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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    London, England
    Posts
    13

    Default San Francisco, Seattle, Glacier NP, Yellowstone, RMNP to Denver in two weeks?

    I've been planning our next trip to the US for ages but only now, with a couple months left am I getting anywhere close to organised.

    We've been to San Francisco, Yellowstone and Denver on previous trips, but want to use the two cities as start and end points this time, and can't wait to return to Yellowstone.

    Here is the current itinerary idea, planned to fly out the last Friday in August:

    Friday - Fly LHR to SFO, pick up car, overnight in SF.
    Sat - Take advantage of Jetlag - early start north, some vineyards in Napa Valley and then up the coast, stay somewhere around Fort Bragg.
    Sun - Head on up the coast, see lots of Redwoods, stay somewhere close to OR border.
    Mon -Head for Seattle, enjoy whatever is on the way - not really researched this bit yet!
    Tues - Enjoy Seattle area
    Weds - Head east through Washington, to stay somewhere around Spokane.
    Thurs - Nip across Idaho and into Montana for trip up to Glacier NP
    Fri - Drive the 'Going to the Sun Road', enjoy the scenery, stay east side of Glacier.
    Sat - Turn south to get to Yellowstone area.
    Sun/Mon - We know there is plenty to stay around Yellowstone for! End Monday south of the park, stay around Jackson Hole.
    Tues - Two days to get to RMNP, not entirely sure of route, but one day is probably pushing it.
    Thurs - Trail Ridge Road and explore RMNP. stay in Boulder or straight to Denver
    Fri - Enjoy Denver area, hit the malls for some shopping to take home.
    Sat - Fly back to London.

    Approx Google Maps plan looks like this: http://goo.gl/maps/aLjX

    Plan is still pretty vague, so very keen to hear any thoughts. It's quite a lot of driving, with just the mapped route being 2632 miles, so I guess it will be 3500 once we include exploring, but we've done similar before and had a great time. I had looked at a circular route from Denver, but prefer the variety on this route, and flight prices are similar and one-way charges on the car rental not too bad.

    Are we pretty safe to be driving as north and high elevation as Glacier NP right at the beginning of September? I know there was snow in mid September last year and the GTTS road had to be closed. Obviously don't want to get stranded, although we can re-route further south and miss that section if weather is looking cold.

    Any thoughts very much appreciated!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

    Default

    Welcome!

    May I suggest you cut across to the coast from Petaluma to Bodega Bay, and head north from there? The scenery all the way up CA-1 is spectacular.

    If you spend Sunday night in Crescent City, it's 500 miles from there to Seattle which is a full day's drive up 199 and I-5.

    Weather permitting, the last day the GTSR will be open this year is September 18.

    There's not much in the way of places to stay east of Glacier along your proposed route. There's a few places in East Glacier, but I don't think there's anything else between there and Choteau, then Augusta, then Helena. Choteau and Augusta appear to be extremely limited.

    Jackson to RMNP can be done in one long day, but I'd take my time and do it in 2. Your map agrees with my mapping software as being the fastest way. However - if you have 2 days, I'd do this - leave Yellowstone via the northeast entrance and take the Beartooth Highway through Red Lodge to I-90. Then you can take that to I-25 and approach RMNP from the east through Loveland, which has a very good selection of reasonably-priced hotels. Then you can take US-34 up Big Thompson canyon to Estes Park and take Trail Ridge Road over the top down to Granby, take US-40 over Berthoud Pass to I-70 back to Denver. If you do take the Beartooth, it may be better to spend Monday night in the park or in Cooke City - there's a Super 8 and a few lodges there.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default East of GNP

    Quote Originally Posted by glc View Post
    There's not much in the way of places to stay east of Glacier along your proposed route. There's a few places in East Glacier, but I don't think there's anything else between there and Choteau, then Augusta, then Helena. Choteau and Augusta appear to be extremely limited.
    Shelby has some lovely accommodation, and is such a quaint little town. Great services and a relaxed pace. I could have stayed there for days.

    And even though I have not been there, I believe these facilities are also available in Great Falls. The visitor information in Shelby was one of the most helpful I have been to.

    Lifey
    Last edited by Lifemagician; 06-17-2011 at 08:15 PM. Reason: correction

  4. Default

    Personally i think it's way to much driving. I'd cut something out and get it under 2,000 miles. You could drop Denver and fly out from Jackson Hole (ok so the flights would probably involve a stop, but it would be better).

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

    Default

    Shelby and Great Falls is not along the route on the linked map. To stay there would require remapping.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default 50% is very acceptable

    Quote Originally Posted by WhyHelloThere View Post
    Personally i think it's way to much driving. I'd cut something out and get it under 2,000 miles.
    Not sure what criteria you use to come to that conclusion.

    With 15 days, even if the total mileage comes to 3500 (which it may not), that really is less than 50% of the time on the road. For the majority of road trips, that's a very acceptable mix.

    Lifey

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    London, England
    Posts
    13

    Default

    Thanks for all the thoughts.

    As to distance, we did a trip in 2007 from SF to Vegas, via Lake Tahoe, Sun Valley, Yellowstone, Salt Lake City and Zion NP which was mapped at about 2250 miles and in reality was just over 3000. We didn't feel like we spent too much time in the car, and the only really long day was driving across the top of Nevada from Lake Tahoe, which dragged on a little as there's little to see, but most drives can be broken up with interesting stops, so I'm not too worried about the distance.

    That said, the idea of Crescent City, CA to Seattle in one day looks a bit much - over 500 miles and at least 9 hours driving, so adding in stops that would be rather a long day and with no time to really see anything on the way. I think I need to adjust that part of the trip a little.

    I like the idea of driving the Beartooth Highway, and heading out that way from Yellowstone then makes me wonder about getting to Custer State Park and Mount Rushmore, but then I really am getting the mileage a bit high. Lots to think about!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

    Default

    *IF* you have the time, Custer and Rushmore are no problem - just stay on I-90 instead of going down I-25. To get to Denver from there, you can take US-385/SD-89/US-18 to I-25. You should add a day to do that, it's a very long 2 day drive without stopping at either attraction.

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