May 15, 2019

Wild West Route Seg 3 - Darby MT to Haley ID SoBo

288.9 mi
Wild West Route Segment 3 meanders through the diverse landscapes of central Idaho – the depths of the Salmon River Canyon, the Salmon River Mountains, the magnificent Sawtooth Valley, and along the Wood River Valley between the Boulder and Smoky Mountains. At the northern end of the segment, 35 miles of pavement takes riders out of Darby and onto well maintained dirt roads that climb high into the Salmon River Range before a precipitous 5,000’ plunge on a rougher 4x4 track into the Salmon River Canyon. At just 3,000’ elevation, the depths of this canyon can be blazing hot in summer. The route follows the gorgeous Salmon River Road for a few miles before gradually but steadily climbing south to Morgan Creek Summit on well-maintained gravel roads. Eventually, the coniferous forests give way to sage-covered hills en route to the friendly community of Challis. West of Challis, the old Custer Motorway, now a gravel road, climbs over Mill Creek Summit and then drops to the North Fork of the Salmon River. Here, riders can tour abandoned mining towns and an intact gold mining dredge. Continuing south, the gravel road again hits the Salmon River, and the route turns west on a busier paved road to reach the stunning Sawtooth Valley and the tiny tourist destination of Stanley. Riders will follow the ever-shrinking Salmon River toward its headwaters before climbing an old stagecoach road over Galena Pass and hop on the pleasant 2-track of the Herriman Trail along the Wood River. At the southern end of the segment, the ski resort town of Ketchum and the smaller and homier community of Hailey offer all services and bike shops.

Segment length: 289 miles
Total climbing: 23,000 feet
Recommended number of days: 5-7

% Paved (approx.): 20%
% Dirt road (approx.): 60%
% 4x4 road/2-track (approx.): 20%
% Singletrack (approx.): 0%
% Rideable (approx.): 95+%

Average physical difficulty* (1-10): 6
Average technical difficulty** (1-10): 4
Bikepacking challenges: Limited water, limited resupply options, remote, summer heat
Longest stretch between resupply (miles/days): 154 miles / 3-4 days
Longest stretch between water sources (miles/days): 25 miles (north of the Salmon River; massive climb for NoBo riders)

Alternate route options: None