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Thread: Advice requested - Adirondacks to Billings via Canada

  1. #1
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    Advice requested - Adirondacks to Billings via Canada

    My wife and I are heading to the BMW Rally in Billings, MT. this July. We plan to ride our bikes from the Adirondacks, cross into Canada at Alexandria Bay and pick up RT 17 west of Ottawa and continue on that road until reaching RT 11. We are planning on taking 6 days to get to Billings, arriving on July 23.

    Here is what would be most helpful:

    • What do we need to know about those Canadian roads? Condition, services, cell phone service, etc.
    • Any hotels, sites and restaurants you would recommend?
    • How about weather that time of year? Need any heated gear?
    • How much time would it add to the trip to swing by Mt. Rushmore and what road(s) from Canada to the US would be best (avoiding slabs) from your experience?
    • Anything else I'm not asking but should?


    Thanks,

    DrSteve

  2. #2
    RK Ryder
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    Those Canadian Roads that you have chosen were in good shape, the last time I rode them in '08. However, I have no experience west of Thunder Bay towards Duluth. Might do that run at the end of May. The scenery is terrific with the Canadian shield to your right and Superior to your left. It is a two lane highway with plenty of truck passing lanes on the hills. When I ride up there, I pace myself so that I see no cars either behind or in front. With my K's 22 litre tank, I fill up every second town; I'd push it to every third town with my R's 26 litre tank. Speed limit is 80 km/hr (50 mph) but there are long stretches with moose warnings. Hence, on my trips up there, I have tended to stay close to the speed limit.

    My trips there have always been in August. Although I doubt if you if you'd need your electrics at that time of year, especially during the daytime, but experience has taught me to always carry the heated jacket and gloves. Once rode to California and back at the end of May and early June and left the electrics at home. Might have been a mistake as I really needed them for 17 of the 21 days on the road.

    King's Motel in Thunder Bay was clean and very reasonably priced. A decent hotel in Wawa (home of the giant Cdn Goose) is The Beaver. Decent breakfast hotels in Wawa, although the specials end by 11:00 a.m.

    On the open road, north of Superior, cell phone coverage is spotty.

    On my three trips up there, lots of Provincial Police stations (OPP) but I never saw many cruisers on the roads. I guess the moose monitor the roads most effectively.

    I'll have to check my diaries and get back to you for my times along the Hwy 17 but as I mentioned, the moose warnings have kept me from hurtling along too quickly.
    Paul
    Retired and riding my RTs, the '87 K100 & the '98 R1100 !
    Niagara Riders & Knights of the Roundel #333

  3. #3
    RK Ryder
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    A clean and decently priced motel, just east of Sault Ste. Marie is the Pine Grove Motel 705-759-1202.

    On my last trip up there, in 2008, don't remember when I left or stopped, but I rode from the Sault to Thunder Bay in one day, a little over four hundred miles. I wouldn't wish to go past Thunder Bay looking for a motel as the towns are few and far between. Even on that route, there were not a lot of accommodations.

    Because of the moose and deer, I would not be travelling too early nor too late in the day.

    Others should be able to chime in with more information about your route. Find me the Volunteer booth in Billings and let me how everything worked out.

    Have a great trip!
    Paul
    Retired and riding my RTs, the '87 K100 & the '98 R1100 !
    Niagara Riders & Knights of the Roundel #333

  4. #4
    172526
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    Advice requested - Adirondacks to Billings via Canada

    We did an "around the great lakes" trip last year that took us down into the Adirondack Mtn area of New York. Nice bit of country down there but very busy in the summer.

    This is the summer to do a Canada trip. Your dollar is worth a lot more now and everything will be like it is 25% off!

    If you want o stay away from the larger centers then start steering left when you cross the border at Buffalo and make your way to Sarnia via lesser highways The 400 (401, 403, 407 etc) series of roads are all fast 4 lane that you can easily avoid for less busy roads. Your choice but along the shore of Lake Erie is pretty nice and Point Pelee park (southern most place in Canada) is great if you are into bird watching. Highway conditions cell service etc will be consistent and the same as you would expect at home.

    From Sarnia take Hwy 23 / 25 north along the shore of Huron. Nice area and roads



    When you cross the mackinaw bridge head straight north to Sault St Marie Canada and then take hwy 17 north of lake Superior. The views are spectacular, the roads are good (2 lane paved with passing areas). Some areas are remote and cell service may be spotty but generally you should be OK. Communities are a distance apart. I would suggest staying in Wawa where there is a decent selection of private motels, hotels and places to eat. If you are camping there is a broad selection of places both private and provincial. Do not be afraid to wild camp if that is something you do, but it will be frowned upon when in provincial parks like Lake Superior park which covers a pretty wide area. Provincial parks will have amenities like showers etc but have become expensive lately (but remember you are getting everything 25% off this year)!!

    From Wawa continue on to Thunder Bay and from here you have 3 choices

    1. Hwy 61 back into the US to Duluth
    2. Hwy 17 west through Dryden Kenora to Winnipeg
    3. Hwy 11 to Atikokan Fort Frances and back into the US at international Falls or Rainy River Baudette.

    My suggestion is this for good roads, decent scenery, some history and one of the best route across the plains (I have done a trip across a hundred times and this one is the nicest i have rode)

    Take hwy 11 to Fort Frances International Falls MN and then start making your way down to Bemidji MN. Head down through the lake country and make it to Hwy 212. Doesn't matter how you get there. All the roads will be good and scenery nice.

    Follow hwy 212 right out to Billings. At one point you will be just bit north of Sturgis and the Black Hills area and can easily take that in.

    On your way home be sure to take a route that will visit the Big Horn mountains and also Devils tower for your "close encounter" experience in WY.

    Here is a link to my wife's ride report with pictures and maps

    http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=994865
    Last edited by garthw; 02-04-2015 at 12:17 AM.
    I am too poor to buy cheap stuff, I need it to last forever (tewster2)

  5. #5
    Registered User WalterK75's Avatar
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    I'd suggest staying on the Trans-Canada (#17 I think) and take it to Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. From there follow it north to Wawa and over the top of Lake Superior to Thunder Bay. The Embassy restaurant is the local place for breakfast. Not fancy, but food seems to be okay. There are times when this can be in deep fog so be prepared, just in case.

    The run from Thunder Bay to Duluth is nice and the scenery is good. On the way back, you may want to ride east across Upper Michigan and go along the edge of Lake Superior.

    Have a good trip
    Walter

    "Sometimes I wonder if the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on, or by imbeciles who really mean it." Mark Twain

  6. #6
    Given the high level of oil field activity, truck traffic, lack of lodging, etc in the western 1/3 of North Dakota and eastern Edge of Montana you will want to drop back into the U.S. before the middle of North Dakota or after well into Montana. If you drop back at Thunder Bay / Duluth then you will want to make sure you are down into South Dakota before heading west. Or plan for a straight push through western North Dakota without need to stop for anything but lunch and fuel. Cheap cheesy motel rooms will be in triple digits and camping will be next to nonexistent.
    Paul Glaves - "Big Bend", Texas U.S.A
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  7. #7
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    Very helpful folks. Keep the ideas coming.

    DrSteve

  8. #8
    TravelsWithBarley.com
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    Barley and I spent a lot of time around the Great Lakes. You're just across the lake from us, so the starting point would be essentially the same. Some routes to consider in addition to what others have shared.

    Cross into Ontario at Ogdensburg NY. Head north (we prefer secondary roads thru small towns like Smith Falls and Perth) but instead of 17 head west on 60 thru the Algonquin Provincial Park. From Huntsville on the western side of the park jog over to 69 and run up the east coast of Georgian Bay to Sudbury, then pick up 17 and make time to Sault Set Marie. Continue following 17 around the north side of Superior, but take some time to explore some of the incredibly scenic and generally uninhabited bays before you reach Wawa.

    Another option if you have the time would be to scoot south a few miles from Huntsville then west thru some pretty flat farmland till you pick up 6, then north to the Tobermory Ferry and take it across the bay. Very scenic, very pleasant, and very bike friendly!

    If you go to the 2011 trip on Barley's webpage (TravelsWithBarley.com) you'll see a few shots of our trip around the Great Lakes.

    Woof!
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  9. #9

    Crossing Canada

    Last August I rode from VA to VT to meet up with two friends. We rode to Ottawa, and stayed in the old, funky part of downtown in a B&B for a couple of nights. It's a great town, and worth seeing the locks, Mounties marching in the AM, Parliament Hill, the art museum, and great restaurants. We then headed west to Sault Ste. Marie and did a day on the old train ride to Agawa Canyon. It was a nice break off the bikes for a day, but if you're a fisherman, get a guide for fishing for steelhead in the St. Mary River rapids instead. I regret not having done that, and will return. We continued west to Thunder Bay, and again stayed in a B&B and had a great dinner on the waterfront of Lake Superior. The next day we headed towards Winnipeg through beautiful terrain North of Lake Superior, but it poured all day, and the temp was about 40 degrees. I couldn't understand why it was so cold until we passed a sign stating, "You are Now Entering the Arctic Watershed." That explained that! So, bring your heated gear. We split up for the next 5 days, with them headed to Jasper, and me staying with distant relatives in Kenora, Ontario for R&R and a couple of days of walleye fishing.
    I continued across Ontario, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan on Highway 1. The roads are great, Regina is beautiful, and the people delightful. I went through Moose Jaw, Swift Current, and Medicine Hat, just because I loved the names. Another treat was to be so far north and inland, and see saltwater shore birds in the lakes, there for the shrimp and other saltwater aquatic organisms in the briny lakes (think Great Salt Lake). After Lethbridge I dropped down into the States to Glacier, MT on HWY 2.
    The cross Canada ride is a treat, but if you're going that far North, be better prepared than I for the possible cold weather. Motels, restaurants, and gas stations are easily accessible, and by going this way you'll see beautiful areas North of Lake Superior and much less congestion than in the Northern tier of the USA. Enjoy.
    Andy

  10. #10
    172526
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    Quote Originally Posted by DrSteve View Post
    [*]How about weather that time of year? Need any heated gear?DrSteve
    I never travel without heated gear anymore, and especially if i am heading west where you can encounter elevation changes. Mid July in Canada you can expect just about everything except snow and a hurricane (well maybe snow). If you go along north of Superior (and you should) a south breeze brings cool air rushing in and temps can drop a few degrees as you pass open areas but will quickly go up as you head inland. Try a swim, or just wade into Lake Superior at Old Woman Bay, and you will see why it cools off. As far as temperature overall expect similar temps to what you have at home but far less humidity as you head north and west.

    "Gargantua" in Lake Superior Park is a neat spot to hike into see pictographs on the rocks along the shore. If it is windy you won't get to them as you walk right along the rocks. Quimet Canyon north of Thunder bay is a darn nice sight.

    Do not travel at night if you can avoid it, and if you need to, travel slow and use a truck or car in front of you to provide a running shield. Animals are on the roads. Bear Moose and Deer are the ones that can ruin a trip if you hit one.
    Last edited by garthw; 02-04-2015 at 02:08 PM.
    I am too poor to buy cheap stuff, I need it to last forever (tewster2)

  11. #11
    RK Ryder
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    If you do decide take the spectacularly scenic Canadian Shield, Hwy 17 route, north of Lake Superior, do stop just short of Thunder Bay, at the Terry Fox Memorial. It is worth the stop.

    Weather permitting, I may be taking that route from Duluth to Barrie area at the end of May. If I do, I will be better able to update you on distances, gas stops and rest spots. Are you camping or motelling?
    Paul
    Retired and riding my RTs, the '87 K100 & the '98 R1100 !
    Niagara Riders & Knights of the Roundel #333

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