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International Selkirk Loop (Canada Portion)

Ride Rating:

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Ride Stats:

  • Distance: 125 miles / 201.2 km
  • Ride Time: 4-6 hours
  • Approximate Fuel Costs: $9.50
  • Country: Canada
Submitted by:
OpenRoadRider pro

See the other portion of this route in the United States. International Selkirk Loop (United States Portion)Picture yourself in a place of forested hillsides, sparkling waterfalls, and charming small towns. Snowcapped-craggy peaks glint in the morning sun as you follow a path that encircles the breathtaking Selkirk Mountains. There's no need to imagine it; you can experience it for yourself on the International Selkirk Loop! Curving through some of the prettiest scenery in northeast Washington, north Idaho and southeast British Columbia, the loop connects Americans and Canadians in a historic relationship of living, working, and playing in a spectacular setting.


A vast, uncrowded playground of national forest and wilderness areas surrounds the Loop and offers visitors a myriad of opportunities for outdoor recreation. To begin with, nearly the entire route follows rivers and lakeshores. Historically used for transportation, today these waterways host a variety of year-round recreation. From fishing to windsurfing and boating to diving, you can find it on the loop. Or, whether you are on foot, bike, horseback, or skis, you can take advantage of hundreds of miles of trails waiting to be explored. Animal lovers will be excited to learn that the public lands bordering the loop are home to the largest diversity of wildlife in the lower 48 states with more than 50 mammal and 265-plus bird species! Feeling adventurous? Then why not try your hand at snowmobile touring, rock climbing and geo-caching (a kind of treasure hunt that uses GPS systems). Whatever you decide to do while you are here, you will be pleasantly surprised at the lack of crowds on the Selkirk Loop - it's a genuinely relaxing experience!


For millennia, inhabitants of this region have dwelt along the riverbanks and lakeshores, enjoying the mild lower elevation climate in winter and the cool mountains in summer. Visitors will find stories of the region's inhabitants - including Native Americans, fur trader David Thompson, settlers, miners, loggers, and newer immigrants - told in local visitor centers and museums, along with information about the natural environment at many locations around the loop. The communities along the loop boast scenic attractions as well: beautiful parks, historic architecture, public gardens, fountains, sculpture, murals, colorful farmers' markets, and public squares.

The loop's scenery changes with each season. In spring the bright greens of new foliage blend with the colors of early wildflowers, set against a backdrop of snow-covered mountaintops and rushing waterfalls. In summer, wildflowers are in full bloom, and the rivers and lakes teem with fish below warm blue skies. Fall brings changing colors, with brilliant golds and reds amid the dark green pine and spruce. Canadian geese by the thousands stop for respite on their journey south through the Pacific Flyway. In winter, a peaceful blanket of snow covers higher elevations of the Loop, with greenery remaining in the milder climates of the river valleys. Moose, deer, and elk often are spotted as they browse for tender shoots beneath the snow. But perhaps the most delightful aspect of the loop's scenery is its variety, from narrow river canyons to broad fertile valleys and vibrant village scenes, from lowland meadows to breathtaking mountain vistas. Surprises await around every corner!

The best time to drive the Loop is April to October, when wildflowers are blooming, wildlife emerge, festivals occur, and hiking weather is comfortable.

High Season:Peak tourist season on the Loop is July-August, when families with kids travel. Traffic and crowds still are minimal compared to urban standards.

Note: the full loop actually goes through both the United States and Canada

The total length, including United States sections, is 280 miles/450 km.

The Loop was named 'The West's Best New Scenic Drive' (Sunset Magazine) and motorcyclists love its uncrowded highways.

Information was obtained by permission from www.byways.org.

This is a motorcycle ride in the country of Canada. This motorcycle route has 10 scenery characteristics and other road conditions to help you plan your road trip. This motorcycle map was created by OpenRoadRider in February. Click here to see other Motorcycle Roads by OpenRoadRider

Rider Photos:

  • Motorcycle Ride Picture 1 for International Selkirk Loop (Canada Portion)
  • Motorcycle Ride Picture 2 for International Selkirk Loop (Canada Portion)
  • Motorcycle Ride Picture 3 for International Selkirk Loop (Canada Portion)
  • Motorcycle Ride Picture 4 for International Selkirk Loop (Canada Portion)
  • Motorcycle Ride Picture 5 for International Selkirk Loop (Canada Portion)

Ride Scenery:

Historic SitesUrban/ResidentialParksFall ColorsLakesForestMountainsRuralRiverFarm Land

Best Time to Go

Spring, Summer, Fall

Road Characteristics:

Straight RoadSweeping Curves RoadTwisty RoadNo Traffic

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Previous Comments from other Riders:

Anonymous_Motorcyclist says:

This is not a road to be ridden in a hurry. There are too many views to see and places to stop and explore. Although the twisty roads beckon, in summer there is a fair bit of tourist traffic, both vehicles and pedestrians, on the Kootenay Lake portion. I have ridden this road in both directions during spring, summer and fall and, as mentioned in another rating, be ready for any weather. The road is well paved and normal two lane width but, in many areas, beyond the narrow gravel shoulder, there is little room to recover from a navigational error. Beginning at Creston, be sure to take the free tour of the Kokanee Brewery, just south of the main part of town. It is interesting and they provide a free beer at the end of the tour. The free ferry between Crawford Bay and Balfour can be busy but motorcycles are always accommodated. Onboard food selection is limited but they do brew acceptable coffee. In Nelson, at the west end of the seasonally operating historic tram line is a pub attached to the Prestige Hotel. It has an outside terrace overlooking the south arm of Kootenay Lake. They make a good lunch at a reasonable price. The tram operates during the summer between the pub and Lakeside Park beneather the 'Orange Bridge'. The portion of the loop between Nelson and Salmo is perhaps less scenic than that along Kootenay Lake but still a great ride with numerous spots to stop and take in the view.
Fri Jan 11, 2013 at 9:10 AM

Quicksilver says:

Definately one of my favorite rides. I've never done it on wet roads but I always have my rain gear with me just in case. (this is BC after all)
You cannot go wrong riding this route. If you've never done it, you will love it.
Fri Jan 11, 2013 at 9:09 AM

Senor_Siesta says:

I rode a portion of the loop, in late August for the first time a couple of years ago; everything written is true. There is an abundance of scenery, few cars, and the damned friendliest people I have ever encountered. I was literally offered dinner and a place to stay the night from people I had only known for 5 minutes.

I digress, back to the ride - the road next to Kootenay Lake really has very few equals; the water is mirrored by an amazing clear sky, the the mountains ascend almost vertically, and the air is cool and crisp, the landscape is pristine.

I would recommend bringing good rain gear and some warmer clothes for layering; despite it being summer (late August), my group was caught in one or more morning drizzles. It eventually burned off, but riding wet and cold is not my idea of a good time. You'll need the warmer clothing for some of the passes, they get chilly depending on the time of day.
Fri Jan 11, 2013 at 9:09 AM






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