The inevitable question always comes up in conversation with other bikers when they hear I’ve traveled cross country: What’s been your favorite ride? Similar to any other “favorite” question, my answer always starts with “Well, it depends…” It depends on which aspect of the ride you want me to rank highest? Technicality? Scenery? Weather? Road conditions? Historical significance? Traffic? Additionally, each of those aspects depends on the time of the year and/or a specific snapshot in time of the day I rode it.
Maybe it’s because it was a recent ride, or maybe because I was doing it on a new bike without pulling a trailer, or maybe because the weather was absolutely gorgeous and there was no traffic and the road was well-maintained, but whatever the reason, the Northwest Passage Scenic Byway in Idaho clicked almost every box for me!
At just over 200 miles in length, this byway not only follows the route Lewis & Clark took through north-central Idaho, it also traces part of the 1877 flight of the Nez Perce from their homelands in Oregon while being pursued by the U.S. Army through Idaho to Montana (Nez Perce National Historical Trail). US-12 traverses the Clearwater River Canyon along the Middle Fork of Clearwater River, and the Lochsa River. I rode the route in reverse, starting in Lolo, Montana and finishing in Lewiston, Idaho.
There was so much beautiful scenery and historical markers to stop and take in that it took much longer to complete the 200 mile route than Google maps predicted it would! But I enjoyed every minute of my short jaunt through Idaho and was thankful that I took the time to explore this route. I came for the thrill of riding Lolo pass, but I rolled away with one of the most memorable transits of my journey so far 🙂