Driving from Boise to Missoula: Best Route?

Questions on how we spend our money and our time - consumer goods and services, home and vehicle, leisure and recreational activities
Post Reply
User avatar
JupiterJones
Posts: 2555
Joined: Tue Aug 24, 2010 3:25 pm
Location: Nashville, TN

Driving from Boise to Missoula: Best Route?

Post by JupiterJones » Wed Oct 04, 2017 1:29 pm

Any Bogleheads with good knowledge of Idaho driving? Because I have virtually none!

Google maps is suggesting heading north (toward McCall), picking up 95, etc, then eventually east on 12 to Missoula.

But it also points out an alternate route that's only about 10-15 minutes slower: Cutting east through the Boise National Forest, mostly via 21, then grabbing 93 to head north to Missoula.

My trusty road atlas (yes, I still keep one in the car!) marks that second option as a "scenic route", which seems like a big plus to me. We're not in a rush and would love to see some of Idaho's beauty. Is it really more scenic than option 1?

Is one better than the other as far as a availability of gas, food, restrooms, etc.?

Should weather play a factor in my choice?

Any other routes I should consider instead of these two?

Thanks!

JJ
Last edited by JupiterJones on Wed Oct 04, 2017 2:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Stay on target...

livesoft
Posts: 56365
Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2007 8:00 pm

Re: Driving from Boise to Missoula: Best Route?

Post by livesoft » Wed Oct 04, 2017 1:39 pm

Without even looking at a map before I respond, I would suggest checking on wildfires when making plans.
This signature message sponsored by sscritic: Learn to fish.

whomever
Posts: 643
Joined: Sat Apr 21, 2012 5:21 pm

Re: Driving from Boise to Missoula: Best Route?

Post by whomever » Wed Oct 04, 2017 1:59 pm

Either way you have to go over passes. It's not quite winter yet, but the mountains have already got snow.

Hwy 12 is a fun road in summer on a motorcycle. It's de rigueur to take a picture in front of the sign:

https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-et__Dh0qgGM/ ... o-Pass.jpg

It's a little tedious in a car, just trying to get to Missoula, but then neither route is a turnpike.
(BTW, despite the file name, that's nowhere close to Lolo Pass)

There's an USFS campground near Stanley that has hot springs, if you can fit that into your schedule.

I kinda prefer the scenery via 93, but it's a close call.

(I could be wrong, but I think fire season is largely past; fall has arrived in a hurry)

User avatar
JupiterJones
Posts: 2555
Joined: Tue Aug 24, 2010 3:25 pm
Location: Nashville, TN

Re: Driving from Boise to Missoula: Best Route?

Post by JupiterJones » Wed Oct 04, 2017 4:52 pm

Thanks, whomever. I hadn't thought about potential differences in "twistiness". I'm probably leaning toward the option that requires slightly fewer barf bags for my passenger. :D I"m assuming that would be the second route?
Stay on target...

ofckrupke
Posts: 263
Joined: Mon Jan 10, 2011 2:26 pm

Re: Driving from Boise to Missoula: Best Route?

Post by ofckrupke » Wed Oct 04, 2017 5:11 pm

The last 10-12 miles of the segment from Idaho City into Lowman is a winding descent with some decreasing radius turns for extra challenge, but that is really the only part of the second route that I recall as burdensome to drive. The scenic classification is merited.

whomever
Posts: 643
Joined: Sat Apr 21, 2012 5:21 pm

Re: Driving from Boise to Missoula: Best Route?

Post by whomever » Wed Oct 04, 2017 5:41 pm

I"m assuming that would be the second route?
It just has lots of the normal foot square 'squiggly road' signs; I don't recall anything warranting the giant sign :-).

montanagirl
Posts: 786
Joined: Thu Nov 19, 2009 4:55 pm
Location: Montana

Re: Driving from Boise to Missoula: Best Route?

Post by montanagirl » Wed Oct 04, 2017 5:45 pm

93 is better for gas and rest rooms...at least in the Bitterroot.

User avatar
F150HD
Posts: 1041
Joined: Fri Sep 18, 2015 7:49 pm

Re: Driving from Boise to Missoula: Best Route?

Post by F150HD » Wed Oct 04, 2017 6:42 pm

have ridden both 12 and 21 on a motorcycle, each was spectacular.

U.S. Highway 12 — Idaho's long and winding road

User avatar
JupiterJones
Posts: 2555
Joined: Tue Aug 24, 2010 3:25 pm
Location: Nashville, TN

Re: Driving from Boise to Missoula: Best Route?

Post by JupiterJones » Thu Oct 05, 2017 12:51 pm

Thanks, Krupke, Whom, MT Girl, and F150!
Stay on target...

an_asker
Posts: 1790
Joined: Thu Jun 27, 2013 2:15 pm

Re: Driving from Boise to Missoula: Best Route?

Post by an_asker » Thu Oct 05, 2017 1:04 pm

Sorry to hijack the thread ... how is that area as far as deer are concerned? I know they're likely to be a nuisance probably in the summer, not right now, but I was wondering if they do wander out on to the roads in Idaho/Montana as well? And when is the best time for fall colors (now is probably too late for up north - TN might be nice right about now!).

There is a pretty adventurous (for bikers) highway in TN as well - dragon-something-or-the-other. I'm yet to go there though.

User avatar
JupiterJones
Posts: 2555
Joined: Tue Aug 24, 2010 3:25 pm
Location: Nashville, TN

Re: Driving from Boise to Missoula: Best Route?

Post by JupiterJones » Thu Oct 05, 2017 4:36 pm

Ah yes, the Tail of the Dragon. I'm not a motorcycle person, but I've heard it's a great ride.

Here's a good map for seeing what the foliage may be like in different part of the US on different dates this year: https://smokymountains.com/fall-foliage-map/
Stay on target...

User avatar
AllieTB1323
Posts: 146
Joined: Tue Mar 24, 2015 10:17 am
Location: Desert Washington State

Re: Driving from Boise to Missoula: Best Route?

Post by AllieTB1323 » Thu Oct 05, 2017 6:26 pm

Both my wife and I lived in Idaho and still have relatives there. Any road trip from Boise to Missoula will be an adventure. Please be aware of the elevations of the mountain passes. The weather changes quickly. Prepare according. Also from experience, if you are driving from dusk to dawn be on the lookout for deer and elk crossing the roadway.

Post Reply