Great Falls MT was the site of the 2020 BMW Motorcycle Owners of America rally. The Covid 19 pandemic cast a pall of uncertainty over the safety of travel, so the club did the responsible thing and pushed the schedule back one year. So we have more time to research things to see and do along the way. And of course being the adventurous types we can’t just go the most direct route.
We will be trailering the sidecar to Colorado this year for two reasons. First is that we will be transiting parts of the nation where vaccination rates are low. Using our Nissan Xterra as a traveling motel will allow us to minimize contact. The second reason is the pending arrival of Brood X; we will be passing through the heart of the projected cicada hatch. Bug spatter on a windshield is better than bug spatter on a visor. The maps below show the general route we’re planning, with purple the route to the rally and blue the route back. We avoid Interstates unless trying to outrun approaching storms, which happens now and then. We leave Vermont the first of June 2021:
- Drive to Colorado and leave the truck and trailer with a friend.
- Follow the Peak to Peak Highway to Idaho Springs CO, then a short section of I-70 to pick up US-40
- Meander across northern Colorado to Vernal UT where Glenlivet can check out some huge bones at Dinosaur National Monument
- Continue west into Nevada, crossing the state on US-50, the Loneliest Road in America
- We’ll visit some dog friends near Lake Tahoe, then an old friend and co-worker in Reno
- Leaving Reno we’ll pass through Lassen Volcanic NP, then the Shasta-Trinity National Forest to the northern California coast, then north to the redwoods where we will scatter some of Barley’s ashes.
- Two days in southern Oregon, one along the coast and one in the West Cascades, again leaving some of Barley’s ashes behind in his favorite spots.
- We’ll cross the eastern Oregon desert on US-26 and Hwy 7 & 71 to Idaho, weather permitting with a brief stop at Hell’s Canyon, then head north to Kooskie ID
- East on US-12 through Lolo Pass, camping along the Lochsa or Selway Rivers
- From Missoula MT we head north to West Glacier to spend a couple of days with an old friend who lost his sidecar dog about the same time I lost Barley.
- We’ll pass through Glacier NP to Gibson Reservoir in the Front Range, then drop down to Great Falls for the rally
- On June 28th we’ll leave the rally, taking a scenic route to Red Lodge MT where we’ll stay in an Airbnb
- The next morning we’ll go over Beartooth Pass into Wyoming (probably a few times), another of Barley’s favorite locations. Then over the Chief Joseph Byway before turning east and ascending a steep road up a magnificent cliff face to the Bighorn Range. We’ll camp there overnight, then ride Shell Canyon and Ten Sleep Canyon to a hotel in Buffalo WY
- Back roads to Devils Tower NM, then to the city park in Spearfish SD where we’ll camp for the night.
- Two days playing in the Black Hills and Badlands, using Custer SD as our base. Ashes of Barley will be left in both places.
- Leaving the Black Hills we’ll meander through eastern Wyoming to Laramie, over the Snowy Range with a lunch break at Libby Lake, then south to US-14 for a spirited ride through Cache de Poudre Canyon and back to the truck
After loading the trailer the plan is to take US34 to Peoria, then follow our usual US24/224 route east into Ohio before angling up past the Finger Lakes and through the Adirondacks to home. We have a lunch date in El Paso, Illinois, but from that point on it’s essentially a leisurely ride home on US highways covered several times with Barley…and once with Glenlivet. Having been that way a time or two I have plotted into the GPS the location of all dog-friendly parks along the way.
If you see a bright yellow sidecar rig along that route be sure to flag us down and say hello! Advice on local roads or campsites is always appreciated.