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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Saskatchewan, Canada
    Posts
    20

    Default N Idaho trip / W Montana roads

    Iím planning a trip from Saskatchewan, Canada to a resort in Blanchard, northern Idaho at the end of August. We (me, my mom, maybe also my uncle and his girlfriend) will be staying there for one week. Iíve been to Coeur díAlene a couple of times before, but that was back when I was a kid. So Iíd like to get some suggestions as to what to do while Iím in the area. I know not many people might think of Idaho as a tourist destination, but I kind of like those little out-of-the-way places, so any advice is welcome!

    I like to hike, and this being near the Rocky Mountains, I am sure there must be some hiking trails around. Weíd prefer easy to moderate hikes, up to 3 hours in length. Any trails to recommend?

    Going to the beach is another option. Iíve been to the beach near Coeur díAlene, and we might make a return trip there. Iím also looking at Lake Pend Oreille though.

    Weíll be golfing a couple of rounds too. Thereís a golf course next to the resort, so I guess thatís covered. Oh, and maybe also a trip to the Silverwood amusement park.

    Most of our planned outings seem to be rather weather-dependent, so are there any recommendations as to places to visit if itís cool or rainy? Maybe some museums or some such?

    Weíll be driving the quick way to the resort (through Crowsnest Pass in southern Alberta) but Iíd like to go through Montana on the way back. If the weather is good, Iím thinking of taking Hwy 200 to Trout Creek, and then taking Vermilion River Road and Silver Butte Road up to US 2. Is this a decent enough route for a Pontiac Vibe, or would we be better advised to stick to pavement?

    Thanks in advance for any information that could help us!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,060

    Default That is heaven on earth!

    Quote Originally Posted by wacko2
    Iím planning a trip from Saskatchewan, Canada to a resort in Blanchard, northern Idaho at the end of August. We (me, my mom, maybe also my uncle and his girlfriend) will be staying there for one week.
    Welcome to the Great American RoadTrip Forum! I love that area! Some friends own the Fox Farm Campground at Sagle and I would be thrilled if I could go back every summer. I have boated down the Pend Oreille River a couple of times to Sandpoint. At least one night you ought to go into Sandpoint and listen to the entertainment at the park. Your resort is right down the road from Spirit Lake and Twin Lakes -- gorgeous country.
    I like to hike, and this being near the Rocky Mountains, I am sure there must be some hiking trails around. Weíd prefer easy to moderate hikes, up to 3 hours in length. Any trails to recommend?
    I will have to check in my friends and see what they say.
    and then taking Vermilion River Road and Silver Butte Road up to US 2. Is this a decent enough route for a Pontiac Vibe, or would we be better advised to stick to pavement?
    These don't sound familiar -- where are these roads?

    Mark

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Saskatchewan, Canada
    Posts
    20

    Default

    Thanks for the response! It's great to hear from someone who has some knowledge of the region. I will certainly consider your Sandpoint entertainment suggestion. Are there any beaches, recreational areas, or sights to see in the Sandpoint area so that we could make a day trip out of it?

    Quote Originally Posted by Editor
    These don't sound familiar -- where are these roads?
    The Montana route I am talking about is MT 200 to just north of Trout Creek, right before the highway crosses the Cabinet Gorge Reservoir. Then turn left and take Vermilion River Road (Forest Road 154) up the Vermilion River to the Silver Butte Pass junction, then follow Silver Butte Road (Forest Road 148) through the pass and then along Silver Butte / Fisher River until reaching US 2.

    These are Forest Service roads, going through Kaniksu and Kootenai National Forests. They are also marked as being county roads. I understand there is a ranger station near Trout Creek, and I would ask about local conditions before proceeding. If there is any chance of inclement weather, I would avoid the scenic route and take US 95 to US 2 instead, or if already on MT 200, go to MT 28 and then northwards. Otherwise, whether I would take the county roads would depend entirely on road conditions.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,060

    Default The lake is pretty all the way around

    Quote Originally Posted by wacko2
    Are there any beaches, recreational areas, or sights to see in the Sandpoint area so that we could make a day trip out of it?
    There is a wildlife preserve on the penisula just south of Hope on the west side of the lake, that is supposed to have some petroglyphs on the extreme southwest corner.
    The Montana route I am talking about is MT 200 to just north of Trout Creek, right before the highway crosses the Cabinet Gorge Reservoir. Then turn left and take Vermilion River Road (Forest Road 154) up the Vermilion River to the Silver Butte Pass junction, then follow Silver Butte Road (Forest Road 148) through the pass and then along Silver Butte / Fisher River until reaching US 2.
    Hmmm, I have driven around there, but I am still lost. I know where the Trout Creek Ranger station is -- it is right next to the North Shore campground, but ID-200 is a paved road there -- I know where Forest Road 149 is, but it is going south from the resevoir up the Pilgrim Creek drainage. County road 56 is also paved and it seems like the right spot for the road you are describing, but it follows the Bull River -- I can't find a Vermillion River.... and CR-56 does reach US-2. Sorry, I can't help with this.

    Mark

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Saskatchewan, Canada
    Posts
    20

    Default

    I am sorry, I should have said Noxon Reservoir instead of Cabinet Gorge Reservoir. Also, for those of you trying to follow along with online maps, I want to point out a couple of inaccuracies. MapQuest incorrectly names the Vermilion River Road as the Blue Slide Road, and Google Maps incorrectly names the west part of Blue Slide Road as Vermilion Road! Anyway, the best map is the Forest Service map (PDF, 3.5 MB). Zoom in for more detail.

    How about if I restate my directions, and then hopefully you'll have it? Start at the Cabinet Ranger Station near Trout Creek. Then go about a mile southeast on MT 200. Just before it crosses Noxon Reservoir, turn left (eastwards) on Blue Slide Road (Forest Road 1733). Follow it southeast along the north shore of Noxon Reservoir for 4 miles until it reaches Vermilion River. Then turn north on Vermilion River Road (Forest Road 154) and follow it along the river for 6 - 7 miles. Then turn left onto Silver Butte Pass / Road (Forest Road 148) and follow it northwest and then northeast for about 20 miles until you get to US 2.

    So this is about 30 miles (about an hour and a half?) on what I presume is a gravel road. Based on your knowledge of western Montana county roads, do you think it is safely passable by a fairly new Pontiac Vibe, or should I stick to pavement?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,060

    Default Absolutely not! (Well maybe...)

    Quote Originally Posted by wacko2
    How about if I restate my directions, and then hopefully you'll have it?
    Turns out I was looking at the same general route, but I forgot that ID-200 and MT-200 are the same highway. MT-200 is obviously paved and FR-1733 is smooth gravel -- the other roads -- I wouldn't take a low-clearance vehicle like your Vibe on a bet. I have cris-crossed that area a few times and if the roads are dry they are OK for a 2-wheel drive truck, but I would still prefer 4-wd. I wouldn't drive a low-slung Pontiac Vibe through there. That being said, I have done worse with a 2-wd Fiat 128, but I just about ruined the front end doing it. I still think MT-56 would be a good compromise.
    So this is about 30 miles (about an hour and a half?) on what I presume is a gravel road.
    Yeah, if it was graded recently -- (and you drive like I do) for most normal people it would take 2-3 hours.

    Cool link to that map by the way -- I was using this Benchmark Map, an investment you ought to consider.

    Mark

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Saskatchewan, Canada
    Posts
    20

    Default

    Thanks for the advice. I am a rather cautious driver myself, so if it is going to take 2 to 3 hours driving that way (not to mention possibly wrecking the car!) then yes, I would take another (paved) route. I will certainly consider your MT 56 suggestion. The other option would be to just take US 2 from Sandpoint.

    There are tons of gravel roads in Saskatchewan, but it seems mountain roads are a different beast altogether! And even after allowing extra time, I still underestimated the time anyway. Ah, the perils of being a prairie boy...

    What is your opinion of the Going-to-the-Sun Road through Glacier National Park? We may go that way if we have to return to Lethbridge. Otherwise, we would just continue on US 2 east and find somewhere to hole up for the night (perhaps in Shelby?).

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,060

    Default Don't Miss It!!!

    Quote Originally Posted by wacko2
    What is your opinion of the Going-to-the-Sun Road through Glacier National Park? We may go that way if we have to return to Lethbridge. Otherwise, we would just continue on US 2 east and find somewhere to hole up for the night (perhaps in Shelby?).
    Best steak in Montana at Sports Club Cattle Baron in Shelby and look at the field report here for the Going to the Sun road.

    Mark

  9. Default Forest Service Roads

    I worked in the Flathead National Forest in Montana last summer and had the pleasure to drive miles upon miles on Forest Service Roads. Like stated before, the quality of the road depends on the last time it was grated. They are also often very dry, so hope you don't get stuck behind anyway. I personally wouldn't recommend driving your vibe on these roads. I had the pleasure to drive vehicles that wern't mine (i.e. gov't vehicles).

    I visited the Glacier National Park Many times last summer. There are many hiking trails. Check out this website for hiking trails in Glacier http://www.nps.gov/glac/activities/hiking.htm . I liked the Hidden Lake trail at Logan Pass (got all the way to the lake - 6 miles round trip - if you wanna do some fishing to. Very nice cutthroat trout. Catch-and-Release of course). If you just go to the overlook, it is 3 miles round trip. At the end of august there might be a new layer of snow. Last year it snowed around that time. Nothing major and that's coming from a North Carolina Girl.

  10. #10

    Default Steaks

    Quote Originally Posted by Editor
    Best steak in Montana at Sports Club Cattle Baron in Shelby
    There may be more than one Cattle Baron club in Montana
    but the one I ate at was in Babb, Montana at the Cattle
    Baron Supper Club.

    Whatever the case, they serve killer steaks.
    Attached Images Attached Images

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