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Motorcycle Tour: Virginia City Loop

Nevada Creek Resevoir


Motorcycle Tour: Virginia City Loop

From our southwest Montana home base in Butte, one of our favorite Saturday or Sunday loops runs from Butte to Twin Bridges, Sheridan, Virginia City, Ennis, up through McAllister to Norris, then through Harrison and LaHood, to Whitehall and back into Butte – about 220 miles.

It is a fine combination of some good, technical turns, some steep ascents and descents, flat valley-bottom cruising, big sweepers and big scenery, all with quite good roadways and mostly light traffic with plenty of distractions (okay, “attractions”) along the way. That’s a recipe for a superb day out riding, in our book.

It is also perhaps the most popular “poker run” loop out of either Butte or Bozeman, even Helena. Frequently during summer large packs of bikes may be encountered out on the roadway or at various licensed spots in the numerous and quaint little burgs along the route.

Much of southwest Montana – Southwest Montana – is alpine desert with some productive irrigated river valleys. You won’t find much big timber, but there are stands of lodge pole pine and some juniper. Portions of it is sagebrush prairie. What timber there is has been decimated by pine bark beetle. You will see millions of dead trees (gray), dying trees (rusty red-orange) and a few green survivors. It is a horrible natural blight that has residents worried about the potential for catastrophic wildfires.

Let’s use Butte as our launch pad, though the route, with a few variations, can be run nicely as a day-loop out of Bozeman or Helena, too. Be aware, this suggested route means you have to keep an eye on your fuel; there is none between Butte and Twin Bridges (45 miles) and none between Alder and Ennis (22 miles).

By Cole Boehler
the author and publisher of
"Motorcycling Montana"

Virginia City

Virginia City was born with the discovery of gold in Alder Gulch in 1863. A boom town of the post Civil War era, Virginia City served as the Montana Territorial Capital for 10 years, until the gold ran out. Virginia City has been largely restored and preserved and has become living examples of the real Old West.
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Ennis is surrounded by three beautiful mountain ranges: the Madison Range, the Gravelly Range, and the Tobacco Root Mountains. In addition to its majestic mountain view, Ennis also offers access to some of the finest river locations in the state by way of the picturesque Madison River.
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Butte is located virtually on the Continental Divide, surrounded by mountains, and lies on some of the world's richest mineral reserves.
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