A Visit to the Canadian Rockies: Part 1

The riding in Utah doesn’t take a back seat to anywhere else in the west that I’ve watched pass underneath my feet, but it’s also a great place to start an epic road trip like our 2,600 mile journey to Canmore and home through Montana and Wyoming. Kelly, Roger, Jim and I spent an incredible eight days in the saddle exploring some of the most beautiful riding you can imagine—definitely one of my favorite road trips ever.

Four riders on four bikes was perfect for a tour like this. Drama? None. Just miles and miles of open road and beautiful scenery.

Personally, I like to avoid the Interstate as much as possible, but we spent a few hours the first day on I-15 headed north to our first stop in Salmon, ID. We had incredible weather until just outside of Idaho Falls when a truck full of wheat sprung a leak and rained what felt like scorpions on us until we got past. You’d think a load of wheat would be harmless enough, but it even popped up inside my full-face helmet and stung me a few times.

After a good night’s sleep at the Bear Country Inn, a nice little place on the main road, we headed out early for Hwy 93 to Missoula. We thought we’d catch breakfast up the road a bit. Kelly was in charge of logistics and did a great job picking our hotels along the route. With the exception of fairly luxurious digs in Canmore, most of the places we stayed were older, less expensive places, but all worthy of staying in again. Clean comfortable rooms for catching a few Zs is all your really need, and Kelly’s hotel choices were spot on the entire trip.

93 is a beautiful little road that winds along the Salmon River. Although this road was new to me, it felt familiar to many of the roads we ride down here. Surprisingly, for a Sunday morning, we ran into some road construction and had to wait for a few minutes as our stomachs started to rumble and Jim reminded us that we had’t eaten breakfast yet. To be fair, I don’t remember if it was really Jim that started the breakfast discussion, but since I’m the one writing this, I can blame him.

On this trip he seemed to take over Phil’s job of reminding us when it was time to eat.

The flagman recommended a little place up the road called Lost Trail Hot Springs as a nice place to stop. We came to find out he’d never been there himself. When we pulled off the road and onto the dirt it honestly felt like something from a Steven King novel, but we kept going. When we got inside the restaurant we discovered that they don’t see a lot of random diners, it’s mostly for guests of the resort—which has been around since before 93 ever saw asphalt.

Although she was cranky at first, between Kelly complimenting the food and Jim sweet talking the waitress, I think they were happy enough to take our money for what turned out to be a nice breakfast.

The little towns along 93 into Missoula offered some great places to stop and stretch our legs, but we almost lost Kelly in Darby, MT. If he hadn’t had a reason to keep going, I think he would have been content to stay a while.

At Missoula we jumped off 93 and took 83 past Seely Lake. Another beautiful ride leaning the bikes around gentle turns with sunlight filtering through the trees and the smell of pine in the air.

We were up with the chickens again after a good night’s sleep in Kalispell headed for the border crossing at Roosville. Another beautiful morning ride and all I could think in my head was, “And the hits just keep on coming.” The riding seemed to get better and better every day. I get it, I’m pretty easy to please with two wheels under me, but I must of added at least a dozen “Top 3” rides on this trip. Yeah, it was that good.

We sailed across the border and into Canada. I don’t think we missed a Harley dealership on the trip and made our first stop at Cranbrook where Jim made friends with some Hell’s Angels at the gas station looking for directions to the Harley store.

I’ll admit it, it took me a time or two to get the hang of the card readers on Canadian gas pumps. I may have let loose a few jagged words starting at Cranbrook, but I’ll neither confirm nor deny that.

The road from Radium Springs to Canmore (93) was spectacular (another Top 3 for sure) and I actually apologized to one of my Canadian friends for dissing on the Canadian Rockies. Some of those jagged peaks are pretty darn spectacular and the riding was incredible.

We stopped in Canmore for the night, washed the bikes, had a delicious dinner, and I think I was asleep before my head hit the pillow. This was turning out to be one of the funnest tours I’d ever been on. It just doesn’t get any better.