Riding Route 71 Sioux Narrows Canada
For riders living in the Midwest, heading north over the boarder to Canada can make for some interesting rural riding. The Canadian Shield is rugged, vast, and wild. Roads are fairly limited and the highway can be a bit boring, but getting off the beaten path can make for great dual sporting and there are some cruising roads to be had. The most popular route in Central Canada tends to be the North Shore of Lake Superior. However, if you have done the Circle Tour and you are looking for something new, Highway 71 offers a great alternative experience. Highway 71 runs north-south along the shores of Lake of the Woods (LOTW), connecting TransCanada 11 and 17.
Riders coming from the Midwest will enter Canada at the International Falls, MN / Fort Frances, ON border crossing. Ride through Michigan’s Upper Peninsula if it’s on your way. The small town crossing can be busy with trucks hauling fishing boats on long weekends, but typically the wait times are low. From there, ride west on the TransCanada Highway 11, until the Highway 71 intersection.
Alternatively, if you are coming from the North and Canadian Prairies; connect onto the 71 from TransCanada Highway 17A and ride south. The route makes for a great change of scenery and riding conditions for the flatlander riders.
Wildlife and Geography
The first section of the road is flat and straight through lower lying farm land. After about 30 minutes the road begins to change and becomes rockier with slight inclines and starts to meander. As you approach the first town, Nestor Falls, the ride becomes much more scenic and engaging.
The road hugs the shoreline of LOTW and other smaller lakes, making for great views. As you ride the Canadian Shield, you pass through many impressive rock cuts. The Boreal Forest along the shoulder of the road is home to many, many deer. I personally had a near miss riding my old DRZ SM, catching the back leg of a deer with my front tire. You will likely see at least one carcass on the side of the road that was struck by a vehicle, so keep your eyes peeled for darting animals. Wildlife is plentiful; black bears, moose, beavers, birds, snapping turtles and smaller animals inhabit the area, making it a great place for nature lovers to pass through.
Sioux Narrows & Nestor Falls
The township of Sioux Narrows – Nestor Falls sits on the shores of Lake of the Woods in Sunset County, a lake renowned for fishing and boating. There are only about 600 permanent residents in SN/NF. The population doubles in the summer time as the area is a popular destination for cottagers from Ontario, Manitoba, the Midwest, and beyond.
Riders can stop for a rest, food, and some sightseeing. The Northern Ontario Sport Fishing Center is relatively new to the community and has turned into the main stop for travelers. Should you be staying in the community, chartered fishing trips for Walleye, Musky, and Bass are all available, with fishing tourism being the main industry in the township. Also, you could partake in some paddling, with canoe or kayak rentals.
On your way out of town you will ride across the Sioux Narrows Bridge which was replaced in 2007. Prior to this, the originally constructed bridge (1936) was an all-wooden truss bridge. It was the longest single-span wooden bridge in North America at 210 ft.
Rushing River Provincial Park
North of Sioux Narrows is the Rushing River Provincial Park, one of the area’s most popular camping destinations, with many Manitoban and American visitors. A picturesque waterfall forms where Dogtooth Lake feeds into Blindfold Lake. A swimming area, walking trials and well-kept camp sites make this an ideal stop for anyone on a motorcycle camping trip.
Where to go from There?
At the end of the road you can head west or east on the TransCanada. Heading west will take you to the Canadian Prairies, Rocky Mountains and eventually the Pacific Coast. Once through the Prairies, the riding is some of the best Canada has to offer. For a closer ride, approximately an hour west is the Whiteshell Provincial Park in MB, which is a popular riding destination for local motorcyclists.
Riding east brings you to the North Shore of Lake Superior, the world’s largest fresh water lake. The ride along the shoreline is sure to impress with sweeping corners, hill climbs and ruggedly beautiful scenery. The ride is by far the best within a few days ride in either direction.
- Food: Some lodges such as White Birch Lodge have restaurants where higher end meals are available. For quick pub grub, Monique's Lawg Cabin in Nestor Falls and Big John's Bar & Grill in Sioux Narrows are worth a visit.
- Camping: Rushing River Provincial Park is a must see. Backcountry camping is plentiful, but you will need a GPS and a dual sport or ADV bike to tackle most of the old logging roads that lead to small lakes and secluded camping locations.
- Lodging: Totem Resorts in Sioux Narrows is a family run lodge with a prime lake location where you can get your fill of Walleye and drinks. There are many fishing resorts along the way, as well as cabin type accommodations. A few minutes west of the Highway 17 / 71 intersection is the tourist town of Kenora, ON with many available accommodations.
- Gas: Fill up in International Falls, your last chance at cheap American gas. Gas is available in Sioux Narrows across the street from the Northern Ontario Sport Fishing Center, and in Kenora northwest of the route.