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Roadtrip: Spokane, Couer d'Alene, Kalispell, Glacier NP

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We visited Glacier National Park and nearby areas in Montana, Idaho and Washington in late May 2011. Some photos are in Flickr:

US 2, I-90

I admit: we underestimated Spokane. It looked like a sensible place to fly into, rent a car, maybe grab a bite of local food and be on our way. But we spent about a day there total (beginning and end of trip). Checked out Manito Park, downtown, and the park area along the Spokane River. Mountain snowpack was high (about 300% of normal in some places) and the river was raging. We took a gondola ride out over the river and under the Monroe Street Bridge, a nice concrete arch bridge that opened in 1911 and was rehabilitated in 2005.

Maple Street includes a "mini freeway" from First Avenue to Broadway, with one interchange and a few grade separations.

There is some North Spokane Corridor work (future US 395) that we did not get a chance to visit.

Spokane has a few bike routes whose numbers mirror state and US highways: e.g. bike US 395, bike WA 291, etc.


The potatoes were everything we imagined. They're famous for a reason.

I-90, MT 135, MT 200, MT 28, US 93, US 2, MT 464, US 89, MT 49, MT 40, MT 82, MT 35

Highways were generally in good to very good condition, and lended themselves to travel at reasonable and prudent speeds (90 or so). Only noticed one sign goof, where Highway 209 was marked with both primary ("boring" rectangle) and secondary (arrowhead) markers.

Almost every road on the west side of the continental divide was ridiculously scenic: big mountains, big lakes. On the east side, the terrain opens up into more flat and dry.

A new US 2 bridge over the Two Medicine River is under construction, near East Glacier Village.

There are "future US 93 bypass" signs in the northern outskirts of Kalispell. South of US 2, a two-lane "Alternate Hwy 93" is already open. I didn't see any US highway markers e.g. 93A. It's a strange interim configuration: two lane expressway, at-grade intersections with roundabouts marked at 15 mph; and one exit ramp northbound heading to a housing development.

Demographic notes: a lot of (blonde) Scandinavian people out here; maybe part of a swath that extends from Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa westward.

Huckleberry pie did not disappoint; would like to come back when they're in season. Between the delicious food, good people, and fantastic scenery, no wonder Californians are moving out here. If Montanans are sick of the California invasion, they should think about ways of making their neck of the woods less awesome :-)

I-90, US 95

Just kidding about the potatoes; though we did make sure to try the fries during dinner in Coeur d'Alene. We could have easily spent more time there, hiking around the lake and exploring the city. We drove a little bit of US 95, which Idaho has plans for four-laning statewide. Some want the Interstate 11 designation for this route.

I saw two variants of the Idaho state route marker: full color (mainly brown) and black and white.

Next trip, I want to stop off in Wallace, where the last gap in I-90 was closed. The BGS for this exit has a diagram of the historical route.

There is an Exit 0 at the Idaho - Washington state line.

Overall, the only "new" US routes I saw were 2 and 195; the others (89, 93, 95, 395) I've already encountered in other states.

We want to return sometime in the summer, to get the fresh huckleberries and drive the complete length of Going to the Sun Road.


--- Quote from: kurumi on September 07, 2011, 04:07:06 PM ---Highways were generally in good to very good condition, and lended themselves to travel at reasonable and prudent speeds (90 or so).

--- End quote ---

including two-laners, and you didn't get stopped?

I've noticed the speed of traffic is about 87 on the freeways, and maybe 79 on the two-laners (which are very sensibly signed for 70).  that's about what I did when I was last in Montana; drove past several sheriffs without incident.

(it's a little-known fact that Montana has only about 200 state highway patrol troopers.  most law enforcement is done on the county level.)


--- Quote ---Demographic notes: a lot of (blonde) Scandinavian people out here; maybe part of a swath that extends from Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa westward.

--- End quote ---

There are isolated pockets of Scandinavians all throughout northern Idaho/central Montana, typically in the high-elevation, treed regions- presumably because those areas resemble Scandinavia. There's a gap, though- the Dakotas/Nebraska/non high-elevation, treed regions tend to be more German and English.

Great post!  Consider visiting Sandpoint, ID next time.  My favorite route to the Flathead Valley is taking ID/MT 200 to US-93.   I love driving along those lakes, plus the mountain views are good.  The last trip I took there I took the 20/200 route through northern Washington all the way to US-93 near St. Ignatius.   

Thank you Kurumi for the wonderful photo essay.  Montana is the one western state I have yet to visit and it was wonderful to see all the pictures from there!



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