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Nice Vista...If You Can Reach It!

Nice Vista...If You Can Reach It!

This photo was taken from the top of the hill on the eastern side of the little valley that Two Calf Creek runs through. More info about Two Calf Creek and the little valley is found in the previous photo.

But for discussion here, if you're driving east on the Missouri Breaks Backcountry Byway (toward the Kipp Recreation Area), after crossing Two Calf Creek in the valley below, the byway climbs an extremely steep hill to reach this vista. While the climb is not long (perhaps just 200-300 vertical feet and a 1/4 mile in length), the extreme slope makes for a rather percarious climb.

I have a four-wheel drive Toyota pickup with a 4 cylinder engine (thus, not a lot of power). I was unable to climb this steep slope without stalling in 2wd mode. I was also unable to climb the slope when I switched into 4wd "high", either. In order to climb this stretch of road, it was necessary to use 4wd "low," a gear that is often not needed and which few passenger cars have.

I bring this up to point out that if a passenger vehicle - two wheel drive or all-wheel drive - is unlikely to make it up this short but extremely steep climb. A "low" range, also known as a "granny gear," is needed to get out of the valley where Two Calf Creek flows through.

Moreover, I did this climb with perfect road conditions. Even a 4wd vehicle in low-range is likely to have huge problems attempting this climb when the road is even somewhat wet.

Finally, while the odds of seeing another car here right as you're climbing this hill are very low, if you're the type of person who gets snowed on during a Florida vacation, and faces tropical heat when visiting Barrow, Alaska, then you better pray that you don't meet a vechicle coming down the hill while you're going up it. There is absolutely no place to "move over" along this climb, and trying to go back up the hill in reverse is impossible. So that means the vehicle attempting to climb the hill will somehow have to navigate back down the hill in reverse (and good luck with that!).

If there's some good news here, it's that the climb out of this valley when driving west (toward Winifred) is easier. While there is a very steep spot, it isn't especially long. And visibilty is much better, so you don't have to worry about a vehicle coming down while you're going up. A two-wheel drive vehicle that gets up enough speed just 'might' be able to make it up the short, steep spot - assuming the engine has lots of power and the driver isn't especially concerned about what happens to the vehicle!! And a four-wheel drive vehicle, especially with low range, should have no issues even when road conditions are less than ideal.

So, the moral of the story is this. If you enter the little valley where Two Calf Creek crosses the Missouri Breaks Byway, you'll likely need 4wd low to climb up the eastern side. If you're unable to make it up the eastern side for whatever reason, try turning around and going up the western side. And if that fails, well....it's only a 10 mile or so hike to the Kipp Recreation Area from here (following the road east), so it's not like you're stranded in the middle of a vast wilderness.

Of course, if you get your vehicle stuck in this section of the drive, you'll have a very memorable experience trying to get it out of here!

More Information and Maps about the Missouri Breaks National Backcountry Byway

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