Author Topic: NW Montana: A trip report  (Read 740 times)

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Offline driftlessregion

NW Montana: A trip report
« on: August 04, 2021, 05:10:17 pm »
NW Montana: A Trip Report
https://ridewithgps.com/routes/36907788
Four of us in July using the route in the link.
 Much of this route was wonderful: beautiful, low traffic, good roads. However, two lane roads in Montana are posted as 70 mph. Roads that in Wisconsin would be posted  55 mph.

The pandemic affected many aspects of our trip. Many restaurants along the route and all the National Park facilities could not use the usual young people from Europe and Scandinavia since they couldn’t get visas due to the pandemic. It also meant that in the remote area between mile 120 and 200 the National Forest campgrounds were not full because the Canadians couldn’t cross the border. Outside of that area all the private campgrounds were very full and the campgrounds that were open in Glacier were full.

We started at a campground Kalispell and ended at a resort with hot tubs Columbia Falls. There is a lovely bike path leaving Kalispell which ran parallel to US 2. The next 30 miles shoulders on US 2 ranged from 10’ to nonexistent. Thus the experience on Hwy 2 was good to harrowing. After Troy the traffic became very light which helped. The section of US 2 from Browning to West Glacier also varied in the same way.
The stretch from mile 120-200 was amazing. Someone on this forum 18 months ago recommended going to Yaak and I thank them for the suggestion. There’s nothing there but the route from Yaak to the lake was one of our two favorite days (the day going to Yaak was great too).  The other favorite was St Mary to Browning (miles 345-378) on the high plains. Believe it or not Going To The Sun Road was only the third favorite day.

The temperatures were in the low to high 80’s but the extremely low humidity helped moderate that. Overnight low  temps varied from 39-62 F. Smoke was always hanging over the mountains so couldn’t get clear photos. Only one of us felt the smoke physically and for just one day.

Whitefish is a mountain bike town so I had to settle for a 32 mm road tire instead of the 35 I ride when I tore a sidewall that couldn’t be fixed with a boot.

Poor breakfast opportunities in St Mary, Browning, and Columbia Falls. Lots of good restaurants in Whitefish which were very busy at lunch time on the weekend. Ate lots of huckleberry pie along the route.

« Last Edit: August 05, 2021, 02:12:21 pm by driftlessregion »

Offline John Nettles

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Re: NW Montana: A trip report
« Reply #1 on: August 04, 2021, 07:42:55 pm »
Ate lots of huckleberry pie along the route.
One of the many great reasons Idaho & Montana are some of my favorite places to ride.  Sure wish they could somehow grow huckleberries commercially so you could get fresh one in other parts of the country.

Offline John Nelson

Re: NW Montana: A trip report
« Reply #2 on: August 04, 2021, 09:46:08 pm »
Thanks for the very interesting report.

The other favorite was St Mary to Browning (miles 245-278) on the high plains.

It'll make more sense if you edit this to say 345-378 instead of 245-278.

Believe it or not Going To The Sun Road was only the third favorite day.

I don't believe it.

Offline driftlessregion

Re: NW Montana: A trip report
« Reply #3 on: August 05, 2021, 02:17:01 pm »
oops. thanks for the catch. edit made.
The reason GTSR fell to 3rd is the lack of traffic, but it is fair to say all three segments were magnificent maybe no need to rank them.
By the way, Montana's drivers fall way behind those in Minnesota, South Dakota, Washington, Wisconsin, Indiana for courtesy  while sharing the road in our experience.