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  1. Default Great dirt roads

    Hey folks,

    I'm driving with some friends from Salt Lake up through the Tetons and the Beartooth Highway to Glacier and then down through Idaho back to Salt Lake in mid-August. Any recommendations on some great side roads along that trail? We have plenty of time to do exploring on the side, and in particular I love deserted dirt roads and small western towns.

    Also, unrelated, I'm wondering if anyone knows of a Friday night rodeo in Idaho on August 22. I'm looking for something small with lots of local flavor.

    -- Hunter

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Well, I Don't Know About Dirt

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    But I do know of one great 'back road' between Salt Lake and the Tetons. It's called US-89. And here's where you'll find the schedule of Rodeos in Idaho


  3. Default Well, it's better than nothing!

    I've been on bits and pieces of 89 before -- actually, now that I look at a map, I took 89 from SLC to the Tetons a couple years ago -- and you're right, it's a fantastic drive!

    I'd found that Idaho rodeo page also. Unfortunately, the dates that I'll be in Idaho this year, the only rodeo listed is in Oregon! Figures.

  4. #4

    Default Great minds think alike!

    Hello huskylives,

    You are contemplating exactly the kind of trip I WAS planning on taking in late September but have been forced to cancel. There's not much I enjoy more than some way out-of-the-way gravel roads. Here's what I was coming up with in the very vicinity you're looking at:

    There are a number of mountain ranges in the NE corner of Nevada and NW corner of Utah all within the Great Basin/Basin and Range. From SE Idaho, look at the vicinity of Mountain Home, ID and south of there into Nevada. The state road (ID 51) crosses the Duck Valley Reservation en route to Owyhee, NV and Mountain City, NV. Further west and south of those burgs is Jack Creek and Midas, NV. I THINK the main roads (ID 51 and NV 225) are paved but further THINK all of the side roads are gravel/dirt. At the southern end of things, all roads come out to I-80 in eastern NV, at points where it's a 2-3 hour run back east to SLC.

    I initially got in to some great visuals on the website, where the webmasters richly describe and photograph just the kind of gravel road/trail exploration which you and I seek. They provide an invaluable perspective on the area and travel therein.

    HUGE CAVEAT: This is NOT the place to enter unprepared. Excepting perhaps the Black Rock Desert at the corner of NV, OR, and CA, there is no more remote part of the Lower 48 states. It's August, and experiencing vehicle problems or health issues in the + 100 degree heat can be fatal if you're not using your head and very well prepared for contingencies. I'd go as far as filing a planned route with somebody and a planned "in" and "out" time for communications, as you can rest assured your cellphone will be useless for the most part. I can well imagine it being a matter of days and days before being found if you get well off the main roads and have a problem. With a travel plan on file, your responsible party can relay that to the authorities in the event you don't resurface on schedule.

    NEARLY AS HUGE OF A CAVEAT: This is NOT the place to enter without good maps, a sound working knowledge of how to read them, a compass, and a GPS. Notice I listed GPS last. Don't make life-or-death decisions based solely on GPS--ever. The maps I'd use, in order of preference, would be the Benchmark series (offered state by state, and I think both NV and ID are offered), or the DeLorme series (definitely offered state by state). The parts of this territory within NV are in part within the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, and the Ruby Range Ranger District is headquartered in Wells, NV, so surely good NF travel maps are available from the NF Service.

    Have a great time planning your trip, and please keep in touch as you plan and execute it!


  5. Default Great site!

    Dude, thanks for the desertislands link! What a great site!

    The downside is, my trip this August is with a few friends and my sister (who lived for a few months in Mountain Home, ID, actually) and we're kind of set on going more northeast from Salt Lake than west. Aside from Antelope Island, which is on our priority list, we currently aren't planning on being much in the area of the places listed at the site. But the info is great and it adds all sorts of new destinations to my long-term road trip list.

    I totally agree with you on GPS, BTW. I actually don't have one and really don't have any interest in one. I live (and will probably die) by my maps and atlases.

  6. #6

    Default You're welcome

    I just stumbled upon it myself when doing some googling for mining geology in Utah. I really need to take a day off of skiing next January when I'm normally out there for a week and get in a long loop trip in my rented SUV.

    Since you're coming back down to SLC from Glacier, consider the following:

    Rock Creek Road/Philipsburg/Anaconda/Wise River/Pioneer Range Scenic Parkway: From I-90 around 20 miles E of Missoula, Rock Creek Road follows a major tributary of the Clark Fork River for about 50 miles south, upstream. The first 10 miles are paved and most private property, then the pavement ends and there's no way out of the canyon for around 40 more miles. It is where the Lolo NF and the Beaverhead-Deerlodge NF join, so most of the rest of the way up is in NF lands. Bighorn sheep dot the scree slopes and moose thicken the bottomlands. The first place to get out of the canyon is a road carrying you east over the John Long Mountains to Philipsburg. P'burg is a great little town. From there, MT 1 takes you past Georgetown Lake, within sight of the Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness area, and over the pass into Anaconda. From Anaconda, you can skirt the Mt Haggin Wilderness area over the pass towards Wise River, then take the Wise River Scenic Parkway down to Polaris, MT. A VERY rustic commercial hot spring, Elkhorn Hot Springs, is near the parkway north of Polaris and makes for a fun place to stop, soak, eat, drink, and overnight. Several notches above Elkhorn is Jackson Hot Springs resort, in Jackson, around 10 miles NW of Polaris on MT 278. Nicer hot springs pool, very nice restaurant and bar, and it's in the Big Hole, the most spectacular of all of the Rocky Mountain high valleys, in my humble opinion. As you'll see on the atlas, you can drop back over to Dillon, MT and I-15 quite readily from the southern end of the Parkway or Jackson. But, don't forget to save time for Bannack, MT, the restored First Territorial Capital of MT and a State Park. Bannack is a must for Ghost Town collectors. From there, turn south towards Grant, MT (and by the way, you're back on the dirt now) and turn W towards Lemhi Pass. From Grant, most of the road to Lemhi is dirt and you get to see the exact scene Lewis and Clark saw when they crested the pass in 1805. Hoping to see the gently-flowing Columbia right below the Divide, they instead saw mountains as far as they could see. DuOhhhh!! From there, you can drop down into ID and come out on US 93 near Salmon. Or, you can backtrack just a few miles back through Grant and head E towards Clark Canyon Reservior. Between Grant and the lake, which is hard by I-15 south of Dillon, you can turn off on Sheep Creek Rd, a long dirt road skirting the Tendoy Range which comes out around Lima or Dell, MT, on I-15 just on the MT side of Monida Pass. Starting from Missoula fairly early in a day, you could do this traverse in a single very long day, or if you take your time and overnight at Elkhorn or Jackson (or at one of the many, many nice NF campgrounds along the Parkway--Little Joe is my favorite), you can make a leisurely 2 day affair out of it, see parts of MT which few others see, and take in some serious Western history in the process.

    To see some dirt roads E of I-15, consider taking MT 1 off of I-90, pass through Philipsburg and Anaconda, back to I-90 west of Butte, thence down I-15 to Dillon, thence Sweetwater Road E of Dillon (gravel the last time I was on it) and connect up with the Gravelly Range Scenic Drive. The GRSD takes you south to the head of the Centennial Valley, and from there you can work over towards Raynolds Pass to the SE or pass through the National Wildlife Refuge through Lakeside to Monida and I-15. Although I spent some time 30 years ago along Sweetwater Road, I've never taken the GRSD or entered the Centennial Valley. As you suggested, it's in my "inventory" of trips to take.

    Excepting the first 30 miles of Rock Creek Road, which lie in Lolo NF, everything else above lies with in Beaverhead-Deerlodge NF. If you're interested, there's an alternative route out of Jackson, through the narrow canyon where the Nez Perce fled Gibbons in 1877, which comes out at the foot of the road up to Lemhi Pass. Also if you're interested, and have a decent 4WD, there are two places within about 1 hour's drive of I-15 between Melrose and Dillon where you can drive that bad boy up to and above timberline, which there is between 9 and 10,000'. Sing out if that's a possibility for you, and I'll clue you in on those "spur" drives.

    This should keep you busy for a while.

    Enjoy Montana!


  7. Default Now THIS we can do!

    That route looks great man! I just traced everything you said on a map and will print it out for your trip. I doubt if we'll do the whole thing necessarily but definitely at least parts of it. In case I didn't explain it well, we're planning on going north from the Tetons to Glacier via Montana and then returning back to Salt Lake through Idaho for a change of scenery. I just saw your post on Idaho but haven't gone over it with a map yet. Great stuff though, and thanks again!

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