Trip to Montana on 1988 BMW R100GS Motorcycle- June 2017

I'd been planning some kind of motorcycle trip for many months as a transitional journey following my beloved wife's expected passing.  I'd discussed it with another friend and invited him to join me. He said he'd be honored to do so but even though he was younger than me, he died of a heart attack a year ago. So I did the trip alone to Shady Rascal's Red Pill BBQ. I won't belabor the reason for the gathering but it gave me a smallish group event destination in a very pretty part of the country as a goal. The folks were wonderful and topics ranged all over the map from motorcycles to guns to hunting to housing to corporate nonsense we'd been subjected to and so forth. I rode there alone and rode back alone. That was ok. 

Route- Ft. Collins Harmony Road west  turns into W. County Rd 38 around the reservoir to the town of Masonville turning north on the Buckhorn Rd  eventually meeting CO Hwy 14 at Stove Prairie Landing.  Turn west.

First picture in Poudre Canyon.

Route: Hwy 14 over Cameron Pass  to Walden staying on 14 to the junction with US 40 east of Rabbit Ears Pass. Continue west on US 40 thru Steamboat Springs and Craig to the town of Maybell.. At Maybell turn NW on CO 318 toward Brown's Hole Wildlife preserve.

Headed for Brown's Hole  northwest from Maybell CO.

More remote CO 318 road

vermillion falls
Vermillion Falls from closeup lens

Vermillion Falls as viewed from the road - normal magnification

Bike for scale

Route- CO 318 changes number to Utah 1364 and turned to dirt
Leaving Colorado and pavement. Hello graded dirt road. I chose not to camp at the free campsite as there was still usable daylight.

Found sections being graded. Worst was sections that had been watered for dust control making the top layer muddy on hardpack (slippery) Didn't stop to take a picture of that hazard.

Much better hardpacked dirt road surface further on.

Then some nice pavement

Nice tilted uplift eh?

Route- 1364 eventually intersected with US Hwy  191 which I took south around the gorge to the night's campground.

Flaming Gorge Reservoir from afar. Note the bridge at the bottom.

A group of about 6 or 8 Mexcan tourists on far more modern BMW motorcycles than mine. One guy had  helmet AND bike-stalk mounted GoPro cameras. They were having a good time.

Skull Creek campground. Few campers and no water.

Morning selfie. (I didn't do a lot of selfies)

More Flaming Gorge. The ride down the hill was fabulous.

Turned hard left at the bottom and went uphill. Note the jagged uplifted  ridges.

Route- Intersected UT 44 and headed west which turned to UT 43 then WY 414 headed for Mountain View, WY.

Big, wide country. Headed for Manila, UT.

Leaving Utah, entering Wyoming.  Looks pretty much the same doesn't it?

Ranger station at Mountain View, WY. I used their garden hose to refill my water bottles and camelback after dry camping last night

Route-  WY 414 changed to WY 412 under I-80 and became the Carter cutoff  heading for US 189. Follow US 189 to Kemmerer then take US 30 West.

Carter cutoff headed for Kemmerer, WY. Carter was just a little stop on the RR up ahead.

There is a LOT of nothing out there!

Up ahead is Fossil Butte. Famous for enormous numbers and types of fossils to be dug out of there.

And onward.  What a HUGE place! Boggles the mind to think of horse and wagon speeds across here.

Route - Turn off US 30 to WY 89 to run north toward Smoot & Afton. Road follows the state line and crosses a bit then joins US 89 heading north

Briefly into Idaho on WY 89 headed for Afton WY.  Nice well-watered valley. Was passed by Wyoming Highway Patrol towing a trailer.

Salt River Pass

Salt River Pass - pic 2

Salt River Pass - pic 3

Husky Aircraft Company in Afton WY. New airplanes. Very popular as bushplanes

Afton visitor center had this shade & picnic table with flush toilet and running water. I took a break here and made some calls to family to tell them I'm doing just fine.

Route- North of Thayne find Wy 239 to the town of Freedom WY. Road turns into ID 34

Little town of Freedom WY has Freedom Arms - makers of some really large pistols.  Heading into those mountains to look for a campsite.

Idaho State line isn't far from Freedom WY.  Road is ID 34.

Grass and other growth like green velvet

Only good tent site had parking, table, tent pad  arranged linearly along the campground road.

Tent pad was in sun until sundown.

Next day green and beautiful

Route- turn off ID 34 and go north on Gray's Lake Rd. which turns into Long Valley Rd and becomes Bone Rd passing thru Bone, ID

Turnoff to Gray's Lake Wildlife refuge. Plan was to ride north then NW around it.

Pretty green and very little sign of habitation. Dirt road.


Road grader work area. Note the dirt ridge in the center.

Yet another stop for a picture of grading. It's ok for riding - you just can't cross the ridge casually without risking a crash

The store at Bone Idaho. Pavement began here.

Windfarm outside Idaho Falls

Idaho Falls is out there in the plains

Route- I followed Bone Rd into Idaho Falls. Had lunch in Ammon and got kind of lost. Wound up riding up US29 to Rexburg before finding ID 33 to go west.

ID 33 from Rexburg to Howe. Across the lava rock desert.

There is a ridge way out there. Somewhere at the end of the ridge is Howe.

Behind the sign on the opposite side?

Eventually we'll get there then turn right up the valley

Howe, ID. My father went hunting in this valley in 1950.

Howe burned in 2012. No fuel there for many years. (I topped off at Mud Lake 30 miles back because the valley is nearly 100 miles long with another 40 to go to fuel at the end - a real fuel range challenge)

Route- Turned north up the Little Lost River Highway. Over the saddle way out there it turns to the Pahsimeroi Rd  with Pahsimeroi creek draining to the north.

Little Lost River highway. Valley runs nearly 100 miles with little to no inhabitants. Best not make a mistake out here.

There's a stopped bike in the middle of the road. And it doesn't bother anybody at all.

No centerline and little traffic. (1 car per hour?)

Further up the road.....

Graded dirt now and no sign of habitation or cultivation. The saddle ahead marks the change from Little Lost River drainage to the Pahsimeroi drainage.

Summit lake at the saddle between the drainages.

Another rare selfie. Note the shade hat used at stops.

Into the Pahsimeroi (on dirt)

This cow had been standing her ground long enough for me to get the camera out then she decided she'd go ahead and move. Back to pavement.

There's a campground at the end of the 7 mile road which I'd planned on using. Planning had been based on Google Maps and looking at Google Street view

But looking at this one-lane, fairly rough road - 7 miles seemed too far and too risky for a campground. So I didn't go there.

Route- Pahsimeroi Rd meets US 93 which follows the Salmon river. I turned south to find the campground (Plan B from trip planning).

So instead I went to Cottonwood campground on the Salmon River. Nearly empty, next to the river , shady. Nice. (airing out my sleeping bag on the picnic table)

River was very high so water was very close. Had to use earplugs to sleep.

Route- Followed US 93 to Hamilton MT where the rally was held.  

Field of junk farm machinery along the Salmon River north of Salmon ID

Lost Trail Pass into Montana

I stopped at a lot of these signs though I didn't take many pictures. This is Lewis & Clark country and having recently read their journals find it very, very interesting to be here.

Destination is this lovely home of a 'pretend internet friend' who offered us invitation only BBQ meetup in Hamilton, MT.  Park and pitch anywhere. Our host couldn't have been more generous. 

Just a few of the bikes . Mine is on the left end. Even the camper in the picture is occupied by an attendee.

Backyard view with more bikes and camping arrangements.

I'm not going to get into who is in the picture. Just take note of the general grayness of the guys.

Attendees/inmates hanging out in the shade.


3 T-shirts from last year's get together. Our host is the in the center.  L-R are retired school teacher, lumber broker, machinist.

Even had our own self-provided entertainment. (Screen name 'TigerLilly')

On Friday I needed to add a half quart of oil before riding Skalkaho pass

Nice mellow road to Skalkaho Falls. Most is paved but about 5 miles to the Falls is dirt.

The dirt is easy to ride and the views are nice.


Skalkaho Falls. For some reason people were more interested in the water flowing out of the culvert downhill into the gully

I rode up to the Skalkaho pass summit because I could and found this snowdrift left visible over my front wheel

Next day, Saturday, I rode about 80 miles of Hwy 12 over Lolo Pass down to the Lochsa river and returned.  Mandatory to take a picture at Lolo Hot Springs.

Lochsa River. You know you're in the American Redoubt when you find spent .223 rifle brass in the gravel at turnouts. (I'm ok with that but don't understand it)

What a nice river!

On Sunday before leaving I took my neice Rachael out for lunch at Red Robin in Missoula. Our selfie....

Route- depart south on US 93 (retracing some of the route)

Lost Trail Pass southbound. Headed for home with a 2 PM start from Hamilton

Route- At Salmon, ID turn SE on ID 28. This valley parallels the Pahsimeroi but the road is paved and there is more population. Turn into the hills at Tendoy to visit Lemhi Pass

ID 28 headed for Tendoy and the turnoff for Lemhi Pass. Nice road, little traffic.

Turnoff. Road is dirt from here for a LONG way.

Pushing into the hills. Very little traffic as it's kind of late in the day. (1800 or so)


Looking back down the easy part of the hill where the history site boundary begins

Map of the site. From here to the summit is quite steep and narrow.

On reaching the top my oil temperature gage was indicating redline. High RPM, 1st gear, no wind, extended climb did this. I shut down to let it cool off.

Top of Lemhi Pass. Didn't really get a sense of the mountains in the distance due to the winding nature of this set of ridges.

Route- Continuing west Google Maps shows this as Lemhi Pass road then as Hwy 324.
Down the other side with a little shade and airflow to help things cool down

And out into some more sagebrush country eventually headed for Bannock Pass (it's a long way from here)

Open range

Sure are a lot of rocks out here!

And then there's a lot more sagebrush

Route - Not sure if Google is right as the paved road I came to is WY 324. Same number as I'd been on but a different road. It remained WY324

until the summit of Bannock Pass where it became  ID29  which returned to ID 28 at the town of Leadore. I camped before reaching Leadore.

Some very nice pavement going toward Bannock Pass  but it didn't last.

Very pretty in the evening light

Bannock Pass 1

Bannock Pass 2

Bannock Pass 3 - down the back side headed south for pavement near Leador (tomorrow)

Exiting one canyon into a much bigger one.

Smokey Cub campground (BLM, free). I had no contact with the other campers.

Next morning headed downhill for the town of Leadore

More time to think about how folks did it at the speed of horse and wagon..... (heading south toward Mud Lake)

And on and on and on......

Route- On reaching  ID 33 head East thru mud Lake to Rexburg. Meander thru Rexburg to Sunnydell and Ririe to reach US 26 and run east along the Palisades Reservoir

Approaching Palisades Reservoir so more boating facilities. Stopped here because State Rest Stop restrooms were broken/locked up.

Palisades Rervoir. Huge body of water. My pix don't do it justice.

Route- At Alpine Junction continue on US 26 to Hoback then find US 191 and head for Pinedale being very careful to observe the speed limit within 50 miles of Pinedale.

Near Boulder WY looking for a campground. This looked promising but wasn't a campground.

Single track dirt road. Is there a campground around here somewhere?

Finally at the far end of the dirt road  an outhouse and picnic table. Not much place to pitch a tent. Looking at the black cloud in the prior picture and thinking how the roads might turn greasy if it rained..... I didn't stay. I continued further south. 

I went on to Farson WY to get gas and saw this. A week earlier I'd seen a parade of 3 of these pass thru Mountain View WY (near the ranger station water stop) but hadn't gotten a picture. This is the dump bed for a gigantic mine dump truck. Certainly an attention-getting color....

Went back 12 miles to the north to Big Sandy Recreation Area (BLM) to look for a campsite. Appears to be another sagebrush reservoir.

By golly, there's a TREE!  Saw 2 5th wheel campers parked in the sage and I had this area all to myself. Getting late so have to make it work.

It worked ok. Flat enough ground, a picnic table to pack/unpack on and a small fire pit if I cared to have a fire. Outhouse is out of sight beyond the bushes to the left of the tent. It was stocked with recent rolls of TP.

Pretty austere but it was a good project once upon a time.

One of several lonely outhouses likely near turnouts in the sagebrush for 5th wheel type campers.

Route - Continue south of US 191 to Rock Springs then find your way to WY 430 departing to the southeast. This road eventually will cross into Colorado and join CO 318 that will come out at Maybell

Final day. Taking WY430 to the southeast out of Rock Springs. This will eventually join the road from Maybell to Brown's Hole that I rode on the first day. But first it crosses a lot of lonely country. But the WY portion is good pavement. 

Many mesas.  A guy could probably run 100 mph here but the remoteness and long time before discovery of your crash suggests not doing that. (I didn't)

One sign says "Leaving Wyoming"  the other sign says "Welcome to Moffat County"   No 'Colorado" sign. And the road becomes hardpack (very good) dirt after you cross the cattle guard.

It's a long way out there.  I should have taken pictures of Irish Canyon and its amazing uplifts but didn't.

CO 318 headed for Maybell

Route- From Maybell it was retracing the outbound route. US 40 to Rabbit Ears then CO 14 to Stove Prairie Landing  to Masonville then Horsetooth Reservoir and home. Short diversion to visit the Jones'

I went by my friends the Jones' to have a trip - end picture taken. I felt a lot worse than this looks. But I cleaned up pretty well afterwards.

No crashes, no close calls, no dropped bike. 1 small bird strike to the chest at 45 mph while in Hamilton. (I'm fine. Don't know about the bird) Used about 0.9 qt oil for the trip.
2550 miles covered.  Never got rained on. Lots of memories to consider.  


Last Modified: 11/14/2020  (added route maps)