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  1. Default Seattle to Chicago

    7-8 days, first week of January.
    4 drivers
    $1000 total for gas, lodging, food.
    Thinking I-90 to I-94 to I-90.

    How feasible/worth it is it to hit up Glacier, Yellowstone, Rushmore, or Badlands?
    Any advice from people who have done this drive before?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Easy. [One way]

    Hello and welcome to RTA !

    The journey itself could be done quite comfortably in 4 days if the weather plays ball, so with 7-8 days you have time for a little sight seeing and some 'wiggle' room incase you run into winter weather and need to pull of the road and shelter from a storm. I was presuming this is a one way trip? Now I'm not sure as your gas budget seems quite high, if it is as the title would suggest, a one way trip. If not, you won't have much time for anything but to drive and relax for for a while wherever you end up for the night]

    Glacier and Yellowstone will be all but closed to traffic during this time of year due to snow accumulation, so I'm not sure it's a good use of your time.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    If you want to hit up Rushmore and the Badlands, then you would want to take I-90 all the way. I wouldn't recommend I-94 anyway due to the western ND oil boom, lodging is in short supply and expensive as are other motorist services.

  4. Default

    Thanks for the tip on ND.

    Yes, definitely a one-way trip. None of us are particularly experienced in driving snowy mountains, so we'd like the extra days in case of bad weather or mishaps. We do have people experienced driving in snow, but in the flat Midwest, not the Rockies.

    The $1000 includes a motel room every night, gas, and food. What do you think just gas would cost?

    Also, we have 2 car options--a Honda minivan from 1996, and a Acura TL 3.2. Any advice on that?

    Thank you all!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Tight for cash.

    For 6 or 7 nights for 4 people I think your budget is pretty tight. Sure you will split the gas and lodging costs but it still only equates to $35 per day per person. On the right hand side of this page you will find the gas calculator that will work out how much each of the vehicles will cost you if you have an idea of mpg., but at 20mpg you would be looking at close to $400. As for the vehicle choice you will need to work out the pros and cons based on size for luggage, comfort, reliabilty and cost.

    You can also get an idea of motel costs in areas you are thinking of stopping over by browsing the RTA deals that are available, also on the right hand side of this page. If you can get one with a breakfast included it will help set you up for the day, but at the moment I think you will barely have enough cash to eat, never mind going out for a beer or sight see etc.

    Interstates are a priority to keep clear and open to traffic as are all major routes so even having to wait out a storm you will be fine. Keep up to date with weather and road conditions as you go and use the info wisely for the day ahead, there is no point heading up a mountain on a scenic By-way in a blizzard and putting yourself in harms way.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    I think if you are trying to make this trip for $1000, you will need to try to do it in 4 days with no diversions. Gas cost will be the same, but food and lodging is going to add up quickly.

    The minivan is certainly going to be more comfortable than the Acura, but it will probably use more gas and it won't perform as well in the mountains.

  7. Default

    Thanks for pointing on that fuel calculator--yeah, it looks like on 23 mpg, $337, so close to $400 overall with stops and sightseeing.

    We are thinking of bringing a lot of our own food. I've looked up motels and hotels in cities along the way (Rapid City, Cour d'alene, etc).

    Does anyone have recommendations on places/towns we should definitely stop and see?
    I heard Mammoth Hot Springs and the Lamar Valley in Yellowstone are still open in the winter. Has anyone done Yellowstone in the winter here before and have tips on what to see?

    Thanks everyone!

  8. Default

    Slight change in plans--we'd definitely like to add Glacier to the list.

    Driving Seattle - Coeur d'Alene is 5 hours
    Coeur d'Alene to Glacier NP is about 6 hours

    Can anyone speak to the driving terrain between Seattle and CdA? I assume this is going to be where most of the mountainous driving is.

    Would it be foolish to try to push Seattle to Glacier in one day?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Possible.

    If conditions were favourable then you could drive to Glacier the same day, or perhaps a better option would be Kalispel making the day slightly more comfortable and being just under an hour from Glacier. There would be no benefit driving, or arriving after dark.

    I'm not familiar with I90 but all Interstates are built with gradual curves and gradients so that the biggest of rigs can drive them , so although you might be at high elevation you won't feel as though it's a "mountainous drive" as such.

    Glacier will be well and truly in 'winter mode' and as mentioned previously, the only thing that matters is the conditions when you are actually travelling so keep an eye on forecasts prior to leaving. You can get an idea of what visiting Glacier in the winter is like here on the NPS page.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Possible? Only if roads are clear and dry!

    Possible, but extremely unlikely in winter months. You'd be crossing parts of two heavy mountain ranges -- The Cascades and the Rockies and both are likely to have snow and/or winter driving conditions when you are there. Just driving from Seattle to Coeur d'Alene could take all day!


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