One of the US-12 stretches I am most looking forward to driving someday is through the Bitterroot Mountains in Montana and Idaho. This is one of the first places that Robert Sullivan describes passing through in his book, and is notably one of the few non-Interstate stretches he drives, generally preferring to stay on the larger roads.
He writes, “Route 12 [...] wasn’t officially opened until 1962 and it ended at a point just outside Missoula; housewives from Montana took it upon themselves to fill trucks with gravel and extend the road into town.” This is an interesting point for two reasons:
- Part of US-12 was actually built west-to-east. It may not have technically been 12 then, but it still seems unusual to build in that direction; most accounts of the road have it pushing to the west.
- I would love to hear more about that gravel brigade. Sounds like a very Montana sort of undertaking.
The main reason I want to drive this stretch of the road, though, is simply because it’s beautiful. I mean, consider the Google Streetview image.
This is an image taken from the top of a moving vehicle with no touch-up or glare reduction or anything, and you could put it on a postcard. I can only imagine that the region is stunning in person.