2 Dirtbags do a Western Stomp - UT WY ID MT

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Eastbay Dirtbag, Apr 10, 2020.

  1. Eastbay Dirtbag

    Eastbay Dirtbag one track mind

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    Day 6 cont'd
    Past the Lima Reservoir the road climbs into the Gravelly Mountain Range in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge NF. It's a long way to anywhere. Have plenty of gas.

    There are two major north-south roads through the Range: Centennial Divide on the west to Alder
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    and the one we took on the east to Ennis, Gravelly Range Rd, which is in the NF almost the whole way.
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    Above the sage the wildflowers were wonderful.
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    This is a MUST DO Road!
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    The road tops out at 9500 ft
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    A little snow left in August
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    lunch break
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    #61
  2. Eastbay Dirtbag

    Eastbay Dirtbag one track mind

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    Day 6 cont'd
    Love those wildflowers!
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    Dropping into the Madison River valley
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    This area is famous for fly fishing. There were lots of drift boats on the river.
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    We stayed in the nice Fan Mountain Inn and had a great dinner at the nearby Sportsman Lodge Restaurant. Two thumbs up!
    #62
  3. ScotsFire

    ScotsFire And then a drifter rode into town... Supporter

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    I loved riding through the Gravelies. Looks like you guys had perfect weather.
    Thanks for the great pics.
    #63
  4. Eastbay Dirtbag

    Eastbay Dirtbag one track mind

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    It was incredible. I was amazed by the great views for miles and miles. More exploring to do around there. Maybe Centennial Rd next time. Yep, weather was good -- so far.
    #64
  5. Eastbay Dirtbag

    Eastbay Dirtbag one track mind

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    Day 7 Ennis MT to Red Lodge MT 233 miles (~50% dirt) (Your mileage & % dirt will vary!)
    - A rough start with a good end.
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    We had breakfast downtown in the combination cafe/drug store then headed east into the mountains to gravel Jack Creek Road.
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    We were climbing into forest and I passed a sign without reading all of it. I saw “Private Road” and assumed it meant: "Stay on the road". I didn't see the gate but it was open and made of black iron rails that lifted upward, like a RR Xing arm, not sideways like a typical gate. I probably thought it was part of a ranch sign, like a cattle brand.

    The road was very dusty and there was no breeze. A couple cowboys waved to us, got on their horses and rode off. Cars passed us raising clouds of dust that hung in the air.

    We spread far apart. After about 10 miles I came to a closed black iron gate. I walked to the OTHER side and read: Private Road, Private Property, No Trespassing, Violators will be Prosecuted, You’re on Video, Security Personnel, Take Us Seriously or Else, blah blah blah. Ruh Roh.

    A couple vehicles came by and opened the gate with remotes (or it opened automatically - don't know) but I didn’t want to get separated from The Hubby so I stayed put.

    Security Man arrived in a big black SUV.

    What he THINKS he sees in the mirror:
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    What others ACTUALLY see:
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    He got out and read me The Riot Act including: No Trespassing... No Motorcycles Allowed… Arrest and Fines…This is Montana… Private Property, etc, etc.

    I explained that I didn't see the entrance gate and we ride all over The West and cross private land and protocol is Stay On the Road and Leave Gates As You Found Them. This annoyed him more.

    Hubby arrived. Security Man puffed out his chest and gave him the same speech and threats.

    Hubby listened patiently, apologized and offered to turn around and go back the way we came. Security Man said No.

    I apologized and told Security Man (SM) it was all my fault, hoping that maybe only I would get arrested and fined instead of both of us.
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    The Sheriff arrived in a cloud of dust, siren wailing and lights flashing
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    Sheriff: What do we have here? Burglars? Vandals? Hooligans?
    SM: Worse than that. Californians.
    Sheriff: Sounds like trouble.
    Me: We’re very sorry. It was all my mistake.
    SM: I want to press charges.
    Sheriff: Well then, you’re both under arrest.
    Me: Umm, what about lunch? I have low blood sugar and can’t skip meals.
    Sheriff: No problem. Today is barbecue day at the jail. It’s pretty good.
    Me: What about our DRZs?
    Sheriff: You’re on DRZs? Show me your set up! They seem to be a great compromise between power and weight for adventure touring.
    Hubby: So true. And they’re very reliable.
    Me: And affordable.
    Sheriff: I like the new understated colors and graphics.
    Hubby: We added bigger tanks.
    Sheriff: And knobby tires.
    Me: And heated grips.
    Sheriff: Well SM, I can tell this was a big misunderstanding and these fine folks made an honest mistake. Open the gate and let them through.
    SM: But…but…Montana Private Property rights!
    Sheriff: They’re sorry about that. You folks enjoy your visit in Montana!

    OK. I made up the part with a Sheriff. But it COULD have happened that way.

    Security Man did NOT call the Sheriff. He lectured and threatened us some more then let us go.

    LESSON LEARNED: Don’t take Jack Creek Road from Ennis to Big Sky.

    So us two greying hooligans hit Hwy 191 toward Bozeman then side roads to skirt the town. After a bit on I-90 we took frontage road to Livingston.

    We picked up a lovely backroad parallel to the interstate but after a while there was traffic which raised a lot of dust.
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    We had lunch in Big Timber at a nice little cafe.
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    From there it was a mix of frontage road, Interstate and nice two-lane through pleasant ranch land to Red Lodge.

    We stayed at the Quality Inn and had a great meal downtown at Bogarts. Barkeep set 'em up! I need a drink!
    #65
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  6. staticPort

    staticPort Meditrider Supporter

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    Outstanding! Brilliant yarn and lovely photographs; just what the quarantine doctor ordered!
    #66
  7. snglfin

    snglfin this statement is untrue

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    really great photos, and wonderful storytelling... thanks for sharing your travels.

    best regards,

    johnnyg
    #67
  8. CaptCapsize

    CaptCapsize Long timer

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    Yeah a lot of Montana is being bought up by wealthy and closing roads that used to give access to National Forest, because they cross private property. Now the national forest becomes the back yard for only the wealthy. A lot of local residents aren't to happy about this trend. My daughter live in Ennis MT for a while.
    This trend isn't limited to Montana. We lost the Monticello Box in NM for the same reason.
    #68
  9. thegraydog

    thegraydog 2 wheels X 6 ways

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    We headed south out of Bozeman last summer and thought Big Sky to Ennis looked good. But we had local advice that it was no-go. One of the situations that G-earth isn't so good for....
    We are paying attention to your ground-truthing and sleuthing of great routes. Thanks again.
    #69
  10. Eastbay Dirtbag

    Eastbay Dirtbag one track mind

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    Thank you both. I had fun with that one. Although it wasn't funny at the time...
    #70
  11. Eastbay Dirtbag

    Eastbay Dirtbag one track mind

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    It's so inconsistent that it's difficult to know the situation. Sometimes it's marked, sometimes it's not, sometimes it's gated, sometimes it's not, sometimes it's public road through private property but the signs are unclear.
    Here's an example. You have to get close and read the fine print. But, it's unclear if it is private road or public on an easement.
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    We went past other No Trespassing signs on this trip. If it looks like road (like above), I go through. I always try to scout out the route in GE and Street View before the trip and look for gates and lintels.

    We've gone through unlocked ranch gates in Eastern Oregon with No Trespassing signs. Were we trespassing if we stayed on the road? Was it a BLM easement? I still don't know.

    I went to the BLM office in I and asked them how to determine if roads on the BLM map are open or not. The Ranger said you can't tell.

    I was planning a New Mexico trip a couple months ago. I was uncertain about one section on the MVUM that showed FS roads into and out of a ranch but did not show the road going through the ranch. I called the local FS. The ranger said: Yes, go ahead. I called another ranger station. That ranger said: No, there's no easement through that ranch. Even the FS is confused.
    OSM shows it as open. CN shows it as private.
    #71
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  12. Eastbay Dirtbag

    Eastbay Dirtbag one track mind

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    Day 8 Red Lodge MT to Sheridan WY 175 miles (~40% dirt)
    - A big improvement over yesterday! Good badlands and high mountains.
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    We headed east into the dry plains and Oil & Gas country.
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    We didn’t see anyone except a crew working near a gas plant. The smell of gas was strong in some gullies so we didn’t linger.
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    We took 1SG south past a No Trespassing sign (cattle guard, no gate) and turned east onto 1VA.
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    The road dropped off this plateau.
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    Past an intersection 1VA became a fun two-track but came to a locked gate with No Trespassing signs and security camera warnings. Enough of that!

    We backtracked to the intersection, then east onto 1VAN which went through this abandoned (?) facility.
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    Waited for the herd to move off the road.
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    Cool badlands
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    This intersected Hwy 114 through Deaver but then we got on more backroads to Lovell.

    Beyond Lovell we climbed above the Bighorn Canyon NRA. I visited family in the Big Horn basin for 25 years but never went this way before.
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    I wanted to see the Medicine Wheel on Medicine Mountain but we skipped it because of traffic on that road.

    Near the pass, we peeled off onto FR15 parallel to Hwy 14A and enjoyed some backcountry views.
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    We rejoined the highway near Burgess Junction and had lunch at the Bear Lodge, which is one of the few (or only two?) places around for food and lodging. Bear Lodge also has gas.
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    Beyond the Lodge the highway twists down out of the mountains toward the cute little town of Dayton.

    We picked up a couple nice dirt roads rolling southeast through the hills into Sheridan. Looking back at the Bighorns.
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    In Sheridan we stayed at the fairly new Comfort Inn on the east side of the Interstate and visited with family for a day. :beer
    #72
  13. bomose

    bomose Long timer Supporter

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    I'm sure the no trespassing signs are purposely vague so most people won't travel down those roads, even though it's legal. I went by Medicine Wheel last year but didn't go up to see it. There was a 1/4 mile walk to it and we didn't really have the time. I wish I had taken the time because I probably won't be back by there anytime soon.
    I hope to do some of your tracks through Idaho within the next couple of years. My wife and I came up the Arco- Minidoka road on the east side of Craters of the Moon a couple of years ago. Nothing much out there except Bear Trap cave( lava tube). It was a fun ride, but wouldn't want to break down out there. Really enjoying your report.

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    #73
  14. scfrank

    scfrank Old farts riding club. Supporter

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    I’ll hang around then! :D
    #74
  15. scfrank

    scfrank Old farts riding club. Supporter

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    It’s happening near here (South Western NC)also. Granted on a much smaller scale. Wall Street escapees are buying up a few hundred acres horse farms and closing roads.
    #75
  16. Old Dudes Matter

    Old Dudes Matter Been here awhile

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    Montana is a confusing although wonderful state. I was Hunting near Ennis a few years ago and run into much of the same trouble as you did. I walked into a public area, with a GPS (loaded with a Hunting app for the area). The caretaker/ manager of the Ranch near the road called the Sheriff along with Game and Fish claiming I was trespassing. There was snow on the ground so you could see my tracks, which matched the bread crumbs on the GPS (all legal). The Ranch manager said that I could have turned off the GPS when I crossed his land. I said “ya, and I flew over the snow genius”. I still got a ticket as one section which showed public on the GPS was supposedly miss marked on the GPS app. No fences, or roads, just open country and yes I got a trespassing ticket. I believe it was $250. Payable on the spot, to the game warden. Not shady, I received a receipt and could have challenged it in court, but I also needed to get home for family and work. So live and learn. I think the wealthy land owners put a lot of pressure on elected officials and it filters down. Guess it was my turn at the bottom of the filter.
    #76
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  17. td63

    td63 Been here awhile Supporter

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    This thread is making me grateful so much of Idaho is public land.

    Also I'm grateful for this this thread, in general. :)
    #77
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  18. Eastbay Dirtbag

    Eastbay Dirtbag one track mind

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    Thanks. I agree that the vagueness seems intentional.
    I've wanted to do the Arco-Minidoka Rd but just never got around to it. That's some real remote territory.
    Welcome back!
    Can't really blame them.
    Sorry to hear about the pricey ticket!
    In my case, Jack Creek Rd was clearly marked if I had bothered to stop and read the sign. My bad! I was trying to keeping rolling because of the heavy dust. That's my excuse and I'm sticking with it. :D
    If that doesn't work, here is my next excuse:
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    #78
  19. tridawg

    tridawg Been here awhile

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    I think I stopped in almost the exact same spot and took the exact same pic yall did on the Gravley. You are right, it's a must ride.

    Great report. Thanks for taking the time to write it. Love revisiting places I've seen through others eyes.

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    #79
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  20. sledrydr

    sledrydr Been here awhile

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    You missed little skipping medicine wheel. I was there last summer. The 1/4 mile hike must be as the crow flies. It seems much much longer. Up hill both ways as well. No lie:rofl
    #80
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