I'd like to hear any observations about Hwy 200 from Missoula to Great Falls to shorten the L&C Route a bit. Services and campgrounds appear sparse? Anyone with direct experience on that route? We're considering traversing the continental divide that way the last week of May or first week of June.
In addition to the Adventure Cycling maps, you might also consider buying Tod Rodger’s Bicycle Guide to the Lewis & Clark Trail
If you want to be cheap, you can print it from the internet by going to http://www.deerfootpublications.com/book.html
. However, if you are going to use the material, then you should buy the book, because it’s the ethical thing to do. Otherwise, why should anyone bother to write a book for you to use?
According to Rodgers:
“Summary Data for Three Routes:
[Route] Distance Climbing
Lemhi Pass 460 mi. 15,000 ft.
Big Hole 420 mi. 13,000 ft.
Route 200 Shortcut 170 mi. 7,000 ft.”
Read more about them here: http://www.deerfootpublications.com/chapters/04h_1.pdf
Note that he lists lodging, campgrounds, and bicycle shops for the routes.
I’ve travelled both westbound (2002) and eastbound (2006) on the Lewis & Clark Trail with Historical Trails Cycling, http://www.historicaltrailscycling.com/
. Both times we took Hwy 200, with stops at Great Falls (dormitory), Lincoln (campground), and Missoula (dormitory). A self-contained cyclist might need an extra day or two.
I do NOT remember any problems with traffic or big trucks. From Simms to Rodgers Pass I remember a lot of ups and downs. My method was to get to the top of the hill, and instead of coasting, peddle downhill getting as much momentum as possible to make it easier to get up the other side. A 19” granny gear really helps on the uphills. Westbound there was a bar open partway between Simms and the pass. We stopped to use the bathroom and bought some pop to compensate the owner. Eastbound it was closed. It can be tough finding bathrooms in Big Sky Country, and often there aren’t any trees or big bushes.
The Montana Bicycle Map, http://www.mdt.mt.gov/travinfo/docs/bike_map.pdf
, gives the Average July Daily Truck Traffic and the Average July Daily Total Traffic for the various sections of HWY 200 and other roads. It also shows shoulder width, grade percentage, and if there are rumble strips.
I consider a wide rumble strip on the shoulder as proof the governmental body wants cyclists to be riding in the lane. If the lane is less than 14 feet wide you should not share it. Ride toward the middle of the lane to make it clear that the overtaking motorist must change lanes to pass. Yes, you can!
Keep in mind the current economic situation might result in closed businesses including campgrounds (private and government), small motels, and restaurants.
In summary, Hwy 200 is a good shortcut between Great Falls and Missoula, MT.