Winging it in the West on an R1200GS: CO-UT-ID-WY-MT-ND-SD-WY-CO

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by DRZCamping, Jul 13, 2015.

  1. DRZCamping

    DRZCamping Adventurer

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    Ok so I'm getting a late start on the thread... Started the trip on Independence Day 2015 following the route described in the thread title and already in Missoula, MT.

    I'm so late starting the thread because it's hard to imagine that anyone is interested as this part of the country has been covered so well by so many others in this forum and elsewhere.

    However, if anyone is interested let me know and I'll answer questions or post photos.

    Here was the basic idea: See the 3 US states I've not visited at some point in my life, and do it by bike.

    I've been to all 50 states (but not on a motorbike) EXCEPT Montana and N and S Dakota. I live in CO and had to make a business trip to Boise, ID, so I thought I'd see those three states on a bike. I have two bikes but on this trip I'm using the 2013 R1200GS.

    I'm guessing the trip will be about 3000 miles. This is my first trip of this duration in the USA, but did 1300 miles, mostly off-road, in a week on a GS1200 when I lived in Africa -- Zimbabwe, Botswana to Jo'berg, S Africa (last October).

    So I shipped by business suit and other work stuff in a box to the hotel in Boise and rode from CO thru UT to Boise. I rented a car for the usual business trip activities in Boise, then after my 2-day meetings I turned the car in, shipped my suit etc. back home in the same box, then started riding east and north.

    I'm avoiding the interstate highways as much as I can except when I just need to make time for a specific reason, as I did today. Not fun and yesterday the winds were stupid. Sustained 25+ MPH quartering from the right front - exhausting!

    Worked my way up to Missoula as of today and will do some work in the hotel for 2 days then back out on the road.

    Completed since Independence Day:
    CO and UT
    Eastern ID
    Jackson
    Yellowstone
    Bear Tooth Pass
    Red Lodge
    Bozeman

    What's next? Winging it day-by-day but plan to ride through Glacier NP the East to ND. Almost as soon as I hit ND i plan to head S to SD and see some historical sights, then bee-line it back to CO. I'm self-employed so no definite schedule but have to get back to work in the next 2 weeks or so.

    1. Any interest or questions of me?

    2. Any places I should see in eastern MT? Seems pretty barren looking at the map. Could be a loong day!

    3. Anyone also riding in the area wanting to connect over a beer or coffee?
    #1
  2. Moedad

    Moedad Bearded Member

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    Love the area, always like seeing landscape shots from up there. If you've got anything you like, post it up! Are you stopping by Little Bighorn (you know...Custer's Last Stand) by any chance? That's a place I've always wanted to see, but haven't made it there yet.
    #2
  3. DRZCamping

    DRZCamping Adventurer

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    Here's a few from Colorado, Eastern Idaho and the Jackson, Wyoming area. More to come - gotta pack for a long day tomorrow thru Flathead Lake and Glacier National Park.


    IMG_3176 (1).jpg
    #3
  4. DRZCamping

    DRZCamping Adventurer

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    E Idaho
    IMG_3214 (1).jpg
    #4
  5. DRZCamping

    DRZCamping Adventurer

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    E Idaho
    IMG_3221 (1).jpg
    #5
  6. DRZCamping

    DRZCamping Adventurer

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    Outside Jackson, Wyoming, S of Yellowstone.
    IMG_3274 (1).jpg
    #6
  7. DRZCamping

    DRZCamping Adventurer

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    Camping alone - the enduro lifestyle...
    IMG_3283 (1).jpg
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  8. CanadaCarrie

    CanadaCarrie Carpe Diem!

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    Still out there having fun? Sorry to have missed you on te road... by the time i got your note I was across the border with poor connections. With the site down for a few days I am off track with my ride report.
    #8
  9. DRZCamping

    DRZCamping Adventurer

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    Yes. A bit behind as well -- in far west Montana - did about 500 miles today. Tomorrow hoping to cross the only 2 states I've not been to N and S Dakota.
    #9
  10. DRZCamping

    DRZCamping Adventurer

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    Almost got in a crash south of Glacier. There was a National Geographic van - tour van I guess -- going slow on a lakeside road -- Hwy 35 east of Flathead Lake. Several of us were behind him and all was going well for miles -- if slow. I looked off the road at an interesting old guy getting his mail in his 4-wheeler -- for 3 seconds. When I looked back to the road all the cars had stopped within a few feet of one another behind the van - I guess he slammed on the brakes for a view or something. The cars were about 2 car lengths in front of me. The driver in front of me - bless him - had the sense to pull off the road to the right, giving me another car length to work with. I saw no oncoming traffic so I shot up to the left of the stopped cars.

    Fortunately no one turned left in front of me at that point.

    However, later that night at the hotel a guy was commenting on my bike and said his friends got in a bike crash that day. Traffic had stopped in the park for a picture or something had he and his pillion wife went to pass on the left and the lady turned her car left in front of them - of course she did not signal. I gather they got some bumps and bruises and nearly all the plastic on their Goldwing was trashed.

    In the parks the scenery is as beautiful as the traffic is frustrating. I guess it's worth it. Maybe. Perhaps the best way to explore the parks is to go backpacking. Driving thru allows you to see the beauty from the road but it is dangerrous and frustrating beyond belief. At least for me, it feels like every car is a Greyhound bus with an out of country driver and I'm in an F16 - going the same speed busses and trying not to crash into them.

    Moving east, today I was on a undulating and somewhat curvy 2-lane highway and just as I was about to come out of a corner I saw a Pronghorn standing in the middle of the road. I was trail braking at the time so it was no problem to fully stop quickly. Glad I took that track class on my GS awhile back!!!

    Good reminders, all!

    Last night stayed in Shelby, Wyoming. It is the best preserved small town I've ever seen in the USA. If you want your kids to see what small town life looked like in middle America in the mid 1960's, take 'em to Spencer. Had steak fajitas in a bar with a Mountain Man (Montana brew) beer and both were superb.

    Camera battery was dead so no photos today in the rangeland of eastern Montana. Most of it is hills and prairie with the hills eroding on the edges.

    In the middle of all this barren rangeland was a sheer delight: Montana State Highway 89 between Belt and White Sulphur Springs. Oh, my! It threads through a valley in the Lewis and Clark National Forest, much of it by creeks. There are numerous fire roads to be explored and numerous USFS campsites, some completely empty of people.

    While the natural beauty of this sublime place does not compare with the National Parks such as Yellowstone and Glacier, it makes up for it with a near absence of cars and superb roads; I saw few drivers on this nearly 100 mile section. The roads are top notch (some brand new) and despite the delightful and welcome curves the 70 MPH speed limit is no joke -- I kept thinking that the speed limit was too high for cars, but it is not.

    I could happily spend a week exploring this area on either a GS1200 or a dirt bike with camping gear on the bike or left in camp. And I wouldn't mind retiring in a cabin there, either!

    While the scenery was not stupefyingly awesome, its beauty and traffic-free roads made for what was - with the possible exception of the descending mountain "Moto GP" twisties in Colorado -- probably the most enjoyable riding I've done in the 2500 miles to date on this trip. Highly recommended!
    #10
  11. DRZCamping

    DRZCamping Adventurer

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    Also today I saw a couple of guys also riding GS1200s. We keep passing each other over several days and for several hundred miles -- from south of Glacier to Hwy 12 at IH94. One of the guys had a dark jacked and tan rally pants. Both of them had driving lights on the crash bars. We went separate ways at IH94 and waved - I wish we'd met. I was comical how many tomes we passed each other over what I guess was nearly 800 miles.

    If you are reading this or know who these guys are please let me know. Here's what you'll remember...
    IMG_3606.jpg

    It's odd and quite nice when this happens and it's amazing how sad it feels to part...
    #11
  12. DRZCamping

    DRZCamping Adventurer

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    Travel takes time and I'm also working while I travel and I can see any page view tools so let me know this is valuable to you.
    #12
  13. DRZCamping

    DRZCamping Adventurer

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    IMG_3549.jpg
    Glacier National Park
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  14. DRZCamping

    DRZCamping Adventurer

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    IMG_3580.jpg
    Glacier NP
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  15. Loconut

    Loconut n00b

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    Nice pics DRZ C! Girlfriend and I are planning on a trip to Lewiston, ID. in September to camp and ride our bikes. Reading of the roads you've taken got me looing at the atlas looking for detours on the way. Safe travels.
    #15
  16. DRZCamping

    DRZCamping Adventurer

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    That sh
    That would be really pretty country up there. September, eh? Hope the weather is kind, and I guess bear precautions are in order.

    I'm in Deadwood, SD ATM. really cool place. The cemetery where Wild Bill is buried is quite hilly!!! It's a beautiful place overlooking town with deer wandering through -- not a bad place to await one' s maker.
    #16
  17. DRZCamping

    DRZCamping Adventurer

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    I'd like to
    as well but too far off my track. I really like the Dakotas more than I expected -- true west.
    #17
  18. DRZCamping

    DRZCamping Adventurer

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    Trip complete - 3523 miles. Given the response rate and the time required to post information probably won't be posting much more on this.

    One experience to share: As a fan of the history of the old west, a visit to Deadwood, SD was worth the effort.
    #18
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  19. DRZCamping

    DRZCamping Adventurer

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    I'd recommend the Butler Motorcycle Map for the state (and also perhaps the Butler map called "The Mountain States") as they highlight the most scenic and fun roads for motorcycles. Eases trip planning and it's nice to have a waterproof map along on the ride. Why? While much of the information is on the internet, I found I frequently had no cell coverage (and no data coverage) and having a map made it easy to talk with locals about possible camp-sight locations, etc.
    #19
  20. Loconut

    Loconut n00b

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    Great advice on the map and heads up on bears. By camping, I'm referring to taking our toy-hauler TT, but we are taking two young pups with us and keeping wildlife in mind is a must. Glad you made it back safely and yes, Deadwood is a must see.
    #20