Road Trip Part 2: Seeley Lake, Montana

This is part two of our road trip to three different locations; Lincoln, MT, Seeley Lake, MT, and Island Park, ID.

After a rough day of low snow levels and wet, heavy slush, we were ready to load up and head south (that just sounds weird). That night sitting around the dinner table at our friend’s ranch house, we were surprised to hear that the Seeley Lake area SNOTEL (North Fork Jocko) was showing significantly more snow than the Lincoln area had. We were skeptical, but decided to give it a run!Directions to the Trail-head: From Seeley Lake (town), you’ll drive north before taking a left (west) on Boy Scout Road. Drive until you see Fawn Creek Road, turn right here. This road will take you directly to the West Side Trail-head parking area. See pictures below.

 

Map from 3181 Montana 83, Seeley Lake, Mt 59868 to 980 Sawbuck Trail, Seeley Lake, Mt 59868

Here are the distances between some notable locations in the area.

Seeley to trail-head:  ~5 mi

Missoula to Seeley: 53 mi

Kalispell to Seeley: 91.5 mi

Helena to Seeley: 102 mi


Terrain/Ride Details: 
We did a pretty poor job of documenting this ride. It was a completely new area, we were living out of duffel bags, and for whatever reason, we just weren’t focused enough on that aspect of the ride. My Go Pro died within 30 seconds of starting it. Not sure how I messed up the charge, but it is what it is. Nonetheless, we had a great day. I won’t be able to tell you much about exactly where we rode, but I will describe the terrain and the day.

At a similar latitude to Lincoln, it was really odd how much more snow there was here, but it was true. I am not sure it this disparity is typical, but it was certainly apparent on this trip.

We rode on a trail for about 10 miles before heading up a switchback single track trail. It was pretty whooped out, but we did find our way into some amazing backcountry. We made it to an impressive bowl and were pleasantly surprised by the depth of the snow.

IMG_0411

This was a steep area with great sidehill sections, cliffs, and pockets of tree riding. Here is a video of our friend dropping one cliff near the top of a steep hill. This video doesn’t do justice to the trickiness of this drop…the area was super steep and he dropped a lot farther than it seems. Oh, and please forgive the low quality film work :).

After a few minutes here, the locals we were with wanted to go to an area much further into the backcountry.

It was foggy and the snow was somewhat inconsistent. Beginning with the first hill climb, I felt a little squeamish about this venture. We followed an unofficial trail over thin ridges and through some sketchy areas. After dropping into near no-return areas a few different times, the fog won. We relented as we couldn’t find where they wanted to go and decided to head back to familiar territory.

We spent the remainder of the day exploring (for us…familiar to them) some amazing tree riding and pillow filled areas.

I cannot imagine how fun some of these play areas would be in deep/fresh snow conditions. I never seen so many cool, rideable pillows in one area. We spent much of the day watching some of the amazing riders we were with. Some impressive sledding skill was on display. I wish we had more to share with you, but as stated prior, we dropped the ball on this day.


Area Information

Nearest Snotel: North Fork Jocko, click here to view. If you are new to Snotel, simply select Daily or Hourly in the “Time Series” box toward the bottom and then choose last 30 days, last 7 days, or  last 24 hours in the yellow box. Now, click on the “View Current” button. Enjoy the joys of modern weather technology!

Snowmobile Registration: From the Montana state website, “Nonresidents who plan to ride their snowmobiles and motorized snow bikes in Montana must purchase a Snowmobile Nonresident Temporary Use Permit for $25 per machine.”

Click here to see a list of license vendors or click here to complete the registration online. We bought ours the day before at Grizzly Hardware on main street in Lincoln.

Fuel: There is ethanol-free fuel all over in Missoula, Helena, Seeley Lake, and Great Falls. Click here to see a full list of ethanol free stations in Montana.

Hotel/Accommodations: There are limited options in Seeley, but I would recommend checking the following spots; Montana Pines Hotel, The Lodge on Seeley Lake, Double Arrow Resort (cabins), and the Kozy Korner Bed & Breakfast.

Nearby Snowmobile Shops: There is a good shop right in Seeley Lake.

IMG_0418
Kurt’s Polaris–Seeley Lake, MT

Kurt’s Polaris–3181 MT-83, Seeley Lake, MT, Hours: 9a-6p (Tu-F), 9a-5p (Sat), closed Sun/Mon.

One Way Marine/Motorsports–3186 US-12, Helena, MT, Hours: 8a-6p (M-F), 9a-4p (Sat), closed Sunday.

Kurt’s Polaris–2904 West Broadway Ave, Missoula, MT, Hours: 9a-6p (Tu-F), 9a-5p (Sat), closed Sun/Mon.

Missoula Arctic Cat–5106 East Harrier Missoula, MT, Hours: 9a-6p (M-Sat), closed Sunday.

More Area Information: Click here for a trail map of the area. 

For local club (Seeley Lake Driftriders) Info, click here.


Final Review of Seeley Lake, Montana: What a cool area. I truly wish we’d have had more time and better conditions. There was tons of snow, but it was spring like snow. I love the mixture of plenty of open areas between days of tree-riding. The most distinguishing feature of this area was the endless pillows in every open uphill spot. You won’t want to keep your skis on the snow with this many ripe pillows begging you to pop over each one. We’ll definitely be back to this area!

If you’ve experienced Seeley Lake, share your experience in a comment below!

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