Day 16: Lincoln to Clinton
Brrrrr! When I went to bed last night, it was 60 something degrees. I’m sleeping in a very nice Brooks Range Snooze 35 (35 degree bag), and I woke up freezing! My tent had a layer of ice on it and my bag was frozen. I’m not sure how cold it got, but I certainly wasn’t anticipating below freezing in mid-August! After trying to warm up with a hot shower, I set off for a 70+ mile ride to Missoula. In the early morning hours I had to pull off several times to warm my hands up as I was losing feeling. As the sun came up it warmed everything and I was able to make excellent time through gorgeous country. I passed a camp of over 100 firefighters and could see active fires. Everything went great until about 5 miles outside of Missoula at which point I punctured a tire. I had Cody pick me up since we had a meeting with economic development.
In Missoula we had a great meeting with their economic development and several students from the University of Montana. There was a group of maybe 10 people with great questions about building technology companies, gaining access to funding, finding co-founders, and attracting tech companies to Missoula.
We stayed at Bearmouth Chalet and Campground which is a nice property east of Clinton, Montana, home of the world famous Testicle Festival. The property is right off I90 with a beautiful river winding through it, a cliff on one side, and panoramic mountains on the other. The property offers a Chalet, cabins, RV sites, and tent sites as well as shower house and nice amenities. The property owners were very welcoming and we had some great conversations about the trip. Find camping near Clinton, Montana.
Clinton is a great destination for outdoor recreation. Beavertail Hill State Park, Welcome Creek Wilderness, Clark Fork River, and Rock Creek are all popular attractions in the area. Hiking, fishing, backpacking, and exploring are favorite family activities.
Day 17: Clinton to Missoula
I woke up looking at the ceiling of my tent which was covered in thousands of small black specs. I got up and took a look, and the wind had shifted during the night so my tent was covered in ash from the forest fires.
I had a lot of work to do so Cody and I drove back to Missoula and found a coffee shop to hang out in all day. If you need a good place to work in Missoula, I recommend Zootown Brew. Nice spot, strong coffee, and fast WiFi. We also checked out a pizza place that I highly recommend called Biga Pizza. Their Meatball Verde pizza with cilantro jalapeno sauce is one of the best pizzas I’ve ever had!
Missoula is a really cool town that’s incredibly bike friendly. I saw hundreds of bikers and their bike lanes on all the main streets. Unfortunately, due to the forest fires, the entire town was under a dense haze of smoke while we were there.
We stayed at River Edge RV Park which is west of Missoula about 30 miles. The property is amazing, with breathtaking views of the river and mountains. It has a steak house, small casino, motel, and RV park. I pitched my tent on the edge of a bluff overlooking the river and sipped a little whiskey while taking in the sunset over the mountains. Find campgrounds near Missoula, Montana.
Day 18: Missoula to Ronan
I took off riding north towards Flathead Lake and Glacier National Park this morning. It was an easy ride without much elevation gain, but the smoke was starting to bother my lungs. I was riding through a valley with mountains on either side, so other than the occasional coughing fit, it was enjoyable.
It was about a 50-mile ride into Ronan, Montana, where we stayed at the Diamond S RV Park. The park is just outside of town with a shower house, kids play area with large sandbox and swing set, and great views of the mountains. It seemed to be a very family-friendly park. We had a local media outlet at the park as I rode in so that was cool.
Ronan is a small mountain town about 10 miles south of Flathead Lake within the Flathead Indian Reservation. I went out to catch a little preseason football at a bar called Willard’s and conversation seemed to focus on either the rodeo or the racetrack. I also stopped by Dobson Creek Coffee Company and had old fashioned glazed donuts with fresh bacon pieces on top – a first for me. Let me tell you, this is the only way to eat a donut!
Ronan is located in the gorgeous Mission Valley and offers excellent opportunities for stream and lake fishing, hiking, birding, rafting, golfing, and camping. Flathead Lake has 185-miles of shoreline and is popular for sailing, boating, swimming, fishing, and waterskiing. The hospitality and views were great in Ronan, stop by if you’re headed through to Glacier. Find camping near Flathead Lake Montana.
Day 19: Ronan to Coram
I headed north from Ronan to Polson which is on the southern shore of Flathead lake. Polson is a nice town with large city amenities including a bike path, Walmart, etc. From Polson I was supposed to ride north along the east side of Flathead lake, but we could see active fires on the mountains alongside the lake, and we’d been advised against it. We decided that I’d pick up the bike on that section and that we’d head to Glacier National Park. The drive up the east side of Flathead is beautiful, and there are lots of orchards along the way with roadside fruit stands. Cherries, huckleberries, and peaches are the primary fruits grown. We stopped at a stand and purchased some cherries and they were outstanding. We also stopped at Flathead Lake Brewing Company. The beer and food were good, but the views and ambiance were exceptional!
We got up to Glacier in mid afternoon and planned to shoot some video at Cracker Lake. Cracker Lake is about a 6 mile hike one way off the Going-to-the-Sun-Road, just past Logan Pass. We found the trailhead after stopping several times to take in the scenery. In my opinion, Glacier is probably one of the most beautiful places on Earth. We really wanted to use the drone, but we knew that they are banned in all national parks. As we packed up our camera gear we realized that we’d somehow misplaced our bear spray. After a thorough search of the van, we could not find it and decided to go in anyway with a pocket knife as protection. I rode my mountain bike and carried all the gear while Cody jogged along. Out of the gate there is a punchy ascent, going up over 1,500ft in less than two miles. We saw lots of hikers coming down (all with bear spray), and saw tons of marks on trees where bears had scraped off the bark. To top it all off, there was bear fur all over the trail. We went another mile in and it was starting to get dark as the sun had dipped behind a mountain. I decided it wasn’t worth the risk of continuing so we turned around about halfway to Cracker Lake. I would love to do this again, but with an earlier start and bear spray!
Once we got back, it was a little after 5pm and I switched to my road bike and cruised down the Going-to-the-Sun-Road. So amazing! We stayed at North American RV Park & Yurts in Coram, Montana, just west of Glacier. A nice property with amenities such as a game room, BBQ, basketball, volleyball, laundry, and showers. I stayed in a yurt which was pretty cool and saved us the time of unpacking all the gear. Find campgrounds near Glacier National Park.
Day 20: Coram to Kalispell
From Coram, I traveled west back down into Kalispell and met up with some old friends for lunch. It was an almost 60-mile ride west to McGregor Lake, 33 miles were west of Kalispell on HWY 2. This was probably the worst section of road I’ve been on the entire trip. There was no shoulder on the road and trucks zipped by at 70MPH without moving over. On top of that, the ditch seemed littered with broken glass from people throwing liquor bottles out there windows. For the life of me, I can’t understand why somebody would be that careless and reckless. My tires found a nice chunk of broken glass so I spent some time on the side of the road fixing a puncture. After 4 nerve wracking hours on the bike, I made it to my destination. I’ve never been so happy to end a ride!
We stayed at McGregor Lakes RV which is right across HWY 2 from beautiful McGregor Lake. There is no cell service, but the park has excellent WiFi. I ate dinner across the street at the resort which has a deck overlooking the lake. The resort also has a motel, dock, and several cabins. This is a great destination, however I do not recommend bicycling on HWY 2, so come here in your vehicle. Find camping near Kalispell, Montana.
Kalispell is a gateway to beautiful Glacier National Park, a mecca for outdoor recreation and stunning views. Kids have a blast at Whitefish Lake and Jewel Basin as well as Woodland Park, Hungry Horse Dam, and the House of Mystery. Lone Pine State Park and Flathead National Forest are great for hiking, biking, wildlife viewing, and water fun.