what's that famous twisty road in Idaho?

Discussion in 'Pacific Northwet - Where it's green. And wet.' started by awshouse, Jan 30, 2012.

  1. awshouse

    awshouse Downwardly mobile

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    We're planning a family motorcycle event for later this summer to commemorate my father's retirement. Most of the clan is back east and they are lobbying for the Tail of the Dragon. Death wish city, not to mention insanely hot and unpleasant. I'd like to pitch something out in these parts. I've seen threads in which a stretch of Idaho road has a sign indicating 60 or 110 miles of twisties ahead. What is that road and where is it? Or perhaps you can put me onto a thread?

    We'll be on street bikes, 4-5 experienced riders, looking for about 3 leisurely days of touring and hotel accommodations along the way. Maybe a little hiking here and there so we have photos to show the family upon return... We'll be looking for dates in July most likely. I don't need to create an itinerary at this point, just need some eye candy to make my case. Assuming I "win" I'll follow up here and pitch some itineraries and ask for more input about roads, etc. Thinking mainly Idaho though. . .

    Thanks for your input as always.

    Andy
    Thanks for your input.
    #1
  2. Billy_b57

    Billy_b57 DARTH

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    Having ridden Idaho numerous times on my previous 2003 1200GT (BMW) you can't go wrong with
    21 out of Idaho city into Stanley , wow that is a great ride and The Garden Valley Parkway is also a treat .
    Both of these routes have Hot Springs and the pass out of Idaho City has some killer hairpins but past that it is a constant wow ride.
    93 North out of Stanley to Missoula is great and then hit 12 East shoot down through Grangeville into Banks .
    You can't beat that !

    Just thinking about it makes me want to head that way RIGHT NOW!

    Good Luck
    #2
  3. WetSideRider

    WetSideRider Long timer

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    I think the highway you refer to with the 110 miles of curves is Highway 12 over Lolo Pass, basically between Lewiston and Missoula.

    I've been on the silly tail of the dragon tourist route, and Lolo is a much finer motorcycle experience. There are a number of shorter rides equivalent to the dragon around Lewiston/Clarkston as well, without the two-wheeled tourist hordes.

    There are lots of great roads around the dragon too, of course. The only negative is the touristy claptrap and the hordes of marauding pirates that can suck the joy out of any spirited riding with their generally erratic meandering in packs. YMMV, of course.
    #3
  4. zedx9

    zedx9 Been here awhile Supporter

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    That's hwy 12 from Lewiston over Lolo Pass and down to Lolo, MT, From Seattle to Lewiston is about 300 miles (mostly slab) and add another 200 up the Lochsa River and over to Lolo. I've done hwy 12 a number of times and while it's scenic, the speed limit I think is 45 for most of the real twisty part and can be a pain with any amount of traffic. Truly a must do if your in to scenic. Your challenge if you want a liesurely ride will be getting a loop in and back to Seattle in three days without riding lots of freeway (maybe that's okay). I'd go north from Lolo, MT up through Missoula then north on 93 and cut NW up to Sandpoint, ID. If I only had three days. Thats a nice ride. From Sandpoint you can take a northern route up through Colville, etc and over the North Cascades Highway or down to Spokane and across hwy 2 home. The route Billy_b57 is talking about is fun also. You could catch that by doing hwy 12 (Lolo Pass) over to Lolo, then south down through Salmon/Challis and Stanley then cut over to Garden Valley and either up to McCall and north or back west. All great routes.
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  5. thetourist

    thetourist Just passing thru

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    You are probably refering to hwy 12. It is not twisty. It is curvy and extremely scenic. Speeds of 60mph are very easy. A few corners can catch you out, but mostly it is just curvy. Taking all that into consideration, your bike will rarely by verticle.

    Hwy 21 out of Idaho City is much tighter, but isn't all that long. 21-75-93 is one of the most scenic rides in the NW.

    Along hwy 12 there are lots of 10 mile hillclimbs. Every road has to climb 1-2000 ft to get out of the valley. These could be linked together for a couple days of vigorous riding.

    Asotin WA to Enterprise OR has a couple of notorious bits of twisty road. Winchester Grade is fairly long. Spiral Hwy. Greer Grade will take all you've got. Ahsahka grade is a favorite of mine. Probably 20 of these in the Lewiston to Kooskia area.

    From Seattle head thru Ranier Park toward Packwood. Intersect with hwy 12 and follow it to all the way. Make a side trip to Palouse Falls. This is all curvy road except across the basin, Yakima to Walla Walla.
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  6. Sparrowhawk

    Sparrowhawk Long timer

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    Might as well add the old Whitebird Grade. Highway 14 from Harpster to Elk City is very sweet with continuous turns through a deep river canyon. The nice thing about Elk City is that it's the end of the road for street bikes. That gives you an excuse to gas up, grab a burger, and do it the other direction. If you're not limited to pavement, you can continue through Elk City and run the Magruder Corridor through the Frank Church over to Darby or Shoup.
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  7. Motomantra

    Motomantra Registered Lurker

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    I was on 12 last September. Be sure to watch your gas.
    There is a small town just east of Walla Walla on 12 called Waitsburg. Look for the brewery on the south side of town. I was only there once, but the beer & food was good.
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  8. T.Low

    T.Low Been here awhile

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  9. Flashmo

    Flashmo Whatever...

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    Hwy 12 is the answer to your question.

    If you go through Lewiston, ID...you must do the Rattlesnake Grade and the Sprial Highway (both locations are available by Google).
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  10. andy29847

    andy29847 Dirt Road Rider

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    US 12 might be the answer to your question but here is a 2nd for Sparrowhawk's recommendation for Hwy 14 to Elk City. Heck you can do both and stay in Elk City for the evening. I spent a night at the Elk City Hotel and would love to go back.

    Hwy 14
    [​IMG]

    Elk City Hotel
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    Nixon's Rock (near Elk city)
    [​IMG]
    #10
  11. Imachimper

    Imachimper Shunpiker Extraordinaire

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  12. awshouse

    awshouse Downwardly mobile

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    Great contributions! I'm 95% sure the ride will be planned in this region now (not east coast). I'm polling the rest of the family for dates. I'll post up proposed routes, etc. for your review though not for some time... need to herd cats on the dates first. Thanks so much. I can't wait to explore Idaho and will be making an initial recon ride well in advance of the family outing.

    To clarify re: timing, I'm thinking that the core riding with the group is 3 solid days. I'd factor in 2 days of travel to and from. So I can imagine our point of departure being eastern Idaho.

    I love this resource. Thanks again. Keep the ideas coming in if you wish. Andy
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  13. thetourist

    thetourist Just passing thru

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    Here are some local ride reports from the Palouse, the north side of Lewiston. Pics of 12, to Elk City, Rattlesnake, Greer, Whitebird, Winchester, etc.

    http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=667893&highlight=idaho

    Mid June to Mid July is the full green season.

    Also check out the Hells Canyon thread in PNW forum. A mid June gathering of ADV riders.
    #13
  14. calamari_kid

    calamari_kid Ootmik

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    A big +1 to including Rattlesnake/Buford grades in your run. One of the top roads in the area imho. Wallowa Lake at the Enterprise end of the road is a beautiful spot to spend the night with a lodge, cabins, and camping options.

    A couple pics of Rattlesnake to whet your appetite.
    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]
    #14
  15. Flashmo

    Flashmo Whatever...

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    PM me for help with resources in E. Idaho if you need it.
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  16. MortimerSickle

    MortimerSickle Semi-Adventurer

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    A couple more.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
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  17. markjenn

    markjenn Long timer

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    All good suggestions on this thread, but you've got a timing issue for a 3-day trip in that any trip loop out of Seattle is going to take a full hard day getting over to ID to this stuff and a full day getting home. And to get to some of these places, you're looking at long to/from days, perhaps mostly freeway. (I do the Seattle-Lewiston run a couple times each year and while there are some not-too-bad non-freeway ways to do this route, it's got a ton of droning across E. WA.)

    You're certainly not going to be able to do a "3 leisurely days of touring....with Maybe a little hiking here and there" for a trip from Seattle all the way to Missoula and back via Lolo pass. Just Seattle to Missoula via the freeway is nearly 500 miles each way.

    You might want to think about routes in which you get three days of good riding rather than two droning days and one great day.

    The best three-day loops out of Seattle generally either go S behind Mt. St. Helens to the gorge and then do the nice stuff in NE Oregon, or they head N to cross the Cascades on Hwy 2 or Hwy 20 and then work the N Central WA stuff over to Spokane and back. So I'd suggest you get out of the "Western Deals Gap" mentality and think about the whole trip rather than a single destination. I realize this may not be sellable with the clan though.

    I recently did this 3-day route and it is outstanding, but the days are a little ambitious - you do have to get an early start:

    Day 1: Seattle > Randle > Carson > The Dalles > Maupin > Madras > Prineville (stay at the Stafford Inn)

    Day 2: Prineville > Paulina > 395 N of Seneca > John Day > Austin > 395 N of Long Creek > Ukiah > N of Granite > 244 W of La Grande > Pendleton (stay at the HI Express). I'd match this day of twisty riding with almost any and there is almost no traffic or cops on most of these roads.

    Day 3: Pendleton > Echo (via R S of interstate) > Lexington > Heppner > Condon > Wasco > Biggs. At Biggs you can take 97 N to Yakima and come home via Chinook pass (shorter/faster) or head W back to Carson and do St. Helens again (longer).

    The N route would head across the Cascades on 20, work the nice roads in the Okanogan to stay at Omak, then work you way over to the Spokane area to do Flowerly Trail, then come home via mostly Hwy 2. This would be less ambitious than OR.

    - Mark
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  18. awshouse

    awshouse Downwardly mobile

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    Thanks Mark. There was a subsequent post in which I explained we're looking for 3 days of riding and assuming an additional 2 days of travel. Given the crowd I'm with, 2 of us who are in Seattle will probably ride over. The others, who are coming from the east coast, one (the professor who has ALL SUMMER OFF) will pull bikes, the others will fly in somewhere near a TBD point of departure. So the first geography problem is to determine point of departure that maximizes nice riding. But the problem that precedes that is getting those guys on the east cost to believe that we should have the ride out here. So. . . My plan is to take all this great info and start looking at maps and composing routes once I have quorum.

    I will plan to make a scouting trip solo before the group comes. In that case I'll probably truck over with a street legal dirtbike so I can drive some of the roads and then do the kind of riding that I'd prefer to do... That'll have to happen around June, assuming passes are open. Lots to learn.

    #18
  19. markjenn

    markjenn Long timer

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    Okay, sorry I missed your post, this changes things. Lewiston or Missoula would be nice bases of operations if you want to do the ID stuff. John Day is the central point for the great NE Oregon stuff.

    I'm not a huge fan of Lolo (I think it gets way too much press because of the sign at the W end saying XXX miles of twisties) as it is more/less a cruiser road, with a fair mount of traffic and lots of cops. It is scenic though.

    Speaking of cops, my experience with the ID guys is that they're completely humorless. If they clock you at 10+ over, they write you up; no explanations, no brownie points for being older/experience/wearing-gear, no extenuating circumstances, do not pass go, do not collect $200. I've had much better luck with NE OR and there is a rumor that the local businesses who want more motorcycle touring of the area have gotten them to do an unwritten pact to not write folks up for 75 or less if they're behaving reasonably.

    - Mark
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  20. awshouse

    awshouse Downwardly mobile

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    Mark, very, very helpful to know. I am certain that a couple of us will be looking for places to stretch the legs a bit. So we'll be judicious and keep your analysis of enforcement in mind. Cheers, Andy
    #20