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  1. Default Raleigh to Yellowstone

    Looking at the map going from Raleigh to the Black hills area of SD is going to take us through a lot of mountainous terrain. Driving a Silverado and pulling a travel trailer should we consider a different route that the than the proposed West VA, Kentucky route? (Oh also, new, so hey!)

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    Welcome to RTA!

    First thing I'd ask, since you didn't state -- is your Silverado gas or diesel, and is it equipped with a tranny cooler? How big is your trailer and what is its estimated weight (loaded)? Knowing this would help us find other routes for you. (Several of us on here are either RV'ers or former ones.)

    There are many, many other routes that you could consider, not just the one that (it sounds like) some mapping program suggested. You *are*, however, going to have to cross the Appalachians someplace. The easiest grades are almost always going to be on an interstate highway, since those are built to specifications that will make it easier for heavier commercial transport to use them.

    Another thing to note: if you are planning to tow into Yellowstone, you have more mountains to worry about than the Appalachians (which are small hills to us western folks). Within Yellowstone itself are two or three mountain passes above 7000 ft.


  3. Default

    Not a diesel though the truck can haul up to 9000lbs, our trailer is under 5000lbs not counting all our junk that would be in it. I haven't the slightest about a tranny cooler. I can ask my husband (he sells Chevys). If I understand you correctly so long as we are staying on the interstates we are going to have several mountain ranges to besides the Appalachians, so my concern may be moot? haha Does everyone have a favorite route. We will likely go to some unknown destination for the first night and pull into Sioux Falls for the second night (maybe longer) and then onto Custer (or there about) for the third night. It is that first leg of the trip I have no idea how to plan.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    Also note that I-77 through WV is toll. I'd be inclined to take I-40 to Winston-Salem, US-52/I-74 to I-77 to I-81 back to I-40 to Nashville. Then I-24/I-57/I-64/I-70 to KC, then I-29 to I-90. If your rig can't handle I-77 up through Fancy Gap it certainly is not suitable for going west.

    No way can you safely make it to Sioux Falls in 2 days. Your first night will need to be around Nashville, second night around KC, 3rd night around Murdo SD. 1800 miles when towing is a 3.5 day drive.

  5. Default

    Thank you! Yes, my current map has us going through WV, and the alternate has us going through Winston-Salem. I am from California and have made many trips growing up through the Sierra Nevada's so maybe I am just being a bit paranoid for no reason :)

  6. #6

    Default Same trip

    Hello Neighbor,

    We are soon to leave on essentially the same trip, only we're destined for far western Montana. We're in a Ford F350 diesel and towing a hardside pop-up camper with a loaded weight of around 2,800 lbs.

    Even without towing, the Nashville route cited by glc is far, far preferred. The overall elevations and the length/steepness of the ups and downs are far milder between Raleigh and Mount Vernon, IL (where the I-77/Charleston WV route and the Nashville route come back together) than the Charleston route.

    Running I-40 all the way through Asheville to Nashville is 20 miles longer (to Mount Vernon) than going through Charleston, but over a distance of around 700 miles, this is immaterial. It's also worth considering taking the I-77 only as far as I-81 (and in each case, by I-77 it is meant to take the Business I-40 from the west side of Greensboro, through Kernersville to Winston-Salem, thence US 52 north until it becomes "Future I-73/74" to I-77 proper northwest of Mount Airy). From where you meet I-81 at Wytheville, VA, you'd then stay south on I-81 to I-40 east of Knoxville and run I-40 the rest of the way to Nashville. This route is 13 miles farther than the "all I-40 route" from Raleigh to Nashville so now you're looking at 33 miles more than I-77 to Charleston, still an immaterial difference.

    The advantage of the I-77 only to I-81 route to reach I-40 near Knoxville is a somewhat easier climb up the Blue Ridge, where I-77 includes a single, long grade up to Fancy Gap, contrasted to I-40's climb just outside of Old Fort. The I-40 ascent is one of the older sections of Interstate anywhere and it's fairly steep and very curvy. You definitely don't want to RETURN via I-40 and take the Old Fort grade downhill. West of Asheville, I-40 cuts through the mountains via a 35 mile stretch including a couple of long grades followed by a stretch of fairly narrow and curvy Interstate with Jersey barriers on each side and 2-3 tunnels. Again, it's one of the oldest segments of the Interstate system, and its curves are sharper and the lanes narrower than today's standards.

    Between Harriman, TN and Baxter, TN, I-40 climbs and crosses the Cumberland Plateau, but this is a fair price to pay in exchange for the very mountainous segment between Wytheville, VA and Charleston, WV along I-77.

    From Nashville to Mount Vernon is flat to very gently rolling, contrasted to the ups and downs of eastern KY and the very hilly southern IN west of Louisville, KY along I-64 west of Charleston.

    There are no mountain ranges to cross between the Appalachians and Cumberland Plateau and the Black Hills of SD.

    Pay close attention to glc's suggestion of running I-64 all the way through St Louis to Wentzville, where it meets I-70 well west of that city. If you were to get on I-70 at the Mississippi River, you'd pass through a long interval of dodgey neighborhoods and towns as you skirt north of the city. I'd avoid that.

    If your Chevy is a fairly new unit, chances are it has some sort of transmission cooler. I'd definitely confirm that, and if it does not, I'd get one installed. All-day sustained summertime Interstate travel towing a trailer is a perfect recipe for overheating, and destroying, an automatic transmission. Ask me how I know.

    Last comment: Be aware of the 75th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in early August. The Sturgis/Rapid City/Black Hills area will then host several hundred thousand visitors. The vast majority of attendees will be towing their bikes behind pickups, Suburbans, and motorhomes. The I-29 and I-90 rest areas, fuel plazas, restaurants, and everything else will be wall-to-wall trucks and trailers during the week preceding the Rally and for several days afterward.

    Enjoy the trip!


  7. Default Where to stay in Deadwood-Spearfish area with an RV (hook-ups)

    I had assumed there were state or national parks to stay in but I cannot find any. Am I missing them? Also where is you fav place to stay in that area? We will stay in Custer state park and then I had planned to head to Deadwood and stay for a while. Any info would be helpful! Thanks!

    Mod Note. Please keep all questions regarding this trip in one thread. Thank you.
    Last edited by Southwest Dave; 07-24-2015 at 10:10 AM. Reason: Merged threads.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California

    Default Black Hills National Forest

    The Black Hills National Forest may have some campgrounds for you. Often, they are underused. However, if you are traveling during the time of the Sturgis rally, good luck in finding anything!

    Camping link for Black Hills NF. However, I don't believe these have hookups. Sturgis has a few RV parks, such as Sturgis RV, Big Rig RV, and Hog Heaven RV. (Do a Google search under "Sturgis SD RV parks".) These should have EW, and perhaps S, hookups.


  9. Default

    They don't have hook-ups :/ I think we will just stay in Custer and go to Crazy Horse and Mt Rushmore from there and then site see as we travel through Deadwood etc on the way to Yellowstone.

  10. Default

    Would you say the trip from Custer to Yellowstone is a comfortable one day drive or should we split it up?

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