Riding the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route: Part 4 – Montana and Canada

 photo P7295428_zpsgerlap19.jpg

If you haven’t read Part 1- Arizona and New Mexico, Part 2 – Colorado, or Part 3 – Wyoming and Idaho, you should go back and check them out.

When Jeff and I started out on the Great Divide, Montana seemed so far away, an almost impossible distance to ride. But after about a month of pedaling there we were, roiling through Big Sky Country. Montana has a true western feel with huge vistas, lots of cowboy boots, small country stores (I recommend the one just off route in Ferndale), and big pickups with Montana mudflaps. Jeff needed to get back to Vermont by end of August for work and time was quickly winding down. While we could have pushed a bit harder and taken less rest days, we chose to ride without a time crunch. Unfortunately this meant Jeff and I were parting ways at the Canadian border so he could keep his job. He rode back to Whitefish and spent a few days at the Whitefish Bike Retreat before flying out, while I contracted some stomach ailment and continued on to Banff.

Some notes from Montana and Canada:

      • Montana has some great craft brews with Cold Smoke Scotch Ale being a favorite for us
      • Unfortunately much of Montana also has some pretty lousy tasting water
      • The wide open camping in southern Montana was some of my favorite, but that’s also because we had perfect weather
      • It seems much of the state closes on Sunday, not good when a bike shop is needed
      • There’s great covered camping in the closed winter parking lot on the way down the hill to Seeley Lake
      • The town of Seeley Lake, while a little off route, has most of what you need to resupply
      • Jeff and I were fortunate to stay with Tom and Pat Arnone, who host cyclists along the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route south of Columbia Falls. Tom is a bicycle frame builder, restores Italian motorcycles, and is a general master craftsman. He’s a fascinating person to spend time with.
      • The the Whitefish Bike Retreat has a great singletrack trail that leads back to town
      • Watch out for the early morning lawn sprinklers if you camp in the Eureka Town Park
      • Heading north from the Canadian border the GDMBR follows pavement for a few miles before turning right into the mountains and up an almost 4,000 foot dirt climb. I was already feeling pretty ill and climbing this in triple digit temperature stomped me hard
      • Elkford BC has a new grocery store called the Kootenay Market that’s really well stocked
      • There’s great camping on the GDMBR about 4 miles south of Banff

Enjoy the Photos.

Enjoying the sunset and moonrise by a cow corral
Sunrise in Montana
Followed by the sunrise and warm coffee
 photo P7305442_zps2ycbjydc.jpg
And some more photos
Cabin along the Great Divide
A random cabin along the GDMBR
 photo P7305458_zps3wwhvel5.jpg
Overviewing our route for the day on the Adventure Cycling map
Blue Moon Rise
One of my favorite shots of the trip, the July blue moon rising while the sun was setting
 photo P8015478_zpsypppkglt.jpg
Jeff enjoying his morning coffee while listening to an RV running it’s generator
 photo P8015485_zpstlkrquwn.jpg
Riding some pavement on the way to Butte Montana
 photo P8035500_zpstdd404ww.jpg
There’s a few of these old advertisements around Butte
 photo P8035503_zpsm451ocew.jpg
Another round of bikepushing
 photo P8055516_zpsxnmpggml.jpg
We didn’t stay here, but it was a welcoming sign
 photo P8075552_zpsl26ixtng.jpg
The Swan Divide Trail, possibly Jeff’s and my favorite section of the whole GDMBR. Unfortunately the summer 2015 forest fires burned a pretty large chunk of this route.
Riding in the Flathead National Forest
Singletrack through the Flathead National Forest
Riding the Swan Lake Trail
Some awesome singletrack on the Swan Divide Trail
 photo P8075562_zpsvmtahfms.jpg
More singletrack. While rare, the few singletrack sections on the GDMBR are awesome
 photo IMG_20150809_230215_zpsmoaa9uqf.jpg
The garage of Tom Arnone
 photo IMG_20150809_223228_zpsupzu3gfp.jpg
One of the many Arnone handmade bicycle frames hanging in Tom Arnone’s shop
Lunch at a Cabin
A public, but reservation only cabin. We just used the porch for an hour or so
 photo P8125616_zpsygrclkuh.jpg
Some of the last, or first depending on your direction of travel, dirt on the US side of the GDMBR
 photo P_20150813_123029_SF_zpsada0rhsp.jpg
Oh yeah, the dorky finish shot from the US border
 photo P_20150813_173547_zpsyner3h9k.jpg
There’s a few schwacky section along the British Columbia stretch of the GDMBR
BC Mountains
And some well graded dirt roads as well
 photo P8155659_zpsy0k9gkaf.jpg
This cannot be missed; the worlds larges truck in Sparwood BC. For reference, my bicycle is leaning against the rear tire
Tobermory Creek Rainbow
After a cold, soaking, muddy day I was greeted by this rainbow and a free cabin at the Tobermory Creek BC Recreation site
Tobermory Creek Cabin
The free cabin with a million dollar view
 photo P_20150818_111817_BF_zps3snkmhxi.jpg
The final dorky finish shot, this time from Banff Springs Hotel and the northern terminus of the GDMBR

While this is the last post for the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route, there’s still more to come. After finishing in Banff, I pedaled and hitched back to the US border, where I was greeted by the forest fires and smoke that had engulfed the northwest.  Finding lots of road closures and detours, I decided to ride to Missoula Montana and regroup.


After visiting the headquarters of the Adventure Cycling Association and plotting a rough route across the northern U.S., I started pedaling and spent a little over a month riding back to Vermont. Thanks for visiting and stay tuned.

2 thoughts on “Riding the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route: Part 4 – Montana and Canada

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s