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01-03-09, 11:23 AM
Anybody ever go from Salt Lake City area to Missoula area? Riding I-15 looks pretty scary to me. Anybody know a reasonable back roads route? One without epic climbs or adding 200 miles. How good is highway 93 form Arco to Missoula?
Thanks for reading.
01-05-09, 11:42 AM
Greetings from the Great American Desert:
I was also considering this route last year.
As far as the Salt Lake part, you have a wide variety of choices for the SLC to Ogden leg. I prefer staying out west - more or less shadowing the Great Salt Lake - since it is flatter out there.
Ogden to Brigham City is essentially via Highway 89 ... and then the route choices open up again as far as heading toward the Idaho border.
I posted an inquiry about US93 back in January of 2007.
John Egan, who has pedaled more miles in the western US than anyone I have ever heard of, posted this in response:
Are you only going to Polson or are you heading further north to Glacier?
Will you be doing a round trip or one-way?
I've ridden most of US 93 from Nevada north over the years but it's been some time since I've been on the parts you mention because it has so much traffic. US 93 in Idaho is pretty good - fairly low traffic, but not much of a shoulder ever. The Salmon River Valley is lovely - esp. in the morning and evening - can be pretty hot in the middle of the day. There's a cafe in Gibbonsville with great homemade pies and camping out back. Lost Trail Pass was rebuilt about 8 years ago - so it's got an even grade and is pretty safe.
From Hamilton to Kalispell, US 93 has HEAVY traffic and iffy shoulders. There's a back road thru the Bitterroot Valley (Routes 269 & 203) and an option around Flathead Lake (MT 35 - which still has a lot of traffic). There's a reason AC doesn't have a route on US 93. But even their route up MT 83 isn't the greatest - moderate traffic, narrow to no shoulders, and limited views.
The best route for low traffic, quiet, and scenery is on the east side - US 89 from Choteau north. In exchange for stunning views of the Front Range, you are exposed to more wind - but it is worth it. US 287 in southern Montana is really nice, but is pretty nasty south of Helena - and you'd have to take US 20 in Idaho - - bleah!
If you chose to do the eastern route thru Choteau - I'd take US 93 to Lost Trail Pass, then cut east thru Wisdom, Anaconda, Drummond, Lincoln, and hit US 287 south of Augusta. Really, really nice. There is a small stretch of dirt north of Drummond to Helmville. Going north it would be downhill - it's well maintained, hardpack, usually with a nice bikeable track.
I more or less gave up on SLC to Missoula, in favor of looking more to the east: Buffalo or Sheridan Wyoming instead.