Riding time is 6 days, which includes the return trip to the Puget Sound area. If you’re going to the north end of the CDR in Montana it will take you 6 days from Seattle. Do you want to ride the NWP in reverse, going west-to-east? No problem, just work the daily itineraries backwards.
Overall mileage varies depending on the alternates you select. The traditional route runs 607 miles from BestRest World Headquarters north of Seattle area, to the eastern side of Priest Lake, ID. If you continue eastward to the Montana CDR north terminus add another 211 miles. 70-80 % of the route is gravel or dirt. There are paved sections along the way, but we avoided it when possible. Dirt is more fun.
The NWP is an Intermediate Level off road route. It can be ridden on large displacement dual purpose motorcycles such as a BMW R1200GS, KTM 1190, Suzuki V-strom, etc. It can also be ridden on smaller trail bikes like a KTM 450, Honda XR650, etc. Its not a route for the novice off road rider, but you really dont need to be an expert, either. You should be comfortable with riding on gravel and dirt, with ruts and rocks, and be capable of riding comfortably on steep uphills and downhills while the bike is fully loaded with gear. This route is NOT intended to challenge the upper limits of your riding abilities, or cause you to fall, or cause damage to your motorcycle although most riders have a minor tumble at least once during the week. This route has some challenges, but they are reasonable and prudent.
You can ride the NWP as soon as the snow clears from the high mountain passes – when that actually happens varies from year to year. Sometimes you can ride the NWP in late June, but usually its after the 4th of July that all the roads and trails are open. If you go too early you can expect to encounter downed trees, snowbanks, and other obstacles. If you wait a few weeks longer you’ll find that 4-wheelers have kindly cut all the trees out of your way. You can ride it as late as October depending on when the snow starts in the high country.
The NWP is not a rebranding of the excellent north-to-south Washington Back Country Discovery Route (the WABDR). Instead, the NWP runs west-to-east and it covers 3 states. The two routes happen to share a few miles of trail around Lake Chelan, but they are two distinct routes. We encourage you to ride both of them. The WABDR is heavily traveled during the summer (because it’s been discovered) but the NWP remains largely unknown. In the 4 years we’ve run the NWP we’ve never seen another motorcycle and we’ve only seen a few jeeps on the high trails.
We typically start the NWP the day after Labor Day in September, so most folks are back at work or in school. However in 2017 we plan to coordinate groups in July, August and September. We will try to get one of the NWP Alumni to act as a guide.
Mr. BestRest compiled this Route from various rides he’s done over the past two decades. In 2012 the Route was finalized and officially designated as the Northwest Passage (NWP) Adventure Route. BestRest Products has sponsored an NWP Expedition for the past 5 years (2012-16) and we plan to do it again in 2017. You don’t have to wait for us to ride the trail – you can do it yourself with the information we’re giving you on this webpage.
We’ve posted daily itineraries, screenshots of tracks, and GPS files you can load into your own computer and transfer to your GPS. BestRest provides this information FREE OF CHARGE. We want you to have as much fun riding the NWP as we have over the years. If you happen to buy some of our BestRest gear, that’s great. If not that’s OK too, because we didn’t create this Route for the money.
After you download the PDF file we suggest you set your printer so it prints on both sides of the page. We set the document so the itinerary for each day is on one sheet, front and back.
After you download the GPS tracks and PDF files we recommend you save them on your computer, in a special file called “The NorthWest Passage”. Then you can go in with your BaseCamp or MapSource program and download them to your GPS unit as “TRACKS” (not routes). See the PDF file for comments regarding converting tracks to routes, etc.
These downloads are FREE, however we ask that you create a customer account on our website, add the two items to your shopping cart, and go through the checkout process as though you were actually placing an order. You won’t be charged a penny. This checkout process helps us keep track of the number of downloads and it also allows us to contact you when we update itineraries or make changes to the GPS tracks, etc.
Special thanks to Steve Irby, who compiled the various GPS tracks and helped me write the daily itineraries. Steve and I have been riding buddies for years and we’ve shared a lot of time on the trail, including the Continental Divide Ride and other 2-wheeled adventures.
We’ll see you on the NorthWest Passage!
NorthWest Passage Video This 1-hour video features a portly Mr. BestRest who he talks you through the NorthWest Passage daily itineraries. It also contains video highlights so you can see what you’ll encounter during your NWP adventure.
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