Route Suggestions - Missoula to Amtrak
I'm planning a Lewis and Clark ride this summer, starting in Portland and heading east. I hope to make it at least to Missoula, and I want to take Amtrak back to Portland. It looks like from Missoula you have to head north to catch the train. Does anyone have a suggested route that includes good roads, good scenery, and camping along the way? (And some grocery stores/restaurants for food?)
The most direct would be Hwy 93 straight to Whitefish. Services are plentiful. There's an RV park in Polson.
The roads carry a bit more traffic than one would wish, but it's do-able. The East side of Flathead lake is a really dangerous road, don't do that one.
Don't forget to check if your intended station has baggage handling, not all amtrack stations let you load bags. Whitefish does.
If you have extra time, I'd to through Glacier over Going to the Sun road and then find another train station over there.
Edit to add: FYI, I have actually ridden both sides of the lake, the above is from personal experience.
Take AC's Great Parks North route north to Whitefish and catch the Empire Builder to Portland. Whitefish has checked baggage service, which you will need if you plan on shipping your bike. I did it 10 years ago in the opposite direction and it was nice enough, although the section between Kalispell and Whitefish is heavily developed and I cannot vouch for current traffic conditions along the route since it was so long ago. Camped at Bigfork (Wayfarer Flasthead Lake State Park, I believe) and Lake Alva USFS campground with water and pit toilettes). For the latter, you will probably have to carry food as I don't think there was anything around. I bought some sandwich fixings at a deli north of Lake Alva. Lake Alva is about 11 miles north of Seeley Lake, where you should be able to get food.
indyfabz route is much nicer than mine, I was just mentioning the most direct route.
Good idea. East Glacier Station has checked baggage hours from 8:45 a.m. to 5 p.m.. If you have the time you could ride from Whitefish to Sprague Creek Campground in Glacier NP and cross Logan Pass the next day and stay at St. Mary Campground or one of the commercial campgrounds outside the park. The next day you could ride U.S. 89 south to MT 49. That would take you right to the station. The climb out of St. Mary is stiff, and there are some additonal shorter hills before MT 49. MT 49 through Blackfoot land is somewhat narrow and curvy on the way up to Looking Glass Hill, but it's a pretty ride with great views that's not that arduous. Just did it last year. From the summit it's virtually all down hill to East Glacier, where there is camping, a motel, a hostel and several places to eat.
Originally Posted by valygrl
Alternatively, you could ride to Glacier, ride up and back down the west side of GTS Road and head back to Whitefish the following day. If you do either, make sure you follow the route AC uses from Columbia Falls to West Glacier, which is MT 486 (a/k/a N. Fork Rd.) to Blankenship Rd. to Belton Stage Rd. From there, the AC route makes a right onto Lake 5 Rd. to get to U.S. 2, but you can stay on Belton Stage to U.S. 2. Do not take U.S. 2 all the way from Columbia Falls as there is a section approaching Hungry Horse (I just love saying that name) that is narrow and has lots of traffic and no shoulder. The alternate is partially unpaved, but it's doable unless you are riding skinny road tires. Keep an eye out for bears along Belton Stage as you get closer to U.S. 2. We saw one in the distance last year.
Finally, I would call ahead to the station to make sure Amtrak has a box for your bike. If they don't check out Glacier Cyclery in Whitefish. Very knowledgeable and helpful group there.