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  1. Default Suggestions for WY-NY Stops

    I've been digging through the forums for a couple of weeks now and decided to dive in and register so I could ask a few questions.

    My husband and I are doing a roadtrip to Yellowstone and Jackson, WY and back (Western NY is home.) I've planned our route TO Yellowstone. We'll be travelling via I-90 from NY-WY.

    I wanted to take a different route home, so we'll be going mostly I-80 until we hop on 74 in Illinois. (I wanted a different route back for three reasons: 1 because we're leaving from Jackson, WY 2 to see something different and 3 to avoid the Sturgis area since it's Rally Week and traffic/hotels will be busy.)

    I'm having a harder time finding great locally-owned motels for our stops home and some really great/offbeat/kitschy stops. I've been playing on the Roadtrippers app and can't seem to make up my mind. We have time for two overnight stops on the way back. I'd love to hear any suggestions you have for motels or can't miss stops along the way, especially in Nebraska and Iowa.

    Thank you!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Summer swimming leagues

    Welcome to the RTA trip advice forums! First, I had a question for you -- do you find the app helpful? how much have you used it? Thanks for registering here and joining in our discussions.

    OK, the first thing to take into account is that if you are traveling mid-week in the summertime, you may find that all of the motels in small towns in Wyoming, Nebraska and Iowa are full because of the summer swimming leagues. Hundreds of kids and their families and coaches, etc. seem to be "on-the-move" every summer for these competitions.

    Are you planning to spend any time in Cody --either enroute to Yellowstone or after? Here is a route from Yellowstone to Cody that might be of interest. And you could spend some time in Wapiti Valley The Stampede Rodeo should be going when you are there and the Draper Museum and the Whitney Gallery of Art are very impressive.

    But in rereading your post -- you mentioned that you are following I-80 -- perhaps a stop at North Platte, Nebraska -- the Lincoln County Museum is a fun stop -- there is also a good train museum in town. And a few miles to the east is the Pony Express Station in Gothenburg

    If you are a fan of the book Bridges of Madison County -- you can see the original bridge at Winterset,

    More later...

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Return journey.

    From Jackison WY to Western NY State is a solid three days' driving, without sightseeing. I doubt you will have time for any detours to places of interest. As it is you will be on the road for around 12 hours each day.


  4. Default

    Thank you for all of your suggestions!

    I do love the Roadtrippers website, although I wish they had more functionality as far as route planning (choosing alternate routes without having to make waypoints, showing halfway distances, ect.) But, it's a fun way to see what's along our route. And it's nice to see the times between each stop for planning purposes.

    Thanks for the heads-up on the swimming meets. We'll be driving from Fri-Sun on the way home.

    This trip is a huge surprise for my husband, so I'm trying to plan it as stealthily as possible. ;) The entire trip (without stops) should be around 30 hours, give or take. Without the kids in the car, 30 hours sounds like a cakewalk.

    To WY my plan is:

    Day 1: Western NY----> Jackson, MN (15.5 hrs) (No real sightseeing here as we've driven much of this before and I want to get a lot of ground covered in one day)

    Day 2: Jackson, MN ----> Sheridan, WY (9hrs) (Maybe a stop or two at Corn Palace or other places right along the highway that won't take much time and allow us to stretch our legs. I had hoped to hit Mt Rushmore, but that's not going to happen on a 9hr drive day, I don't think. I'm all about the silly roadside attractions where we can stretch our legs, snap a photo, and move along.)

    Day 3: Sheridan, WY ---> Yellowstone (5.5hrs) (want to make sure we get to the campground before dark in order to set up camp)

    To Western NY, it would be about the same, but with the bulk of travel on the last day. I have no plans on stopping for anything other than gas/food/bathrooms once we hit Illinois.

    Day 1: Jackson, WY ----> ?? (thinking of trying to make it to either Omaha or Lincoln so 14 hours to be on the safe side)

    Day 2: ?? ---> ??? (Nebraska to Indiana, possibly? 9-10 hours, depending on where I can find a motel/campground.)

    Day 3: ??? ---> Western, NY (If we hit Crawfordsville, Indiana we'd have about 8.5 hours left, and we wouldn't be doing much stopping on this route.)

    It's definitely a lot of driving, but I know we'll be up for it. I found some great mom & pop local motels for the drive to WY (just waiting to hear on availability), but I haven't had as much luck on the ride home. Going to keep digging through the forums, though.

    Thanks again for the info and the welcome!
    Last edited by Midwest Michael; 05-25-2015 at 04:53 PM. Reason: Removed quote of entire previous post

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Quality versus quantity

    Quote Originally Posted by HolidayRoooad View Post
    I do love the Roadtrippers website, although I wish they had more functionality as far as route planning (choosing alternate routes without having to make waypoints, showing halfway distances, ect.) But, it's a fun way to see what's along our route. And it's nice to see the times between each stop for planning purposes.
    Thanks for the information. Yeah, we're never going to offer the times option on the RTA Custom Maps program. What is different about the two sites, is that any RTA RoadTrip Attraction shown on our maps has been personally chosen to be "uniquely interesting" to road trippers. The attractions on the site rarely seem to meet those quality control standards.
    Quote Originally Posted by HolidayRoooad View Post
    Thanks for the heads-up on the swimming meets. We'll be driving from Fri-Sun on the way home.
    Oh, then I agree with Lifey -- you gotta hammer down. You won't be going off the Interstate much!


  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default Please, go back to the drawing board

    I'm sorry, but the only word that can describe your plan is: homicidal.

    Buffalo to Jackson is well over 1,000 miles. That distance can't be covered in anywhere close to 15 hours, and it can't safely be done in one day, under really any circumstances - no matter what an online mapping program might tell you, and no matter how many drivers you have. Even if you manage to cover the 22 hours or so you'll actually need to cover that kind of distance, without killing someone, there is no way on earth you'd be in any condition at all to be able to safely drive another 700 miles to Sheridan the next day - which again is about 12 hour drive, not a 9 hour one. Even attempting such drives will put you in a position to be every bit as dangerous as a drunk driver. This is not a trip that can be safely completed in 2.5 days - period. A professional driver would be required to make a minimum of 3 overnight stops of this trip, fwiw.

    Obviously, your plans for the return trip look just as unrealistic and unsafe.

    It seems that the biggest issue is that your have completely unrealistic expectations. Your statement that the trip should take about 30 hours and be a cakewalk really is at the heart of it. I'm assuming you're getting that estimate from online mapping programs which don't come close to being accurate in the real world, where you have traffic, construction, and need to stop for food, fuel, etc. In the real world, you need about 38 hours for this trip.

    As mentioned, professional drivers couldn't do this trip in 3 days, but if you are going to try you need to plan for 3 very hard days on the road - about 13 hours each day. There is no room to push harder on day 1, because all you will do is exhaust yourself and make it impossible for you to be safe on day 2 and 3. You probably need to plan for a motel for your first day around Yellowstone, as it will very likely be dark, and you will be exhausted when you arrive at the park - not a good situation to set up camp.

    Make no mistake about it, doing this in 3 days is going to be a huge challenge - and you are very much at risk of trying to go so hard at the beginning, that you are going to be too tired to even enjoy Yellowstone when you finally get there.

    But really, the big point needs to be that you really need to make major changes to your plan. What you've proposed is not at all safe, and you will be a danger to yourself and to everyone else on the road if you even attempt it.
    Last edited by Midwest Michael; 05-25-2015 at 06:53 PM.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    Buffalo to Yellowstone is about 2000 miles. In reality, that is about a 3.5 day drive, doing 3 days of 600 miles, and a fourth day of 200. That last day is lower because you need to spend time on Yellowstone roads, which is typically around 30 mph with a lot of "animal jams" that will bring traffic to a stop for a long while.

    A driving day of 600 miles is about what professional drivers are allowed to do, and then they must retire to the berth in the back of the cab. They are not allowed to jump into the passenger seat, as that is also counted as "driving time". You might aim for Rockford, IL, for your first overnight stop. It's a hair over 600 miles from Buffalo, a far sight better than the 1000 miles you were originally aiming for. The next stop could be Mitchell, SD, which also happens to be the home of the Corn Palace, since you're interested in kitschy stops. That's around 570 miles. The third stop could be Billings or Laurel, MT, just under 600 miles. The last day would be 200 miles into Yellowstone.

    As said, your return home is equally dangerous. Jackson to Buffalo is 1900 miles, with the first 200 miles on 2-lane highways to get down to I-80. Plan another 3-1/2 days to get home. Those, like the first 3 days from Buffalo to Billings, are going to be long, 11-12 hour days.


  8. Default

    I appreciate all the input. I'm going to rethink the plan and try to rework things. Glad I decided to ask.

    ETA: I think I'm going to put this idea aside for another trip when we have more time to do things right. Going to go back to the drawing board and try to find an alternative location a bit closer to home for this year. Again, thanks for the reality check. What looks ok on paper isn't always realistic.
    Last edited by HolidayRoooad; 05-26-2015 at 08:06 AM.

  9. #9

    Default More about Sturgis; the return trip

    The one and only time I experienced the wonders of traveling while Sturgis was going on was in 2002, when I had no idea I was scheduled to run up I-25 to I-90 and points way west during the week preceding Sturgis. We figured it out in about St Louis, by which point we'd seen enough towed bikes and rider groups to realize we were in the midst of a HUGE group of people, all headed pretty much to the same place (although we were merely passing by). Our return trip was scheduled to be on the Sunday of the end of the Rally, too.

    By about KC and Omaha, the Interstate rest areas were all jammed with towed bikes and large rider groups. Ditto the fuel plazas, cafes, chain restaurants, and basically any and everything representing normal traveler haunts. We have, and had, no objections to the riders, all of whom were lots of fun to talk to and dine with, but it threw a wrench into our plans simply because everything took SO LONG. We once waited 45 minutes to just buy gasoline. The "dirty little secret" about Sturgis is that the great majority of bikes are towed there rather than ridden (I'd say 8 of 10 are towed). That translates to lots of pickups, large SUVs, and RVs all with good-sized trailers jockeying for position at fuel plazas. Those rigs have large fuel tanks and it can take each one a while to get into position to fuel and to clear the pump area after completion.

    My suggestion it to avoid I-90 for the week prior to Sturgis, the Rally week itself, and the week following Sturgis. Running up I-94 is a good alternative but be very aware of the oil boom in northwestern ND and northeastern MT having the motels booked up and crazy expensive.

    Perhaps an out AND back along I-80 is a good idea. I'd have an interest in US 20 across WY and NE, where much of the NE section is within the Nebraska Sandhills. From eastern NE, you may connect to other routes several hundred miles east/southeast of Sturgis, minimizing the impact of its crowds.


  10. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Foy View Post
    The one and only time I experienced the wonders of traveling while Sturgis...

    Thanks! We won't be making this trip after all (not enough time to do it safely or enjoyably), but I'll keep this in mind for a future trip.

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