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 Sand Point, Bonneys 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.


Additional Route Resources

In addition to the Intercative IDBDR Map on the right, SheADV.com hosts an interactive BDR Map that shows current weather conditions, estimated snow levels, and forest fires for all BDR’s.  For ride reports, route updates, and to join or organize BDR rides, please visit the BDR Forum,  IDBDR thread on www.ADVrider.com, the Americas thread on www.advrider.com or the BDR Facebook.

The IDBDR film is available for streaming or download.

IDBDR LODGING

Clark Fork Lodge (Clark Fork, ID)

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

Family-owned and operated Lodge.

Red River Hot Springs (Elk City, ID)

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

3827 Red River Road, Elk City ID 83525.

Tel. 208-842-2587.

Visit Website »

The Last Resort Vacation Cabin (Clark Fork, ID)

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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Hayhurst Bed & Breakfast (Pine, ID)

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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Yellow Pine Lodge (Yellow Pine, ID)

360 Yellowpine Ave, Yellow Pine, ID 83677

Tel. 208-697-7343

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

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Sourdough Lodge (Lowman, ID)

8406 ID-21, Lowman, ID 83637

Tel 208-259-3326

Hotel, store, food, fuel.

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The Baum Shelter (Warren, ID)

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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Secesh Stage Stop (McCall, ID)

24728 Warren Wagon Rd., McCall, ID  83638

Tel. 208-636-4498

Gas, Drinks, Eats, Lodging.

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Burgdorf Hot Springs (McCall, ID)

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

Tel. 208-636-3036

Cabins, hot springs, small store and gas. Call ahead for food or lodging!

Forest Service Camping 1/4 mile away.

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Riders Rest (Elk City, ID)

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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Elk City Hotel (Elk City, ID)

289 Main Street, Elk City, Idaho 83525

Tel. 208-842-2452

Motel and gift shop.

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Scheffy’s Motel and General Store (Avery, ID)

Food, hotel, shower and laundry as well as non premium ethanol gas. Six large motel rooms with full kitchens that sleep up to 6.

95 Milwaukee Rd, Avery, ID 83802

Tel. 208-245-4410

Email: scheffys@yahoo.com

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The Timber Inn and Bar & Grill (Pierce, ID)

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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The Outback (Pierce, ID)

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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Wallace Hotels & Shops (Wallace, ID)

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

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Porthill Bar at Canadian Border (IDBDR)

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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Clark Fork - Food, Gas, Lodging (IDBDR)

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

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Avery - Food, Gas, Lodging (IDBDR)

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

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Blue Heaven Cabin (IDBDR)

Blue Heaven Cabin is a first-come-first-served free cabin in the woods. It has several beds and even a wood stove.

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Pierce - Food, Gas, Lodging (IDBDR)

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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Lochsa Lodge - Food, Gas, Lodging (IDBDR)

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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Lolo Hot Springs (IDBDR)

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

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Conner MT - Food, Gas, Lodging (IDBDR)

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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Burgdorf Hot Springs Resort (IDBDR)

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.

Visit Website »

Warm Lake North Shore Lodge (IDBDR)

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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Haven Hot Springs - Food, Gas, Lodging (IDBDR)

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 Lodge - Food, Gas, Lodging (IDBDR)

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

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Jarbidge Nevada Food & Lodging (IDBDR)

Jarbidge is the official start of the IDBDR.

IDBDR FOOD

The Corner (Yellow Pine, ID)

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.

The Timber Inn and Bar & Grill (Pierce, ID)

2 S Main St, Pierce, ID 83546

Tel. (208) 464-2736

Food, lodging.

Visit Website »

Porthill Bar at Canadian Border (IDBDR)

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.

Visit Website »

Clark Fork - Food, Gas, Lodging (IDBDR)

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

Visit Website »

Avery - Food, Gas, Lodging (IDBDR)

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

Visit Website »

Pierce - Food, Gas, Lodging (IDBDR)

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.

Visit Website »

Lochsa Lodge - Food, Gas, Lodging (IDBDR)

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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Lolo Hot Springs (IDBDR)

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

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Conner MT - Food, Gas, Lodging (IDBDR)

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.

Visit Website »

Elk City - Food & Gas (IDBDR)

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

Visit Website »

Burgdorf Hot Springs Resort (IDBDR)

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.

Visit Website »

Haven Hot Springs - Food, Gas, Lodging (IDBDR)

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

Visit Website »

Sourdough Lodge - Food, Gas, Lodging (IDBDR)

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

Visit Website »

Jarbidge Nevada Food & Lodging (IDBDR)

Jarbidge is the official start of the IDBDR.

Visit Website »

IDBDR FUEL

Porthill Bar at Canadian Border (IDBDR)

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.

Visit Website »

Clark Fork - Food, Gas, Lodging (IDBDR)

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

Visit Website »

Avery - Food, Gas, Lodging (IDBDR)

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

Visit Website »

Pierce - Food, Gas, Lodging (IDBDR)

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.

Visit Website »

Lochsa Lodge - Food, Gas, Lodging (IDBDR)

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.

Visit Website »

Conner MT - Food, Gas, Lodging (IDBDR)

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.

Visit Website »

Elk City - Food & Gas (IDBDR)

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

Visit Website »

Burgdorf Hot Springs Resort (IDBDR)

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.

Visit Website »

Haven Hot Springs - Food, Gas, Lodging (IDBDR)

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

Visit Website »

Sourdough Lodge - Food, Gas, Lodging (IDBDR)

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

Visit Website »

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 Nevada Food & Gas: 41.875502, -115.430672, on the route.

Jarbidge is the official start of the IDBDR.

Visit Website »

Anderson Ranch Reservoir Dam: 43.359746, -115.449492, on the route.

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 Access: 43.418785, -115.390084, on the route.

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

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Pine Food & Gas: 43.48563, -115.31198, on the route.

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

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Featherville, Idaho: 43.612324, -115.25526, on the route.

Featherville has a small hotel with a restaurant.

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Big Trinity Lake: 43.622756, -115.430678, on the route.

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

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Trinity Mountain Fire Lookout: 43.598862, -115.428944, on the route.

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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50-Inch Wide Bridge: 43.809135, -115.536544, on the route.

Motorcycles can get through the barriers on this bridge, but 4WD rigs will have to find a bypass to the north on NF Road 327.

Sourdough Lodge - Food, Gas, Lodging (IDBDR)

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

Visit Website »

Haven Hot Springs Food & Gas: 44.073075, -115.550764, on the route.

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

Visit Website »

Creek Crossing: 44.20621, -115.509928, on the route.

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

Whitehawk Mountain Fire Lookout: 44.287564, -115.530589, side trip,

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

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Deadwood Reservoir: 44.326028, -115.649273, on the route.

Deadwood Reservoir has several campgrounds with shoreline access.

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Warm Lake North Shore Resort: 44.654534, -115.6689, side trip.

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. 

Visit Website »

Yellow Pine Food & Gas: 44.964076, -115.493327, on the route.

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 Pass: 45.1508, -115.423116, on the route.

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

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Pilot Peak Fire Lookout: 45.173969, -115.52716, side trip.

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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Old Cemetery: 45.149615, -115.559259, on the route.

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

Warren Mining Town: 45.265685, -115.678257, on the route.

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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Burgdorf Hot Springs Resort: 45.277066, -115.913704, on the route.

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.

Visit Website »

Old Bus: 45.372368, -116.022004, on the route.

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

French Creek Grade: 45.40634, -116.01632, on the route.

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

Manning Bridge: 45.401596, -116.116878, on the route.

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

Florence Ghost Town: 45.500083, -116.029068, on the route.

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Florence Cemetery: 45.510354, -116.029439, on the route.

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

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Elk City Food & Gas: 45.82556, -115.443365, on the route.

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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Burnt Knob Fire Lookout: 45.702778, -114.991325, on the route.

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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Magruder Corridor near Massacre Site: 45.73087, -114.766869, on the route.

A sign along the route explains the Magruder Massacre.

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Conner MT - Food, Gas, Lodging (IDBDR)

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.

Visit Website »

Lolo Hot Springs: 46.725016, -114.533393, on the route.

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

Visit Website »

Lolo Pass: 46.634719, -114.577732, on the route.

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 Food & Gas: 46.510969, -114.718092, on the route.

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: 46.549187, -114.985895, on the route.

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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Hemlock Butte Lookout Tower: 46.473494, -115.629252, on the route.

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

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Pierce Food & Gas: 46.486968, -115.798779, on the route.

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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Grandad Bridge: 46.815352, -115.920984, on the route.

The Grandad Bridge crosses over Dwarshak Reservoir.

Blue Heaven Cabin: 46.986067, -115.83769, on the route.

Blue Heaven Cabin is a first-come-first-served free cabin in the woods. It has several beds and even a wood stove.

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Avery Train Car: 47.250513, -115.806614, on the route.

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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Avery - Food, Gas, Lodging (IDBDR)

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

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St Joe River Tunnels: 47.26628, -115.775562, on the route.

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.

Historic Town of Wallace: 47.471598, -115.92348, on the route.

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

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Coeur D’Alene River Cliff Jumping: 47.65235, -116.030654, on the route.

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.

Grizzly Mountain Summit: 47.713106, -116.093405, side trip.

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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Grassy Mountain Summit: 47.790102, -116.205265, on the route.

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

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Spyglass Peak Lookout Tower: 47.841885, -116.196854, side trip,

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 Bakery: 48.1458, -116.176295, on the route.

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

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Char Falls: 48.36659, -116.172051, on the route.

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

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Lunch Peak Lookout Tower: 48.374853, -116.193504, side trip.

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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Roman Nose Lake: 48.635086, -116.571158, side trip.

Porthill Bar at Canadian Border: 48.998675, -116.500686, on the route.

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Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge:48.706785, -116.414784, on the route.

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 Bar at Canadian Border: 48.998675, -116.500686, on the route.

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.

Visit Website »

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.

Riding
  • 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
Gadgets
  • Map holder / map case
  • GPS unit
  • GPS mount
  • Compass
  • Cell phone
  • Phone charger
  • Plug adapter: auto to BMW plug
  • Camera
  • Spot II
  • Notebook
  • Pencil/pen
Clothing
  • Rain shell
  • Riding socks (2)
  • Zip pants/shorts
  • Short sleeve (base layer shirt)
  • Swim suit
  • Flip flops/sandals
  • Riding jersey / long-sleeve (base layer shirt)
  • Fleece jacket
  • Underwear
  • Wool beanie
  • Ball cap
  • Socks
Personal
  • Toiletries
  • Soap
  • Toothpaste
  • Toothbrush & Floss
  • Towel (MSR Pack Towel)
  • Razor
  • Toilet paper
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug spray
  • Pain reliever
  • Allergy meds
  • Wet Wipes
  • Sun Glasses
  • Passport if going into Canada
  • Money (credit cards & cash)
Motorcycle
  • Engine oil
  • Clip-style master link
  • Fuses
  • Chain lube
  • Spare inner-tubes
Camping Gear
  • Sleeping bag
  • Pillow
  • Roll pad
  • Tent
  • Dry bags (2) for tent, sleeping pad & sleeping bag
  • Water storage (Dromedary Bag)
  • Folding hand saw
  • Water filter
  • Eating utensils
  • Lighter / waterproof matches
  • Can opener
  • Pots & pans
  • Coffee brewing device
  • Coffee cup
  • Headlamp (2)
  • Kitchen set & spices
  • Stove
  • Stove fuel bottle
  • Folding camp chair
Books & Maps
Tools & Misc
  • Tool roll / tool set
  • Tire levers
  • Tire patch kit
  • Air pump
  • Tire gauge
  • Quicksteel
  • Leatherman tool
  • Swiss Army knife
  • Large inflation CO2 (for tubeless tires)
  • First Aid kit
  • Zip ties
  • Duct tape
  • Wire
  • LocTite
  • WD-40
  • Tow strap
Food
  • Energy bars
  • Coffee
  • Oatmeal
  • Other ingredients based on meal plan

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

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

What is the IDBDR?

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.

What time of year can I do the IDBDR?

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.

How difficult is the route?

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.

What weather concerns should I have?

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.

How long does it take to run the IDBDR?

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.

Do I have to camp?

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.

Where do I camp?

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.

How far between gas stops?

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.

Can I build a camp fire?

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.

Is there water on the route?

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

Why do I need paper maps when I have GPS tracks?

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.

What is the ideal bike to use?

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.

What GPS should I use?

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.

Where can I find the GPS tracks for the IDBDR?

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

What is the highest elevation on the IDBDR?

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.

What tires should I use for the IDBDR?

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

How do I get information on current road conditions?

Visit the IDBDR ADVrider.com thread and/or the BDR Facebook where you and other riders can post experiences, photos, and road condition reports.

What about the Wild Animals?

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

Can the Route be done North to South?

Yes the route can be done North to South.

Is there cell phone coverage on the route?

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.

Which BDR is the easiest? Which one would you recommend for a rider that hasn’t done a long trip on dirt before. I have just taken an intro level training course and I ride a 1200GSA?

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.

What medical supplies should I carry on a BDR trip?

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

Are BDR routes suitable for a 4x4 vehicle?

For the most part all of BDR routes are doable by 4×4’s with adequate tires and clearance. The roads are all public roads and do require a street legal vehicle.  One thing to keep in mind – the routes conditions can change dramatically due to rain and flash floods which cause the roads to become difficult or impassable.

The UTBDR probably will be the most challenging route in a 4×4 if you take the expert sections. Lockhart Basin is the hardest section of all the BDR’s.

Rating the Routes by Difficulty

We get a lot of requests to provide difficulty ratings. The difficulty of a route can change from day to day depending on weather, changes in the 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, bike size and amount of weight carried on the bike. For these reasons we can’t provide a rating system like a ski resort. We can help you a bit by ranking the existing BDR’s from most difficult to least difficult. Here is the list: CA, AZ, UT, CO, WA, NM, ID, MA. So CABDR South is the most difficult especially if you ride the expert sections and Mid Atlantic BDR 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. Also mud can be very challenging if it rains heavily. We hope this helps you in your planning. Be sure to also review the FAQ’s for each route prior to planning your trip.

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