Friday, May 16, 2014

Elko, Nevada to Boise, Idaho on the BMW motorcycle

Traveling on our BMW motorcycle gives us the opportunity to find less-traveled roads and explore parts of the country we would never see on the Interstate highway system.

Today we started in Elko, NV and rode 259 miles north to Boise, ID. We rode for 190 miles on Nevada 225/Idaho 51 before we made our first turn of the day.

Sagebrush lined the road with views of the Independence Mountains to the west. The only trees we saw were around isolated ranches; otherwise the land was covered in rocks or sagebrush.

The road twisted through the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, rising up and down and then sweeping around the steep, rocky hills that fell straight down to the narrow - or often nonexistent - highway shoulder.

We've been traveling through the high desert for the past two days on our trip from Arizona to Boise, Idaho and I was excited to see the Wild Horse Reservoir that stretched out into the valley. It was built in the 1930's to store water for irrigation, and is also stocked with trout and bass for fishing.

Owyhee, NV was the first town we came to - 97 miles after we started our trip today. It's on the Duck Valley Reservation, home to the Shoshone and Paiute tribes. Luckily there was one gas station/grocery store in town so we could take a break and fill up the tank.

We crossed into Idaho less than one mile from the gas station, and rode on what was now called Idaho 51 - the same road we'd been on all day, just renumbered from Nevada to Idaho. The first 43 miles the road shot straight through the flat landscape with sagebrush covering every visible area. This is open range country, with signs warning us to watch out for 'cows on the road'.

Then the road started curving and sweeping around rolling and rocky hills, keeping the ride interesting until we finally started seeing bright green, irrigated fields and towering stacks of hay.

We crossed the Snake River and left the isolation of a 2-lane highway with almost no traffic and no stop signs or traffic signals for a city highway with stores, gas stations, traffic and stoplights.

It's a shock to our system to see green grass, rivers filled with water instead of a mere trickle or dry, and city congestion. Boise is the capitol of Idaho, and the most populous city in the state with just over 200,000 people and over 600,000 in the metropolitan area.  Early settlers must have felt the same way, because the name "Boise" comes from the French traders who named the river "la rivière boisée" which translates to "the wooded river".

Tomorrow I run the Famous Idaho Potato marathon along the Boise River greenspace. We'll take a rest day from the motorcycle, then Sunday head for a 3-day trip home along a different route, looking for new roads to explore.


  1. Good luck with the run today, I hope you have good weather.

    The trip to Boise looks lovely with so many different types of landscape to see. I always enjoy being able to smell the moisture in the air when riding a motorcycle into a more lush environment out of the desert.

  2. I agree with you about the smells, until we're riding through cattle country and the air smells strongly of manure :)

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