Routes Across Idaho
Hi - In a thread some time back jamawani mentioned the following route which I'd dearly like to do:
"There's a very nice route across central Idaho from Payette to Lowman to Stanley to Challis to Rexburg. Hot springs along route between Banks and Lowman - Sawtooth Rec Area is really beautiful - east of Stanley the road follows the Salmon River for miles, simply gorgeous - then US 93 cuts between two mountain ranges."
I've got late June / early July in mind for this route so my questions are
1) still possibly under snow during this window? Good friend of mine says these roads are melt-out only (no plowing / snowthrowing)
2) have also heard that these road may or may not be in decent shape for cycling. Rumor is that Idaho's DOT is not flush with $$ for regular repairs & maintenance.
Still - I'm smitten with the aesthetics of this route & really hope it'll go! Any advice on this route / 1st hand experience?
The last time I did it was in June of 2004.
Nary a drop of snow near the roads.
The stretch between Hwy 55 and Lowman is county maintained, but open year-round.
Since it is between 3500 and 3800 feet - very low elevation for the West - it will be snow free -
Barring a freak, late snowstorm.
Stanley is often the icebox of the nation, esp. in the summer.
But Hwy 21 is state maintained. Any winter snow is gone by late May.
Plus, late-spring snows combined with plowing are gone from the road in a day or two.
I'd say you have about a 1 in 50 chance of encountering any snow on the road.
And that's with a very late snowstorm and only in the highest elevations.
The Sawtooth Mountains, however, will be snow-capped and beautiful.
Thanks a ton!
Roads? Any long stretches of "au-naturale" (unpaved)?
My wife and I rode this route in 2001, east to west. Just thinking about it still sends chills down my spine -- the good kind. We went from Rexburg up Hwy 28 to Salmon, through Stanley, McCall, to the Snake River. Spectacular scenery from Salmon all the way to Hells Canyon, especially the Sawtooths. Roads were excellent, and relatively low traffic except on Hwy 95. Seeing as that was 6 years ago, road conditions might have changed... But I'd do it again in a heartbeat.
Lots of campgrounds, hot springs on Hwy 21, Stanley has the best bakery in Idaho, historical sites abound. The first 80 miles out of Rexburg (westbound) are the only exception; this is dry and desolate, only one town (Terreton) and a couple hamlets until Leadore.
The stretch between Lowman and Garden Valley follows a river, but it was surprisingly tough because the road climbs and dips multiple times, high over the bluffs. One of the best parts of the ride was descending out of the Sawtooths, I seem to remember about 20 miles without pedaling, lots of it on the brakes. If you're heading east..... forget I mentioned it
Riding Dirt -
Only if you want to - or if Idaho DOT is completely pulling up the pavement on a stretch.
You could contact Idaho DOT and ask about construction on your specific roads.
There are three options for cutting southeast from Challis -
1. US 93 to Arco - paved - light to moderate traffic - stunning views
2. Goldburg Road from Ellis to Howe - mostly paved - super in 1994
3. Hwy 28 - all paved - very light traffic - very laid back
Maybe let the wind direct you from Challis -
If there's a good southwest wind, follow the Salmon River all the way to Salmon and take #3
Of course, eventually, you have to turn south - so bear that in mind.
#2 is hardest but most remote. All are great routes.
Thanks for all of the swell info.
Will indeed be going West to East (oofah!) - this would be the Idaho leg of a TransAm if all goes well.
More psyched about this route than ever!
Ths is link to a map of the "Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes". It's a bike trail which goes from near Coeur d'Alenes across the state toward Montana. The map shows the trail contining on from it's eastern terminus on a trail called the "Nor Pac trail", which I haven't been able to find much info on. It may be a bit of a detour, but at least you might have different photo's from the normal route!
I haven't ridden this trail, but did do a week long loop tour from Sun Valley to Stanley, to Challis, to Arco, and back to Sun Valley via a few gravel roads and bike paths. I thought the roads were fine. There are a ton of hot springs in Idaho. With a bit of research, you might get one every night. What a treat!
Here's a link for Idaho hot springs.