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  1. Default Boston to Glacier NP, Yellowstone and Utah

    Hello folks,

    I'm currently planning my late summer and Fall road trip and while I have a fair idea of what I'm trying to accomplish, I'd like some suggestions on best travel routes.

    I will be driving from Boston to tour the greater Rocky Mountain region and I would like to visit the following National Parks: Glacier, Yellowstone, Grand Teton, Badlands, Rocky Mountain, Arches, Canyonlands.

    I did parts of this trip last year taking I-90 most of the way and I really hated the interstate, especially all of the tolls east of the Mississippi.

    My timing also worked out poorly for visting Glacier NP. After several days in the Yellowstone area, I arrived at Glacier's western entrance the day after most of the Going to the Sun Road was closed from that direction. I would like to avoid that this trip by possibly visiting Glacier NP before going to Yellowstone.

    So here are my possible route ideas. I'd love any opinions on which of these is more favorable and also any alternate suggestions regarding both the route and places to visit. I should be able to leave Boston around August 23rd.


    One possibility is to drive through part of Canada, picking up Hwy 17 (Trans Canada?) just over the New York border and re-entering the US in Wisconsin. Then making my way to Glacier NP from there.

    By going this route, I will eventually have to backtrack to South Dakota if I decide I really want to go to Badlands and Mt Rushmore, but I can always do a clockwise loop starting from Yellowstone/Grand Teton

    I was thinking I'd go to Yellowstone from Glacier. I would spend a week in the Yellowstone area, visiting Grand Teton NP and Cody WY while there, and then drive the Beartooth Highway out to Red Lodge and head over to SD from there.

    From SD, I'd then drive down to Colorado to visit Rocky Mountain NP and then drive to Moab, Utah from Colorado to visit Arches and Canyonlands. I'd spend the rest of my trip puttering around Utah, I think.

    US 20

    The alternative route is to take US 20 most of the way, visiting Badlands National Park and any of the other places in SD I want to see, and then heading towards Glacier from there. That way, after Glacier, I can swing down to Yellowstone, Grand Tetons and then head into Utah.

    I would possibly skip Rocky Mountains NP on this trip, depending on just how much time I spent elsewhere and what you folks think might work best. I could alternatively visit Rocky Mountain NP on the way home since I'll likely take I-70 back if the weather is okay.

    The only thing I don't like about US 20 is that it still goes through large population areas like Chicago, but if there's anything interesting on that route, I can deal with it.


    Only three real Must Do's for this trip: Glacier, Yellowstone and Moab.

    Badlands isn't a critical part of the trip. I went there last year and thought it was cool and I would kind of like to go back and also visit some of the other sites in the area, such as Mt Rushmore, Buffalo Gap and Thunder Basin. But if you think a better trip could be planned by skipping it, there's always next time :)

    I'm in no particular rush for the journey (I'm planning a minimum of 8 weeks) and in fact I'd like to take things a bit more slowly than I usually do. Last year, I felt like I had to basically race to Yellowstone because I had a lodging reservation and as you probably know, Yellowstone lodging is nearly always booked. This year, I'm making no such plans. I'll sleep in the minivan at one of the campgrounds instead.

    As mentioned, I will be driving a minivan and plan to spend at least a few nights a week sleeping in it. So my big concern is how late into the Fall is the weather fairly comfortable at these parks.

    I can't leave Boston before August 23rd and I should be able to stay out west until at least the end of October. When I'm ready to head back, I'll likely use I-70 or I-40 to head East - depending on how late I'm returning and what the weather is like.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Some Wonderful Alternatives to the Interstates

    I've done that drive up over the top of the Great Lakes going through Montréal, Ottawa, Sudbury and crossing back into the US at Sault Ste. Marie, MI (Wisconsin does not share a border with Canada), and I think you'll find it much more enjoyable than I-90. Just make sure you have your passport in order. It's also not that tough to get back down onto I-90 from the UP of Michigan. Take US-2/US-41 down to Oshkosh, WI, then WI-21 west to I-90. After visiting the Badlands, Mount Rushmore, Devils Tower, and the other sites in that area, work your way up to Glacier and then work your way down the Rockies as you will. If you finish up at Arches, whatever else you decide to see in Utah, then as you say, it's a simple matter to include Rocky Mountain National Park. Then, depending on what you want to see on the way home, you might want to consider roads such as US-30 (rather than I-80) along the Platte River in Nebraska (the former Oregon Trail), US-34 across southern Iowa farm country (and a visit to the legendary Ottumwa), US-34/US-24 across Illinois and Indiana, to Fort Wayne, and US-30 to eastern Ohio, and with a little connection work, US-6 across northern Pennsylvania.

    I wouldn't worry much about the weather. It will be cool at night, but some good blankets will be all you need. You will need to keep a couple of windows open a crack to avoid building up moisture from your breath inside the car. You could otherwise wake up with your bedding and cloths soaked as well as some seriously steamed windshields.

    Last edited by AZBuck; 05-16-2011 at 09:18 AM. Reason: Corrected Route Numbers

  3. Default

    Oh, Michigan! I think I need my eyes checked before looking at Google Maps :)

    I do have my passport so I'm all set with that. I actually stopped in Canada on the last trip during a detour to Niagara Falls. Heading back to I-90 in Wisconsin sounds like a good plan. I actually didn't mind it from that point onward. Far less congestion on it at that point.

    Thanks for the suggestions on the return routes. I'll add those to my road trip file.You've been a big help!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia


    I'd have to agree that the trip through Canada is a great route to take. I actually went from Boston to Niagara, Toronto and then Sudbury and onto St Paul.

    You might like to add a route through the Big Horn Mountains in north eastern WY. Alt 14, rather than 14, takes you over the high plain, to the Medicine Wheel and on to the Bighorn Canyon. A really great drive and lots of wildlife, without the crowds.

    If you have a good sleeping bag, then sleeping in a mini van will be most comfortable. A couple of years ago I did it in the Rockies, in October. You may also like to avail your self of travel plazas/truck stops which make RVs welcome.


  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default another alternative

    I've taken the exact route that Buck Suggested over the top of the Great Lake and back down to I-90 and I thought it was a very nice and enjoyable trip. I've also gone up from Toronto and over to Sault Ste. Marie. One note on traveling through Canada right now, however, is that it is much more expensive than traveling through the US. The very high value of the Canadian Dollar vs. the US Dollar just means you can't buy as much, plus things like gas are already taxed at a higher level. Gas will cost you at least $1 more per gallon in Canada.

    Having said all that, if you've already taken I-90 across South Dakota, I'd seriously consider taking a more northern path. You could follow US-2, as described in great detail in the book Roadtrip USA, and follow the southern shore of Lake Superior, across the northwoods of Minnesota. You could continue taking US-2 all the way to Glacier, or you could dip down to I-94 for the trip across North Dakota - making sure to stop at the Northern Badlands found around Teddy Roosevelt National Park.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default US-2 route.

    That is such a lovely route. A road less travelled.

    In 2009, it took me from Shelby MT all the way to Grand Forks ND. Very little traffic, and a noticable absence of 18 wheelers. And so many interesting attractions which are not highlights in tourist brochures. Lots of small towns, almost all of which have something different to offer. A couple I recall, had small galleries at the visitor centre. So it can't be thought of as a quick drive, but definitely a very interesting one.

    I had the book which Michael mentions, with me, but have to admit that I rarely stopped to look at it. Just perused it the night before, to get a general idea of what lay ahead.

    Last edited by Southwest Dave; 05-16-2011 at 08:29 AM.

  7. Default

    Michael, good point about Canadian prices. I looked at Google maps and it looks like it is about 538 miles from border to border on that road. I think if I decide to go that route, I can fill up before I cross into Canada and then I'll only need to stop for gas once in Canada. Are there many campgrounds on that route? I could probably save money on a motel stay too if I stay in a campground.

    Hopefully by also avoiding all those toll roads on I-90 I can make up the extra expense of driving through Canada. I don't remember exactly what I spent on tolls last year, but I-90 had tollbooths all the way to the Wisconsin border, I think.

    US-2 looks like a real possibility. I also didn't visit North Dakota last year, so Teddy Roosevelt NP would be a nice visit. Hmmm. You guys are giving me lots of new possibilities :)

    I think I have an old edition of that book someplace. I'll have to take a look for it.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    There are plenty of campgrounds, and I will say that Ontario's Prov. Parks system is very well done. I've camped at several, and haven't found a bad one yet. The downside is the price - again because of the Dollar, I believe I paid about $40 for a tent site last summer.

    I'm certainly not saying you shouldn't go because of the price, and if you're only drive through for a couple days, it's not going to be a huge deal in your overall budget. Just something to keep in mind and plan for.

  9. Default

    $40 for at tent site? Yikes! Oh well. Thankfully, I don't think my budget will be too tight. The trip I did last year, I stayed in motels every night, so this year hopefully will be a lot cheaper, even with the higher gas prices I'm expecting.

    Lifey, US 2 sounds like a great route. Any road without lots of 18 wheelers is a dream road for me :)

  10. Default

    Hello all, I am currently on the road. As of today, it has been a week. Just thought I would uupdate you all about changes made en route.

    A friend of mine lives in lower Michigan, so I made a route change to accomodate a visit and ended up crossing the Canadian border near Niagara Falls, spent the night in Hamilton, ONT and then drove to Fremont, MI. Spent a few days with my friend, then I drove up to the UP.

    I was going to stick to US-2, but I ended up taking a detour north to go see Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. I am now back on US-2 in Ironwood, MI and I'm considering making my way to I-94 and going to Teddy Roosevelt NP. I'll head up to Glacier after that. But I'm nnot quite decided. I wrenched my back a few days ago, so I've only been driving about 200 miles or so per day as it starts to ache quite a bit. So it would likely take me another 2-3 days to get to Teddy Roosevelt. Or I could just meander up US-2. I guess I will decide when I get to the point where I need to turn off :)
    Last edited by jennstall; 09-01-2011 at 07:33 PM. Reason: spelling

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