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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Dublin, Ireland
    Posts
    22

    Default September - Montana>>Las Vegas

    Hi

    Myself and my girlfriend are planning to travel from Ireland and rent a car in Montana and take a road trip to Las Vegas. We are giving ourselves 15 days to do it. We plan to go to Yellowstone, Salt Lake City, Grand Canyon and Las Vegas.

    We're at the very very very early stages of planning and am looking for a bit of advice. We're thinking of flying into Billings, picking up a hire car and setting off from there.

    Can anyone recommend this trip, or would you do it differently. Is 15 days enough, or too long.

    I know Im being very vague at this stage, but want to start planning as soon as I can

    Thanks in advance

    Cian

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default Know Before You Go

    Céad Míle Fáilte! Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    I'm sorry to be the bearer of this news, and I hope I'm wrong, but you have posted this trip under the "Fall and Winter RoadTrips" and if you really do plan to do this drive in the winter, you should first be aware that most of roads in Yellowstone are closed for the winter. You will not be able to get to Old Faithful, the Fountain Paintpots, Yellowstone Lake or pretty much anywhere else in the park by car. The only road kept open goes east-west and you're going north-south. Similarly, the North Rim of the Grand Canyon is closed for the season as well.

    AZBuck

  3. #3

    Default September 2009, I presume

    Hello Cian,
    I think our new friend is planning for a September 09 trip, AZBuck. Is that correct Cian?

    If so, you're setting yourself up for a great trip and a great time to be there. Starting from Billings, you're in position to drive the Beartooth Highway from Red Lodge into Yellowstone and you should most certainly do that. I'd give consideration to exiting Yellowstone to the south, through the Tetons and Jackson Hole.

    Leaving there headed for the Salt Lake City (SLC) area, I'd want to drop south through Pinedale and Rock Springs on US 191 to Flaming Gorge. You can book a one day rafting trip on the Green River starting at the base of the massive Flaming Gorge Dam. It's a flatwater trip, but the autumn colors could be just about perfect.

    From there, I'd be tempted to stay south on 191 to Vernal, UT, thence west to Heber City, thence south down the canyon of the Provo River towards Provo, thence NW on the road accessing Sundance Resort. That road traverses a large and thick alpine forest full of aspens, and the Wasatch Range, to join I-15 near Provo, some 25-30 miles south of SLC. If that's not a temptation, perhaps staying on US 40 at Heber City and overnighting at Park City (PC) would be enjoyable. There are a number of good restaurants, bars, and shops on the old Main Street, within walking distance of overnight accomodations there. It's but 30 minutes over Parley's Summit to SLC from PC.

    I don't have much to offer in the way of experience on the more southern leg of your trip, having but a single half-day drive through GCNP from Cameron towards Williams and a subsequent half-day at Hoover Dam (take the "inside the dam tour" if you're engineering-oriented).

    Without any real analysis, 15 days sounds like plenty of time, particularly if you plan to return your hire car in Vegas as opposed to returning it to MT. Given the often-incurred charges for a one way rental, I'd give consideration to flying to SLC and doing a "big loop" from there.

    With so much in the way of National Parks, an annual pass might be a wise purchase as it could save you some money on entrance fees.

    Enjoy the planning and the trip, and welcome to The States,

    Foy

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default My Bad

    Thanks, Foy, for pointing that out, I had missed it. By all means then, Fall is a great time to travel the mountains of the west. I did a somewhat similar RoadTrip a few years ago wherein I did a loop that included a leg from Las Vegas to Yellowstone, and there is actually quite a lot to see in that area and 15 days will be quite sufficient to have a very nice drive and wander off the beaten path a bit. As Foy suggested, US-191 is clearly your initial route of choice through both Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons. I think I might be tempted to take US-89 instead to Salt Lake city and the Great Salt Lake and then back track a bit and use I-80 to Green River, WY then WY-530/UT-44 down through Flaming Gorge NRA and back to US-191 for Dinosaur National Monument and US-40/CO-64/CO-139(a lovely mountain road) to Colorado National Monument and Arches National Park. From there, I-70/I-15 would bring you by Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks on your way to Las Vegas. You could see the Grand Canyon either as a detour on this last leg or as a two day out and back trip from Las Vegas. And by all means, get a National Parks Pass, available at the first park entrance you come to.

    AZBuck

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,749

    Default A couple of ideas heading South.

    Continuing on from Foy's excellent ideas from I-15 I would cut across to the 89 and visit the wonderful parks of Bryce canyon and Zion N.P. After visiting these head through Page on the 89 [a possible visit to Antelope canyon] and continue South before heading West on the 64 [Desert view drive] through the East entrance of the Grand canyon where there are amazing viewpoints all the way along. First stop will be at the Old watchtower where you get open views of the Colorado. Between Page and G/C and time permitting you could head to Monument valley.
    Leave the G/C by the South entrance and head across the Hoover Dam to Vegas as previously suggested. Before the dam you can get off I-40 and travel part of the original route '66 passing through some quirky towns with there quirky memorabilia shops.

    The National parks annual pass is also a good idea. For $80 you can enter any N.P. or Fed lands. After 3 - 4 parks you will have your moneys worth, anything after that is a bonus.

    It is certainly doable in 15 days,especially one way

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Dublin, Ireland
    Posts
    22

    Default

    Thanks for the replies.

    AZBuck - Thanks for the Irish welcome! I'll be traveling in mid September so I hopefully wont have to worry about snow and closed roads.

    I'd prefer to pick up car in Billings and drop back in Las Vegas, rather than doing a large loop. I've looked at the costs of hiring car for both options and it's not really that big of a difference in price to warrant driving back.

    I had seen photos of Bryce & Antelope canyons but didnt realise that they were along (or near route), so I'd love to see them.

    Also, thats a good tip on the yearly membership for National Parks.

    Thanks for the help so far, I'll more than likely be back looking for more info.

    Cian

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Dublin, Ireland
    Posts
    22

    Default

    Might be an update to our schedule. Was considering flying into Missoula, and driving up to Glacier National Park for a day or so before coming back down to Yellowstone. Would you recommend it?

    Thanks

  8. #8

    Default Missoula is a great town

    I'm always in favor of a trip to Missoula. It's a fun college town with hotels, bars, and restaurants right along the Clark Fork River. Glacier is as spectacular of a place as you'll find anywhere, too.

    For a non-Interstate change of pace, consider routing yourself south down US 93 from Missoula to MT 43, then enter the Big Hole Valley, which in my mind is one of the most beautiful places on the planet. Just off the main highway, MT 278, lies Bannack, the first capital of Montana Territory. Bannack is an authentic ghost town, lovingly restored and protected as a state park. Traversing the Big Hole on MT 278 takes you to Dillon, MT, from which it's an easy jump over towards West Yellowstone, MT, via historic Virginia City.

    If you were to choose I-90 to travel from Missoula towards Yellowstone, by all means take the short loop route of MT 1 through Philipsburg and Anaconda, back to I-90 just west of Butte. Philipsburg is a cool little (former) mining town with an ice cream shop, soda fountain, and a large candy store. From I-90 you can enter Yellowstone from Bozeman, Gardiner, or travel farther east to Red Lodge and enter via the Beartooth Highway. Although a longer drive from Missoula, there's not much to top the Beartooth Highway in terms of dramatic alpine scenery.

    So, sure, Missoula's a grand idea, and you pretty much can't go wrong with routing yourself from there towards Yellowstone.

    Foy
    Last edited by Foy; 01-11-2009 at 10:18 AM. Reason: typos, clarification

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Dublin, Ireland
    Posts
    22

    Default Updates

    OK, nearly have a route planned from Missoula to las Vegas, here it goes. These are driving directions rather than overnight stops. Its mapped pretty much to the route we'll taken

    I have a Google map of it if you'd like to view. Love to know everyones thoughts on it.
    http://tinyurl.com/7a4eg5

    Thanks

    Cian

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,749

    Default Zion or G/C ?

    Hi Cian,

    It's taking shape nicely and you are going to see many wonderful things.

    Depending on how you schedule your time I would consider either returning to I-15 from Bryce by going down the 89 and onto the 9 through the Mount Carmel highway tunnel and visit Zion, or continue South on the 89 through Page and loop around the 64 through the Grand canyon and approach Vegas from the Hoover Dam. It would need an extra night ,but boy it's worth it. I would even consider doing both by coming through Zion to Bryce and then G/C but it does come down to balancing your time.

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