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Thread: Hello Idaho Riders!

  1. #1
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    Hello Idaho Riders!

    I'm in the process of planning a western States Tour for some of my European friends. We plan on renting bikes in Colorado and do a 3 week loop out west.

    We plan on entering Idaho from Hell's Canyon then following Hwy 71, 95, 55, 21, 75, 20 to Idaho Falls. Then the Teton and Mesa Falls Scenic Byways to West Yellowstone.

    I would appreciate any input on the route or suggested changes (pavement please) and also any recommendations for lodging and places to eat & see. Prefer reasonable and if possible unique!

    Thanks
    Bob Alexander
    08 BMW RA Rally Chair

  2. #2
    Two Bricks Shy of a Load RocksforBrains's Avatar
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    Idaho Route

    Hi Bob:

    Your route through Idaho looks fine. One suggestion is that as you travel south on Hwy 55 from McCall towards Boise there is a shortcut that will save many miles and about two to three hours of travel time. About 20 miles or so north of Boise on Hwy 55 you can turn east at Banks on Hwy 17 (Banks to Lowman Highway). It is a nice ride along the south fork of the Payette river and takes you through a nice canyon. It is paved all the way and is in good shape. It intersects Hwy 21 at Lowman. Hang a left (north) and you are on your way to Stanley on Hwy 21. Of course, if your intent is to route through Boise then thats OK too and forget about this shortcut.

    At Stanley as you take Hwy 75 south torward Ketchum/Sun Valley make sure you stop at the scenic lookout near the top of Galena summit, which is about 30-45 minutes south of Stanley. You can look down at the headwaters of the salmon river and see about 75-100 miles down the length of the Sawtooth mountains. In my opinion maybe the best vista in Idaho (accesssible from a paved road!)

    Hwy 20 is boring and flat but there is really no good alternative to Idaho Falls and Yellowstone unless you do a big detour up through Montana which will add many hours to your trip. Good luck and happy riding!!

    Kurt

  3. #3
    Dances With Sheep GREGFEELER's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RocksforBrains View Post
    Hi Bob:

    Your route through Idaho looks fine. One suggestion is that as you travel south on Hwy 55 from McCall towards Boise there is a shortcut that will save many miles and about two to three hours of travel time. About 20 miles or so north of Boise on Hwy 55 you can turn east at Banks on Hwy 17 (Banks to Lowman Highway). It is a nice ride along the south fork of the Payette river and takes you through a nice canyon. It is paved all the way and is in good shape. It intersects Hwy 21 at Lowman. Hang a left (north) and you are on your way to Stanley on Hwy 21. Of course, if your intent is to route through Boise then thats OK too and forget about this shortcut.

    Kurt

    I'll add a second vote for the Bank/Lowman highway route from 55 to 21. It's an exceptional piece of road, and unless you want/need to go to Boise will keep you our of a lot of traffic, and heat in the summer time. Part of that road takes you past a deep canyon that offers some pretty nice views of it's own. Do keep a camera handy in your tank bag through most of Idaho.
    Greg Feeler
    BMW MOA Director & Ambassador
    1972 R75/5, 1990 K75, 1990 K1, 1992 K75S, 2003 K1200RS

  4. #4
    MysticRed
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    Yea, don't miss the Stanley area. Spent a few days there last summer.
    Front door of the Redwood Cabins.


    The back yard of the Redwood Cabins, Lower Stanley.

  5. #5
    Registered User RINTY's Avatar
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    Idaho routes

    Time to get my Idaho maps out again...got some great memories of 55, 21, and a bunch more.

    Going back this September.
    Last edited by rinty; 02-11-2009 at 04:28 PM.
    Rinty

    "When you don't know where you're going, any road will get you there."

  6. #6
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    Hells Canyon.

    That is a toss up! If you go north on 95 a]to highway 13 at Grangeville to Highway 12 at Kooskia. You will exit Highway 12 onto Highway 93 which you can follow down to Stanley, to Sun Valley then across Highway 20 to Arco, home of the nuclear navy. Hull 666's sail USNS Hawkbill sits in the science park. For those in your group that are techies, there are two very large nuclear jet engines that were build in the 50's to power a large aircraft the likes of which have never been seen. These engines ran on the ground but never made it into the air. They sit next to EBR-1 in the deserts of Idaho on INEEL property.


    Highway 12, also known as the Lolo pass highway is a 120 mile long road that follows the shore of the Lochsa River for most of the route. You will also get to experience Montana's 70 mph speed limits on this old two lane road once you cross over at the Idaho-Montana border. It is an amazing ride that will help wear the rubber off of the side of the ole tires.

    I dont know how you are for time, but this is a great ride. You get to experience the canyons north of Riggins. These canyons can reach temperatures in excess of 100 degrees during the summer months, so be prepared. Stay hydrated, watch others in your group. I have seen many tshirt clad riders off on the side of the road dehydrated and in trouble in this area.

    Another side attraction is the old White Bird Hill road, reminiscent of the old Italian Alps switchback roads on a much smaller scale. You exit highway 93 and go through the town of White Bird and head north through an old Indian battlefied. Enjoy the road but pay attention. This is an open range area and it is not uncommon to run across cattle or their grass eating byproduct on this road as it is not heavily traveled.

    Another plus is there is a BMW shop in Clarkston (a bit north of the Highway 12 cutoff at Kooskia) that can handle any maintanence needs you may have. There is also an outstanding shop in Boise should the need arise.

    I lived in Idaho for years and any of the roads mentioned will give you a great ride. Highway 55 south is awesome in places. 93 south is fairly mundane when compared to the others. Lolo pass is one of those roads one should do once in their lifetime.
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  7. #7
    MT State of mind
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    Mesa Falls is amazing. You've got to walk out and see it.

    Riding out of Swan Valley Idaho, I hit crosswind like I have never hit before. I don't think words will ever do it justice. I have been riding for over 40 years and I ride around Glacier National Park quite often. Just remembering this particular section of a Montana-Colorado-Wyoming-Idaho trip makes my gut clench tightly; just thinking of it increases my pulse rate. I hunkered down and closed the gap, riding behind whatever vehicle was in front of me, and tailgated close enough to be in their wind buffer zone.

    If your friends are not absolutely experienced, then try to hit these upslope and downslope sections early in the morning, before the convection currents kick in. As the valley floors heat, they suck wind from the mountainsides. This funnels through the breaks in the lower ranges, following the river valleys, and the wind picks up speed because of these narrows.

  8. #8
    Registered User RINTY's Avatar
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    Idaho roads.

    Highway 21 between Lowman and Idaho City is one of the best sections of road I've ever been on. We're headed back there next September.
    Rinty

    "When you don't know where you're going, any road will get you there."

  9. #9
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    Lowman to Idaho City

    Yes..the Idaho City to Lowman ride is amazing. It use to be the major road to Sun Valley years ago. Now with the Lowman to Garden Valley road being paved with far fewer switchbacks, the Lowman to Idaho City Road is not so heavily traveled. It is a favorite of many Boise and surrounding area riders. Because it is not heavily traveled, you may see accumulations of sand in the corners, so be wary. I have also crossed paths with deer, elk and bears on this route. The two bears were cubs and crossed the road in front of me in the dead of night. I was extremely alert for quite some time expecting mama to be crossing right behind them.

    There are a couplel of hotsprings just past Lowman, a great way to relax after a hard day of riding.

    The attached photo is of White Bird Hill north of Riggins ID.
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  10. #10
    Registered User RINTY's Avatar
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    Idaho back roads

    I had the good fortune to ride it on a Buell one way, and on an FJR 1300 the other. You guys are lucky to have that in your back yard. Mr. Vice President must burn off quite a bit of RS sidewall rubber on that section, too.

    We'll have to take in White Bird Hill next September; good thing you posted that.

    This was taken at Libby Dam, on the way down:

    Rinty

    "When you don't know where you're going, any road will get you there."

  11. #11
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    From the Montana side entrance to Lolo Pass Highway.

    I was returning home after witnessing the start of the Iron Butt Rally Start in Missoula. A couple of the riders passed me while I battled with the camera. The hills were ablaze that year. Something else to keep in mind when riding in the northwest. Have alternate plans on these long trips should your first choice roads be closed due to forest fires.
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  12. #12
    staciebug2923
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    Question any tips

    I am planning to take one weekend trip a month this summer starting in april. I live in spokane wa and would love to here about routes from here to some of these spots, but do you also have some good suggestions for inexspensive places to stay, wither with a tent or small cabin. Thanks

  13. #13
    MysticRed
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    White Pine Motel, Orofino, ID. Less than $50 a night, large CLEAN rooms and nice size color T.V. No pool though.

  14. #14
    Registered User RINTY's Avatar
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    Idaho

    Stacie:

    A few miles west of Stanley, on highway 21 there is a good gravel road that goes 6 miles to Sawtooth Lodge. It's where they hold the Stanley Stomp. I think Jan, the operator, would be OK if you camped there, or just west of there. Here's the website, it's a great place:

    http://www.sawtoothlodge.com/main.cfm

    Sorry I can't make any other suggestions, but there are inexpensive places all over the place, and pre season or post season, you won't need reservations in most places.

    Have fun.
    Rinty

    "When you don't know where you're going, any road will get you there."

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