Once again, MotoQuest is here to spark your wanderlust. Today, we’re focusing on a true rider’s paradise: the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. What makes it so dreamy? Here’s a short list:
- Lush, forest-covered mountains with twisty roads
- Coastal curves and distinguished beaches
- High desert two-lane roads which meander along rushing rivers
If you’re itching to ride it for yourself, we do have a few great options to tell you about. Let’s start with the Trail of Lewis and Clark adventure.
Phil Freeman, MotoQuest founder, tells us a bit about this adventure:
When I was entertaining creating a ride that shadowed the Lewis and Clark Expedition, I consulted several riders from Montana, Idaho, Washington, and Oregon. After many discussions and pourings over maps, I stitched together an itinerary that I thought might work, originating out of Portland, Oregon. We wanted to make the ride in a 12-day format, so we needed to be picky on what Lewis and Clark sites (like Clark’s Point in Montana, the header photo) we wanted to visit, while maximizing our time on the best roads in each area.
Years later, when we finished our first scouting trip of that itinerary, I was incredulous: the riding was much better than I ever imagined, with the best surprise of all being the variety of roads. After having led this trip several times, one thing is for sure: if you ride our Trail of Lewis and Clark itinerary, you come away with a grander perspective of how vast, rugged, and naturally beautiful the Pacific Northwest is. Here are a few of the not-to-miss roads of that route. Whether you join us on an organized adventure or rent and ride on your own, you will fall in love with this part of the United States.
September 14 – 27, 2020
September 13-26, 2021
Here are some of Phil’s favorite roads to ride on this adventure:
Oregon Highway 218
From Shaniko, Oregon to Fossil, Oregon is one of the best roads I have ever ridden. Part of it has to be because you never hear about it. This lonely, two-laned road travels through dry farmlands and river valleys. It’s classic lost americana: no traffic and spacious vistas, with lots of elevation changes. The towns you go through pass in the blink of an eye, and the sweepers are precious. Keep this road on your radar. And that is just the first part of the day.
Idaho Highway 55 – 17 – 21, MCCall, Idaho to Stanley, Idaho
This ride is the first part of the day and simply wonderful, if you like following river valleys. You take one wild and scenic river valley and continue on another. You end on the Ponderosa Pine Scenic Route to arrive at Stanley. You will be burdened mostly at trying to take it all in, from the rims of the canyons to the rushing water below. If you want to fall in love with Idaho, this is the day to do it.
Montana Highway 200 between Missoula, Montana and Great Falls, Montana
They say it’s “Big Sky” country in Montana, and as you ride this secondary road through Blackfoot country, the broad skies and limitless landscapes in all directions bring that saying steadfastly home. Grasslands, cattle farms, and rolling forested hills spread out as far as the eye can see as you slice through it all. Take a seat at the Stray Bullet Cafe in Ovando, Montana and listen to the locals banter. Ah, yes, you are in the wild west!
U.S. Route 12 between Lolo, Idaho and Kooskia, Idaho
Now, this road is unbelievable. I know many who are reading this have ridden it, and whatever I put here does not do it justice, but just imagine: 99 miles of sweeping curves along the gorgeous Lochsa River. It’s what motorcycling should be, and make sure to stop at one of the suspended bridges across the river to gather in the moment. You have to ride this one!
Columbia River Gorge, Washington Highway 14 and Oregon Highway 730
Anyone that has traveled the gorge by motorcycle knows there is a distinct difference between riding the motorcyclist’s road and riding the trucker’s road. In this case, get ready to see this gorge to its fullest by crossing from the 730 to the 14 to enjoy less traffic and scenery. The gorge is hard to beat on a good day with the looming Mount Rainier peering over you as you ride along the steep cliffs to one side, the mighty Columbia River to the other. We do incorporate a short stint on Highway 30 between Hood River, Oregon and The Dalles, Oregon, on the southside of the river, tying the day together nicely.
Highway 503 between Woodland, Washington and Northwoods, Washington
There are many highlights from our Lewis and Clark Adventure, but the curves along the Swift Reservoir on the 503 are a stand out. This backroad is usually devoid of traffic and prints a severe smile on your face.
I could go on and on, but these are just a few of the world-class roads that are waiting for you when you head out to experience the Pacific Northwest. If you dig even deeper, we would have to talk about some of the roads on our Pacific Coast Highway Adventure, but we’ll save that for another time. Whatever you do, get out there and explore, and we hope to see you on the road!
Want to ride without a guide? Good news: when you rent a motorcycle from our Portland, Oregon location, we can schedule a route consultation with one of our agents who has a passion for riding in the region to help you plan a custom adventure.