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Thread: Riding Across Montana and the Dakotas.

  1. #1
    rabid reader dbrick's Avatar
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    Riding Across Montana and the Dakotas.

    I'll be riding solo east from Glacier Park at the end of September, and want to stay off the Interstate. This ride is a post-retirement clearing of the mind, and I'm not concerned about time. I don't mind empty, either; the occasional small town is just fine. Eventually, I'll get to Omaha NE.

    I'd be interested in your comments about US 2, MT 200, US 12, and MT 212, as well as other roads I might consider. I've ridden Beartooth, Dead Indian Highway NW of Cody, and the passes in the Bighorn National Forest; I'll skip them this time.

    Thanks!
    Last edited by dbrick; 08-15-2011 at 02:55 AM.
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  2. #2
    Registered User bluegrasspicker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dbrick View Post
    I'll be riding solo east from Glacier Park at the end of September, and want to stay off the Interstate. This ride is a post-retirement clearing of the mind, and I'm not concerned about time. I don't mind empty, either; the occasional small town is just fine. Eventually, I'll get to Omaha NE.

    I'd be interested in your comments about US 2, MT 200, US 12, and MT 212, as well as other roads I might consider. I've ridden Beartooth, Dead Indian Highway NW of Cody, and the passes in the Bighorn National Forest; I'll skip them this time.

    Thanks!
    Are you camping? if so Crazy Woman Campground in the Bighorns and the badlands campground in South Dakota are two of my favorites.
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  3. #3
    Fixin' ta ride tinboatcapt's Avatar
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    I rode US-2 from Minot, MD through Glacier to Spokane two years ago. The road is good for the most part, but the concrete surfaces are somewhat rough, especially in central ND. This year I was on US-2 near Minot and the oil business truck traffic along with graiin trucks are heavy. You are right about it being empty. But I like the great emptyness off it all. It is specttacular country in its own right.

    It was a bit of a challenge with the K100's small fuel capacity. It required filling frequently to avoid the worry about streaching out too long. I distinctly remember litterally coasting down the hill into Havre, MT and putting 4.8 gallons of gas into the tank.

    US-200 last year was our route from Flat Head Lake back to central ND. Our destination town lies in the center of ND at the junction of US-200 and US-41. US 200 is even more desolate than US-2. Some of the small towns did not have fuel. A long streach of eastern Montana did not even have powerr lines along the road.

    US-200 had far less traffic than US-2. I thought that the "bad lands" in eastern MT were spectacular. I would do US-200 again, but with my ST1100, a bike that holds more fuel (or carry some). Fuel stop planning will help, but the GPS was wrong on a couple of occasions.

    We had a particularly great stop, talking with the people at White Sulfer Springs.

    US-2 through central ND to western MN is still "industrial" but begins to have more trees and lakes, and curves as you get into west central MN. It continues through lake country to Superior, WI where US-2 skirts along the south shore of Lake Superior into Michigan. It is great riding, but again therre is lots of heavy truck traffic.

    From central ND to central MN US-200 is less developed. in places it jogs around as it passes through small towns. The towns are generally smaller on 200 than on us-2. US-200 joins US-2 just east of Grand Rapids, MN.

    Good luck on your trip.

    jim
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  4. #4
    rabid reader dbrick's Avatar
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    Thanks, Jim. That is a seductive picture!
    David Brick
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  5. #5
    Fixin' ta ride tinboatcapt's Avatar
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    The pic was taken at the far western edge of ND on US-2. The last three years the rains have made the plains green and lush. Normally this time of year they are pretty dry and brown.
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    My recommendation would be from just east of Browning take 89 South to Vaughn Junction then to MT 200 east to Jordan then 59 to Miles City Then you have a choice between taking 59 South to Black Hills area or Highway 12 to Baker and Northern South Dakota. 89 and 200 across Montana gives you a nice tour of dryland farming areas, prairie mountains, high plains grassland and badlands. Highway 2 is OK and I grew up along the highline and love it but 200 have more variety in types of landscape. Keep in mind no motel rooms will be available, camping spots a premium, and restaurants full between Devils Lake North Dakota and Glasgow Montana on highway 2 and difficult to find between Bismarck ND and Miles City on I 94. Truck traffic is heavy in northwest North Dakota. If you would like to experience the oil boom of the Williston Basin Google Bakken of northwest North Dakota and northeast Montana would be the place to go but it may not be part of your travel plans.

  7. #7
    rabid reader dbrick's Avatar
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    badroute,

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  8. #8
    Registered User stkmkt1's Avatar
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    I'm interested in this Highway 2 trek as I'm likely to take Route two from Eastern Minnesota to Washington next spring when I head to Alaska.
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  9. #9
    Fixin' ta ride tinboatcapt's Avatar
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    stkmkt1,
    I recommend, if you can, taking the jump north to Hwy 20 in Washington, through the Northern Cascade Entry. It takes you past the Northern Columbia River Dams, then drops down into Annacortes, WA. Rainy Pass is beautiful and the road is excellent.

    Eastern Washington is desert. As you approach the town of Coulee Dam on US-2 the scene is facinating. The area looks like Mars. "Weird Landscape" its called. And the description couldn't be more accurate.

    jim
    ST1100 "renamed " Large Marge" Better now with Race Tech, Penske, Michelin PR III's.

    74 Honda XL350 "Ltl Scoot" Just for fun

  10. #10
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    There is a great amount of oil field work going on in northwest North Dakota and northeast Montana. As a new motel is built the major oilfield service companies like Haliburton will rent every room for several years. People are living in tents and campers its interesting to see but disruptive for travelers and natives. Google Bakken oil exploration there is lots of information on the web as it is a huge discovery. If you travel that way and stay in motels call ahead. Here is a news report from Billings Gazette http://billingsgazette.com/news/stat...cc4c002e0.html Rooms should be available in Bismarck and in Miles City with reservations.
    Last edited by badroute; 08-28-2011 at 03:33 PM.

  11. #11
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  12. #12
    wha? Krommenoek's Avatar
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    Riding in western ND has gone to hell since the oil boom. We used to have all kinds of great roads (ND 22 was absolutely stunning) but some idiot decided to close down the weigh stations and stop enforcing load limits. Combine that with the record flooding in Minot and Bismarck and a lot of the roads are in bad shape.

    US 2 is a decent road still. Four lanes throughout, it will be easy to navigate with the oil traffic but it will be somewhat boring scenery wise. Be careful around Stanley as that's become a hub for oil traffic.

    Oh, farming started really late this year. Because of that, you'll see a lot more farm equipment on the highways through late Sept.

    Most of the smaller towns don't carry premium and are usually "out" of 87 octane sans ethanol. That leaves 89 octane 10% corn as your only option. Be prepared to wait in line for fuel if you stop in Minot. The stations in the valley are still rebuilding after the flood so the places on North and South Hill are usually pretty packed, especially between 5 and 8 pm.

    Lodging is pretty tight because of the floods and the oil. Depending on when you're coming through and what route, I may have a camper you can stay in. It's in Garrison right now, but I was thinking about bringing it into Minot at the end of the month. Shoot me a PM if you decide to come through NW ND.

    Ride safe!
    Last edited by Krommenoek; 09-12-2011 at 06:52 AM. Reason: minor corrections
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