Saturday, April 1, 2017

Best of Montana Adventure Ride

Montana 1000 - 8th year and running.  

While this series started out within Montana and was originally a 1,000-mile ride, it's expanded just a bit in the last several years. Mileage has crept up to 1,300, even 1,500 miles. And Montana?  Well, it started to spill over into Idaho cause adventure routes know no boundaries and there are some good ones in Central Idaho.  Last year, 2016, realized a desire expressed by several veteran MT1000 riders to move back into Montana and see what the central part of Montana had to offer Adv riders.  I hope we didn't disappoint any attendees but definitely expanded the ADV envelope with new roads and new scenery. Not to mention the mileage expanded out to 1,500 miles.

So how do we top all of that for 2017? Well, listening to riders from last year, it sounds like we may need to go even further afield in search of the holy grail of new back roads and new scenery. And where do we go to accomplish such a feat?  How about go south and steal some of the roads and scenery from Wyoming? Sound good?  Great, so let's pack up and go.  But traveling further afield does come with some baggage. Like, "it's a long way there and back!".  Hint - the full version of the BOM 2017 will touch close to 1,800 miles. That's what happens when you start stretching your envelope.  But don't worry.  We have plans to create a core of the ride which will fit within riders 9 days (week plus a weekend) typical vacation window.
If you are a veteran "BOMer", you know we develop the track during the winter/spring season then refine it and provide some teasers earlier with the final product just a 2-3 weeks before the ride. Which, of course, always starts on the third Saturday of July.
I'll be adding single point information to this blog just as I have done in past years so we have a single stop background information location (or in other words a SSBIL).
So now I start the track description

July 1, 2017, UPDATE

Lost my edit for the Blog so this replacement will be abbreviated but will have the final track details.

As most of you know, this ride is a self-supported follow along to a track I created. It starts in the
Bitterroot Valley because that is where home is.  It ends there as well making it a full loop. The trip runs from Saturday, July 15, 2017, through the ensuing week returning on Sunday, July 23, 2017. 9 days of riding a bit above 1700 miles, 190 miles per day average.  There are some longish days this year of 200+ miles. I have included choices for routes that can be used to tailor your ride. Some trim the mileage on long days, some add super two track sections.

General Description: Starting in Western Montana we travel through the Sapphire Mountains to Dillon then over to the Gravelly Range.  From there we travel between Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks and into Wyoming.  We cross Union Pass and continue on down to Emigrant Trails country of South Pass and Atlantic City. Next, it's up towards the Big Horn Mountains and over to
Cody.  We travel the famed Chief Joesph and the Beartooth Highways to Red Lodge returning to Montana. From Red Lodge, it's over to Big Timber then back south and west near Livingstone crossing the Interstate up to Wilsal/Clyde Park and west over Flathead Pass coming out near Logan Montana. From there we angle northwest covering new country to Boulder MT across to Galen, MT and finish the ride through Anaconda and the Skalkaho Pass Road returning to the Bitterroot Valley.

This is not a beginner's ride. While there will be tracks to bypass some of the more rugged two-track sections that will be quicker/shorter.  Two of us pre-rode the route, not necessarily to verify every inch but to identify avoid some stretches that were just not rideable by the average rider.  The main tracks included in the final tally should be ridable by most large and small bikes of reasonable ability. However, there are a bunch of what we will call "Challenge" routes that will test your ability some, but if you are not fully comfortable with more technical terrain than the main route or bypasses in some cases should be strongly considered.  The Challange routes do tend to lead to some of the more dramatic scenery. HLD and I (Wansfel) did ride all Challenge routes on the pre-ride with fully loaded bikes (WR250 and KTM 690).  Some of you "A" riders of big bikes will be able to manage the Challange routes.  Only you know who you are and what you can do.

Riders typically join up in smaller groupings of 2-7 riders which keep dust and road congestion down. There are indicted campgrounds where everyone will join up every night. Some Forest Service, some commercial.  Expect to meet some knowledgeable people and helpful co-riders, but do not abuse the fact.  If your lack of preparation or inability is beyond reasonable assistance, it is best that you identify that fact yourself and drop out of the ride. Most riders are using precious vacation time to come out and enjoy the wide open spaces.  Don't jeopardize their event.

This is a loop ride so many riders attend from distant locations and states (and Canada). I have space available to park trucks/vans/trailers for the duration of the ride.  If you don't know where I live, contact me if you want to start from here.  Given a definite daily schedule and night location, many riders join on subsequent days, ride for a day or many and return.  We don't keep track of who or where you are. There will be a Spotwalla Location Page you can sign up for similar to last year.

A bit of route qualification:
Setting routes for an unknown quantity, quality, and capability of riders interesting task to say the least. But I will try to describe the tracks in the GPS file. A very, very objective task for everyone has a different view of their own capability and that of their machine.  Remember, regardless, try to ride within your ability, AND within the ability of your machine.  We're traveling with luggage. I hope you have the requisite experience in that regard.  It changes things drastically.

Main Tracks:  Red-Odd number day (Day 1,3 etc.)  Green-Even  number day (Day 2, 4 etc.)  I try to make the main tracks usable, safe, interesting, as possible to get from point A to B.

Bypass Tracks: Blue-Any day. An easy way to get past something that may be a bit technical, or long.  Often to shorten (time wise) a long day.

Challenge Tracks: Yellow-Any day.  Something to let the advanced rider do his stuff. While there are a few somewhat technical sections on many of the main routes, the Challenge Routes up the ante a bit with a little more risk factor, a little more challenge factor (go figure?) and for the suitable rider, more fun factor.  Just because these routes go in more challenging terrain, they often provide a bit more wow factor in the scenery department. BUT something of which here is still plenty of on the regular routes.

Some longish pavement, but not nearly as much as I anticipated originally.  St. Joe/Beartooth don't count against the pavement as they are in a class all their own.

There are very few sections that I could not personally verify, but based on what observation and intel I trust they should be good.  Sure look good on the maps anyway.

I'll post this in the Blog as well as here.

Day 1
Start near Stevensville, MT. Eastside Highway to Hamilton then up the Skalkaho Road to the Rye Creek Road. South up along the Spine of the Sapphire Mountains briefly dropping down to the East Fork Road (bailout if needed at Sula store on US 93 14 miles west on pavement). Drop out of the woods near the Big Hole Battlefield on US43 and on to Wisdom for gas/food. Continue south on 278 (sorry, pavement) to the turn north to Polaris and up to Elkhorn Hotsprings or Grasshopper CG (USFS).  Elkhorn has cabins or the lodge. Grasshopper is just a mile or so before. Good for a soak.

Day 2
The main route goes back down the road to 287 to the turnoff for Bannack. Look for the electric substation as that is the start of dirt across the old Bannack Road, the Bon Accord Road, cross 287 and the back way into Dillon (GAS!).  There is a Challenge two-track section that heads east up over the ridge to Argenta connecting with the main track before Dillon.  A bit rocky and steep for the first bit in the hills, but good for most small bikes and better big bike riders. Well worth it for riding and scenery. Look for the small stockyard on your way down from Elkhorn. The Challenge cuts east right adjacent to the stockyard.

GAS in Dillon then through town eastward on the Stillwater Road. Options here include a Challenge two-track up through a Wildlife Management Area. Great riding if you like the more technical aspect. It reconnects with the main route and hits the Roby River Road. TheMainroute runs up Warmsprings Ck to the top of the Gravelly Range, then south the length and exits into the Centennial Valley via Eureka Basin. There are a couple of bypasses one down the Blacktail Road to the Centennial - shorter if time is needed. and down the Ruby River for the same reason (or if you want to cut miles and the Gravelly Range section). Cross over to the South Valley (Red Rock) Road via the Lyons Bridge. There are others, but NOT recommended due to WET or SAND. Continue East to Island Park, gas, then up to the Big Springs CG Group Site which I have reserved under my name.

Day 3
From Big Springs the route heads south on the FishCreek Road to the Ashton-Flagg Ranch Rd but takes a southern jag on the Jackass Meadow Road. Very scenic.  Connects back to the Ashton-Flagg Road dumping out on the main highway between Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park.  Watch for lots of tourist traffic on the way south to Moran Junction turn east on US 26/287. Watch the route for a couple of dirt directions on either side and the final destination for the day just off of Warm Springs Ck Road.  Primitive camping along Sheridan Ck. Other primitive opportunities in the area. (originally posted Fish CK CG not accessible.)

Day 4
Head up Warm Springs Road connecting to the Union Pass Road. Past Lake of the Woods and Union Pass.  Continue all the way onto WY 352 and take WY 191 to the east. Very important to gas up at Boulder.   Next commercial gas in Shoshoni the next day. 10 or so miles then east on WY 353. This road connects to the Big Sandy-Elkhorn Road and then the Lander Cutoff Road. East when you hit Hwy 28 then south on dirt to visit South Pass City then Atlantic City.  The local focal of attention in Atlantic City provides libations, good eats, and above all character, including the locals.  IF you are in need of gas, Wild Bill of Wild Bill’s Guns may have a stash for the tidy sum of $5/gal (the good stuff).  There are a couple of BLM campgrounds just beyond Atlantic City and a ton of dispersed camping capability down every little two track you see with trees and rock protection. Original (paved run) to Shoshoni changed so not camping at Worthen Meadow as the earlier post.

Day 5
Lot of dirt today, a LOT of dirt. 226 miles total to Ten Sleep. Good roads to Shoshoni (GAS!!). Then off on more dirt up over to the toe of the Big Horns.  Once on County Road 82 be prepared to turn east on Dry Farm Road. Now it gets a bit more scenic. If you’re tired of riding, you can cut about 35 miles of the day and just head north to Ten Sleep on 82. But the geography and picture possibilities are pretty good on the regular route. This day may appear like a long distance, but the roads are good and fairly fast.  When you ride through Ten Sleep, watch for the RV park on the south side of the road as you leave town towards the Ten Sleep Brewery.  The Brewery has camping space and a shower, but a bit dry.  The RV park has very nice green grass and mature trees….and mules.  Good eats in town.

Day 6
A lot of class A dirt riding today. But for some of it, you will need to be on your A game. The main route continues on the north. Don’t fret that you will miss out on the main route because there will be dirt. The Challenge routes are not to be missed if you don’t mind rugged two-track with steep open hills in the first section. Desert like. Broad vistas (very broad). Some exposure on the climbs and descents. The second section of Challenge is an entirely different ecosystem. High mountain, trees, meadows, wildlife, rocks, tight two track that will test your trials type skills.  Nothing dangerous, no steep climbs. Wildflowers. 9,000’ elevation.

The Challenge and Main route join up on Alkali Road headed north. The Route then connects with Highway 14 and runs down Shell Canyon.  Perfect motorcycle road. Could be some construction. Continue on down to Greybull and GAS time.  The Main route heads north with the Challenge cutting off to the west shortly after leaving Greybull. The Main route is big bike friendly and the Challenge is part of the Yellowstone Rally Enduro track, but small bike friendly. The
Challenge rejoins the Main Route and they continue with a loop up over Mccullough Peak with broad vistas.  Piss me off and I’ll send you off on a Special Challenge up Mccullough Peak.  And a short run on into Cody for the night.

Our camp for the night is the Ponderosa Campground on the west end of Cody. Near many services and the Museum. No need to stop at the office other than to see if Ally is there and give her a hug for me. Just run on to the right rear and go down the hill to the OK Corral. I'll be collecting fees and submitting names/license numbers for the group. I already left a $100 deposit. Water, crick, and porta potties down in our camp and showers/shitters/laundry back up the hill.

Day 7
Back through Cody to Hwy 120 North.  Left when you hit the Chief Joseph Highway.  Not much else to say until you get to Red Lodge via the Beartooth Highway, but high twisty pavement with fantastic scenery. At the roundabout in Red Lodge, it’s East on Highway 78. There is a combo of intermittent pavement and excellent backcountry (farm/ranchland) dirt roads all the way to Big Timber.  South up the main drag in Big Timber (grocery store a block east) and continue on 298 just a couple of miles to the Spring Creek Campground and Trout Farm.  
Check in at the office and south to the tent camping area. Fishing is $5/pound for caught fish. No throwing back. Shower and laundry is located near the tent area.

Day 8
Continue on south on 298 - Boulder River Road follows the tracks until you return northward on the Swingley Road to Livingston. Find some gas and head north until you almost hit Clyde Park then East on Brackett Ck Rd HWY 86/Bridger Canyon Dr then West on Sietz Rd then West on the Flathead Pass Road. NOTE: POST RIDE. Flathead Pass decent on the west side is fairly long and steep with a LOT of loose fist sized rocks. If you're not experienced, go down the Bridger Canyon Road to Bozeman and reconnect with the track from the Bozeman Valley.  Continue following the track all the way to Logan near the Interstate near Three Forks.  When you cross Hwy 287 consider cutting back towards the Interstate for GAS and a Sammy at Wheat Montana. The rest of the track to Boulder is very interesting as it follows the old roads along the section lines of the original homesteads.  Great dirt roads.

Gas or not in Boulder (North end of town), Elkhorn Cafe is a great local eatery on Main Street. Back on the track - or as it is signed - the Primitive Cattle Trail to Bernice. The reverse of last year's Day 2. From Bernice (an exit on the Interstate which you pass under) it’s just a few miles up to the Whitehouse Campground (same as Day 1 last year).  A hand pump up close to the road and a shitter down in the campgrounds, but a setup.  Gets lots of local ATV/MC campers.

Day 9

Similar track but reversed to Day 1 last year with some slight differences. Great mountain meadows. It comes out at Galen, follows over to Anaconda, the Skalkaho Road, Hamilton, and home.

Location Page
Like last year I created a "Location Page" on SPOTWALLA. 

The direct link to your location page is:
There is no view password. Here's a direct link to join the page:
The join password, BOM2017, is case-sensitive. 

More detailed instructions on the SPOTWALLA Site.
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