’99: Seattle up to the NT for the entire route.
’00: Seattle to the NT to Glacier N.P., backtracked to Columbia Falls, Great Parks to Missoula, TransAm to Fairplay, CO.
’02: Cycle Oregon, which included much of the OR portion of the TA.
’06: CANDISC, which included some of what is now the new NT routing into Bismarck.
’09: NT between Whitefish and Eureka, MT and the west side of Going to the Sun.
’11: 2 ½ days on the TransAm between Missoula and the east side of Big Hole Pass.
1. The OR potion of the TA was far less interesting than the NT with the notable exception of McKenzie Pass. And, IIRC, the distances between services were usually greater on this stretch of the TA.
2. The scenery between Anacortes and Glacier, N.P. is fabulous. Once you cross the Cascades via Rainy/Washington Passes, indoor sleeping options on the NT were relatively easy to find. Places like Winthrop, Tonasket, Omak, Republic, Colville, Sandpoint, ID. You don’t have to cross two passes to find places to camp, eat or sleep inside. As noted, you might get wet and/or chilly weather. Both times I left Seattle the third week in May and took three days to get up to the NT. First time there was rain and snow on Washington Pass and then again on Sherman Pass. Generally, we had numerous chilly and/or damp days through Whitefish, MT. But you can get that on the TA. In Missoula near the end of June ’11 it was chilly and drizzly that evening and the next morning, and the next two nights on the road it was 40 or below.
3. The ride up Going to the Sun in Glacier National Park is hard to beat. Waterton Village in Canada is in a dramatic setting. However, east of Cut Bank, MT, the scenery is nothing to write home about. Lots of open farm and ranch land, but there are plenty of towns usually spaced nicely apart.
4. I would trust the re-route though ND. During CANDISC we rode a couple of days in that area. Very little traffic except for in Bismarck, and even that wasn’t really bad. Two friends just did the NT last summer. They didn’t have any problems in that area. Haven’t seen the new map for that section, but in general I like riding in ND. The general lack of traffic in most places and open skies gives a sense of freedom. The winds, on the other hand, can be brutal. With very few trees there is little shade and nothing to block the wind. You will see trees again once you get into MN.
5. Columbia Falls/Whitefish to Missoula is nice overall. Missoula south/east through Montana is really nice, especially Darby through Big Hole Pass to Dillon and then on to Ennis. Services are adequately spaced for the most part. (Don’t expect high quality tea and coffee in most small towns.) Wasn’t a huge fan of riding in Yellowstone/Teetons due to the traffic. South of there it was fine most places except for a couple of noted areas in CO. The stretch between Lander and Rawlins, WY has very few services.
Send me a PM if you have any questions.