The ÷ Ride
Stage I
Summer 1997

Comments are drawn from information found in various Chamber of Commerce brochures; Adventure Cycling articles and "Along the Great Divide" newsletter; Montana Handbook (Moon Travelbooks); MT State Travel Planning pamphlets; and an occasional comment from "Hang Dog."


To / From


~Alt. Gain




Sat, Sun
7/12 & 7/13


(Eureka/Roosville (border) is about 15 mi. r.t..)



Eureka: Creek Side Motel has rooms and tenting sites (w/shower & laundry).

(Also Ksanka Motel, not for camping.)

Roosville or Eureka: Buy food for Days 1 & 2.

Kalispell: A Price Club/Costco awaits you. :-)

"Airport Shuttle Service" in Kalispell will meet you at Glacier International Airport. 406-752-2842. Cost for 2 people and 2 bikes is $17. They advise calling the day before with arrival info so that they can get your name(s) up on their "meeter" board for pickup.

Dog Creek store enroute from/to Eureka out of Kalispell has cold sodas and hot dogs for bicyclists. (~25 mi. N of Whitefish on US 93.)

Also: 10 mi. S of Eureka is another store for food.

Time Out Cafe is reputed to have good soup.

Library: (next to Montana Market) Has public use internet connection.
(Closed Friday; open Sat. 11-2).

Sunflower Bakery: Rec. for bagels & bread; also cyberspace connectivity.

Eureka: Located in Tobacco Valley, named for crop grown by Kootenai Indians. "Christmas Tree Capital of the World." Historical Village located at south end of town.

Mon. 7/14

Eureka -> Tuchuck



~3,00 0'

Tuchuck camp ground.

Roosville or Eureka: Buy food for Days 1 & 2.

Long slow climb from mile 20 to mile 36. Downhill into camp. Good streamside camp sites.

Tues. 7/15

Tuchuck -> Red Meadow Lake

Elev.: ~5,800'

30.1 (w/ detour = 49.3)


Red Meadow Lake

(detour to)

PoleBridge: Hostel; groceries.

Northern Lights Saloon for good burritos & cold beer.

Climb from mile 54 to 70 (camp ground)

"Beautiful camping place." Look for bald eagles.

Wed. 7/16

Red Meadow Lake -> Whitefish




Whitefish State camp ground on Dog Bay (can be crowded, but friendly; swimming; beautiful views; $7); motel options; also RV park (showers, laundry).

Whitefish: All, including bike shop.

"Good dinners at Whitefish Lake Inn."

Glacier Cyclery has hand drawn bike maps of the area; also sells National Forest maps; also suggests rides.

Generally downhill with short climbs all day long.

Whitefish: Base of Big Mountain ski area. "Danny On Trail" mt. bike trail (chair lift runs in summer) to Big Mountain (huckleberries; wildflower meadows; vistas of Flathead Valley). Can take bike to summit (via Glacier Chaser gondola) and single track down.

Swimming at City Beach or at Whitefish Rec. Area ($2).

Flathead Music Festival occurs for two weeks in July.







Day off could be either Whitefish or Bigfork. Bigfork seems a better, nicer place, overall. Camping looks to be more pleasant.

Thur, 7/17

Whitefish -> Columbia Falls -> Swan River -> Bigfork (Flathead Lake)




Wayfarer State Rec. Area (30 campsites; 5 mi S of Bigfork); swimming. ($7) (sometimes full.)

or... RV Park (pool & jacuzzi)

Swan River or Bigfork. Buy food for Days 6 & 7 & 8 (unless eating at restaurant on Day 7).

Columbia Falls: Falls Coin Laundry.

For those needing a mini-golf or go-kart fix, you can satisfy that at Grizzly-Go-Karts. :-)

Bigfork: All services.

Easy riding day. Look for osprey & nests.

Cherry orchards around Flathead Lake.

Huckleberries begin ripening in mid-July. Good picking in the hills. (Bears like 'em too.)

Bigfork is on Flathead Lake; a resort community; touristy; well-known summer theater; galleries; boutiques. "Culinary capital of MT." Often "coldest spot" in lower 48 in winter. Quaint town. Beautiful views.

Boat rides: to Wild Horse Island, a 2,100 acre primitive State Park. "One of the largest islands in the inland U.S."

Boat rentals: canoes, kayaks, rafts.

Fishing: Trolling is the most popular fishing method. Fish in the lake include: lake trout, dolly varden, cutthroat trout, kokanee salmon, perch, and lake superior whitefish. Lic. req.

Summer Theater: July 17, "West Side Story"; July 18, "Big River." Tickets: $18.

Fri. 7/18

Bigfork - Day Off






Sat. 7/19

Bigfork -> Swan Lake area -> Camp @ Woodward Creek




Camping at approx. mile 170.

(Alternatively: Pt. Pleasant State Forest camp ground is 7 mi. S of Swan Lake (free).

Cedar Creek c.g. (?) or 1/8th mile beyond road from Cedar Creek.

None along route.

Swan Lake is 4 mi. off route with motel, restaurants & camping.

Difficult riding day. Early long uphill with many hilly "pops" from mile 158 to 170.

From Swan Lake to Ovando - 1.5 mi. of pavement; 125 mi. off-road ("bodacious back country").

(Swan Lake, the town, is off route.)

Swan River Valley: "Quite beautiful." Wildlife viewing areas; off Hwy. 83 = large clear-cut areas.

Swan River Natl. Wildlife Refuge: Nesting area for bald eagles, blue herons, and others. Elk, grizzly, moose, beaver, river otter, muskrat, black bear.

Sunset Magazine rates Swan Lake camping area as one of the 50 most beautiful in the Western U.S.

Sun. 7/20

Woodward Creek -> Holland Lake




Holland Lake (beautiful campsites; $7). 41 campsites.

Holland Lake: Lodging & restaurant (open to public)

Holland Lake: Reputed to be "most lovely area" of whole Seeley/Swan Valleys. Trailhead to Bob Marshall Wilderness area.

"Holland Lake Campground is one of the prettiest (and sometimes very crowded) of the area's FS c.g.'s." Fishing: cutthroat, bull, rainbow trout & kokanee salmon.

Waterfall: 1.5 mi. hike from the lodge.

Mon. 7/21

Holland Lake -> Seeley Lake


[Take lunch/picnic break at Clearwater Lake - swimming. Storybook lake with gnarly entrance road.]



One NFS c.g. on Lake Alva prior to reaching Seeley Lake. 11 mi. N of Seeley Lake (town); 43 campsites; 2 grp. sites (by reservation); water; vault toilets; swimming.

Choice of 3 USFS c.g.'s.

1. Big Larch (closest to highway on east side of lake) 1 mi. N of Seeley Lake; 50 campsites water; swimming beach; interpretive program.

2. River Point c.g. 2.5 mi. NW of Seeley Lake (the town). Take the Boy Scout Rd. past Pyramid Mt. Lumber Co.) Located at the outlet of Seeley Lake. 28 campsites; water.

3. Seeley Lake c.g.'s- farther around SW side of Lake. 3.5 Mi. NW of town of Seeley Lake (past River Pt. c.g.). 29 campsites; flush toilets; water; swimming.

3. Placid Lake ("just S of Seeley Lake...~5 mi?) is less crowded.

Seeley Lake: All services in town.

Seeley Lake Wash House behind mercantile has showers/laundromat. Open 7 days/wk.

Lucky Dog Grooming (677-2603). Appts. nec.

Wolf Ridge Ranch: Hand-raised wolf hybrids. (677-3314). (Go see your canine relatives....)

The Ice Cream Place: Hamburgers, fries, ice cream, and more.

The Stage Station: Old fashioned ice cream parlor serving ice cream & espresso. Local artists display work.

Tough riding day. Abandoned logging roads may be bike-high in grass.

Morrell Falls: Easy 2 mi. hike off Cottonwood Lakes Rd. (watch for signs).

Seeley Lake: Loon nesting area. Fishing: bass & rainbow trout.

Long steep climb precedes road around Richmond Peak. Use caution! Narrow road. Steep drop-offs; maybe some washouts. Handlebar-high balsams. Occasional dismounting likely.

Sunset Magazine rates Seeley Lake camping area as one of the 50 most beautiful in the Western U.S.

The water ways of Seeley Lake are home to the largest nesting common loon population in the lower 48 states.

Tues. 7/22

Seeley Lake - Day Off




Seeley Lake:


Wed. 7/23

Seeley Lake -> Big Nelson Lake

Elev.: ~?



Big Nelson c.g. is on a beautiful lake (with cold! water); 6 campsites.

Seeley Lake: or Ovando: Buy d/b/l. for Day 10/11.

Ovando: Grocery closed on Sunday.

Cottonwood Lakes Road (to Ovando): Back country scenic road on a good gravel road. Watch for logging traffic. Follow signs past Monture Guard Station to Ovando. (~25 mi.)

Ovando: Ranching town. (Flavor of "A River Runs Through It.")

Be careful of unmarked roads about midday.

Thur. 7/24

Big Nelson c.g. -> Lincoln

Elev.: ~4,800'



(Pvt. c.g.) ??

Or, "informal" ??

Lincoln: Buy food for Day 11 (d) and Day 12/13 (b/l/d/b/l). Laundry facilities here.

Lincoln: Not much to the town these days. Ted has moved to Sacramento....

Fri. 7/25

Lincoln -> Grady Ranches camping area

Elev.: ~?



Unk. as yet. (Informal?) Grady Ranches campsites. Can camp near Mullan Pass.


1st crossing of ÷ after some stream crossings.

"Extremely steep uphill" for 4 mi. (AC).

Longer, easier alternative is available.

Sat. 7/26

Grady Ranches camping area -> Helena




Various camping options.

Camping Reservations at: Helena Campground
5820 N. Montana Ave
. (3 mi. N. of town.) (showers, laundry, pool, hot tub, etc.)

Helena: All services.

Big Sky Cyclery: Has been known to pack and UPS bikes.

Cross ÷ twice.

Helena: Lots to see and do. Used to be famous for gold mining and sapphires.

(Bail-out option for 2 week trip. Major airport.)

Last Chance Stampeded, Fair & Rodeo, July 23-27.

Sun. 7/27

Helena - Day Off




Helena: Buy food for Day 15


Mon. 7/28

Helena -> Park Lake c.g.




Park Lake c.g., popular for fishing & camping.


Could go clear to Basin (a city with all services) for a distance of 41.6 miles & ~ 4,500' of climb.

Tues. 7/29

Park Lake -> Basin -> Mile 174 Camping




Informal camping area at ~Mile 174.

Can camp at Earth Angel "Health" Mine. (Radon mine.)

Basin: Buy food on way through for dinner/break/lunch.

Basin: Old mining town with lively "alternative" feel.

Montana Artists Refuge residential program/Basin Creek Pottery & Gallery.

Climb out of Basin on an old abandoned railbed.

Wed. 7/30

Mile 174 -> Butte




Campground in Butte. KOA?

Or camp at Humbug Spires Primitive Area, across the valley from Fleecer Mt. (listen for the howling coyotes).

Butte: All services.

Buy food for Day 18 & 19 ('til dinner).

5.7 miles on Interstate Highways. Cross ÷ 4th time. Easy ride.

Butte: Another bail-out option (major airport). Formerly the world's richest mining area.

Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge (moose & trumpeter swans) is S. of Butte.

Sunset Magazine rates Red Rock Lakes camping area as one of the 50 most beautiful in the Western U.S.

"Medicine Lodge-Big Sheep Creek BLM Backcountry Byway, a remote 50-mile route tracing the historic Bannack Rd. through circuitous canyons and lofty, wind-whipped grasslands."

Thur. 7/31

Butte -> Beaver Dam camp ground




Beaver Dam cg (USFS)


Cross ÷ 5th time.

Fri. 8/1

Beaver Dam -> Wise River -> Wise River camping area




4 c.g.'s close to one another.

Wise River: All services. Camp grounds are 10 miles south of town on route.

Blue Moon Saloon.

Wise River: Guide book says town is mostly a couple of bars at the confluence of two rivers.

Highway 484, designated "scenic highway" begins here (our route).

Sat. 8/2

Wise River camping -> Dillon






Elkhorn Hot Springs: camping @ USFS c.g. Grasshopper Creek 1 mi. S.

Camping & motel options in Dillon.

Rider's choice for sleeping arrngmts.

Elkhorn Hot Springs: Restaurant, lodging ($13/single, bath "down the hall).

Polaris (mile 283.4): No services. Home of the Polar Bar.

Dillon: all services.

Served by Rimrock Bus (800-255-7655) service to Butte (~$9 one way w/o bike; Lv. 5:40 p.m. or 1:05 am for 1-1/4 hr. trip to Butte).
First of all: NO reservations. First come/first served
Leave Dillon: 1:05 AM (!) or 5:40 p.m.
Arrive Butte 2:15 a.m. or 7:00 p.m.

(for going to Bozeman)

Catch Greyhound (also no reservations)
Leave Butte 3:20 a.m. or 7:25 p.m.
Arrive Bozeman 5:20 a.m. or 9:30 p.m.

Patagonia Outlet Store.. (open Sundays).

Backcountry Bikes & Boards: 406-683-9696. "Joe" is co-owner. Will UPS bikes for us (call on 8/1 for count of bikes).

Crystal Park: 4 mi. N of Elkhorn Hot Springs. FS maintained site. Very popular for rock hounds looking for amethysts and quartz crystals. (Free.)

Pass through Elkhorn Hot Springs: Outdoor mineral pools & sauna ($4). "Funky, remote & charming."

Polaris: A "near ghost town." One of the nation's tiniest post offices.

Relatively flat ride to Dillon cutoff (mile 297).

Dillon: "One of Montana's most bewitching small cities."

Every Saturday night there is a lecture at the Bannock State Park on the history, recreation or natural resources of the area.

Bold = City (or food option)
Bold/Italic - Item of interest

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Last Updated: May 14, 1998
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Itinerary by Judy Colwell, © 1996, 1997

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