Back country adventure

Dalton Gardens man, 71, and friend complete 1,600-mile dirt bike ride from southern Idaho to Canadian border

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Donn Dennis, a 71-year old from Dalton Gardens, celebrates finishing 1,600 miles from southern Idaho to near the Canadian border on a dirt bike in seven days. He and friend Alan Deyo, of Orofino, recently became the 11th and 12th riders to accomplish the feat in the rides first six years.

Even at 71, Donn Dennis thrives on challenges on his dirt motorcycle.

That's why the Dalton Gardens man and his friend Alan Deyo, 57, of Orofino, recently embarked on the 1,600-mile, seven-day Tour of Idaho dirt bike ride that begins in the Malad Range of southern Idaho and ends in the Selkirk Mountains near the Canadian border.

The two became just the 11th and 12th riders to complete the adventure in a week in the ride's first six years. Much of the route is along single-track trails and Forest Service roads.

"It was invigorating," Dennis said. "I was just hoping my motorcycle and body would hold up to 200-plus miles per day. I was really tired for a couple days afterward. You have to hustle right along to stay on that pace."

The route, charted by Idaho State University Professor Martin Hackworth, includes Pocatello, Arco, Challis, Salmon, Lowell, Wallace and Priest Lake.

"You're on your own riding across open canyons and some wilderness areas," Dennis said. "There's no cell phone coverage and no people (in some stretches).

"We didn't have any support vehicles. My brother (Bill Dennis) just took us down to southern Idaho and dropped us off."

The two stayed in motels on the way and found themselves hustling to restaurants at night before they closed in small towns.

"We'd get up early each day and head out," Dennis said.

The two logged more than 200 miles on most of the days, but went 360 on the final day from Wallace to near the Canadian border and back to Dalton Gardens. Their longest day of riding was 12.5 hours. Their motorcycle lights came in handy as the two left before sunrise.

Dennis, who has been riding dirt bikes since he was 14, said the most challenging stretch was in Massacre Mountain Loop in southern Idaho.

"It was rocky and technical," he said.

Dennis said the two barely made it through the Challis area when the trail was closed due to a wildfire.

"They had signs and an outhouse covered in tin foil (in preparation for the fire)," he said.

The riders were as high as 10,400 feet at Railroad Ridge in southern Idaho to as low as 1,200 feet in Lowell in central Idaho.

He said the two amazingly didn't get a flat tire on the trip, have any other problems or crash.

"Flat tires with the rocky ground is generally one of the big issues," Dennis said. "We put heavy duty tubes in the tires."

Dennis said many riders don't complete the journey within a week to become one of the ride's "alumni" because they start out with groups and, if someone is delayed for whatever reason or can't go on, the group generally doesn't finish within the time frame. He said others have issues with their motorcycles. Dennis said he spent a month preparing his before the ride.

Dennis said nine riders have completed the challenge this year, bringing the total to 17.

"Hundreds of people have tried it," Dennis said.

Dennis assisted Hackworth with charting the route in the St. Joe area of North Idaho. He's been wanting to attempt the adventure ever since.

"It took a lot of time, effort and preparation, but it was enjoyable," he said.

Idaho dirt bike rides

For more information on Idaho dirt bike rides, visit

Donn Dennis, left, of Dalton Gardens, and Alan Deyo, of Orofino, start their dirt motocycle journey in Southern Idaho near Preston.


This map shows the 1,600-mile Tour of Idaho bike route that Donn Dennis and Alan Deyo completed in seven days.

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