Ted’s essays

Exploring The Bitterroot: Skalkaho Falls

It is officially Bitterroot motorcycle riding season. Tourist bikes have been exploring up and down The Bitterroot River on Highway 93 for most of a month now. A skosh tardy in getting my bikes where I wanted them for this season, I started a little behind the early bikers, but not too much.

Right at the top of my 2023 bike ride bucket list was a reconnoiter of Highway 38 between Grantsdale and Phillipsburg, Montana. It is right in my neighborhood, lightly traveled and reputed to be quite scenic.

I was also warned repeatedly by people who have been there, done that, to explore it on my more maneuverable, agile Dr Zee (350 pounds) rather than jumping right in with my highway bike (550 pounds). I may be hard-headed, but I did accept that advice as it came from people in my boldness league, but with additional real-world experience.

They were correct.

I ran less than half of the narrow, twisty gravel road with its severe dropoffs and unpredictable auto and pickup tourist traffic – that was enough. I don’t need any more of that.

If there ever is a return trip in my future, it will be completed before 10:00 am. I suspect most of the traffic comes along mid-day rather than early.

According to dangerousroads.org, “The road can be pretty hairy. Gravel, narrow, straight drop offs, no guard rails, curves so you can’t see what’s coming at you around the corner… Beware if you are driving on the outside edge and meet a big truck. If you have acrophobia (fear of heights), strongly recommended to drive the road westbound only (i.e. from Phillipsburg to Hamilton) as that way you’ll be hugging the mountainside instead of hugging the sheer drop-offs.”

Yeah. I heard that…

Saw that.

It was reminiscant of my Pike’s Peak run last year with my new-to-me Patrol bike.
Just replace the lovely asphalt with loosey-goosey gravel.

Did I mention that the views are wonderful?

Here is a short video clip of the falls:Skalkaho Falls July 15th
Photo to the right.

The trip is worth it?

To live here and not have seen Skalkaho Falls was … uh … well, I can hardly consider myself a Bitterrooter if I haven’t at least been there once.

To come around the corner of this gravel road and see the falls straight ahead is a treat … and a “MUST STOP” looksee moment.

Will I make the run I had considered from Phillipsburg to Grantsdale on my BMW?

Nah. This was close enough.