This is a 74-mile tour that, for much of the route, parallels the Clark Fork River, which bisects Pend Oreille County, once one of the most sparsely populated in the state. Swinging in a westerly direction from Newport, the highway climbs for a few miles and then, turning to the north, winds along the west side of the river as far as Metaline Falls. Here it crosses to the east bank and continues northward to the Canadian Line.
The route is marked by a succession of logged-off and forested hills, stump ranches, valley farms, and small mill and mining towns. Ages ago this region was covered by glaciers, which ground their way southward, forcing the river to reverse its direction. When the glaciers retreated, the river resumed the northward course.