Idaho Backcountry Discovery Route

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If you’ve ever wanted to ride endless twisty mountain roads, the Idaho BDR will throw corners at you for days on end. You also won’t get many digital interruptions because your cell phone won’t have reception on much of this route. It’s a true off- the-grid ride that is long enough, at 1,250 miles, that you might just use up an entire rear knobby tire.

Starting in the historic town of Jarbidge, NV the route crosses range lands and then heads into the Boise National Forest and treats riders with views of Andersen reservoir and epic alpine camping at Trinity lakes. Tiny towns and treasures like Burgdorf Hot Springs make this a bucket list ride for sure. You’ll travel where Lewis and Clark made history and experience the legendary Magruder Corridor and Lolo Motorway which skirt the roadless Selway-Bitteroot Wilderness. You will reach modest hints of civilization as you pass through Sandpoint, Bonners Ferry on your way to the Canadian Border.

Best time of year: July though October are ideal. Late June can be nice if the snow has melted from the high passes. Watch out for early snow and hunters if you are going in the fall.


The IDBDR project is presented by the Idaho Department of Commerce – Tourism Development, and Big Twin Motorcycles, Idaho’s premiere motorcycle dealership, and the official dealer of the IDBDR.

IDBDR – SECTION DESCRIPTIONS

Section 1: Jarbidge, NV to Pine – 175 Miles

Jarbidge, Nevada. Plan on staying the night there and hanging out with the locals The IDBDR begins just south of the Idaho border in the historical mining town of at the Outdoor Inn. The ride north out of the canyon follows a crystal clear creek on straight gravel roads past the Saylon Creek Air Force Range before crossing the before winding its way up to the dry desert of southern Idaho.

You’ll make good time Snake River at Glenns Ferry. More wide gravel roads take you through low alpine The ride around the lake is a great one. Pine is located just north of the lake and is terrain before connecting to Highway 20 and eventually Anderson Ranch Reservoir. really more of a gas and convenience store than a town but it is the only place to fill up until you get to Lowman. Do not pass Pine without fueling up.

Section 2: Pine to Yellow Pine – 205 Miles

Just north of Pine the route begins a dramatic climb into the Boise National Forest and a much different Idaho begins to take shape. The hot, dry landscapes you PINE to YELLOW PINE edge if you are ready to pitch a tent for the night. From here, the ride to Lowman and Yellow Pine is scenic but slightly grueling with relentlessly twisty gravel roads experienced in section one making way to jagged mountains and alpine lakes. Trinity Lake is a must stop for a rest, grab one of the managed campsites along the water’s which require plenty of focus. Festival. Any other time of year you’ll be among a handful of friendly outdoorsmen who use Yellow Pine as the jumping off point for exploring this remote area of Idaho. The small village of Yellow Pine is a true highlight of the trip. If you happen to be here the first week of August make a point to experience the Yellow Pine Harmonica. You’ll find just about everything you need to stock up on food and provisions at the small general store in the heart of town.


WARNING – The ride to the Trinity Lookout Tower is for experts only. It is an optional alternative on the IDBDR. What you see from the gate is a great example of spectacular 360 degree views. The road is like all the way to the top. There are loose rocks and a handful of tight switchbacks. Park your bike below the tower and hike a few hundred feet up for great views.

Section 3: Yellow Pine to Elk City – 211 Miles

You are now in the heart of Idaho’s backcountry along the edge of the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness. The roads are much like what you experienced further south but there are a few incredibly interesting places that make this section of the BDR extremely unique. The small mining town of Warren has been around since the mid 1800’s and has plenty of historic relics to remind you of how life was over 150 years ago. Burgdorf Hot Springs is a short ride from Warren and is another must stop on the IDBDR. The hot pools and cabins are open year round and make for an incredibly relaxing stop after miles of backcountry riding. From Burgdorf keep an eye out for the old abandoned school bus before you wind down the switchbacks of French Creek Grade to the Salmon River. After crossing the historic Manning Bridge you’ll ride a mix of pavement and meandering dirt roads to the small town of Elk CIty, the western portal to the Magruder Corridor.

Section 4: Elk City to Darby, MT – 127 Miles

This is the Idaho you’ve always dreamed about: moose, wolves, elk and dramatic vistas. The Magruder Corridor itself runs from the Red River Ranger Station east of Elk CIty to Darby, Montana and splits the Selway-Bitterroot and Frank Church wilderness. Little has changed on the road since it was built in the 1930s. The road surface itself is not particularly challenging in dry conditions; however,
there are no services for over 120 miles and very few people around for help. Expect to take six to eight hours without stopping but we recommend taking your time to explore the historical spots along the way. The corridor is typically open from July through September. 

Section 5: Darby, MT to Pierce – 190 Miles

There is roughly 50 miles of pavement between Darby and Lolo before you turn onto the famous Lolo Pass and head back into Idaho. The paved segment from Lolo to Lochsa Lodge is as good as you’ll find anywhere. Lochsa Lodge has a great restaurant and cabins for rent to regroup before tackling the infamous Lolo Motorway. The Lolo Motorway follows the path used by the Nez Perce Indians to reach buffalo hunting grounds on the Great Plains. It was also used by Lewis and Clark during their quest to find an inland waterway to the west in 1805. The forest road you’ll be riding is not particularly challenging but if you take your time it should take you all day to stop and explore the dozens of historically significant spots along the way.

Section 6: Pierce to Wallace – 129 Miles

You’ve entered the Idaho panhandle and are in for a real treat. The towns in section 6 are some of the quaintest in the state, so take the time to wander around. A true highlight of the entire IDBDR route is the Blue Cabin between Pierce and Avery. This is a small cabin that is open to the public on a first come first serve basis – no reservations or key necessary. It sleeps 4-6 people on beds and has an antique stove and sink for preparing meals, plus a fire pit to sit around and watch the sun go down. It is VERY important to leave the cabin in better shape than you found it. Put a note in the guest book and check out the other adv riders who have had the pleasure of experiencing one of the unique treasures along the IDBDR.

Just north of Avery there are two route options: one goes through the old railroad tunnels on a wide dirt road, the other is an easy bike and ATV only trail that parallels the tunnels on the other side of the creek. Both are worthy of your time and you can do both by looping back, it’s only a couple of miles.

Section 7: Wallace to Clark Fork – 106 Miles

Section 7 begins in the Silver Capital of the world: Wallace, Idaho. Every building in downtown Wallace is on the National Register of Historic Places which is why I-90 had to be built above the town instead of going through it. The ride north from here winds along mellow forest roads with no real surprises. HEADS UP! This is Grizzly Bear country so camp accordingly.

Section 8: Clark Fork to Canada – 110 Miles

You’re almost to Canada. There are only a handful of dirt road options in this narrow strip of land between Washington and Idaho so expect a bit of pavement which may be welcome at this point in your journey. Just out of Clark Fork you’ll head up Lightning Creek Road towards the Kaniksu National Forest. Stop at the Char Falls. It’s a short hike – just a few minutes and well worth the photo opportunity. Lunch Mountain Fire Lookout is also on the way. With a little foresight and digging around online you can actually book out the bunk in the lookout itself. You’ll alternate between dirt and pavement on your north route past the Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge.

IDBDR LODGING

Food/Camping/Hotel/Showers/Laundry.

Main St, Jarbidge, NV 89826

Tel. (775) 488-2311

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810 S Twin Pine Dr, Pine, ID 83647

Tel. (208) 653-2135

Two Cabins, and a seven room Bed & Breakfast with separate Cottage.

Owners: Gary and Denise Freeman

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8406 ID-21, Lowman, ID 83637

Tel 208-259-3326

Hotel, store, food, fuel.

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360 Yellowpine Ave, Yellow Pine, ID 83677

Tel. 208-697-7343

Food/ Gas/ Store/ Rooms/ and lodge.  Proprietor: Steve Holloway.

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Haven Hot Springs is a small resort with hotel rooms, a cafe, and gas pumps. More lodging options can be found down the canyon at Lowman

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24728 Warren Wagon Rd.

McCall, ID  83638

Tel. 208-636-4498
Facebook: Secesh Stage Stop
Instagram: @secesh.stage.stop
E-mail: info@seceshstagestop.com

Secesh Stage Stop is open Summer, Fall, & Winter. Offering a restaurant and bar, cabins for rent, gas, and ice.

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404 French Creek (USFS #246), McCall, ID 83638

Tel. 208-636-3036

Cabins, hot springs, and small store. No gas available at this time. Lodging by prior reservation only. Book online ahead of time.

Forest Service Camping 1/4 mile away.

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Lodge rooms, cabins, camping,  natural hot springs, food service.

3827 Red River Road, Elk City ID 83525.

Tel. 208-842-2587.

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131 Bemos Gulch St, Warren, ID 83671
Tel. (208) 636-4393

The Baum Shelter (formerly know as the Winter Inn) has a restaurant, full bar, lodging and gas in the beautiful Idaho back country.

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Privately fenced campground right next to the general store with a restaurant across the street. There are four campsites, each with water, power, sewer, a lean-to shelter, fire pit, and picnic table. Four and six-person tents are available for rent. There is also an office with two bathrooms with showers for campground use.

302 Main Street, Elk City, Idaho 83525

owner@ridersrestelkcity.com

Tel: (208) 790-8107

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South Fork Junction RV park, Café, and lounge. Located in scenic central Idaho offering modern RV hookups, lodging, and food.
7176 HWY 14 Elk City, ID 83525
Tel. (208) 842-2802

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289 Main Street, Elk City, Idaho 83525

Tel. 208-842-2452

Motel and gift shop.

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A short side trip leads to North Shore Lodge where you’ll find a lakeside resort with cabins and a restaurant. The national forest provides a campground and a day-use sandy beach too. 

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The Challis Roadhouse is a restaurant, bar, motel and pizzeria complex located in a rural community of 1,000 residents that swells in the summer due to tourism and recreation opportunities. Challis is home to the beautiful Salmon river, with steelhead fishing opportunities and river rafting opportunities.

Address: 1220 E. Main Street, Challis, ID 83226

Phone: 208) 879-2251

Website: www.challisroadhouse.com

Located on the South Fork of the Clearwater River, just seven miles from Elk City. Check out the newly renovated Restaurant, Lounge, and Lodging Accommodations. This year-round Restaurant is open from 8 am-8 pm, Wednesday-Sunday serving Idaho County’s best Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner.
View the Property and Book Rooms at southforkjunction.com
Give them a call to plan your next weekend’s getaway, party, reunion, or reception at 208-842-2802.

8 riverfront rooms with two queen beds and full bathrooms.  One large cabin with five bedrooms and four bathrooms
Address: 2036 Highway 93 N, North Fork, ID 83466
Phone: 208-742-6634

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Lolo Hot Springs Lodge is a resort on the Montana side of the Lolo Highway.

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Lochsa Lodge has gas, a store, a restaurant, cabins, a hotel, and a campground. You’ll need to fuel up here before or after tackling the Lolo Motorway.

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2 S Main St, Pierce, ID 83546

Tel. (208) 464-2736

Food, lodging.

Rider Scott Thompson reviewed on July 18, 2016:  “Not enough is said about the Timber Inn. This small town bar inn was amazing.  The owner was more than willing to help us with whatever we needed. We had a large group so we filled his small inn for the first time. He did not even have a no vacancy sign to post. He allowed tents in the back yard for $5. We were there on taco Tuesday. The large tacos were like your mother made at home. All the food and hospitality was outstanding. While talking to the owner he explained that his business is really struggling so he really appreciated the business. Can you pls repost this on the website to encourage other riders to take advantage of this great small business.

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Patriots Place has two cabins and two more cabins under development. Located on the edge of town within walking distance of stores, restaurants, coffee shops, bars, and more. An outdoorsman’s paradise for hunting and fishing. Over 300 miles of groomed trails for snowmobiles, ORVs, and side-by-sides. Deyo Reservoir is nearby for water play and fishing with the Clearwater River within 30 mi. Bald Mn. Ski resort just up the road.

Room to park RVs etc. 2 BR one with King and one with Queen bed. Hide a bed sofa with a memory foam mattress in the living area. Small but full kitchen and 1 bath. Enjoy the many activities and come back and put your feet up at the end of the day.

Phone: (509) 969-5321

Address: 509 S. Main St. P.O. Box 326, Pierce ID 83546

Website >>>

211 S. Main St., Pierce, Idaho 83546

Tel. 208-464-2171 or 800-538-1754

Email: harvandcolleen@outbackidaho.com

Individual cabins with kitchens, log lodge with a private hot tub, suites that sleep 6 or more with kitchens.

Owners: Harv and Colleen Nelson

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The motel is rich in history, originally built in the early 1900’s as housing for the Milwaukee Railroad crews. With recent updates, you will experience the history while appreciating the modern conveniences. You’ll find our rooms comfortable, clean and modest. With fresh linens, cozy beds, and big screen TVs, whether getting in a nap between adventures or catching up on your favorite movie, you won’t be disappointed.

95 Milwaukee Rd, Avery, ID 83802

Tel. 208-245-4410

Email: info@averystoremotel.com

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Downtown Wallace, ID is worth visiting for lodging, dining, shopping, etc.

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The Stardust Motel, a pet friendly, vintage motor lodge is located in the center of Historic Wallace. Just steps away from shops, restaurants, bars and located 15 minutes from two independent ski resorts, downhill mountain bike parks & home of the world’s largest trail system for snowmobiles, mountain biking, hiking, and ATVs (Silver Country 1000 Mile Trail System.) They also offer a bike washing station conveniently near motorcycle parking. Book with code BDR15 for 15% off your stay!

Website: stardustwallace.com

Phone: 1 (208) 752-1213

Address: 410 Pine Street, Wallace, ID 83873

121 Antelope Loop Rd
Clark Fork, Idaho 83811
Ph. (208)266-1716

Family-owned and operated Lodge.

Waterfront cabin, free wifi (but no cell service), just off Highway 200.  Owner – Cathy Bixler
58 East River Drive, Clark Fork, 83811
Tel. 208 266-0525

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A family-owned and operated campground in Bonners Ferry. They offer 5 luxury log cabins, 2 “glamping” wagons with private bathrooms, tent campsites, a 24/7 Bathhouse with private showers and bathrooms, and a camp store, all in a peaceful wooded setting. Only 30 minutes from the Canadian border and conveniently right off Highway 95 and Highway 2.

To learn more, visit:

https://www.northhavencampground.com/

Phone: (208) 603-9212

Address: 78 Tobe Way, Bonners Ferry, ID 83805

IDBDR FOOD

Sourdough is just off the main track but they have a comfortable hotel with a restaurant and gas station.

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Haven Hot Springs is a small resort with hotel rooms, a cafe, and gas pumps. More lodging options can be found down the canyon at Lowman

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24728 Warren Wagon Rd.

McCall, ID  83638

Tel. 208-636-4498
Facebook: Secesh Stage Stop
Instagram: @secesh.stage.stop
E-mail: info@seceshstagestop.com

Secesh Stage Stop is open Summer, Fall, & Winter. Offering a restaurant and bar, cabins for rent, gas, and ice.

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Food and beer throughout the summer. Also have high octane fuel, supplies and wi-fi. Can be contacted for conditions.

Proprietors: Matt, Heather and Skadi Huber.

Tel. 208-633-3325

390 Yellowpine Ave. Yellow Pine, ID 83677.

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Located on the South Fork of the Clearwater River, just seven miles from Elk City. Check out the newly renovated Restaurant, Lounge, and Lodging Accommodations. This year-round Restaurant is open from 8 am-8 pm, Wednesday-Sunday serving Idaho County’s best Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner.

View the Property and Book Rooms at southforkjunction.com
Give them a call to plan your next weekend’s getaway, party, reunion, or reception at 208-842-2802.

2 S Main St, Pierce, ID 83546

Tel. (208) 464-2736

Food, lodging.

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Lochsa Lodge has gas, a store, a restaurant, cabins, a hotel, and a campground. You’ll need to fuel up here before or after tackling the Lolo Motorway.

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Stop by our full bar and restaurant at Lolo Hot Springs. For those who want to enjoy the casino, stop in and try your luck!

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We all need a place to relax after work, so why not do it with a drink in your hand? Join us for Happy Hour Monday- Thursday 4-6!

Rotating Taps
Unique Specials Daily

At Mugsy’s we know that there is a crowd that loves the all time favorites such as Coors Light. On top of domestics, we also feature rotating taps of popular beers of the North West.

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IDBDR FUEL

Haven Hot Springs is a small resort with hotel rooms, a cafe, and gas pumps. More lodging options can be found down the canyon at Lowman

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Sourdough is just off the main track but they have a comfortable hotel with a restaurant and gas station.

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Clark Fork has fuel, restaurants, lodging options, and a delicious bakery at Clark Fork Pantry. 

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Scheffy’s in Avery has premium non-ethanol fuel, a small store, and a motel.

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Pierce is the closest gas stop on the west end of the Lolo Motorway. This quiet town has a grocery and all the services you’ll need to push on.

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24728 Warren Wagon Rd.

McCall, ID  83638

Tel. 208-636-4498
Facebook: Secesh Stage Stop
Instagram: @secesh.stage.stop
E-mail: info@seceshstagestop.com

Secesh Stage Stop is open Summer, Fall, & Winter. Offering a restaurant and bar, cabins for rent, gas, and ice.

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Lochsa Lodge has gas, a store, a restaurant, cabins, a hotel, and a campground. You’ll need to fuel up here before or after tackling the Lolo Motorway.

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Conner is the closest gas stop to the eastern end of the Magruder Corridor. Food, lodging, and more gas stations are available in nearby Darby, MT.

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UPDATED 6/27/23:  Gas was delivered to Elk Creek Station! The hours are 6 AM – 4 PM, seven days a week. Cash only until further notice. For after-hours emergency fuel, honk twice. Other amenities to come soon. See the route updates page for more info HERE

Gas up in Elk which marks the western end of the Magruder Corridor, a 100+ mile segment with no bailout points or services.

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IDBDR MOTORCYCLE DEALERSHIPS

Yellowstone Harley-Davidson

Belgrade, MT

WEBSITE

Family-run Yellowstone Harley-Davidson is Montana's premier dealership for all things motorcycle. Nationally recognized for motor and customizing work, YHD is your go-to dealership for exceptional service work and customer service. Their employees are determined and dedicated to getting you back on the road and your adventures. The crew at YHD not only sells and works on incredible bikes, but they are adventure riders themselves. The shop is constantly abuzz with conversation about what route to ride next and who is up for the challenge. They are here to help make your adventure dreams a reality

ADVENTURE MOTORSPORTS

Twin Falls, ID

WEBSITE

Adventure Motorsports, where the variety of powersport products is second to none. In all of Twin Falls, Idaho, there isn’t a friendlier or more knowledgeable staff . They’re happy to help you find either the perfect recreational vehicle or the parts you’ve been looking for.

Check out their catalogs to see what they have. If you need help in making your selection, call or stop in—they’re always ready to help! Locally-owned and operated and conveniently located in Twin Falls, Idaho. Adventure Motorsports can provide you with the latest and best in powersport products to make your outdoor living more enjoyable. From the most recent in ATV technology to the hottest new snowmobiles, they can help you find the recreational vehicle that’s made for you. Combine this wide array of selections with their friendly and knowledgeable staff, and we’re convinced Adventure Motorsports will become your only stop for all of your powersports needs.

CARL’S CYCLE SALES

Boise, ID

WEBSITE

Carl’s Cycles Sales is Idaho’s largest powersports dealership, family owned and operated since 1966. They are the premier Honda, Husqvarna, Kawasaki, KTM, Polaris and Suzuki powersports dealership in the Northwest.

Carl’s Cycle Sales is comprised of industry-leading professional staff, specialized in conducting the research, development and performance tuning of the products they sell. Their staff is nationally recognized as being the go-to performance specialists, with a supporting reputation as the shop for Polaris engine and suspension work. At Carl’s, they don’t just sell snowmobiles, motorcycles, ATVs and UTVs. They ride and test the limits of the powersports vehicles they sell, and are here to help you enjoy your powersports experience as much as they do.

IDBDR DISCOVERY POINTS

While riding the IDBDR, we recommend visiting some (or all) of these not-to-be-missed places, selected for their natural beauty, high photo opp value, historical significance, or pure pleasure of discovery! (These waypoints are included in the IDBDR GPS tracks available for a free download on this page). Send us your photos from these discovery points to share with the BDR community.

(Listing South to North)

Jarbidge is the official start of the IDBDR.

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The route goes over the dam on Anderson Ranch Reservoir which can be quite low by the end of the summer. Look for an overlook on the road south of the dam.

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Anderson Ranch Reservoir has many different access points from the road on the north side. 

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Pine has a small store, cafe, gas station, motel, and campground. 

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Featherville has a small hotel with a restaurant.

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There are several campgrounds on the Trinity Lakes. Big Trinity Lake’s might be the largest.

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The last stretch of road up to Trinity Lookout is rocky, loose, and exposed in places but it’s worth the effort if you are comfortable.

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Sourdough is just off the main track but they have a comfortable hotel with a restaurant and gas station.

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Haven Hot Springs is a small resort with hotel rooms, a cafe, and gas pumps. More lodging options can be found down the canyon at Lowman

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This water crossing on Clear Creek can be intimidating but is required for the main route which follows Long Creek Road. If you want to avoid it, take the Clear Creek Road up the canyon

A longer side trip to a summit with a lookout tower and distant views.

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Deadwood Reservoir has several campgrounds with shoreline access.

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A short side trip leads to North Shore Lodge where you’ll find a lakeside resort with cabins and a restaurant. The national forest provides a campground and a day-use sandy beach too. 

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The IDBDR passes through Yellow Pine deep in the central Idaho mountains. You’ll need to fill up with gas here. The local restaurant is good and there is a rustic lodge in town too. 

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Elk Summit is a high pass between Yellow Pine and Warren.

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This side trip climbs up to a lookout tower on Pilot Peak. It’s a 5 mile ride each way to get there.

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Look for a small historic cemetery next to the route along Elk Creek. Signs tell the story of some who are buried here.

Warren is a small mining town that has avoided ghost status. The old buildings are picturesque and the people colorful. Stop into the Baum Shelter for a drink if it is open.

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Don’t ride by Burgdorf without stopping. You might need to gas up here anyway. We highly recommend staying overnight if they have space. The hot springs are amazing and the resort has a restaurant as well.

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This old bus has been rusting away at this spot above French Grade for many years. Worth a stop for a photo.

Five tight switchbacks ease the grade of this road that descends down to French Creek and the Salmon River.

The historic 1934 suspension bridge is being replaced with a new safer suspension bridge in 2017.

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Take a break and walk around the cemetery in Florence. Read the signs and the tombstones too.

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Gas up in Elk which marks the western end of the Magruder Corridor, a 100+ mile segment with no bailout points or services.

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This short rugged side road climbs up to a lookout tower near the middle of the Magruder Corridor. It’s only about a 1.5 mile ride each way to see the view from this lookout.

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A sign along the route explains the Magruder Massacre.

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Conner is the closest gas stop to the eastern end of the Magruder Corridor. Food, lodging, and more gas stations are available in nearby Darby, MT.

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Lolo Hot Springs Lodge is a resort on the Montana side of the Lolo Highway.

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Lolo Pass is on the Idaho-Montana border. The visitor center at the pass has information about the Lewis and Clark Expedition and the Nez Perce National Historic Trail which both passed through here.

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Lochsa Lodge has gas, a store, a restaurant, cabins, a hotel, and a campground. You’ll need to fuel up here before or after tackling the Lolo Motorway.

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Indian Post Office is a ridgetop marker where notes were left for other travelers back when the Lolo Motorway was the route of the Nez Perce Native Americans.

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A 1/4 mile long road leads away from the Lolo Motorway to a lookout tower with distant views.

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Pierce is the closest gas stop on the west end of the Lolo Motorway. This quiet town has a grocery and all the services you’ll need to push on.

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The Grandad Bridge crosses over Dwarshak Reservoir.

Train enthusiasts will want to stop at this train car which has info on the old trains that have passed by this spot. The IDBDR follows the Old Milwaukee Railroad Grade north of Avery.

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Scheffy’s in Avery has premium non-ethanol fuel, a small store, and a motel.

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North of Avery there are two parallel routes to choose from. One follows a wide old railroad grade through several tunnels and the other follows the eastern bank of the St. Joe River on a narrow trail.

The historic town of Wallace has all services including nice hotels, and lots of tasty restaurants.

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If you are hot and dust-covered and like cliff jumping, this is a worthy stop along the IDBDR. Locals might already be here cooling off in the Coeur D’Alene River under the summer sun.

An out-and-back ride of about 2.5 miles each way takes you up to the summit of Grizzly Mountain and 360 degree views.

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While not as high as Grizzly Mountain, Grassy Mountain is easier to access and offers similar 360 degree views.

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A short side road leads to the top of pyramid-shaped Spyglass Peak, the site of a former fire lookout tower.

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Clark Fork has fuel, restaurants, lodging options, and a delicious bakery at Clark Fork Pantry. 

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Char Falls is a waterfall on Lightning Creek that is easy to walk out to from the parking lot.

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The panoramic view from the fire tower atop Lunch Peak is worth the extra time needed to ride four miles each way from the route. 

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The north end of the IDBDR follows the west side of the Kootenay River. While there are many places to view birds along this river, the Auto Tour Road loop that begins at the wildlife refuge visitor center makes it much easier to look out into the wetlands.

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Porthill is the official northern end of the IDBDR. It is just on the US side of the Canadian Border. They have a gas station, store, restaurant and bar, and even a hostel. The Kootenay River is runs right behind Porthill.

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IDBDR PACKING LIST

This packing list serves as an example and is not intended to be a complete list for your backcountry riding needs. Feel free to customize this list to work for you.

  • Helmet
  • Boots
  • Goggles
  • Gloves (2 sets)
  • Protective gear (pressure suit, Leatt brace, knee braces)
  • Jacket
  • Pants
  • Balaclava or neck gaitor
  • Water bladder or bottle
  • Hydration pack
  • Ear plugs

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Below are answers to some Frequently Asked Questions about the Idaho Backcountry Discovery Route.

The IDBDR is the fifth route developed by the Backcountry Discovery Routes organization for dual-sport and adventure motorcycle travel.  The IDBDR is a south-to-north route across the state of Idaho covering over 1,250 miles of mostly non-paved track.  The route begins in the old western town of Jarbidge Nevada and meanders through the west side of the Idaho Rocky Mountains on the way to the Canadian Border at the Idaho Panhandle. Two stunning and historic backroads are part of the IDBDR – the Magruder Corridor and the Lolo Motorway.  Several small mountain towns in Idaho are visited along the way including Yellow Pine, Burgdorf Hot Springs, Elk City, Avery, Wallace, and Clark Fork.

The IDBDR is best from July- thru October if no early snow storms have occurred.  The route can be done in June, but snowpack in the high mountains may keep you from doing the entire route as mapped. There have been some years where the snow has not cleared from the high country until the last week of July.  Hunting season does start in October, so heads up for traffic.

The IDBDR route is designed to be ridden on adventure and dual-sport motorcycles. There are no single-track style trails on this route. Many of the roads are in remote areas and reach high elevation areas where road maintenance is minimal or non-existent. While, the ID route is considered to be an easier route compared to Utah or Arizona, you can expect to cover sections of road with deep ruts, loose rocks, sand and other challenges.  Road conditions change from week to week based on the recent weather.  When you see signs that read, “Roads may be impassable when wet”, use caution, roads become very slick and can be impassable. You may also encounter sections that have trees or branches over the road.. Depending on time of year and weather, there may be a few small deep water crossings. Flash floods are frequent during summer storms.  Don’t cross flooded washes. Wait until water subsides.

Idaho has fast moving thunder storms during the summer months.  These storms usually build in the mountains in the early afternoon and usually contain lightning, hail stones and heavy downpours.

Most people average 150 miles a day on a backcountry motorcycle trip. Plan on doing this route in 8 -10 days depending on how fast you want to travel and how early you want to roll out of camp. There is a lot of history to see on the IDBDR so planning a little extra time to the 8-10 days is suggested.

The IDBDR has fewer hotel opportunities than other Backcountry Discovery Routes. Camping on the other hand, is plentiful. Official campgrounds are shown on the front of this map with a small tent icon and many more primitive backcountry camps can be found along the way. Because of the limited beds available in the small towns along the IDBDR, it is recommended that riders make reservations ahead of their arrival. Rooms can be found in Jarbidge, Featherville, Glenns Ferry, Yellow Pine, Burgdorf, Avery, Sandpoint, Bonners Ferry, Riggins, Elk City, Darby, Lolo, Pierce, Wallace & Clark Fork.  You can also visit the Idaho Tourism website for lodging resources.

There are many campgrounds and suitable dry camping locations along the route. The Butler Motorcycle Map for the IDBDR has a tent icon showing campgrounds on the route and many near the route. The IDBDR Butler Map is available at www.touratech-usa.com,  www.butlermaps.com and other fine retailers.

The longest gap between gas stations is approximately 131 miles from Burgdorf Hot Springs to Elk City.  Burgdorf normally has gas.  Gas is also available in Riggins if Burgdorf is out.  Always plan to carry extra gas and they only carry low octane gas.

In most cases camp fires are allowed, but check with local Ranger Stations to determine if campfires are allowed before you build one. Forest fires are a threat during parts of the year and the rules that manage this risk must be followed. Be sure to fully extinguish fires so they are DEAD-OUT. Use water to ensure a fire is fully extinguished and the ground is left cool and wet.

There are a few natural water sources along this route however, depending on the snow pack, some may not running. You can find potable water in the towns along the way.  It is suggested that plenty of water is carried for personal and cooking use. Here is a video on water filtration filmed in the Oregon Backcountry: http://youtu.be/vqOFZAoZdTU

Always bring a complete set of maps for the area you plan to ride. They have good information about roads, water sources, and are an indispensable resource when the GPS doesn’t work, or is giving questionable advice. Unplanned events can occur and having paper/synthetic maps of the area can be a life saver. National Forest maps are available at http://www.fs.fed.us/recreation/map/state_list.shtml#U and local Ranger Stations. IDBDR Butler Motorcycle Maps are available at www.touratech-usa.com or www.butlermaps.com.

Any bike that has a license plate, can run knobby tires, is set-up to carry the gear you plan to bring, and has the fuel range to make the distance between gas stops. Most adventure or dual-sport motorcycles will be suitable for the trip.  Choose the bike that you are the most comfortable riding in desert and mountain terrain.

Any GPS unit capable of displaying 15 track logs with a minimum of 500 points each is suitable for use on the IDBDR. Garmin models that work best for this application are: Zumo 665/660, Montana, GPSMap 60, 62, 76, 78 and 276. Other GPS manufacturers may have units that will work. Check the technical specs to determine suitability.

The tracks for the route can be downloaded free of charge online at https://ridebdr.com/download-tracks/ .

The highest elevations are reached in section 3, where the Elk Summit reaches nearly 8200 feet. The IDBDR never stays up high for long periods and you do a lot of climbing and descending quickly.

DOT approved knobby tires (such as Continental TKC 80 or other type of tires) are strongly recommended.

We do our best to post the most up-to-date information on our Route Updates Page. We depend on the BDR community to inform us about route and road conditions, so if you encounter any road closures or severe conditions that are worth reporting, please contact us with the information.

There is also a dedicated IDBDR Facebook Group Page. We recommend that you join the group prior to your trip to read trip reports and comments from other riders about their experience on the route.

Don’t forget to use our Interactive Map to get route conditions in real time. Read this Article to a quick tutorial on how to use the Interactive Map.

Idaho is a habitat to many large animals like the Grizzly Bear, Black Bear, Moose, Elk, Wolves and Mountain Lions. Safe food practices while camping are an absolute for your safety and the animals safety.  Here is a link to find out more http://www.centerforwildlifeinformation.org/BeBearAware/Hiking_and_Camping/hiking_and_camping.html

Yes the route can be done North to South.

Much of this route is remote and out of reach for cell phone towers. There will be long sections with no coverage. Your best bet is to talk or text in the towns or on top of mountains. You will be surprised where you get coverage and where you don’t. A satellite communication device is a good idea in the backcountry. Phones with Verizon service have more coverage on this route vs AT&T.

We get this question all the time. Here are some key things to consider as you put together your plan.

All of the BDR routes include intermediate to advanced terrain. If a person is on a large bike twin-cylinder bike like an R1200GS Adventure or Yamaha Super Tenere, the routes can be very difficult. If a person’s skills are not advanced level, they may consider taking a smaller bike or choosing the easier options when possible. A BDR is something a person should build up to and it shouldn’t be their first overnight trip on their ADV bike.

Although, ID, WA and CO are less difficult than UT and AZ,  they all contain difficult sections. We suggest looking at the Butler Map and take the optional easier routes to avoid the difficult sections. Even taking this approach there may be difficult stretches depending on changes in road conditions, weather, construction and the unknown. This is part of what makes it an adventure. Regardless of its description on the map or in the film, no section of a BDR should be underestimated.

Do some shorter overnight trips as practice and ride increasingly difficult terrain to build up your skills and confidence. Also remember that riding with a fully-loaded bike should be practiced prior to tackling a BDR. Lastly, always ride with a group so that you have a team to help overcome any obstacles whether it’s terrain, mechanicals, navigation, medical emergency, etc…

In summary, take baby steps and work up to doing a BDR. Don’t make it your first adventure motorcycle outing on a full-sized twin-cyclinder bike.

This advice comes from Rob Watt, BDR Board and Expeditions Member, and Wilderness EMT.

We carry items for wound management, breaks, basic meds and dental.  You can buy a good first aid kit at one of the outdoor stores online or Touratech-USA.  Get one that is an Extended Day Backpacker or 3-4 person kit.  These kits usually have the basics for a motorcycle trip.

They usually don’t have a SAM splint, so pick one of those up along with a couple ace bandages.  One other thing that we do for every multi-day trip, is to gather important information about each rider: allergies, medications, medical issues, emergency contacts, etc.

Then we put that on a master sheet for each person, so if something does happen we have that information handy incase that person can’t speak.  Another good practice is to do a little research of where medical facilities are along your planned route.  Is there a “flight for life” in the area? Where are the hospitals, Medical clinics, etc?

Here is a list of some items that you should have in your medical kit:

  • Bandages: Assorted sizes for small cuts, blisters, etc.
  • 4-inch closure strips or butterfly closures: For closing large wounds. 4-inch strips are more effective than butterfly.
  • 4 inch by 4 inch sterile dressing pads (5 to 10): To apply pressure to a wound and stop bleeding
  • Non-adherent sterile dressing (2 inch by 2 inch): Use these or Second Skin to cover blisters, burns or lacerations.
  • Gauze roll: Holds dressing in place.
  • Small roll of 1-inch adhesive tape: Holds dressings in place.
  • Multi-use tool or knife: Should include knife, scissors. A scalpel and blade are also useful for first aid.
  • Forceps or tweezers: For removing splinters, ticks, and removing debris from wounds.
  • Scissors: Trauma scissors, which have a blunt end to protect the patient, can be used for cutting away clothing from injury, cutting medical tape, etc.
  • Thermometer: Digital is generally more accurate, but batteries do wear out.
  • Malleable splint: Lightweight foam-covered aluminum, such as a SAM splint.
  • Irrigation syringe (35 cc): Used to flush and clean wounds.
  • Suction syringe (65 cc): Used to clear mouth of fluids when giving CPR.
  • Safety pins: Can help remove splinters, fasten arm sling, or make a whole in a plastic bag for improvised wound irrigation.
  • Cotton-tip swabs: For removing  foreign objects from eye, or applying antibiotic ointment.
  • Resealable plastic bags: Many uses, including icing a swollen joint or creating wound irrigation device.
  • ACE, Coban, or other rubberized bandage: Can be used as outer wrap on splints, wound dressings or support for joint injuries. Be careful not to wrap too tightly.
  • Antiseptic towlettes: For cleaning small wounds.
  • Cleansing pads with lidocaine: For cleaning. Includes a topical anesthetic for abrasions, stings, etc.
  • Topical antibiotic ointment: For application to wounds. Simple Vaseline can also be used in dressing a wound.
  • Moleskin: Prevents blisters. Cut and apply a section to your foot as soon as you discover a “hot spot.” Duct tape also works for this purpose.
  • Povidone Iodine USP 10 percent, 1 oz.: For preventing infection. Bottled PVD iodine 10 percent solution should be diluted to a ratio of 1 percent or less for flushing wounds.
  • Aloe vera gel: Found in packets or small bottles for relief of minor burns.
  • Pain relievers, including aspirin and Ibuprofen: Provides relief for minor aches and pains, reduces fever, helps reduce inflammation of sprains and other injuries.
  • Antihistamines: For relief of pollen allergies, or to reduce reaction to bites and stings.
  • Immodium 2 mg capsules or tablets: For relief of diarrhea from intestinal infections.
  • Pepto Bismol or antiacid tablets: For relief from general diarrhea, abdominal upset.
  • After Bite or hydrocortisone cream USP 1 percent: Relieves skin irritation from bites, poison oak, stings, or allergic reactions.
  • Latex or nitrile gloves: Protects against blood-borne diseases and infection.
  • CPR microshield mask: A compact flexible barrier with a one-way valve for rescue breathing, which protects user from blood, vomit or saliva.
  • Oral rehydration salts: Packet of electrolyte salts and glucose for treatment of dehydration, heat exhaustion, or loss of fluids from vomiting or diarrhea.
  • Space bag/blanket: Lightweight emergency shelter. For treating hypothermia victims.
  • Paper and pencil: For recording medical data such as body temperature, pulse, time and date of symptoms, injuries, medicines administered, etc. Most repackaged kits include accident report forms.
  • Wilderness First Aid booklet: Many prepackaged first aid kits contain one. An excellent pocket guide is the Wilderness Medical Handbook

Rating the Routes by Difficulty

We often get requests to provide the difficulty ratings of the BDR. We do not officially rate roads or routes because the difficulty can change from day to day depending on weather, changes in road conditions, and road damage caused by a variety of forces including wind, storms, flooding, snow, logging, forest fires and more.

The difficulty experienced by an individual also depends on their off-road skills, level of fitness, stamina, bike size and amount of weight carried on the bike. For these reasons we can’t provide a rating system like a ski resort or OHV park.

We can help you a bit by ranking the existing Backcountry Discovery Routes from most difficult to least difficult. Here is the list: CABDR-South, NEBDR, AZBDR, ORBDR, WYBDR, UTBDR, COBDR, NVBDR, WABDR, NMBDR, IDBDR, MABDR.

So CABDR-South is the most difficult especially if you ride the expert sections and MABDR is the easiest in general terms. Although MABDR is the easiest there are still a few challenging rocky sections and the several water crossings that can get very difficult if the water is high.

Be sure to also review the FAQ’s for each route and our General FAQs prior to embarking on your trip.

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