Lolo Motorway

Occidental

Senior Member
Joined
Oct 8, 2015
Messages
376
Location
Clearwater Watershed, Idaho
We made a relatively local excursion and drove the Lolo Motorway over a couple different trips. The Lolo Motorway roughly follows both the Nez Perce Trail and the route of Lewis and Clark over the Bitterroot Mountains. The motorway was built in the 1930's by the CCC's and may not be the image that your mind conjures when you hear the term motorway. It's a fairly rough remote road following the ridges above the Clearwater River for about 93 miles. If you are in to history or backcountry routes the motorway may be of interest.

Here's the post that tells the tale: https://www.occidentalist.org/lolo-motorway-2023/
Or you can also see the video here: https://youtu.be/218KFQhXNn8
 
Have been on part of that route during a fire. Need to see the rest, thanks for a good report!
 
Thanks all for the comments.

Mr. Sage, I did not get the Honda Trail guy's name or info I had a million questions for him, but he said multiple times during our short conversation that he was in a hurry and needing to beat the weather and his visa deadline south so I just got a quick overview and he went on his way. I would love to read his report for sure!
 
Another great documenting of a trip in places I'd like to be! Those roads look so nice to putter along on and see such scenery! I hope to get out that way again. I then entered onto your river float trip . That was a bit shocking (yet not) that there were 62 boats passing the camp site on the Ronde trip I wonder if the impact of that volume was seen in the camp sites? Maybe fall the traffic would be less. Glad you are able to get out there. We bought an Omnia Oven for my nephew in AK for his camper and boat. We love ours and sent him your two video links ...great looking lasagna !!!!
 
@ Buckland

Luckily there are a lot of campsites on the Grande Ronde, but that was the most amount of boats I've witnessed on a trip before. Fall traffic would definitely be less, as the flow it too low to get most boats down, thus the pressure is on during spring and early summer flows. We went by the put in a few weeks back and it looked like canoe and kayak only water.

We have a lot of fun with the omnia - new video posting later today actually!
 
dennis 221 said:
We've Done nez perce is this one close by?
It's likely one in the same. The Lolo Motorway is the road which loosely follows both the Nez Perce trail as well as the route of Lewis and Clark. There are slight differences in the routes noted on maps.
 
dennis 221 said:
Well all I can is Nez Perce was freaking awesome..can't wait to do it again
I think the Magruder Corridor is referred to as the Southern Nez Perce Trail by some. Are you referring to that route between Elk City, ID and Conner, MT as the Nez Perce trail you've driven?
 
Foy said:
I think the Magruder Corridor is referred to as the Southern Nez Perce Trail by some. Are you referring to that route between Elk City, ID and Conner, MT as the Nez Perce trail you've driven?
I had this exact thought and was going to post when I got back home - yes the Magruder is also known as the southern Nez Perce route, with Lolo being the northern one. Two ways to get between the Salmon to the west and bison to the east, historic migratory routes. Ironically we were out on the Magruder this week when the thought occurred to me! (That trip report is coming up soon...) The two routes could be done as a loop actually.
 
We did this route a few years ago with 4 people on mountain bikes. We took turns driving so there were 3 people on bikes, 1 driving. Great trip. Took a week, stayed at the lookout for 2 nights. Lots of planning, etc. but it was great. We didn't go until late July and the road was only cleared 2 days before we started that year.
 
I can imagine this would be a great bike ride, supported by a vehicle. Reminds me of the white rim trail in a way - in that there are some sections where I can definitely see a bike riding this much faster than a pickup! Doubly true for a motorcycle using the route.

Thinking of snow blocking the route into July - as a warning, it may be a narrow window some years between the last of the snow melting and closures for fires. There was a fire that closed the route for a couple weeks in August this year. We started our first leg a few days after this closure was lifted at the end of August. There was a contractor working on the road trying to use a handwritten sign claiming the road was closed, but there was no official closure posted by the Forest Service. I can understand the challenges getting work done on a single lane road before fall weather, but if you check all the closures ahead of time, spend 3 hours (at the least, as we live close by) getting there, only to find a hand written road closed sign, well, I can tell you we didn't turn around, and we found nobody actually working along the entire route.
 
Occidental said:
I can imagine this would be a great bike ride, supported by a vehicle. Reminds me of the white rim trail in a way - in that there are some sections where I can definitely see a bike riding this much faster than a pickup! Doubly true for a motorcycle using the route.

Thinking of snow blocking the route into July - as a warning, it may be a narrow window some years between the last of the snow melting and closures for fires. There was a fire that closed the route for a couple weeks in August this year. We started our first leg a few days after this closure was lifted at the end of August. There was a contractor working on the road trying to use a handwritten sign claiming the road was closed, but there was no official closure posted by the Forest Service. I can understand the challenges getting work done on a single lane road before fall weather, but if you check all the closures ahead of time, spend 3 hours (at the least, as we live close by) getting there, only to find a hand written road closed sign, well, I can tell you we didn't turn around, and we found nobody actually working along the entire route.
Yes, very fun ride and experience... we'd go as far as the 4 of us (and 3 dogs) would go each day, find a great campsite, etc. Water is the main issue. You fill up and filter it when you can find it along the way/trail. There are some lakes, etc. that you can find and we spent a few nights there.

We did see a very large wolf one day... just amazing.. it jumped out in front of us (we were decending from the lookout), ran down the road then out of sight... just huge.

The beargrass was amazing that year, huckleberries everywhere, etc.
 
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