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  1. Default 3 night road trip: Salt Lake to Jackson

    Hi all

    I'll be doing a car camping road trip this coming weekend, and I am looking for suggestions. The basic idea is that I will be renting a car at 4pm on Thursday at the Sale Lake Airport, and need to return it to the Jackson, WY airport on Sunday for a 6pm flight. I want to drive through Idaho and then spend most of my time in Montana, and avoid the Yellowstone/Teton fee areas.

    So far, I plan to camp on Thursday night in the Bridger-Teton National Forest off of US-89 south of Smoot and Afton, WY. From there, I plan on heading west on US-26 at Alpine Junction, going past Idaho Falls on to US-20, and then start to head north on US-93 (Salmon River Scenic Byway).

    I have determined that I can reach Missoula with 1-2 hours of sun left, so I need to find some nice BLM or Forestry land near there to camp at (any suggestions?).

    The other void I need to fill is my Saturday and night 3 before I begin my Sunday return trip to Jackson. Does anyone have any suggestions for nice drives in the Central/West Montana area? I would like to make it to a motel in Bozeman around 5pm, so I don't need anything too extravagant.

    My return trip from Bozeman brings me south down US-191 along the non-fee area of Yellowstone until I come to West Yellowstone. From there I will get on US-20 Southbound to ID-47 (Mesa Falls Scenic Byway), and then continue south on to ID-32 (Teton Scenic Byway) until I hit Wyoming and take WY-22 through Teton Pass back to Jackson. This is supposed to only be a 5 hour drive, so I shouldn't be too stressed about time before my late afternoon flight.

    It sounds wonderful, the road/weather conditions look favorable for this weekend (some showers but hopefully little snow -- fingers crossed), and it gives me the opportunity to go through forests and areas of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem that I have yet to explore.

    I just basically need some suggestions for night 2 (Friday) and all day on Saturday. Hopefully it's not too late to ask about this, but I have hope :)

    Thank you all.

  2. #2

    Default Montana cruising

    You indicate wanting to overnight in the vicinity of Missoula and Bozeman and that you'd like some Montana cruising outside of fee areas. Here are some thoughts:

    Well outside of Missoula is Lost Trail Pass, the ID-MT border along US 93. Just east of the pass are some NF campgrounds along MT 43. Just a bit further E is the Big Hole National Battlefield, a sobering place to visit.

    On the other side of Missoula, about 20 miles E on I-90, is the mouth of Rock Creek. Rock Creek is canyon about 50 miles long and is largely within the Lolo and the Beaverhead-Deerlodge NFs. The first 10 miles is private, developed, and paved. After that, the road turns to gravel for the next 35 miles or so. Most would recommend a high-clearance vehicle (not necessarily 4WD) but the last time I was through there, plenty of conventional cars were on the road. It's NF road and is well-maintained. There are a good half-dozen NF campgrounds along the creek, and the farther you go upstream, the quieter it gets. You can exit the canyon on the south, upstream end of this jaunt and take a left over the John Long Mountains to the beautiful town of Philipsburg, MT. P'burg is along MT 1 a state scenic route. Taking MT 1 over the pass by Georgetown Lake then takes you through Anaconda. From the Butte side of Anaconda, there's a paved road over a pass within the Mt Haggin Wilderness area which comes out on MT 43 along the Big Hole River. Immediately east of this junction is the crossroads community of Wise River. At Wise River, the Pioneer Mts Scenic Parkway runs for about 35 miles south, all paved, over to MT 278 at Polaris, MT. From Polaris, you can take MT 278 over to Dillon, thence you can run up through Virginia City over to Ennis/Madison, near Yellowstone, or you can go south on I-15 for a short distance to Lima/Monida and cross over through Idaho and into WY on the "back way" to Jackson. Note that this does not take you through Bozeman.

    Another thought is to enter the Big Hole Valley at the Battlefield, thence south on MT 278 at Wisdom, through Jackson, then north on the Pioneer Mts Parkway. From Wise River, MT 43 runs over to I-15 just south of Butte, and Bozeman is just up the road from Butte.

    Aside from the incredible scenery of the Big Hole, one can see the battlefield and can take a very short sidetrip to Bannack, the first territorial capital of MT. It's a state park and is authentically restored.

    So, there are a few ideas. Details (more specific route descriptions, etc) available upon request. While not focused on Missoula or Bozeman, these routes serve up plenty of out-of-the-way, locals only cruising and car camping. That said, there are some nice B&Bs in the Philipsburg and a whole host of mainstream motels in Dillon.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Excellent Ideas!

    Quote Originally Posted by Foy View Post
    At Wise River, the Pioneer Mts Scenic Parkway runs for about 35 miles south, all paved, over to MT 278 at Polaris, MT. From Polaris, you can take MT 278 over to Dillon, thence you can run up through Virginia City over to Ennis/Madison, near Yellowstone,
    Foy, I have traveled on most of the roads, but it has been over thirteen years and it is wonderful getting an update on this area.

    Excellent job!


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