Riding the Kootenays and Bitterroots

Highway 3, east of Hope, B.C.

It was time, once again, to join my cousin, Bob, in a motorcycle ride from Anacortes, Washington to Kalispell, Montana to visit our Uncle Warren, Cousin Dianne and her husband Dick. This time, Bob's wife, Ginny, would ride along on the back of his Honda Goldwing. We planned to extend the trip by riding south from Kalispell to Salmon, Idaho, where we would spend a couple of days with Ginny's sister, Tina and her husband, Bob.

Once again we would travel eastward through Canada, this time on Highway 3, a beautiful road which roughly hugs the U.S. border, undulating as necessary to get though mountain passes. We would travel first through the Cascade Mountain Range, and then through the Kootenay Mountains. When we reached the Rocky Mountains, we would turn south onto Highway 93, which would take us across the border into Western Montana and the Flathead Valley. After our visit with Dick and Dianne, we would continue further south on Highway 93 another 300 miles, moving in and out of the Bitterroot Mountains on the way to Salmon, Idaho.

Bob and Ginny rode up from Vancouver, WA, and spent a day with us visiting our small clan of relatives here in Anacortes. On a clear but crisp Saturday we left Anacortes and headed for the Sumas, WA, border, which would take us into Canada at Abbotsford, an eastern suburb of Vancouver. Only six cars preceded us at the border, and we passed through immigration quickly. Headed the other way at the border, however, was a line of cars at least a mile long, Canadian shoppers intent on a Saturday shopping trip in the U.S. Just a couple of miles north of the border, we rode onto a busy, northeast bound Hwy1/Hwy3. Sixty miles up the freeway, these highways would split at the tourist town of Hope, with Highway 1 headed northeast to cross the Rockies into Calgary. Highway 3 would go east and somewhat south to parallel the U.S. border.

We lost about half the traffic at the split, but Highway 3 had steady traffic which moved at a quick pace through the Cascade Mountains. It was a Saturday, but still I was surprised at the number of vehicles towing boats, trailering ATVs and hauling kayaks on the roof. Canadians love their outdoor activities. After a couple of hours we settled into the Similkameen Valley, and its towns of Keremos and Cawston. Here was the beginning of vinyard and orchard country. Fruitstands lined the roadway, and on a motorcycle it was easy to pick up the fragrance of various fruits. Eventually, we climbed out of the valley over one more pass, and then descended the last of the Cascades steeply into the wine center of Ossoyos. Recreation was in full swing on Lake Ossoyos, with boats pulling skiers and parasailers, and hotels posting no-vacancy signs. Summer was almost over, and Canada was making the most of it before another harsh winter set in.

Past Ossoyos, the traffic thinned dramatically. We continued to twist through hills, but made good time. Eventually the hills turned to mountains with a thick forest of pine. We were in the Kootenay Mountains. The population was thinner here, and we had to be careful not to let our fuel tanks get low. Towns were cute, but about 50 miles apart. At about 5 PM, we reached our destination for the day, Christina Lake. We had chosen the Park Lane Motel, a series of cottages about a block from the Lake. Yelp.com had said it was quiet, and it was. Although the buildings were old, the beds were comfortable, and the owners kept the property looking like a park.


Dropping down into Ossoyos

We descend steeply off the last of the Cascades into Ossoyos, B.C.. From here, extending south to central Washington, is a fertile band of orchards and vineyards.


Park Lane Motel in Christina Lake, B.C.

The Park Lane Motel was an old style of residence, but it showed pride of ownership and was comfortable. My Yamaha FJR is on the left, and Bob's well appointed Goldwing ahead.


Christina Lake

Like Lake Tahoe in minature, Christina Lake is surrounded by the heavily wooded moountains, in this case, the Kootenays. Ginny and Bob stand in the cool water after a full day of riding. Sprinkled among the Kootenays are some very adequate ski areas with quite attractive rates.




The next morning was cold and somewhat foggy. We plugged in our electric vests and headed out for some of the finest riding I have ever done. Highway 3 was a beautifully maintained smooth surface, moving up and down through mountains in alternately sweeping curves and occasional tight twisties. There was no traffic; perhaps a vehicle every ten minutes, and as likely as not it was a pair of motorcycles, enjoying what we were enjoying. The speed limit was often 100 km/hr (62 mph), which didn't require much fudging to make the turns really fun. The Canadians knew the road and rode it hard. We were passed by a Harley, which never happens, ridden by a guy who clearly knew the road. It was a great morning.

Tunnel on Hwy 53


A tunnel on Hwy 3.


Gas station in Castlegar

Filling up in Castlegar. With often 50 miles between services, we had to keep fuel in the tanks.


Barn on Hwy 3

Leaving the Kootenays behind, we stare at the west edge of the Rockies.


Kootenay Mountains

Riding beside the Kootenay River.


Kootenay Mountains 2

When we reached the Rocky Mountains, we turned south onto Highway 93 and headed towards Montana.

National Hotel

An old hotel converted to office space.


Highway 93


Moving southbound down Highway 93.

Bob's Goldwing


Stopping for lunch.


Carved bear


Dianne's garden decorations.


Recumbant rabbit.



Meeting with Uncle Warren in the Vetrans' home where he lives. Warren hit Normandy the day after D Day, and saw nothing but intense action for two years.



Warren and Dianne

Uncle Warren and his daughter, Dianne.



Soda Fountain, Kalispell

Norm's News is an old styled soda fountain, so it was important that we stop for a visit.

Ginny, Bob, Dick and Dianne