous patrons - be sure to leave your mark too. Once you reach Grangeville, turn right onto highway #13, which will take you to the little town of Kooskia. There are a couple of friendly little bars in this town and a cafe. For accomodations, I would recommend you continue north and east on highway #12 a short distance - there are plenty of B&B's along this road and nice cabins for rent in Lowell. We stayed in Kooskia and we won't make that mistake again!
This ride is about 255 miles.
Drive north out of Kooskia about a mile and turn right (east) onto highway #12. This ride is really spectacular, and follows the Selway, Clearwater and Lochsa rivers for much of its length. You will ride over the Lolo Pass, about 5233 ft in elevation. About 10 miles after the summit is Lolo Hot Springs, which makes a nice spot to stop and relax for a couple of hours before continuing on to Lolo and Missoula. Be sure to gas up in Kooskia or Lowell, as its 100 miles from Kooskia to Lolo Summit.
This whole ride is about 145 miles in length.
Take the I 90 freeway about 4 miles east from Missoula, to the highway #93 exit. Go north on highway #93 to Polson, then turn right onto highway #35 towards Bigfork.
The road from Polson to Bigfork follows the Flathead Lake for its entire length and is really pretty. At Bigfork, stop in at The Raven for some good food and a locally brewed beer. The view from the patio of the pub is really awesome. Our favorite place to stay in Bigfork is the Swan River Inn. They have theme rooms, the prices are reasonable and the rooms are fabulous. Take highway #35 north out of Bigfork. Just past Creston you will turn right onto highway #206 towards Columbia Falls. This road comes out on the east side of Columbia Falls, and you turn right onto highway #2 towards Hungry Horse, Coram and West Glacier. At West Glacier, you have the option of taking the Going to the Sun road to St. Mary (only open late June to mid October), or continue east to East Glacier At East Glacier, you will turn into the park and take highway #49 to Kiowa and then turn left onto highway #89 towards St Mary, Babb, and Waterton Lakes National Park. You may want to stop in East Glacier at Serrano's Mexican Restaurant (opens at 5:00 pm) or at the Cattle Baron Supper Club in Babb or the Two Sisters Cafe just north of St Mary. All of these places have great food and cold drinks. This whole ride is about 230 miles in length to Babb.
This distance does not include the optional detour into West Glacier and over the GTTS road, which is about 35 miles shorter but will take about the same amount of time or more than going through East Glacier.