(NFR) Drive time: route 20 from Sedro-Wooley to the Idaho Border?

Discussion in 'Fly Fishing Forum' started by Longs for Cutts, May 22, 2005.

  1. Longs for Cutts Member

    Posts: 337
    Gardiner, MT (formerly Bellingham)
    Ratings: +15 / 0
    I'm getting ready to head back to MT for my summer guiding gig, and I want to take the scenic route. I've never been over the N. Cascades Hwy, so I thought I could take 20 all the way to the Idaho border, then take Route 2 to I-90 at St. Regis, MT. The concern I have is that, while I want the drive to be "scenic," I don't want it to be "really freaking long."

    So basically, I'm wondering how much slower than the Interstate the drive will be. Thoughts? Is it pretty enough to be worth it (and also to check out the Methow for next fall)?
  2. IveofIone Active Member

    Posts: 3,087
    Ratings: +1,107 / 0
    There is no nice way to say it--that is a freakin long drive! Probably about twice the time it would take you to drive over on the the Numbnuts Expressway. But is it worth it? Absolutly! Most Washingtonians never head east on anything other than I-90 and have seen little of the north and east side of the state. They do themselves a disservice. I have been in every county in the state and for my money the northern tier of counties bordering Canada are the prettiest of all. You owe it to yourself to make the trip and it sounds like you have a pretty good excuse to go the northern route. A few extra hours of beauty will more than make up for the numbing drone of screaming down I-90 at 75mph and seeing miles of boring nothingness.

    Of course I have to admit that I prefer driving little 2 lane mountain roads along pretty streams, around lakes and across high passes. I like little dink towns and their folk, their bucolic environment, tiny markets with friendly clerks and local eateries with their chatty waitresses. I love to brake for lakes and pull out a flyrod for a few cast or go down to a stream and turn over a few rocks to see what lives there. I like driving slow, stopping often, looking at stuff and studying the local geology. In today's world of do everything fast and multi-task I am truly an anomoly but I have always been that way.

    I say screw the extra time and make the Hiway 20 trip. You will remember the sights for years and probably be tempted to return at a later date and do more exploring. Take a camera, string your fly rod, enjoy. Ive-the See Washington First guy.
  3. RedSpey Guest

    Posts: 0
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    I agree with Ive. Not only that, but you'll see a lot of history of Washington along the way. Ghosttowns, old boom towns, etc. also give a brief taste of history as you travel. It's worth the extra time.

  4. Old Man Just an Old Man

    Posts: 21,781
    Dillon, Mt
    Ratings: +1,722 / 0
    Nothing like driving the baxk roads. You learn a lot by doing it. I drive them every chance I get. You can find a lot of neat places that don't get a lot of use.

  5. John O. John O.

    Posts: 5
    Billings, Montana
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    You'll have to be careful taking that route...you may not make it past the Methow Valley and end up looking for a guide position in Twisp. And that's coming from someone who lives in Billings Montana.

    It'll probably take you about 12 hours to make it to St. Regis if you don't stop for more than gas and eats. If you do stop to fish, and I can think of a zillion places that could happen, you'll probably make it to St. Regis sometime in August.
  6. andrew Active Member

    Posts: 1,110
    Bellingham, WA.
    Ratings: +15 / 0
    Great drive!

    I drove 20 to Glacier National Park last year at the beginning of June...it was fantastic if you don't mind long hours in the car. I did not want to see 90...tired of the main routes. It took 10 hours to do GNP the year before on 90, and took us close to 13 hours via 20 and some other roads. The only poor choice about the route was leaving late on a Thursday and hitting Twisp around nine p.m.; which meant seriously winding roads at night with 'range cattle', deer, and anything else that could cross your path.

    When you come back, I suggest going north...cross the boarder and take (I believe highway 3?) along the the US/Canada border...hit the Skagit head waters, Crowsnest, and some of BC's notorious lakes!

    Good luck...do I get a discount on a guided trip now? :beer2:
  7. Longs for Cutts Member

    Posts: 337
    Gardiner, MT (formerly Bellingham)
    Ratings: +15 / 0
    12 hours will work fine. I'm looking to leave Bellingham about 5:00, and was planning to take a day and a half to get to Gardiner, so that sound alright.

    Thanks for the responses.
  8. salt dog card shark

    Posts: 2,306
    Edmonds WA / Mazama
    Ratings: +2 / 0
    iagree I gotta agree with the above sentiments, but as one that regularly runs up and down the Methow valley you will see only one stretch of the River that will likely be open for steelhead in the Fall, Winthrop to Twisp, before you turn East to Omak via Loop Loop. If you need an excuse, then its still viable, although just driving the North Cascades Highway and through the upper Methow Valley is worth it alone. There are sections of the Methow River that makes me think I could be on Rock Creek MT.

    I came back from Montana last summer and went north west from Spokane to hook up with Hwy 20, and its a worthwhile drive, but long. If you're coming from Bellingham, I would definitely do it.