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  1. Default Yellowstone to Seattle/Pacific NW - need help with route and camping advice

    We're planning a trip to Yellowstone and need some help with the route from Yellowstone to Seattle.

    We arrive in Billings on June 10 morning and head to Red Lodge where we will stay the next day also to hike (maybe to Black Canyon Lake if it's not too tough).

    We are in Yellowstone from June 12-16 and then in Grand Tetons Park from June 16-18.
    We have booked a campsite at Canyon Village (2 nights), have a room at Grant Village (2 nights) and Old Faithful Inn (1 night).

    Haven't booked anything in Grand Tetons as we plan to get to one of the campsites, probably Lizard Creek, early. One problem is that we can't carry our camping gear other than tent and sleeping bags, so was wondering if we'll be able to manage at the campsite with nothing to cook on/with? Has anyone had a similar experience?

    We want to reach Seattle by about June 26 as we'll want a few days around there before flying off on June 30.

    So we have about 8 days (we can take a day off Tetons and add it here if need be). I'm having problems deciding on which route to take from Yellowstone to Seattle. I'd prefer going via Craters of the Moon NM to Ketchum/Sun Valley and working our way up going west through Bend, Century Drive (Route 372), Cascades Lake Scenic Byway and then via The Dalles (wineries) and along Mt. Rainier to Seattle. The question is, do we have enough time to do this in a leisurely way and is the fairly long drive from Ketchum to Bend (via Boise along US 20W I presume?) worth it in terms of interesting places/scenic routes?
    Any suggestions for this route and also for stops along the way?

    The other option is to go north from Ketchum towards Orofino, Lewiston, Walla Walla, Mt. Rainier, Seattle. Here again there is choice of either taking 95N near Ketchum to Orofino and Lewiston, or 93N to Lolo and then 12W to Orofino. Again, any suggestions here?

    Of the two, which would be the more interesting/scenic option? I know it's hard to answer that question for someone else as preferences vary. We like quieter roads, small interesting towns/villages to stop, scenic views (though with fewer curves as one of us can get car sick if the road is too winding), and even big towns if they have atmosphere.

    Also, which is the best way to get to Ketchum from Yellowstone? Google Maps suggests via Idaho Falls using US 191/26, then west on US 20 past Craters of the Moon and north on US 75 to Ketchum. Is that the best route?

    Thanks for your help!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Central Idaho

    Central Idaho is one of my favourite places, and you have chosen to go through some of the nicest there is. You certainly have the time to do the trip through Ketchum as you have laid out, without having to rush.

    I would not take route 20 to Boise. If you want a nice scenic drive, I would continue past Ketchum through central Idaho. When it comes to small interesting towns and scenic routes, central Idaho is hard to beat...... IMHO!

    After Craters of the Moon NM continue on to Twin Falls, and visit Shoshone Falls. They should still be flowing strongly. Just down from the falls, where the Snake River flows through the Canyon, is where Evil Knievel attempted to jump the canyon on his motorbike, and ended up floating with his parachute down into the Canyon. As you leave Twin Falls, on route 93 toward Ketchum, there is a great lookout by the Bridge over the Snake River.

    On the way to Ketchum you will come past the Ice Caves (quite intriguing) and the lava plains, which in some places come right up to the road. The road then takes you through the Sawtooth Recreation Area and over Galena Pass. Another great photo opportunity. Where the road follows the Salmon river, as you approach Stanley, is where the movie The River of No Return was filmed.

    Don't miss out on visiting the lovely little settlement of Stanley. Its 100 permanent residents swell to many times that during the summer. And it has a great bakery. See if you can make a visit to Red Fish Lake with kayaking, fishing, etc. Take the scenic Ponderosa Highway (21), which passes Stanley Lake, a serene spot to stop, relax and make a cuppa or even camp a night. At Banks you can pick up route 58 to Lewiston, and continue the route as mentioned. I have not actually been all the way up there.

    You will find that there are numerous camping opportunities in all these areas, from organised campgrounds, to back country camping.


  3. Default Great ideas. Does Columbia River Hwy fit?

    Thanks, Lifey! I looked around a bit more and you've got me sold on Central Idaho. I'm thinking now of continuing with option 2, i.e. drive up through Idaho towards Lewiston and then veering west and driving along the Columbia river (Historic Columbia River Hwy) towards The Dalles and then head north towards Mt. Rainier and Seattle. Will work out the route.
    But again, would love it if anyone has ideas for this stretch.

    I was checking going to Twin Falls from Craters of the Moon and then taking US 93 to Ketchum. The only thing is that it increases driving time a fair bit. We will pass through the Sawtooth Recreational Area on our way to Stanley (thanks for the tip!), so do you think Twin Falls is worth about a 2 hour detour? Perhaps we'll just detour 1 hour to Shoshone Falls, as it does sound tempting.
    Where exactly are the Ice Caves?


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia


    That drive along the Columbia River is a very pleasant drive. But you can always see how you are going for time when you get to Walla Walla or Kennewick. You will then have the option of taking the Columbia River route, or 82 and 12 direct to Rainier.

    The falls are very nice. In Spring they are said to be larger than Niagara. They taper off, after that. But it all depends how it fits in with your time schedule. I am not sure I would run myself late, and perhaps take chances I would not want to, to get to my planned destination. Depending on where you plan on staying or what you have booked, you could drive from Yellowstone, through Idaho Falls, Craters of the Moon to Twin Falls. With the following day taking the drive from Twin Falls to Ketchum and Stanley.

    The Ice Caves are on the west side of 75, about 15 (or so) miles north of the junction with 93. Well signposted. You can't miss it.

    .... so do you think Twin Falls is worth about a 2 hour detour? Perhaps we'll just detour 1 hour to Shoshone Falls ...
    You can't actually access the falls from north of the river. The access to the Park is through Twin Falls.
    Last edited by Lifemagician; 05-08-2011 at 01:54 AM. Reason: added info

  5. Default

    Thanks again Lifey! I had planned we'd stop around Sun Valley the first night and then maybe Stanley the second, but since we haven't booked anything we're flexible and can follow our fancies (up to a point:-).

    Thanks also for the info about Shoshone Falls only being accessible from Twin Falls. So it would only be worth detouring to see them together. We'll see how we're doing for time and take a call.


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