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Need advice on Northern Tier

Old 06-13-12, 03:56 AM
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Need advice on Northern Tier

I'm thinking about doing some of the Nothern tier,mabey from Fargo Nd.on.What is the terrain like and the weather in say July also would there be plenty of opperatunitys for stealth camping or at the very least campgrounds.Should I get Adventure cycling maps or could I get by with regular state maps.Thanks in advance....Kevin
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Old 06-13-12, 04:07 AM
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Fargo is in the middle ... which direction are you thinking of heading?
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Old 06-13-12, 08:41 AM
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Originally Posted by Machka
Fargo is in the middle ... which direction are you thinking of heading?
That was my first thought.

In either case, I would get the maps unless you can memorize or otherwise plot the route some other way. Also, the maps can often pay for themselves by identifying free/cheap camping. For example, if camping is shown in a city park, it's likely going to be free. If there is camping at a fairgrounds, it could be free or cost a nominal amount like $5. U.S.F.S. campgrounds and state parks are generally (but not always) cheaper than private campgrounds. The type of campground will be described on the maps.

I have done all of the NT once, the western portion between Bay View, WA and Glacier N.P. a second time and the section between White Fish, MT and Eureka a few years ago. Once you tell us which direction you are considering, maybe we can give you some additional insight.
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Old 06-14-12, 01:08 PM
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I'll be going west.
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Old 06-14-12, 04:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Rifleman
.What is the terrain like

Flat till Glacier, then hilly. Those pesky Rockies and Cascade mountains tend to make the land go up and down.

and the weather in say July

Hot in the lowlands, chilly as you ascend into the mountains.

also would there be plenty of opperatunitys for stealth camping

Yes, many.

or at the very least campgrounds.

Sure, lots of campgrounds.

Should I get Adventure cycling maps

The AC maps are great and pay for themselves in a few days because they tell you where free camping is

or could I get by with regular state maps.

Sure, but you won't know as much as the folks with the AC maps.

Thanks in advance....Kevin

You're welcome. Have a great trip.
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Old 06-15-12, 12:07 PM
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Just remembered that they route bwteen Fargo and eastern Montana was changed this year due to traffic caused by the oil boom, so I cannot comment precisely other than to say I have ridden through Bismarck and west from there and other places in ND. It's not mountainous but rather rolling. The wind can be the real problem depending on which way it's blowing.

Most of Montana is flat to gently rolling. We camped in a few city parks--Culbertson, Wolf Point, Harlem and Chester. All were free. Stayed in commerical campgrounds in Malta and Glasgow. Camped at a commerical campground in Cut Bank.

The ride from Cut Back to McGranth, AB is a lonely one. IIRC, 70 miles with only one store in Del Bonito, just across the border. McGranth to Waterton Village is rolling. Start early as you will have a headwind. Waterton Village, which is slightly off route, is a nice place. There is a cool town campsite right on the lake with a great veiw of the mountians. Great place for a day off. It's not free, but not super expensive.

Once you get back on route from Waterton, things get hilly. There is a 6 or so mile climb right out of the box, then some rollers and another climb to the border crossing at Chief Mountain. From there to U.S. 89 it's more rollers. When you turn south on U.S. 89 you will almost certainly have a stiff headiwnd for 18 miles to St. Mary, which is the entrance to Glacier National Park. The climb up to Logan Pass is not that difficult. Camp at Rising Sun Campground. (Hiker/biker spaces are $5.) The next day you will only have about 2,000' of climbing to the pass.

The route from W. Glacier to Eureka is not particularly difficult in the sense of no really hard climbs. The closest camping in Whitefish is the state park, which is right next to the rail yard and thus very noisy. I think you can camp in the town park in Eureka. There is also a commerical place further west in Rexford. Between Eureka and Libby you will have some serious rollers along the lake before it relaxes the closer you get to town. Camped in some free park in Libby. Near the juntction of MT 200 and MTR 56 there is a U.S.F.S. camground. Bull Lake, I think. Nice place. The rest of the way to Colville, WA is relatively easy. West of Sandpoint, ID, stay on route rather than taking U.S. 2. There is camping at Springy Point (BLM site, I think) a little off route west of Sandpoint. Also stayed a free water authority site a few miles off route north of Ione, WA. After Colville you will hit the WA passes. Sherman is a good climb. Cheap camping at the fairgournds in Republic. The east slope of Waucunda is not that bad. Cheap camping at Shannon's in Tonasket. The east slope of Loup Loup has some 8% sections of climbing. Stayed at the KOA in Winthrop. The owner gave cyclists' a discount. There is also a cyclist only facility on SR 20 west of the center of town. Winthrop is a nice place for a day off before tackling the big one. From Mazama you start to climb the Cascades. IIRC, it's 16 miles from Mazama to Washington Pass, 3.5 down hill, then another 1.5 up to Rainly Pass. From there it's a 30 mile decsent with a few sections of gently uphill thrown in. Then some sttep, relatively short ups and down to Newhalem. Note that climbing the Cascades can be very hot during the height of summer, and there are no services as noted on the map. Stock up on water at the store in Mazama.

From there it's a piece of cake. Stay at Howard Miller Steelhead Park in Rockport if the weather is bad. They have Adirondak shelters.

Any questions?

Last edited by indyfabz; 06-15-12 at 12:46 PM. Reason: corrections
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Old 06-16-12, 01:24 AM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz
Just remembered that they route bwteen Fargo and eastern Montana was changed this year due to traffic caused by the oil boom, so I cannot comment precisely other than to say I have ridden through Bismarck and west from there and other places in ND. It's not mountainous but rather rolling. The wind can be the real problem depending on which way it's blowing.

Most of Montana is flat to gently rolling. We camped in a few city parks--Culbertson, Wolf Point, Harlem and Chester. All were free. Stayed in commerical campgrounds in Malta and Glasgow. Camped at a commerical campground in Cut Bank.

The ride from Cut Back to McGranth, AB is a lonely one. IIRC, 70 miles with only one store in Del Bonito, just across the border. McGranth to Waterton Village is rolling. Start early as you will have a headwind. Waterton Village, which is slightly off route, is a nice place. There is a cool town campsite right on the lake with a great veiw of the mountians. Great place for a day off. It's not free, but not super expensive.

Once you get back on route from Waterton, things get hilly. There is a 6 or so mile climb right out of the box, then some rollers and another climb to the border crossing at Chief Mountain. From there to U.S. 89 it's more rollers. When you turn south on U.S. 89 you will almost certainly have a stiff headiwnd for 18 miles to St. Mary, which is the entrance to Glacier National Park. The climb up to Logan Pass is not that difficult. Camp at Rising Sun Campground. (Hiker/biker spaces are $5.) The next day you will only have about 2,000' of climbing to the pass.

The route from W. Glacier to Eureka is not particularly difficult in the sense of no really hard climbs. The closest camping in Whitefish is the state park, which is right next to the rail yard and thus very noisy. I think you can camp in the town park in Eureka. There is also a commerical place further west in Rexford. Between Eureka and Libby you will have some serious rollers along the lake before it relaxes the closer you get to town. Camped in some free park in Libby. Near the juntction of MT 200 and MTR 56 there is a U.S.F.S. camground. Bull Lake, I think. Nice place. The rest of the way to Colville, WA is relatively easy. West of Sandpoint, ID, stay on route rather than taking U.S. 2. There is camping at Springy Point (BLM site, I think) a little off route west of Sandpoint. Also stayed a free water authority site a few miles off route north of Ione, WA. After Colville you will hit the WA passes. Sherman is a good climb. Cheap camping at the fairgournds in Republic. The east slope of Waucunda is not that bad. Cheap camping at Shannon's in Tonasket. The east slope of Loup Loup has some 8% sections of climbing. Stayed at the KOA in Winthrop. The owner gave cyclists' a discount. There is also a cyclist only facility on SR 20 west of the center of town. Winthrop is a nice place for a day off before tackling the big one. From Mazama you start to climb the Cascades. IIRC, it's 16 miles from Mazama to Washington Pass, 3.5 down hill, then another 1.5 up to Rainly Pass. From there it's a 30 mile decsent with a few sections of gently uphill thrown in. Then some sttep, relatively short ups and down to Newhalem. Note that climbing the Cascades can be very hot during the height of summer, and there are no services as noted on the map. Stock up on water at the store in Mazama.

From there it's a piece of cake. Stay at Howard Miller Steelhead Park in Rockport if the weather is bad. They have Adirondak shelters.

Any questions?
Nice write-up, brings back memories, thanks!
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