Bitterroot Bonanza - Idaho Biking, Rafting & Kayaking Tour
Bitterroot Bonanza is featured as one of National Geographic Adventure's "25 Best New Trips"!
For the first time ever, North Idaho’s world-class Rails-to-Trails system is linked into a superb 5-day itinerary that combines a bike tour with rafting and kayaking. A 4-day version without the rafting is also available. Both the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes and the Trail of the Hiawatha are included in the Rail-to-Trail Conservancy’s Hall of Fame. This is an ideal family or private group trip and since this is our own backyard, you can be sure we’ll have plenty of surprises and special treats throughout your journey. Along the way, you'll dine out and stay at local hotels. The trip starts in Spokane, Washington with a bike ride on the Washington/Idaho Centennial Trail along the Spokane River. We reach the resort town of Coeur d'Alene, on Lake Coeur d'Alene with time to play in the lake. The next day we enjoy a half-day kayak trip and then continue our bicycle tour on the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes, one of the jewels of the National Rails-to-Trails system. We are the only locally-based adventure company offering this fantastic Idaho cycling tour. Our local guides give you a personal and in-depth understanding of North Idaho's culture, history, and political landscape in a way no one else can.
On the 4th day of the 5-day version of this North Idaho bike tour, we trade our pedals for paddles and raft the scenic and tumbling Clark Fork or St. Joe, depending on the time of year you join us. These are two of the region's most popular whitewater river trips. Our last day is a spectacular ride on the historical Hiawatha Trail, where you will bike through 10 tunnels including the almost 2-mile long Taft Tunnel, and ride across 7 dramatic trestles spanning canyons of the Bitterroot Mountains on the Idaho/Montana border. The trail is not far from the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness Area, one of the largest protected areas in the United States. At the end, we return you to Spokane where your adventure began.
This Bitterroot Bonanza bike adventure has plenty to offer in 5 days full of outdoors, history and activities. Click on the itinerary tab for more details of this Bitterroot Mountain Multisport adventure!
Images & Videos
Arrive in Spokane, WA
Arrive in Spokane, Washington and overnight. (Hotel not included)
Cycling from Spokane to Coeur d'Alene
Today’s bike ride is on the Washington/Idaho Centennial Trail that goes from the west of Spokane all the way to eight miles east of Coeur d'Alene. From our hotel in Spokane, we make a short transfer to the start of the trail at Riverside State Park and start our ride through a forest of pines and firs. We stop at various historic and scenic points including the dramatic Bowl & Pitcher rapid where ancient lava flows formed a spectacular setting of huge boulders of basalt. We ride through downtown Spokane past the Spokane River falls, continuing east on a trail that is mostly level. Along the river, we pass under willows and may stop for a quick dip as we ride to the Idaho/Washington border. Throughout the day you’ll learn about the area’s natural and cultural history from your ROW Adventures guide. We load our van at the border for a short transfer into the lakeside town of Coeur d’Alene, where ROW Adventures is headquartered. Anyone so inclined may ride along Lake Coeur d’Alene another eight miles to the end of the trail east of town, then return.
Biking: (37-mile bike ride with optional additional 16 miles).
Kayak Lake Coeur d'Alene, Cycling the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes
Trading pedals for paddles we jump into touring kayaks for a three-hour paddle on the blue waters of Lake Coeur d’Alene. You paddle through an active osprey breeding area where we watch these birds fish and tend their nests. We may also see bald eagles, herons, cormorants, and other waterfowl. Your guides’ knowledge will help deepen your appreciation of the wildlife as well as the natural history of the lake. Then we transfer south about 30 minutes to the western starting point of the Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes, a 70-mile trail through the heart of North Idaho. We ride from the trailhead downhill on a smooth paved trail through forests and meadows on the old Union Pacific Railroad line. If a Park Ranger is available, we stop at Heyburn State Park for a presentation about the natural history of the southern end of Lake Coeur d'Alene. Then we cross the lake on a lovely historic bridge and ride along the east side of Lake Coeur d’Alene to the hamlet of Harrison where we stay in a comfortable lakeside inn.
Kayaking & Biking: (7-mile kayak; 8 to 16-mile bike ride.)
Cycle the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes, Cataldo Mission Visit
We ride about 35 miles today at a leisurely pace through marshes and along the Coeur d’Alene Chain lakes and river while learning about the mining legacy of the area. A special visit to the historic Cataldo Mission, Idaho’s oldest building, is a highlight. Built by two Jesuit priests and some 300 members of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe, this is an astounding building. We stop for a snack or meal at the historic Enaville Snake Pit, a colorful eating and drinking establishment, then transfer or ride to our evening’s accommodation. Tonight we have an entertaining presentation from our good friend, the "Ambassador of Wallace" about the town's history and local events.
Biking: (35-mile bike ride with optional 10-20 miles)
This morning we load up for a 1 ½ hour drive across Lookout Pass to go rafting on the Clark Fork River (July-August) or St. Joe River (June). Both are fun, intermediate whitewater trips. On the Clark Fork, we have paddle rafts or the option of paddling an inflatable kayak. On the St. Joe, we only offer rafts. Both trips pass through a dramatic canyon of fine western scenery and deep gorges. We enjoy a bountiful riverside lunch on a sandy beach along the way.
Note: On the 4-day version of this itinerary we don't go rafting and ride the Trail of the Hiawatha on this day, then return you to Spokane.
Rafting or Kayaking (Inflatable Kayaks available on Clark Fork only): 14 miles.
Ride the Hiawatha Trail, the "Crown Jewel" of the US Rail-to-Trail Rides
A short drive back to the Idaho/Montana border gets us to the historic and spectacular Hiawatha Trail. We start at the East Portal trailhead and immediately enter the two-mile-long Taft Tunnel. Before the morning is over we go through another six tunnels and cross a number of breath-taking trestles that span deep and forested canyons of the Bitterroot Mountains. This is one of the most spectacular, if not the most spectacular, rails-to-trails trail in the United States. It is well maintained and the gravel route and gentle grade makes it easy for the whole family to ride together. Being on a railroad grade, this portion of the trail follows a very easy 1.7% downhill grade from 4160 ft. at the West Portal to 3175 ft. at Pearson, for a total drop of a little less than 1000 ft. in a distance of 15 miles. After a trailside lunch, we finish our ride and then load up for a two-hour drive back to Spokane where we began our adventure five days earlier.
Biking: (15-mile bike ride).
*Please note, accommodations in Spokane not included on this night
History of the Hiawatha Trail -
The history of the railroad is fascinating as is the geologic story of the Bitterroot Mountains. It was called one of the most scenic stretches of railroad in the country. When the Milwaukee Railroad was operating, the trains traversed through 11 tunnels and over 9 high trestles, covering a 46-mile route that crossed the rugged Bitterroot Mountains between Idaho and Montana. The “Route of the Hiawatha” is most famous for the long St. Paul Pass, or Taft Tunnel which burrows for 8771 ft. (1.66 miles) under the Bitterroot Mountains at the state line. You'll learn much more about the railroad and people who civilized the area during your ride.
*Go Private, Custom, or Charter!
For custom or private trips, we can modify this itinerary to be shorter or longer, with more or less non-biking activities, higher-end accommodations (where available), etc. Please contact us for more information.
Dates & Rates
BITTERROOT BONANZA 5-DAY ITINERARY
2021 Set departures: July 12, 26, August 9***All dates SOLD OUT for 2021
- Youth Price: $1,690
- Adult Price: $1,795
- Standard Bike Rental: $120
- E-bike Rental: $320
- Single Supplement: $330
BITTERROOT BONANZA 4-DAY ITINERARY
- 2021 Set departures: July 12, 26, August 9 **All dates SOLD OUT for 2021
- Youth Price: $1320
- Adult Price: $1425
- Standard Bike Rental: $100
- Single Supplement: $290
*These dates are available as a guided bike tour without ratting as well. All dates subject to which trip books first. For example, if the 5-day Rails to Trails trip books first, the Bitterroot Bonanza becomes unavailable.
ALL trips require a minimum of 6 participants to confirm a departure.
- Services of our talented adventure consultants and professional guides
- All meals/beverages as indicated in the itinerary
- Gratuities for meals and accommodations
- On-trail drinks and snacks
- Van support
- Detailed maps and itineraries
- All shuttles
- Van support and transportation during the tour as noted
DOES NOT INCLUDE:
- Airfare/transportation beginning and ending points
- Alcohol with meals
- Items of a personal nature such as laundry
- Gratuities for guides
- Travel protection plan
- Pre-& post-trip hotel
- Parking at hotel when not complimentary
- Bike rental
Standard Bikes: Our fleet is made up of Marin Hybrid bikes with front suspension.
E-Bikes: Electric-Assist bikes are available for rent for an additional$70/day of the tour. We normally have two brands available - Aventon and Pedego. Due to supply chain disruptions, we cannot guarantee the exact bike or brand that will be available.
FAQ & More
Guided - Our guided tours offer very similar itineraries that highlight the best of the region you are visiting. On these trips, we provide everything you need including lodging, meals, full van support, maintenance and repairs along the way and professional local guides. Our guided trips are great for groups that would be more comfortable with the assistance of a professional guide who not only is a cheerful team leader, but also shares stories of the historical, cultural, and natural highlights throughout the trip.
Self Guided - On a self-guided trip you are free to go at your own pace, dine on your own, and explore areas that spark your interest. We provide you with a detailed trail guide that will point out restaurants, wineries, stores and landmarks that we think are highlights of the area. Each day, we arrange for your luggage to be transferred to your next hotel, so you don’t have to haul your own gear and can travel lighter on the trail. Our self-guided biking tours are not accompanied by a guide and you won’t have the support of a van for cycling breaks. In addition you will be responsible for handling any minor bicycle repairs along the way. As a plus, our self-guided tours are more affordable than the guided options. You can see our full selection of self-guided tours on the ROW Adventure Center website.
You are more than welcome to bring your own bike on our tours. The bike rental is not included in the basic trip fee and the additional rental fee is indicated on the trip itinerary page. We also offer E-bikes for rent. Our rental bikes come with a water bottle, spare tubes, tire pump, and multi-tool. We also provide bike helmets but you may want to bring your own. Keep in mind that road bikes will not work on the Hiawatha Trail, but if you want to bring a road bike we can rent you a mountain bike for the last day of the trip. As noted, we also have electric-assist bikes available on most of our trips at an extra fee.
Much of this trip is along rivers and lakes. Thus it's common to see osprey, great blue herons, bald eagles, ducks, and other birds. With some luck, we may even see deer and beaver. When we ride along the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes, from the town of Harrison north, there's the chance to see moose too! On the Lake Coeur d'Alene kayaking tour we paddle beneath the nests of osprey, and in June and July, you might see their chicks in the nest.
Even if you've never been in a kayak, you'll love this kayaking tour of Lake Coeur d'Alene. We actually paddle for about two hours and go at an easy pace.
The Clark Fork whitewater rafting trip takes place through the Alberton Gorge, which offers fun, intermediate whitewater ranging from class II-III. For most of the season, we can take children as young as five on this trip. No previous rafting experience is necessary. The river flows through a beautiful canyon with no roads.
We have both “regular” and electric-assist (E-Bikes) available for our tours. Our regular bikes are hybrid bikes designed to be comfortable and more stable than a road bike, but not as heavy as a mountain bike. While racing frames look cool, they are not the most comfortable choice for a ride focused on site-seeing and enjoying the scenery. Plus, racing frames are designed to keep you in an aerodynamic tuck all day, which for most people is not ideal. These routes are on paved bike paths, so we do suggest road or hybrid bikes. If you bring a mountain bike however, you might want to replace the knobby treads with smoother tires that create less friction. (Note: The Route of the Hiawatha is not paved and requires hybrid or mountain bikes.)
E-Bikes or Electric Assist Bikes are ideal for allowing parties with differing abilities to enjoy riding together! You can work as much or as little as you wish with an E-bike. It’s important you are comfortable on a bike, and how to mount/dismount, keep your balance, etc.
Our bike racks and trailers do not accommodate these sorts of bikes. Sorry.
Yes, we encourage you to bring any accessories that you feel comfortable riding with, particularly as we may be covering long distances. Our Marin fleet of “regular” bikes comes with flat pedals that don’t have clip-ins, so be sure to bring both your pedals and clip-in shoes if that’s what you prefer.
In most cases, yes. If you’re renting a bike from ROW Adventures,, we’ll ensure it has had a service and is in peak riding condition before the start of the trip. En route, your guide will be able to do light maintenance and routine mechanics, such as fixing flat tires, pumping tires up, and adjusting seats. Each of the trailers is well-equipped with a tool kit, spare tires, and tubes, and we’ll do replacements free of charge on rental bikes. If you’re bringing your own bike and it needs a replacement, there will be an additional charge.
You will find distances listed on our trip itineraries. Days range from 15-45 miles on average.
The trails on our Rails-to-Trails bike tours are rated from easy to moderate. The Centennial Trail and Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes are both nicely paved bike paths, with few significant hill climbs. The Hiawatha Trail is a crushed gravel path with a slight downhill grade.
A moderate level of fitness is needed for these trips. Depending on your mileage for the day, you may be pedaling for up to five or six hours during the day. You will enjoy your trip more if you are in reasonable shape. Our E-bikes make the riding even easier. However, you should still have good balance and have some experience on a bike, be capable of getting off and on your bike, braking safely, etc. We suggest you spend some time biking at home leading up to your trip to help prepare. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.
The trails where we offer these tours are ideal for families and we provide you plenty of ideas on how to make your time together the best possible. We have ideas on places to stop and other activities to break up the biking. For example, when you are in Coeur d’Alene, you might want to take an afternoon kayak tour with the ROW Adventure Center. Or just have a few hours free time to play on one of the beautiful beaches. By special arrangement you can also add a half day of rafting on the Spokane River before you start your ride or at the end, or even a full day of rafting on the Clark Fork. There are many play spots, swimming holes and places for ice cream treats along the way, providing plenty of fun for everyone. If you choose an itinerary with a stay in Kellogg, Idaho your kids might want to visit the fun waterpark too.
The trails themselves are gentle and if you have really little ones we can set you up with a bike trailer. For those a bit older, but not old enough to ride alone, we also have tag-alongs.
Yes! We can create a private departure for your group, or if you have a minimum of 10 people you can take over one of our scheduled dates. Please contact our office to design a custom tour on your preferred date.
Are hotel upgrades available?
On our scheduled guided tours hotels are booked in advance and can’t be changed. You’ll find the name and short description of the hotels chosen for each category on the full itineraries on our website. For a private, custom tour, we can arrange a higher level of accommodation, if space is available.
Sometimes, yes. Other times, no. Many of the historic inns and B&Bs in which we stay only have one bed per room while others will have two separate beds. If it’s important that you and your travel companion have separate beds, please let us know and we will do our best to accommodate you. That being said, only those who pay the single supplement fee will be guaranteed their own room and bed each night.
Yes, on our fully guided bike tours! At every support stop, we will provide a cooler with iced water so you can refill your water bottle. We will also have hydration powder available if you’re in need of a boost.
Yes, we can make accommodations for dietary needs and restrictions as long as we’re notified at the time of booking. Breakfasts are often served at the hotel where you stay and options may be limited.
Yes, if you need a break, the support vehicle will be available and you can opt to hop in the van per coordination with our guides.
Yes, your luggage travels in our van, so it can be accessed if needed.
Yes, guests are welcome to ride along in the van. But keep in mind we don’t offer discounts for guests who aren’t riding a bike, rafting or kayaking, they will pay the regular trip cost.
When you receive your reservation materials, there will also be a packing list included, which will detail all of the essential items you need. We recommend packing clothing for all weather conditions and will suggest waterproof clothing based on your tour’s location and length.
Only in the most extreme circumstances when severe weather events are forecast will we cancel a tour. Otherwise, we will ride on through both rain and sunshine.
Full van support means that our vehicle will regularly meet up with the group along the cycling route to offer light refreshments, water refills, and transport for riders who don’t want to bike the next leg. However, it’s important to keep in mind that there may be stretches of bike paths that have limited access for van support and your guide will let you know ahead of time so you’re aware of your options.
Any necessary adjustments will be made to your bike on arrival to ensure it’s comfortable for you to ride. When making your reservation, it’s important that you provide us with an accurate height and inseam measurement (without shoes), so we can secure the right bike for you. If you have any queries about your bicycle fit, our friendly staff are happy to assist.
Fly to Spokane, Washington (airport code GEG).
Arrive in Spokane the day prior to the trip to ensure you don’t miss the early departure on the first day of riding. Spokane is a great place to explore with many exciting culinary options, things to do and see as well as recreation stores to support any last minute purchases. We will happily provide recommendations on accommodations at your time of booking.
Our guided tours may be booked online. It is always good to start planning your trip earlier than later. Our region is a popular vacation area during the summer months, and lodging is in high demand, meaning our accommodation options become more limited the closer we are to the summer months.