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  1. Default Northern Califonia to Yellowstone and loop back through Washington

    Hello I am planning a trip for our family for September. We love road trips and go often. I have been able to use countless suggestions for routes by simply searching this forum, thank you all. I have a few aspects to this trip that have made my planning rather challenging and need some input.

    My wife and I will be taking our 5 and 10 year old children. We will be traveling in our 1985 26ft Class C. Though shes old, she has a new motor and is in tip top shape! We prefer the shorter drive (4 hour), more stops, more sites type of road trip, but we have and can make the 23+hour straight trips too (though, the wife doesn't like it so much). Last September we did a 3500 mile loop to Texas and back, it was the best ever road trip!!! one for the books. We love big cities (though the Class C makes them hard) and we love the wilderness/mountains.

    That said, we meeting friends in Yellowstone Sept 15-19.

    Also, I want the ride home to be about 4 hours or less drive a day from Seattle, down Columbia River Gorge to portland, eugene, to coast, and down pch/hwy 101 along coast through redwoods to Stockton, Ca. - points of interest or must stay destinations and input would be greatly appreciated. - Im thinking this would be 6-8 days? maybe thats too much, or not enough?

    Option 1:
    We considered 2 days driving first to Rushmore, taking a day, then a day to yellowstone and taking the slow road home. 3 weeks is too much time away, 2-2 1/2 weeks is the sweet spot, but were flexible. I fear we wouldnt have enough time for the drive home. We would miss the Grand Tetons. Im thinking maybe we put off Rushmore for another trip next year (maybe on the way to New York??;). and plus that's another 16 hours of driving and gas $ we could save.

    Option 2:
    I think we should drive to Salt Lake and stay a night, then up hwy89, stay a night in Tetons and arrive on day 3 or 4 in Yellowstone. Stay 4 days in Yellowstone and begin the drive home on day 7 or 8. This would give us 6-10 days to make it home.

    What would you suggest???

    Questions about the drive home:
    Option 1:
    Do we take the low road through Twin falls and Boise, Id?

    Option 2:
    Do we take the High road through Montana and Spokane?

    Thanks for your input, Blessings.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Confused

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    If you really don't want to spend more than 4 hours or so a day 'in the saddle' then just the trip you roughly outlined initially (northern California to Yellowstone, to Seattle, and back home by way of the Columbia River Gorge and the coast) is a solid 2 weeks. Drives of 23+ hours are not recommended on either safety (none) or just pure enjoyment (even less) grounds. The Black Hills are flat out of the question, and even Salt Lake City would add an additional 100 miles (2 more hours or half a day). The other place I'd suggest that you cut back is going all the way to Seattle, rather just head from Yellowstone to Portland, which naturally has you driving down the Columbia River, and save 250 miles of driving. My route of choice from Yellowstone to Portland would be US-20/US-26 to I-84 and follow that to Portland, with the exception of using the Historic Columbia River Highway (US-30) wherever possible and hiking in to some of the many waterfalls along the way.


  3. Default

    I appreciate your suggestions and after working through the daily mileage and our places of interest I agree with everything you have said, including the points about longer drives. Thank you. Sorry for the jumbled post, It was way too late to think that through.

    We will have to put off Seattle and the Washington area for another trip, as well as the Black Hills.

    Yellowstone is the ONLY place we are committed to as we are meeting friends who are driving from Colorado.

    That said, Here is a revised layout of our drive:

    Day 1: Stockton to Salt Lake City, UT - 699 mi – about 11 hours 11 mins
    Day 2: Teton, Wy - 312 mi – about 5 hours 44 mins
    Day 3: Enjoy Teton National Park
    Day 4: Yellowstone National Park, WY - 51.2 mi – about 1 hour 14 mins
    Day 5: Yellowstone - Sept 16
    Day 6: Yellowstone - Sept 17
    Day 7: Yellowstone - Sept 18
    Day 8: Stop at Shoshone Falls Id then to Boise, Id - 440 mi – about 7 hours 33 mins
    Day 9: Portland, Or - 428 mi – about 7 hours 18 mins
    Day 10: Portland - Sept 21
    Day 11: Eugene, Or - 111 mi – about 2 hours 11 mins
    Day 12: Jedediah Smith Redwood State Park - 215 mi – about 4 hours 6 mins
    Day 13: Redwood State Park
    Day 14: Eureka, Ca - 93.0 mi – about 1 hour 42 mins
    Day 15: Eureka day.
    Day 16: Fort Bragg - 133 mi – about 2 hours 31 mins
    Day 17: Stockton Ca - 224 mi – about 4 hours 14 mins

    We cant make this trip with all slower days, but I think that the long days followed by sufficient rest will suffice.

    Let me know if you think this is practical or have other ideas.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default 'Real world' travel times.

    Your drive times appear to have been taken direct from an on-line mapping program which are already overly optimistic for 'real world' driving conditions where there are congestion and possible construction delays, not to mention other hman factors such as the need to stop for food, rest and bathroom breaks and to fill with gas. Add to that the fact you are in an RV and you are likely to be way off with your estimated travel times. That said, your driving days are mostly doable, but day 1 and day 9 [if you are planning on experiencing the Columbia River Gorge mentioned by Buck] are going to be tough. With apropriate rest stops I would imagine it to be a 13 to 14 hour drive on day 1, and close to an 8.5 hour drive on day 9 without sight seeing.

    To remedy this I would not add the extra 100 miles to your drive on the way to the Tetons by going to SLC, you really won't have much time in the City anyway. Instead you could head through Twin Falls and split your journey by either stopping around Elko NV, or pushing on to Twin Falls and have a shorter run into the Tetons, but it would still be around a 12 hour drive on day 1. On day 9 you could consider stopping prior to Portland and continuing on next day, giving you some of that afternoon to sight see, there are a lot of State parks around Hood river.

    For planning purposes, I would allow an extra 20% travel time over the computer programs estimate to give you a better idea of realistic travel times each day.

    Sounds like a wonderful trip, have a great time !

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    If you take the recommended route to the Tetons via Twin Falls, you will be getting off I-80 at Wells, where there are a few RV parks. There isn't much of anything along US-93 between Wells and Twin Falls - which is a 2 hour drive.

  6. Default

    Great points, I always forget about the 20% extra time needed for travel...until day 1;)

    I can add more days on before Yellowstone if needed. But cant take anymore time to get home.

    New Day 1: Drive to Wells and stay in campground
    - is there anywhere we should stop and see or take a day and stay at between Stockton and wells?

    Day 2: drive via US-93 to Twin Falls and then to Teton.
    - Any must see things along that road? On the road home we will pass through but being such a long day already would likely not have time for stopping at sites.

    Day 9: drive to Hood river and stay there.
    day 10: Gorge and then to portland.

    Thanks for all the great advice. The trip is getting better and better.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    I wouldn't bother with doing any real sightseeing on day 1 if you are carefully budgeting your time - anything really worth doing would be within a day or weekend trip from Stockton at a later date. Press on to Wells.

    You could go see the falls in Twin Falls. The best route from there to the Tetons is I-84/I-86/I-15 to Idaho Falls, then US-26 to Swan Valley, ID-31 to ID-33/WY-22 into Jackson. ID-31 ends at ID-33, a right turn takes you to Jackson - but you could turn left and go a few miles into Driggs and see the giant potato. Then just retrace your steps and continue on 33.

    The drive on 31 and 33/22 is very scenic and quite mountainous.

    You won't be retracing your steps on the way home from Yellowstone - you will be taking US-20 to Idaho Falls.

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