DAN PETERSON'S BIKERS' GUIDE
TO LESS TRAVELED ROADS
I’ve been riding motorcycles for
a mere eight years and only during the summer months.
During that period of time I’ve averaged about
12,000 miles a season. In each of the eight year seasons
I have taken a spring ride into the Southwest and a
late summer ride into the Northwest. Last year (2005)
I thought it might be interesting to actually begin
to document my travel and produce a sociologically oriented
motorcycle travel guide. The travel would begin and
end at the center of the universe (according to Black
Elk). Well, the project started out well but it wasn’t
long before my Participant Observation became mostly
Participant. What survived was more of a “tip”
sheet than a guide accompanied by pithy sociological
insights. That’s o.k. If the tips prove useful,
then all is well. I will, no doubt, be continuing with
the tip sheet as long as there is an interest and Dr.
Simmons remains tolerant (both could give out at any
Chair of the infamous motorcycle group,
Sons of Sociology, and occasional road
Spearfish S.D. to Ten Sleep Wy.—
Approximately 300 miles
Begin by getting on highway 14. Highway
14 will take you through Spearfish Canyon and to Cheyenne
Crossing. From Cheyenne Crossing turn south on highway
85 to Newcastle Wy. and Moorcroft. Ride through Moorcroft
and you will see a sign on your left that is county
road 51. In reality it is old highway 14/16 and it parallels
the interstate all the way to Gillette Wy. Stay on highway
14/16 and it will take you through Gillette and on to
Leitner and the Leitner Country Club (distance from
Spearfish is 200 miles). You’ll want to stop here
for a short game of golf and a beer before you head
on to Buffalo. If you decide you want to stay at Leitner
for another round of golf and a few more beers, they
provide five cabins in the back that range from $45.00
to $55.00 per night. You will want to check their availability
by calling 307-758-4343. Nine miles down the road is
the small berg of Clearmont. Clearmont has the only
gas station between Gillette and Buffalo. If you decide
to stay in Buffalo, go to the old city center and take
a look at the Occidental Hotel (and museum). Attached
to the hotel is a very fine eatery and saloon.
Simmons Introduces Dan Peterson
Dan Peterson has been a close friend since
we met in the long, hot summer of 1977 while
traveling and studying in India together on
a weird group Fulbright Fellowship trip for
educators. It was Dan Peterson I talked into
going with me when I wanted to explore the
dark back alleys of Calcutta, peer into the
Monkey Temple, or swim – fully clothed
– between masses of sharks in the Bay
In the decades since we – and our
families – became friends, Dan and
I have gone on other odd trips together,
usually to places our families didn’t
want to risk. When I needed to go research
Bangkok and its AIDS-infected sex industry
in 1992 for a story I wanted to write for
PLAYBOY (“Dying in Bangkok”),
it was Dan Peterson who suggested we spend
weeks wandering all around Japan and Hong
Kong on the way there. It was also Dan P.
who said “Let’s go for it”
when we flew into Bangkok on the last plane
allowed in during a shooting revolution.
If a place has beer, Dan Peterson will go
to it. (And we were only a little non-plussed
when we were greeted at the Bangkok airport
by our driver from the Oriental Hotel carrying
a sign saying – MR. AND MRS. DAN.)
In real life, Peterson was – until
2005 when he retired – a PhD (“Dr.
Dan” I like to call him) professor
of sociology (and head of the Department)
at Black Hills State in Spearfish, South
Dakota. In decades of traveling there to
hang out with Dan, I’ve discovered
that Spearfish – and the nearby Black
Hills – are some of the Best Least
Known Wonderful Places in America. It’s
also near Sturgis, S.D., which every summer
– as most of you know – becomes
the site for the largest motorcycle (read
Harley, read Hawg) rally in the world. Peterson
first started studying the biker subculture
as a sociologist – producing learned
papers and videos on the subject –
but very quickly he went over to the Dark
Side (as in dark beer). He bought his first
motorcyle around age 50, before he knew
how to ride one, and his ride home from
the store, so local legend in Spearfish
goes, was a case of . . . BRRRMMMM . . .FLOP
. . .. BRRMMM . . . FLOP . . . . BRMMM FLOP.
Now his bikes have grown into Harleys too
heavy to lift if he flops.
The retired Dr. Dan Peterson now spends
a good part of each year motorcycle-touring
America and Canada. His trips are rarely
without adventure. In these installments,
he’ll share some of his tour tips
with those of you who might want to ride
hard, see much, eat well, drink deep, sleep
cheap, and die young. (Scratch that last
You may wonder why all such tours have
to start from Spearfish, South Dakota, but
– besides that being the place Peterson
lives and has to start from (duh) –
he reminds us that the great Sioux prophet
and visionary, Black Elk, discovered that
Harney Peak, very close to Spearfish, happens
to be the center of the universe.
Some of you may also be wondering what
a sociologist’s Harley tours are doing
on a writer’s web site. To those of
you, I say only . . . BRRRMMMM . . . FLOP
. . . BRRMMM . .FLOP.
-- Dan Simmons
The only problem with the Occidental is that
the rooms are on the pricy side. They range from $110-$165
a night but the proprietor has been known to negotiate. You
can call for reservations at 307-684-0451 or 307-684-8989.
If you decide to ride on to the destination point of Ten Sleep,
you will find two more places for lodging before you reach
Ten Sleep. About forty miles out of Buffalo, on the left hand
side of the highway is Meadowlark Resort. They charge $75.00
per night on the week-days and $85.00 per night on the week-ends.
You can reach the resort by calling 888-Big-Horn. Two more
miles down the road from the resort, on the right hand side
of the road is Deerhaven Lodge. They can provide you with
either a motel room or a cabin for the same price as Meadowlark
Resort. You can contact them for reservations by calling 1-888-244-4674
or 1-307 366-2424.
Eighteen more miles down the winding canyon road you will
come to my designated stopping point-Ten Sleep. Ten Sleeps
has two motels, a RV/camping area, a gas station, several
bars and restaurants. Of the two motels, I would recommend
the Log Cabin Motel. They charge $40.00 to $60.00 per night
and you can call them at 307-366-2320. The other motel is
called the Valley. You can also rent a primitive cabin in
town at Broek’s RV Park. Cabins here cost $35.00 a night
or you can camp for $14.00. Call them at 307-366-2250 for
Ten Sleep to Red Lodge, Montana—
approximately 230 miles
As you leave Ten Sleep you will see a sign on
your right that says highway 31 (Washane County #47), take
it. This county road will take you to Manderson and Grey Bull.
About mid-way on this road you will come to a stop sign. You
will want to turn left to Manderson however, if you want to
take a short detour (about ten miles each way), turn right
and ride to Hyattville.
ride is scenic and so is Hyattville. Hyattville also has a
diner, bar and cabins for rent. Check it out if you have the
time and inclination. If you take the turn to the left to
Manderson you will come upon highway 31 to Grey Bull. Upon
reaching Grey Bull you will turn west on highway 14 that will
take to Cody and beyond. If, for some reason, you decide to
stay and play in Cody, check out the Erma Hotel. You can call
the Erma for reservations at 307-587-4221. Their rooms will
cost you about $85.00 per night. If you choose to go on to
Red Lodge, you will want to get on highway 120. About twenty
miles down 120 you will turn onto highway 296 and a few miles
down 296 you will turn onto highway 212. Highway 212 will
take you over the Bear Tooth Mountains and Bear Tooth pass
into Red Lodge, Montana. Red Lodge has many places to stay
however I will recommend a few that I have experienced. First,
in the center of town, is a fine but a bit pricy hotel-the
Pollard. The Pollard does have a few single rooms for $85.00
but the others move up from there to $280.00. A good clean
motel that isn’t far from downtown Red Lodge is the
Yodler. Rates here are $89.00 plus tax. You can call them
at 406-446-1435. Another interesting possibility for a nights
lodging is the Rock Creek Family Resort outside of Red Lodge.
They charge $112.00 for a Lodge room and $98.00 for a cabin.
Call them at 1-800-667-1119 for reservations.
Red Lodge to Seeley Lake, Montana—
Approximately 300 miles
Find highway 78 out of Red Lodge and take it.
This highway meanders through and near a number of interesting
bergs until you reach Columbus. You will come upon a stop
sign and intersection when you get to Columbus. Turn left
(a right turn will take you directly to Interstate 94) where
you see a sign pointing to Rapelye. A mile or so down the
road there will be a turn to the right to Rapelye, DON’T
take it. Instead, continue straight and the road you are on
will parallel the Interstate for about ten miles. Eventually
you will have to get on I 94 but this road will save you about
ten miles of Interstate frenzy. Once you get on me 94 wests
you will travel for about thirty miles until you see an exit
sign to White Sulpher Springs. However, if you should get
hungry or thirsty before you reach the White Sulpher Springs
exit, I would suggest pulling of the interstate at Reed Point.
Here you will find the funky Old West Hotel and Saloon (the
Wild horse). Should you also need a room, they will provide
you with one for either $45.00 or $65.00. Exiting at the White
Sulpher Springs exit will put you on highway 89 to Clyde Park
and Wilsail. Eventually the highway will meet highway 12 west
to Townsend. Highway 12 will take you through Townsend and
on to Helena. Stay on highway 12 upon reaching Helena to Avon.
At Avon, turn north onto highway 141. Highway 141 will turn
into highway 200 west. You next turn will be off of highway
141 and onto highway 83 to Seeley Lake. Once you get to Seeley
Lake you will want to stay for the evening (or two) at the
Double Arrow Lodge. This Lodge is just off highway 83 and
offers a very nice golf course, cabins and lodge rooms and
some of the finest dining in Montana. The cabins range from
$80.00 to $126.00. Call the lodge at 406-677-2777 or 800-468-0777.
An alternative to the Double Arrow is about fifteen miles
down the road. The Holland Lake Lodge is off the highway,
on a gravel road, about five miles. It is the oldest lodge
in Montana and it also offers some of best dining in Montana.
Their rates are around $115.00 a night but that rate includes
breakfast, lunch, a four course dinner, etc. Call the Holland
Lake Lodge at 877-925-6343 or 406-754-2282. You might also
like to take advantage of a great steak house and bar that
is only two miles down the highway from the Holland Lake Lodge
turn off. It is called the Hungry Bear Steak House.
Seeley Lake to Creston, British Columbia
approximately 300 miles
As you leave the Seeley Lake area on highway
83, be aware that the highway is notorious for the number
of deer that are hit every year. Stay alert! Once you get
to Big Fork, Montana, turn west onto highway 82 and shortly,
onto highway 93 north going to Whitefish and Eureka. You will
cross into Canada at Roosville and highway 93 will turn into
highway 3/95 at Elko. Continue on highway 3 through Fernie
and Cranbrook until you reach either Yahk or Creston. Both
towns offer interesting accommodations but I think Creston
would be your best bet for the nights stay. I don’t
have any specific recommendations for Creston so you’re
on your own.
Creston, B.C. to Lumby, B.C.
approximately 250 miles
you leave Creston, find highway 3A north. This highway will
take you along one of the most memorable rides of the trip.
At the end of the road you will find a ferry that will take
you across the lake. It’s free and takes about 45 min.
to cross. Continue on 3A (you have little choice) until you
reach Nelson. Nelson is a beautiful town with three small
colleges, one of which is an internationally known Art Institute.
You will not be staying there but a cup of coffee or breakfast
is a good idea. The Hume Hotel has about everything one could
ask for, including a first rate restaurant and if circumstances
dictate, their rooms are first rate and very reasonable at
about $80.00 U.S. dollars for two. Call them at 250-352-5331
for reservations. From Nelson you should travel north and
catch highway 6 north to Naksup. Eventually, you will reach
Fourquier where you will take another ferry but this ferry
ride is only about twenty minuets. Before you get on the ferry,
gas up and have a beer at the Mushroom café. Across
the lake continue on highway 6 to Lumby (or Cherryville).
Cherryville (a couple of miles before Lumby) has a number
of places to stay the night. The first is the Gold Panner
Campground and Café. The Gold Panner has cabins that
you can rent for $47.00 Canadian but you will need your own
towel. Call them at 250-547-2025 or 250-547-2185. Other possibilities
are Kokanee at Sugar Lake (a lodge and resort) and the Keefer
Lake Wilderness Resort. Call Kokanee Lodge at 250-547-6517
and the Keefer Lake Resort’s number is 250-878-5548.
Lumby, B.C. to Spraque or Loon Lake
approximately 300 miles
Today might prove a bit tricky in terms of
finding a good spot to stay the night. After you leave Lumby
and begin to get closer to Vernon on highway 6, the traffic
begins to pick up and the ride becomes a bit more frantic.
However that too shall pass. Ride from Vernon south to Kelowna.
At Kelowna you need to turn east on to highway 33 that will
take you to McCulloch. Eventually highway 33 will meet up
with highway 3 that runs east to west. Turn west on highway
3 to Osoyoos. You will turn south at Osoyoos on highway 97
and cross back into the United States and the state of Washington.
Continue on highway 97 until you reach Tonasket and turn east
onto highway 20. This will take you through the towns of Republic
and Kettle Falls and Colville. Highway 20 will meet highway
395 south just past Kettle Falls. Take highway 395 south through
Colville, Chewelah to Loon Lake. There are a few places to
stay the night in the Loon Lake/ Deer Lake area. Two that
you might want to check out are The Inn at White Pine (a bed
and breakfast) where the rooms go from $75.00 to $85.00. Their
number is 507-233-0255. The other spot is the Deer Lake Resort
(on Deer Lake). They also provide cabins and you can call
them at 1-509-233-2081.
P.S., If you are interested in Western history be sure to
read what you can about the Nez Perce, Chief Joseph and White
Bird before you leave. For the next four days you will be
riding through the country where the drama of the Nez Perce
meets the U.S. military played it out.
Loon Lake, Washington to Lowell, Idaho
approximately 230 miles
Highway 395 out of the Loon Lake area will split of onto
highway 231 south to Ford, Reardon and Davenport. At Davenport
you need to pick up highway 23 to Harrington, Spraque and
St. John. St. John has a nine whole golf course and a good
bar. There is a nice ride from the bar at St. John to Colfax
and you can find the trail by riding from St. John to approximately
mile marker 3 where you will see a sign that says Green Hollow
Road. Turn right on this road and follow it to Colfax. From
Colfax, take highway 195 to Lewiston Idaho. Highway 12 out
of Lewiston will take you on a memorable ride along the Snake
River (about 200 miles). You will have to take about ten to
twelve miles of interstate highway before you can turn off
on highway 12. About half way up the Snake River and highway
12 is Lowell, Idaho. On your left is a motel and restaurant
and on your right are a number of cabins, some of which are
right on the river. Stay here. The cabins range from $79.00
to 99.00 and the hotel rooms are $55.00. Call for reservations
at Three Rivers Resort 208-926-4430 or 888-926-4430. If you
want to ride another thirty-three miles up to Lolo pass there
is the Lochsa Lodge on the right hand side of the road. This
lodge charges between $60.00 and $75.00 for a cabin and $58.00
for a room in the lodge. Call them at 208-942-3405 for reservations.
Lowell, Idaho to Jackson, Montana-
approximately 200 miles
From Lowell, Idaho continue up highway 12, over Lolo pass
and down into Hamilton and Sula. Ten miles or so down the
road from Sula you will turn east on highway 43 (highway 278)
that will take you through the Big Hole (a large “battle”
took place here between the fleeing Nez Perce and the pursuing
U.S. military) area of Montana. Wisdom and the Antler bar
is a wise stop but you will want to continue on to Jackson
on highway 43 south until you reach the Jackson Hot Springs
Lodge. Stay here but get reservations. Call them at 406-834-3151.
Jackson, Montana to Bozeman, Montana
approximately 170 miles
Ride out of Jackson toward Dillon on highway 41. Highway
41 will take you through Twin Bridges and highway 287 south.
Riding highway 287 south will take you through Adler, Virginia
City and Ennis. At Ennis, turn onto highway 80/84 (Norris
Hot Springs) and on to Bozeman. Check out the Blue Sky Motel
on the east end of Bozeman. Their rates are reasonable ($53.00-$65.00)
and it’s nicely located. Call them at 406-587-2311 or
Bozeman, Montana to Spearfish, S.D.
approximately 400 miles
Ride out of Bozeman until you get on Interstate highway
90 east. Ride for about 170 miles, through Billings, until
you reach the Crow Agency just down the road from Hardin,
Montana. This is the same exit at the Custer Battlefield and
exhibit and it is highway 212. Ride highway 212 through Lame
Deer until you finally reach Bel Fouche S.D. Take highway
34 from Bel Fouche to Spearfish. The end.
YOU HAVE JUST RIDEN 3100 + MILES.
P.S., If you have the energy and day light, turn right (south)
on highway 112 about a half mile from the Alzada Mont. Saloon
on the right hand side of the road. You can’t miss the
saloon in that the sign announce “bad food and cheap
beer”. Highway 112 will take you to Hulett Wyoming (not
far from Devil’s Tower). From Hulett, ride highway 24
to Aladdin Wy.. It’s worth a stop at the Aladdin store
so that you can sit on the front porch and listen to the Son’s
of the Pioneers. While you’re there, pick up some of
their freshly cut bacon. You won’t be disappointed.
From Aladdin it’s on into Bel Fourche and finally Spearfish.