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  1. #1

    Default Seattle-Yellowstone-Seattle (via Glacier and Grand Teton??)

    Hi. I've read through lots of the other posts on the site about the same route we're planning. They give great info, but I thought I'd post our route and ask for some advice. We're arriving Seattle in July and have 9 days where we'd like to head towards some of the parks further east, driving an RV (probably Cruise America). The route we planned is below, but we've been given advice that it's too tight and that we should cut out something, do less driving and more enjoying. We are travelling with 3 kids (2, 8 and 10 years). We don't think we can realistically do much more than 5 hours driving in a day because of the kids (we don't want this to be our last RV holiday).

    We've been on some other road trips around the world, which may mean we should be looking for something different. It seems very often what I remember from a trip is a beautiful tree, a walk, a quiet time next to a lake fishing, the bagels in some remote place in Canada or something that seems we never really planned. We've been around Norway (where we live) and seen various mountains and fjords here, to Banff and Jasper (fantastic places) and spent 4 weeks driving in New Zealand (also fantastic). I guess we're hoping to find some of those moments and feelings again.

    Enough talk. Here's the route we planned. What should we cut? I've been dreaming of going to these places my entire life, so cutting one or two of the three parks is difficult, but but perhaps necessary.

    26th July (pickup) Seattle-Spokane (or there-about) (we'd be dependent on getting the car pretty early)
    27th Spokane-Glacier NP
    28th inside Glacier
    29th Glacier-Bozeman (or some place north of Yellowstone)
    30th & 31st Yellowstone
    1st August Yellowstone-Grand Teton
    2nd August Grand Teton-Butte (or somewhere)
    3rd August Butte-Spokane (or somewhere)
    4th August Spokane-Seattle...

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    Welcome to RTA!

    One possible issue - you may not be allowed to pick up the RV and get on the road the same day you arrive on an international flight.

    Here are real-world driving times with a RV:

    Seattle - Spokane: 5 to 6 hours
    Spokane - Glacier: 6+ hours
    Glacier - Bozeman: 7+ hours
    Grand Teton - Butte: 6+ hours
    Butte - Spokane: 5 to 6 hours

    If you are limited to 5 hours a day, you are definitely overextended. If you will drive up to 8 hours a day, you should be in better shape. However, you aren't going to have time for anything except a quick look in each park, which would be a shame. 10 days just isn't enough for 3 major parks, and Yellowstone is HUGE.

    You may want to look at flying to an airport closer to the parks and renting the RV there.

    Another issue - unless the RV is very small, you won't be able to take it on the Going-To-The-Sun Road in Glacier. You are limited to 21 feet total length, 8 feet wide including mirrors, and 10 feet height.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Tight Indeed

    Velkommen! Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    You're looking at needing about 35+ hours just for the driving portion of this RoadTrip once you account for the non-freeway miles and the fact that an RV is just flat out slow in the mountains. So if you're going to limit yourself to just five hours a day in the saddle, you basically have to be driving for all but one of your nine days just to complete the trip. Simply put, then, you can't do a full day in Glacier and two full days in Yellowstone as your current itinerary calls for. That said, I don't know what to suggest. It's your call whether to cut sites from your wish list or resign yourselves to significantly more hours on the road each and every day. But something's got to give. Once you make that basic but hard choice we'll be happy to help you make the best of your decision.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Not really a mode of transport.

    As well as the advice above, there is one other issue which I think you should consider.

    RV's are most at home when they are the base on a great holiday, especially when visiting places such as Yellowstone. They are not an ideal mode of transport for long distances, and especially not with little children. Hence, you will get most out of your rental by reducing the miles, and increasing the time spent in one or two places. As to which these are, as mentioned above, only you can decide.

    Similarly, we always found with our children, that we were better of spending three or four days in one spot, and then moving to another... maybe half a day's driving away, for another three or four days. Even though we mostly tent camped, I think the same principle applies. The children were more settled; we ended up seeing fewer places, but seeing more of each.

    What is it the children recall most vividly of your previous travels?


    Edit As mentioned above, you will not be able to pick up your RV on the day you arrive off a long haul flight. When you do, the next day, you will spend time going over the works, probably watching a compulsory video, and other prep requirements. You will then go out shopping for supplies to stock the RV. There is no way you will get anywhere near Spokane on the first day.
    Last edited by Lifemagician; 03-19-2014 at 03:44 PM. Reason: added information.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    The best option may be to fly into a close airport and rent a car, not a RV, and stay in hotels.

  6. #6


    I can't really add much to what has already been posted. I would delete the Glacier Park portion, and just consider Yellowstone and perhaps the Grand Teton. I live near Seattle and can tell you that here to Yellowstone is a good 2 day drive, and doing only 5 hour/day driving isn't going to get you there in 2 days. Spokane isn't really a good option because you'd still have to fly into Seattle and then take a smaller airplane flight to Spokane. The other problem is that the RV parks inside Yellowstone and the Grand Teton get booked full early on. As others suggested I would do a car/van and reserve a motel in West Yellowstone, and do day trips into the park. Drive time from Seattle to Missoula Mt. is about 10 hours with stops, you can then make it into West Yellowstone in about 6-8 hours the next day. We vacationed every year when our kids were young, and found driving about 2 hours and then taking a 15-20 minute break to let the kids run around worked for us. Safe travels!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Much appreciated.

    Hi Joe, and Welcome to the Great American Roadtrip Forum.

    I note that you have been jumping in with your local knowledge of the Seattle / Yellowstone area. Believe me, it is always appreciated. You just can't beat local knowledge. Two hours and a 15 min break was always the rule when our children were young. More often than not it was at a playground, or an old steam engine in a town park.

    Feel free to help out whenever and wherever you can. If we can help you in planning your next adventure, just speak up.


  8. #8


    Thank you for the welcome Lifey. I pretty much always plan my own vacations. I'm a firm believer in using maps and buy a new Road Atlas, and AAA maps of areas/states I'm planning on visiting every year. The only way I have not entered Yellowstone is the NE entrance coming down the Beartooth Highway. It's on my bucket list!

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


    Are the flights into Seattle a done deal ? Flying into Salt Lake City would be one way to lessen the amount of driving you would have to do. You could spend all your time in the Tetons and Yellowstone quite easily as driving around the parks will take quite a bit of time up in the RV. Having said that I don't think extending your driving hours would be a big problem if you get on the road reasonably early in the morning and then take regular breaks, even if it's just to allow the kids let off steam in a local park.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    We have a saying in our family, that we raised our kids in the back of a vehicle. :-) We got more mileage and less complaints from them when we stopped every few hours and let them run around on a piece of grass. They'd try to turn cartwheels, spin around and make themselves dizzy, or play on the playground IF we stopped where there was one. Though we were never big on fast food places (no pun intended), if we stopped where one had a play-yard, that was a bonus for them. Inside the vehicle, I chose toys for them when they were younger. As they got older, they brought their own things to the car. (The equivalent of today's iPod was always one of their choices -- CD Walkman and a container of CD's.) But they learned to go with 10 hours in the car on a given day when needed. One STILL loves to road trip and is teaching my grandson how to travel already. The other would love to go on a road trip but it's not financially feasible for them. Instead, they go on camping trips, so I know we taught them that.


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