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Highway 200 Idaho and Montana, MT
mini location map2014-07-26
66 by photographer avatartibber
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Highway 200 Idaho and Montana, MT 
Highway 200 Idaho and Montana, MT
Scenic Drive230.00 Miles
Scenic Drive230.00 Miles
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1st trip
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Continuing our Glacial Road Trip after leaving Priest Lake, ID we started making our way to the Scenic 200 that included Pend Oreille Scenic Byway. We stopped at the Sandpoint VC to see what they had to offer and picked up a sheet that would point out places of interest. There is an actual loop you can do up here if you have the time.

This National 33 mile Scenic Byway route begins at the intersection with US 95 just north of Sandpoint. Idaho 200 meanders eastward to the Montana state line across farmlands, through river deltas, and along the rocky northern shores of Lake Pend Oreille, all sculpted by the massive force of glaciers and the floodwaters of Glacial Lake Missoula. The byway follows either a lake or river for its entire length :DANCE: .

Our first stop would be Pack River Wildlife Area. We didn't see any wildlife but the area was quite unique with the waterways scattered about. The Pack River basin drains approximately 185,600 acres. See the photo set for more information.

As you come around a corner you get to see a lot of Lake Pend Oreille (pronounced pond er ay).
From wiki: Lake Pend Oreille was glacially formed during the ice age. It is also believed that the eastern side of the lake was in the path of the ancient Missoula Flood. The lake sits at the south end of the Purcell Trench, carved by glaciers moving south from Canada. The eastern side of the glacier is believed to have formed the dam for the Missoula flood, at the point where the Clark Fork river enters the lake between the Cabinet and Bitteroot mountains.
See my photo set for more information.
The lake is 43 miles long and 1,150 feet deep making it the fifth deepest in the USA. It is the second largest fresh water lake west of the Mississippi with Flathead Lake in Montana being the largest (we had been there a few days before and would be there again tomorrow). Lake Pend Oreille is as expected quite beautiful and LARGE; the area around it is not very developed.

Later we would pass through Hope, East Hope and Beyond Hope :lol: . Gotta love those names. Here you will pass by an RV Park, an old church, a floating restaurant, a large marina, a resort, and Sam Owen State Park. FINALLY it was lunch time at Clark Fork. The lady at the VC recommended it to us saying the Amish ran it. Well that wasn't quite true but the recipes are from the Amish. I have to say, I had one of the best sandwiches of my life :y: at the along with a yummy huckleberry milkshake. The Pantry shelfs were loaded with great items (all kinds of flours and spices and such) for cooking and baking We sat outside and ate our lunch and people watched.

We continued to follow up stream the 310 miles long Clark Fork River (see photo set about this incredible river).
from wiki: In the 19th century the Clark Fork Valley was inhabited by the Flathead tribe of Native Americans. It was explored by Meriwether Lewis of the Lewis and Clark Expedition during the 1806 return trip from the Pacific. The river is named for William Clark.
As you are driving on the road next to it, you can see what the many glacial floods did to the corridor.

But our next stop would really provide a great visual to the glacial flooding activity; the privately owned Cabinet Gorge Dam. It was in a quite scenic setting and had great interpretive signs. The dam (built in 1951) creates the Cabinet Gorge Reservoir that extends into Montana, nearly to Noxon Rapids Dam which we would visit next. Noxon Rapids Dam is an earthfill gravity-type hydroelectric dam and once again there wasn't any water flowing. They do have a picnic area here.

Continuing on our drive past the Noxon Reservoir we reached Trout Creek (pop 261 as of 2000). I later found out it was the Huckleberry Capital of Montana; well shoot - why didn't we stop and shop?! Looked like they were having one heck of a party here :) as we pulled over to a gas station to wash the windows. Come to find out, per her Facebook posting, a former high school colleague was there with a bunch of people; if I had only known.

Once again we crossed over the Clark Fork as we made our way toward Thompson Falls, another quaint town on this route.
We stopped at Thompson Falls (pop 1313) for fuel; it's a pretty little town named after British explorer, geographer and fur trader David Thompson, who founded a North West Company fur trading post called Saleesh House in 1809. We would pass by a sign that talks about the Saleesh House. Thompson's name was found in many areas on our Glacial Route.

We continued on our way passing by Thompson River Lumber and through the Koo-Koo-Sint Big Horn Sheep area including a pullout for viewing (we didn't stop).
During the peak viewing months of October through December anywhere from seventy to one hundred bighorn sheep may be grazing in the mountain meadow just off Highway 200.

About 20 minutes later we arrived at Plains, pop 1048. The town straddles the Clark Fork River. It has a place called Dew Duck Inn; always get a kick out of names like that and the Dew Drop Inn etc. We continued through the town and stayed on the 200 until it crossed the Clark Fork at Paradise (pop 184) for the last time as the 200 veered east and now started to follow the Flathead River. The Flathead River starts in the Rockies of Canada. It is 158 miles long. We were hoping to find a place to stay in one of these quaint towns but alas, no Inns :( . We should have stayed at Thompson Falls.

We passed by a train bridge across the river, those are always so cool. This is a pretty drive too as the topography changes a little more as you get into the golden hills and sporadic forested areas. We kept on driving just past the intersection with the 93 that goes north. We pulled over at Ravalli (pop 119) to see if maybe we could get a room in Polson using the car's GPS listings. Well all the Inns were full at Polson (altho we would find out later that one of the Inns was not listed and had availability) so we ended up driving all the way to Missoula (63 miles). Once again, at the outskirts of Missoula we pulled over and called to get a room. It seemed that Missoula (pop 69,000+) was all booked up too and boy did we get a yucky place to stay :yuck: (it was under renovation).

The next morning we toured old Fort Missoula, wow was that ever a treasure trove! We headed up the 200 to catch the 93 to St Ignatius (mission), the Bison Range and our stay at Polson before driving back to Gt Falls Intl the next day.

Here is some video: Lake Pend Oreille to Cabinet Gorge
Noxon to along Flathead River
For me, sometimes it's just as much about the journey as the destination.
Oh, and once in awhile, don't forget to look back at the trail you've traveled.
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