Day Seven – Bonners Ferry ID to Missoula MT
Miles: 284
Elapsed Time: 8:51

Sunday After a fairly long night we got started a little late. We didn’t pull out until 8:00 local and went to the Panhandle Restaurant for breakfast. Nothing special here but the service was adequate and the food was pretty good. There isn’t much to choose from here so this is a good choice. We were back out on the road before 9:00 and we knew we had plenty of time today as this was our shortest day of the trip. In less than 10 miles we had reached our first stop. It was the Moyie Canyon Bridge spanning 1,223 feet and 424 feet above the Moyie River making the second highest in Idaho. It is a beautiful view at the pull over on the East side of the canyon. It was a little cold starting in the morning so we had most of our clothes on, and it was perfect riding.

We were riding east on US 2 and the scenery and road were perfect as we crossed into Montana. We were gradually climbing, but it was not very noticeable. There were very few cars out on the road and it seemed like we had the place to ourselves. Shortly after crossing into Montana we turned onto County Road 508. We stopped at the
Yaak River Falls which was a very quick 22 miles from the bridge. I almost didn’t want to stop as I was enjoying the ride so much, but I knew it was going to be worth it. The Yaak River is a tributary of the Kootenai River and flows very quickly in this area due to a drop in elevation and it also narrows here. The result is a very nice set of falls that are exceptionally easy to access from the road. We took some pictures at the first stop walked a little downstream and took more before making our way. It was only another few miles before we saw an old Iron Truss bridge across the Yaak and we thought we would stop again. It is officially known as the Yaak River Bridge and connects 17 Mile Road to County Road 508. We were just relaxing when a local and his dogs came upon us, and we had a nice discussion. We learned that Tom Oar from the HIstory Channel’s show about Mountain Men is from just down the way, So we continued on and decided we wanted to ride for an extended period. It was just after 10:00 and we felt we hadn’t gotten anywhere. It was nice seeing all of the scenery but I was ready to ride. We continued on to the town of Yaak and saw the Dirty Shame Saloon talked about in Rider Magazine, but we already knew from the local that it was closed and had been in a sad state of business for some time. In Yaak we had to turn to south to catch South Fork Road and this marked our northernmost point of the trip. South Fork Road is not that great, the scenery is nice but the condition of the road is less than perfect. It wasn’t terrible but we went from riding at 70mph on County Road 508 to less than 50mph on South Fork while also passing over our highest elevation of the day at 4500 feet. It took us nearly an hour to get to our gas stop in Libby. After gassing up our next stop was Kootenai Falls. The falls are the largest undammed falls in the state and lose roughly 300 feet in elevation over only several hundred yards. It is a bit of a hike down to the falls, far more than our normal allowance but it was worth it. Not one area was a significant drop, but the totality was very significant. I cannot imagine the first settler coming down this river and thinking “oh crap”. We even explored the lower falls walking across the swinging bridge.

We spent over an hour here but it would be difficult to cover in less time. Back on the bikes we were back onto US2 going west for a short time before turning south on MT56. This road is really nice twisting through portions of the Kaniksu National Forest and slicing through the mountains as it winds its way down to Bull Lake where we made a quick stop for some pics. After Bull Lake the road gets even better twisting through the mountains as it follows Bull River down to MT200 and Clarks Fork River. Following MT200 we go through the towns of Noxon and Trout Creek before hitting Thompson Falls where we stop at the
Dam. The Dam there was built in 1915 and has provided power to this area for generations. It is not much to look at but it has some interesting features namely the fish ladder. This is a system that allows the fish (primarily the Bull Trout) to essentially go from the base of the dam to the top without human intervention providing them the ability to swim upstream which they have not been able to do for almost 100 years. It was unveiled in September of 2010 and with a $7.5M price tag I will have to leave it to the experts and the locals to determine whether or not it was worth the money.

Back heading south the road improved some as it narrowed still following the Clarks Fork until we reached Paradise where Clarks Fork broke away from MT200 and we picked up Flathead River. Before we knew we had reached our next destination;
Big Sky Brewery. This was to be one of our highlights. I knew from some previous tasting that Big Sky IPA was a top notch and it was worth the stop. While we were having a taste we were approached by a guy who assumed we were the ones riding the Beemers. Once we confirmed we got to talking and determined he was from the same town near Frankfurt that I spend most of my time when I am in Germany. He couldn’t believe it, I knew more about his hometown than he did at least over the past 20 years. He also told us he used to be a Motorcycle Tour guide, and after listening to his stories and how they operated we were both a little crestfallen as we had always thought this might be a good post-retirement gig for us. A huge benefit he had was his knowledge of German and he would take groups coming over from the Fatherland, but even with this huge benefit it didn’t sound like he made much money. I would mind doing it for little money, but unless you lived in the area it would be expensive to travel someplace to take a group, and when you throw in the fact you would be driving the chase van half the time it was definitely loses its allure. We had a couple of the small tastings, bought some souvenirs and we were on our way. We were only about 5 miles from our motel which was maybe one exit on the interstate. The route was not direct so I let Steve lead the way since he had the GPS. 99.5% of the time I am leading and when Steve began to lead I would have never thought we would have an issue. However, upon exiting the interstate there was only a stop sign and not a light. Neither of us know exactly what happened, but as I was looking left before turning right I plowed into the back of Steve’s bike. I wasn’t going all that fast and neither of us dropped our bikes but my headlight glass was busted and his tail assembly was mangled. I cannot adequately describe how pissed I was. We decided to move to the motel and call the police, and when they showed it was very uneventful. Good luck they said. After a lengthy cooling off period mostly mine for feeling so stupid, we went to dinner and watched again as the Reds continued their winning ways. The Reds traveled to Houston which meant the game would be an hour later for us. We watched at a local sports bar as Ryan Ludwick, Brandon Phillips and Todd Frazier each had three hits and the Reds rolled to a fifth consecutive victory. Mat Latos worked out of early trouble and picked up his eighth win despite an injury scare in the fifth, when he came up limping but still finished the inning. The Bullpen hung on again and the Reds won 8-3.