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  1. #1

    Default September 2010 - Seattle to Yellowstone, too much driving?

    i am planning a holiday at the end of september, around the 21st, for 2 weeks. the only idea at the moment is to fly in and out of seattle. possibly looking at driving to yellowstone park, but i am concerned about the amount of driving this might take and don't want to bite off more than i can chew, or waste alot of time on the road, although i do like driving and getting to see varied landscapes etc.

    1 seattle
    2 seattle
    3 seattle
    4 drive - spokane (mainly on I-90, but maybe hit a bit of I-2 to make a more interesting drive)
    5 drive - missoula/butte/bozeman, depending on fatigue
    6 drive - yellowstone
    7 yellowstone
    8 yellowstone
    9 drive - around american falls ID, or arco ID. is it worth seeing the craters of the moon monument??
    10 drive - around boise ID
    11 drive - route 20, around burns OH
    12 drive across to newport
    13 drive up the coast towards olympic national park
    14 around olympic national park
    15 fly home

    i have driven in the US quite a bit, and the best part of past holidays have been the drives and getting to see places off the beaten track. this is just a very rough idea i have come up with, looking at a map, but any advice would be welcome. i have visited seattle and driven down to san francisco before and hit portland and mount st helens on the way. my partner has never visited this part of the world though, but i'm not bothered about seeing stuff again, i love that area.

    another consideration is what is the weather like at the end of september/first few days of october. i've only been in july, when it was very hot. are there many road closures this time of year?

    should i consider a different route from seattle and forget about yellowstone, so i can have more of a flexible driving trip? would gas money be enormous for this trip?

    any advice would be great, i always find it hard to judge driving distances in the US. the reality of the enormity of the place doesn't hit home when looking at a map.


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    Seattle to Yellowstone can easily be driven in 2 days (it's about 800 miles by most direct route), so it looks like you have allowed plenty of time to make this trip. I wouldn't expect any road closures yet, but snow is a possibility in the Yellowstone area. It's hard to predict gas prices, but I would not expect you to have to pay more than 20 cents a mile unless you rent a huge beast with a large V-8 engine.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Looks fine.

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    With 5 days spent in Seattle and Yellowstone combined, you have around 10 days to cover the 2200 odd miles round trip, so all in all a pretty relaxed pace that shouldn't leave you "fatigued". Your daily mileage counts look fine as well with time to take in some of the towns and sights along the way, and if you wish to visit Yellowstone there is no reason to "forget about it," is there ? When leaving Yellowstone it would be worth taking US 89/191 through the Grand Tetons.

    Seeing that you are another UK'er, I think you will find the gas expense to be a complete bargain !

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default So Close and Yet So Different

    Besides the big obvious destinations like Yellowstone, there are lots of less well known places to visit which are essentially right on your route. As you cross northern Idaho between Spokane and Yellowstone, be sure to check out Coeur d'Alene and the Pend Oreille Scenic Byway and MT-200 as an alternative way to cross the continental divide. To be honest, I might skip Craters of the Moon but there are a number of worthwhile stops in the Snake River Valley, my favorite being Bruneau Canyon. And the Oregon Coast has no shortage of great state parks and historic sites associated with Lewis and Clark, but actually one place I thoroughly enjoyed was a bit inland from Tillamook, the Tillamook Forest Center.


  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2009
    SF Bay Area

    Default Options

    One of my personal favorites in that neck of the woods is Helena, the Montana state capitol. I haven't been there in a few years, but I recall enjoying visiting the Capitol (has some huge murals), Last Chance Gulch (the old downtown section), and the boat ride through "Gates of the Mountains" on the upper Missouri.

    This would be an option for an overnight stop, or just a jog through.

    One other option you may want to consider is stealing a day or two somewhere else and throwing in Glacier National Park on your loop.

    In central Oregon, other than Burns you may want to consider the Bend/Sisters area, or the Kah-Nee-Tah resort/casino on the Warm Springs Indian Reservation near Madras. (Warning; it's been 15 years or so since the last time I was there, but my kids loved it).

    From there my suggestion would be to head north to the Columbia Gorge, and follow the scenic road down towards Portland... stopping at some of the waterfalls (esp. Multnomah Falls) and a few of the overlooks.

    From Porland you could continue down river on US30 to Astoria, where you can pick up US101 to the Olympic peninsula. Downside of this routing is you won't get much time on the coast; just a bit around Astoria.

    hmmmmm. Is late September too late for Glacier? Anybody know? They have a pretty short season.
    Last edited by CalOldBlue; 05-13-2010 at 10:19 PM. Reason: having second thoughts about Glacier

  6. #6


    thanks for the advice, people! very helpful. still not convinced i want to do that much driving, i've only ever done around 1000/1300 miles in any one trip, but that was always in a shorter space of time, so i guess this shouldn't be too bad.

    my route is pretty open to change at the moment, so any ideas, feel free to throw them my way. i might try and stick a visit to portland in at some point. spent an afternoon there once, and quite liked it.

    any idea about climate around that time of year? i've heard a few differing opinions.

    thank you, thank you, thank you!

  7. #7

    Default Craters of the Moon

    Hello grampus,

    I'd have to say the landforms and rocks which created them at Craters are a sight rarely seen States. Sure, there are quite a number of other examples of recent vulcanism, but at Craters an entire menu of cones, lava tubes, lava caves, and such await you. It's possible a September visit wouldn't be so terribly hot, either. I was last there in July 1975, and it was stifling.


  8. Default

    Be careful with your time at Olymipic. Traffic around Seattle can be horrendous, like any big city. You will probably have to take a ferry across the bay, unless you approach from the southwest (which I wish I had done). I was there on a weekend, and cars were lined up FOR HOURS waiting for their turn!

    We were to Craters of the Moon in September. The park is much, much smaller than I expected, at least the part with roads through it. I thought it was interesting, especially the large lava fields along the main road. But my wife was thoroughly bored with it. We drove all of the short roads the evening we arrived, in order to familiarize ourselves with the place. The next morning, my wife decided that she saw enough already and "convinced" me that our time would be better spent elsewhere.

    Yellowstone is a destination in itself. You can see a lot in two days, but I think you'll be sad that you didn't plan for several more days. I've never heard anyone regret that they spent too many days there. The park is 2.5 million acres! And the attractions are spread around. There's a LOT of driving to be done at lower speeds throughout the park. When we were there last, we enjoyed staying at the very rustic cabins in the Roosevelt area. It was fun throwing extra logs in the wood stove to keep us warm in the middle of the night. But, it was a bit removed from the rest of the park.

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