Renee has done a great job of documenting our entire trip and I wanted to add some details from my perspective.
Planning: We decided on this trip last fall, and started planning last December. Between December and July we changed significant details several times. Once we started out, we thought we were all set, but as the trip unfolded we found ourselves making changes on the fly. The biggest change we made was to cut our stay in Glacier NP short which allowed us to ride in the Black Hills and get home a day earlier.
Sometimes I think that I tend to over-plan. But we executed a very complicated trip from a logistics standpoint with very few issues. Besides, I enjoy the planning part of the trip almost as much as the trip itself, so in retrospect, we probably put the right amount of effort into planning this trip.
Here are some of my thoughts and highlights from the trip:
Day 1: Drive from home to Oacoma, SD
Driving: 576 miles
Highlight: First view of changing scenery as we descended into Chamberlain, SD.
Day 2: Drive from Oacoma, SD to Laurel, MT
Driving: 534 Miles
Highlight: Nostalgia stop at Wall Drug and supper at the Beartooth Grill (Great Food and Service!!)
Day 3: Rode the Beartooth Highway and Chief Joseph Highway from Laurel, MT to Cody, WY. Visited the Cody Dam.
Riding: 268 Miles
Highlight: Beartooth and Chief Joseph Highways.
Following is a map of our route and an altitude profile along the route:
What I would change next time: The next time I would skip Cody (and maybe Chief Joseph) and ride the Beartooth all the way to Cooke City-Silver Gate and maybe into Yellowstone.
Day 4: Drive from Laurel, MT to Missoula, MT
Driving Miles: 328 Miles
Highlight: La Quinta Inn, Missoula.
Day 5: Rode from Missoula, MT; St. Regis MT; St. Maries, ID; Moscow, ID.
Riding: 262 Miles
Highlight: This was my favorite day of riding for the entire trip. My favorite road was Gold Greek Road from the Montana/Idaho border to the St. Joseph Scenic Byway. This road was smooth and twisty and there was no traffic for most of the ride. When we did see traffic, it was 1 car or truck at a time.
The other thing that was really cool about this ride was when an osprey was gliding down the river fishing right beside us for about 2 miles. Here is some video of Gold Creek Road just after we crossed into Idaho.
Here is our route and altitude profile for this ride:
What I would change next time: I think if I rode this ride again, I would loop North out of Avery to Wallace, Id. This was a great ride, but I felt that the best part of the St. Joseph Scenic Route was between St. Regis and Avery.
Day 6: Ride from Moscow, ID, to Lewiston, ID, then over the Lolo highway back to Missoula, MT.
Riding: 263 Miles
Hightlights: Old Staircase Highway, Winchester Grade Road, Idaho 64 into Kamiah, and of course, the Lolo Highway. Dinner at the Stone of Accord in Missoula.
Here is our route for day 6:
What I would change next time: I would like to spend more time exploring Lewiston and Missoula. However, our schedule really didn’t leave us much time for that.
Day 7: Drive from Missoula, MT to Seattle, WA.
Driving: 484 Miles.
Highlight: Making it to Seattle to visit our son and his fiance.
Days 8 and 9: Weekend in Seattle.
Driving: 0 Miles
Highlights: Visiting and helping them pack in preparation for a move into their new house.
Day 10: Drive from Seattle, WA to Libby, MT.
Driving: 453 Miles.
Highlights: Great scenery on US 2 between Seattle, WA and Libby, MT. Hiking at Kootenai Falls.
Day 11: Ride from Libby, MT, to Yaak, MT, then over to Lake Koocanusa and back to Libby. Then Drive from Libby, MT, to East Glacier Village, MT
Riding: 137 Miles; Driving: 176 Miles
Highlights: The entire route and Libby Dam.
Here is our riding route:
This also happened in Libby, MT:
What I would change next time: Having ridden this route clockwise, I think it would be really great to ride it in reverse. I also would like to ride along the West bank of lake Koocanusa.
Day 12: Riding in Glacier National Park.
Riding: 175 Miles
Highlights: Going to the Sun Road, Montana 49, hiking to St. Mary and Virginia Falls.
Here is our route:
What I change next time: I would not go back to Swift Current. It was not that interesting for me and the road was incredibly terrible. I’m sure that the road will be repaired eventually, but having been there once, I would not need to return. I would also like to explore some of the roads to Polebridge.
Day 13: Drive from East Glacier Village, MT, to Rapids City, SD.
Driving: 731 Miles.
Highlights: Watching the sun rise as we drove across Montana.
Day 14: Riding in the Black Hills, Driving to Oacoma, SD.
Riding: 125 Miles; Driving: 205 Miles
Highlights: Mount Rushmore, Needles Highway, Mount Coolidge, Wildlife Loop Road, Riding through a herd of Bison, Iron Mountain Road, Dinosaur Park.
Here is our route in the Black Hills:
What I would change next time: We added the Black Hills ride to our trip at the last minute so we only had a limited time. I think we need to go back and spend a few days riding some of the gravel roads in and around the Black Hills.
Day 15: Driving from Oacoma, SD to Home.
Driving: 576 Miles.
Highlight: Sleeping in my own bed for the first time in 2 weeks!!
This trip was in the planning stages for a long time (mainly because we started planning so early). The plans we made were ambitious, but we managed to do everything we set out to do, and more.
Thanks for coming along for the ride!!