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Hot springs every night? Lewis & Clark didn't have them, but you will on this tour. Begin the 5th stage of the epic journey on the eastern edge of the Rocky Mountain Range. Follow the explorers as they continue searching for a northwest passage. The explorers envisioned a single ridge of mountains separating navigable water between the Pacific Coast and the Missouri river - and therefore the East. This crucial leg would determine whether or not the West Coast could offer a commercial trade line via rivers. Could it be done without sailing around the southern tip of South America? Or would they need to find success through other means?
Hot springs notwithstanding, the Rocky Mountains loom large. Will you be able to hop a canoe to the Pacific? The answer lies on the other side.
Meet in Great Falls. Ride to Boulder Hot Springs.
Meet in Great Falls. Shuttle a short distance to Cascade for a bike fitting. Take a scenic ride on historic Route 1 as it shadows the twists and turns of the Missouri River, slicing through deep cuts into the igneous rock formations. Hop onto a boat and explore the Gates of the Mountains. In Meriwether Lewis’ words “. . . this evening we entered much the most remarkable clifts that we have yet seen. these clifts rise from the waters edge on either side perpendicularly to the hight of 1200 feet. every object here wears a dark and gloomy aspect. the tow[er]ing and projecting rocks in many places seem ready to tumble on us. the river appears to have forced it's way through this immence body of solid rock for the distance of 5¾ miles and where it makes it's exit below has thrown on either side vast collumns of rock mountains high. the river appears to have woarn a passage just the width of it’s channel or 150 yds. it is deep from side to side nor is ther in the 1st 3 miles of this distance a spot except one of a few yards in extent on which a man could rest the soal of his foot.”
After docking, shuttle to tonight's lodging at Boulder Hot Springs Resort. Did we mention yet that there are hot springs on every night of this leg of the journey? Don't forget your swimsuit.
Ride from Boulder Hot Spring to Three Forks: 55 miles.
Continue pedaling south today with the Rockies looming large to the west. Will you find a way through? The Missouri River runs to Three Forks, then branches into the Jefferson, Madison and Gallatin Rivers. Here is the end - or perhaps the beginning - of the Missouri River. Tonight: stay at the Sacagawea Hotel.
Three Forks to Dillon: 87 miles.
Follow the Jefferson River today, passing Beaverhead Rock. In 1805, Sacagawea identified this landmark as near her people's summer retreat: "...she informed us it was not very distant from the summer retreat of her nation....This hill she says her nation calls the Beaver's Head, from a conceived resemblance of its figure to the head of that animal...as it is now all important with us to meet with those people as soon as possible I determined to proceed tomorrow with a small party...."
Today’s ride is still mostly flat, but the Rockies are inevitable, looming tall now on your right and undeniably in front. Tomorrow the climbing begins. Discovery awaits: is North America indeed divided by a single ridge? Tonight, stay at the Montana High Country Guest Lodge. Enjoy the views of the Pioneer Mountains and the Grasshopper Valley.
Explore Lemhi Pass at the Continental Divide.
The Lewis and Clark party climbed to the Continental Divide at Lemhi Pass, but not quite as soon as they'd hoped. It took nearly a month of negotiating and translating for Sacagawea to help facilitate a trade with the Shoshone Nation: horses now in exchange for modern guns on the return trip. The Lewis & Clark party didn’t get all they wanted, but it was enough to carry on. Today, van to Lemhi Pass in the Bitterroot Range portion of the Rocky Mountains. Though this is the point where the Corps of Discovery crossed the Continental Divide, Lemhi Pass is not rideable on most road bikes. Nevertheless, it's not to be missed. Marvel at the rippling range spread out as far as the eye can see. Hike the trails and take photos of the Continental Divide. Stay one more night at the Montana High Country Guest Lodge.
Ride Lost Trail Pass: 77 miles.
Test your legs today on the route Lewis and Clark took on their eastbound journey. Drop down into the valley, then climb right back up. Ride through gorgeous prairie lands lined with uncountable peaks. Climb to Lost Trail Pass (7,014' elevation) for a short, fast descent into Lost Creek Hot Springs Resort. Tonight: thank goodness, another hot spring resort! Time to soak, then sleep.
Lost Trail to Missoula: 85 miles.
Descend next to the Bitterroot River today, passing the turnoff for Lolo Pass. Ride into Missoula. Staying on to ride the last two legs of the trip? Missoula is a good place to rest well and recharge. The last two parts of your journey to the West Coast will be both challenging and rewarding.
As an optional extra, a person traveling solo on any inn-to-inn trip may reserve a room for his or her exclusive use. This will guarantee you a private room and private bath every night. Unlike other tour companies, if you're willing to share a room, there is no extra charge for coming solo, no matter when you sign up for the tour - even if you wind up with a private room by default.