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Old 03-05-2018, 03:16 AM
9 posts, read 22,869 times
Reputation: 25


Hello, I have a question about driving from Spokane to Whitefish.

My wife and I and my 27 year-old stepson will be in Boise, and then up in Spokane in early June. We are planning on taking a trip by car over to Montana to tour Glacier, and I am, as always, looking for the most scenic route. Should we drive up to Bonner's Ferry and down through Troy and Libby, or take the more southerly route through Noxon and Trout Creek and Thompson's Falls? We have plenty of time, so we aren't worried much about extra distance or the most direct route. After Glacier we are driving all the way down to Vegas through Idaho and eastern Nevada to attend a wedding. I am not a fan of Vegas, so I am trying to make good use of the trip from Spokane to Vegas by driving instead of flying. My stepson was born and raised in RI, and has never been west of Pennsylvania, and I am really looking forward to his reactions.

Recommendations for this leg of our trip would be much appreciated.
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Old 03-05-2018, 06:22 AM
Location: Billings, MT
8,423 posts, read 6,352,537 times
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Either of those routes would be scenic, but there are other options.
You could take I-90 from Spokane to St. Regis, then take 135 to 200, turn fight to Perma, turn left on 382 to Elmo, then U.S. 93 to Kalispell. While in Kalispell, take the time to visit the Conrad Mansion
From there, you could take 93 on to Whitefish, or turn right on U.S. 2 and go to Glacier National Park.
Personally, I would ignore Whitefish, just as I would ignore Hungry Horse (you have to drive through Hungry Horse on U.S. 2, and that is all I ever do; drive through). A side trip to visit Hungry Horse Dam is a neat drive.
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Old 03-06-2018, 11:03 AM
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Go to Montana

Request a free highway map. The map will have "scenic byways" demarcated.

Glacier is beautiful in June. Enjoy.
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Old 03-07-2018, 03:24 AM
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Thanks, maps are on the way.
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Old 03-07-2018, 09:44 PM
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That's my neck of the woods! Every summer for the past 13 years. Hopefully we will be full time ID/MT border residents when we retire. We have a retirement home on 5 acres in Clark Fork, ID.

You're in for a scenic treat! I don't want to contradict a fellow poster, Redraven, but I just wouldn't go I-90 from Spokane to St. Regis--there's really nothing to see but trees. Nice trees, but just trees! My suggestion (which is how we fell in love with the Clark Fork Valley) is to go I-90 from Spokane to 95 north, and spend a day in Sandpoint. Charming town voted best small town in the West several times, on spectacular Lake Pend Oreille. Fantastic views from Schweitzer ski resort. Great eateries such as Trinity at Edgewater and MickDuffs. The Best Western Edgewater Hotel is right on the lake. If your budget calls for something more modest, Ponderay to the north is the "strip" with reasonable chain hotels/motels. Next morning, take 200 along the lake, through Hope and Clark Fork into Montana. Stop at the Clark Fork Pantry and pick up sandwiches! Or wait and stop at the Noxon Pantry.

In Noxon you have two options: Go north on 56 and then east on Highway 2, or continue on 200 to Ravali and north to Polson. It's a hard choice, because both routes are scenic, but I would opt for 56 to 2, because it seems a little shorter, and 56 will take you through unbelievably dramatic scenery, going through the Bull River Valley with the towering, jagged Cabinet Mountains on either side. (You can check out my Montana album and see some of the sights.) Highway 2 will take you along the wild Kootenai River, and you should stop and check out the Kootenai Falls between Troy and Libby. The River Wild was filmed there, among other locations. (With the name Rafterrat, you'll definitely want to check out the Kootenai Falls! ) After Libby the road to Kalispell is nice, but (as far as I recall) not breathtaking.

On the other hand, going through Noxon on 200 to Polson offers breathtaking scenery all the way until Plains, and you get to explore river towns such as Trout Creek and Thompson Falls. From Ravali to Polson it's pretty spectacular, and it's a beautiful ride along the Flathead Lake to Kalispell, but it's a lot longer.

I just Googled "Noxon to Whitefish", and there is a shortcut I didn't know about, Route 28 from Plains to Flathead Lake, coming out at Dayton. That route is exactly the same length as going up 56 to 2, but I don't know if it is scenic. But it would be odd if it didn't offer interesting scenery. We'll probably go that way next time we're going to Glacier.

Going from Glacier to Vegas through Idaho, that's another story! I'll think about it and get back to you.
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Old 03-07-2018, 10:11 PM
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I've thought about it! You may want to post your question in the Idaho Forum for other suggestions, but this is what i'd do:

Whitefish to Somers to Polson, along Flathead Lake. Continue on 93 through Missoula down through the beautiful Bitterroot Valley into Idaho and Salmon. In Challis south of Salmon you have two choices, and that depends on how much time you want to spend. You can go 93 past the tallest mountain in Idaho, Borah Peak, to 26 through Atomic City to I-15 and on to Vegas, or you can be really adventurous and take 75 SW to Stanley, one of the most beautiful locations in the entire West, high up in the Sawtooth Mountains. I'd spend the night in Stanley, and explore one of the mountain lakes next day. From Stanley to Sun Valley (the resort) the road travels along the headwaters of the Salmon River. It's high, lonesome country, absolutely beautiful. South of Sun Valley the road takes you to civilization, and it will feel like a real culture shock when 93 meets I-84! But from there on it's an easy drive to I-15 and Vegas.

Have fun! Your stepson may never want to go home again...
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Old 03-09-2018, 09:29 AM
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Huckleberry milkshakes-- do not miss those!
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Old Today, 06:22 PM
Location: Brendansport, Sagitta IV
7,288 posts, read 11,762,929 times
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And when you drive down to Vegas... there's some really good scenery in southern Utah if you get a little off the main drag. Zion National Park for one.
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Old Today, 09:53 PM
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Take the Empire Builder Line on Amtrak (no, it won't derail, I promise).

It gets you from Spokane directly into Whitefish.
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