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  1. Default Iowa to Alberta - help needed (dog friendly!)

    I'm currently planning a vacation that we would like to take this summer or early fall. We would really like to go see the Banff area, but after investigating, we would really prefer to drive rather than fly. The trip would be my husband and I, and our dog. We would like to try to camp when we can. I think we can take up to 15 days for this trip.

    I've made a preliminary plan (12 days) and I think although we are used to driving very long distance (multiple times a year we do 1,000 miles from Iowa to Austin, Texas with usually 5 days in between driving days; and have always done it in one-go; but it is exhausting on the way home from vacation, so I don't want quite that long any one day with so many days of driving planned! The dog is used to the 15-17 hour day in the car.) the driving days, especially on the tail end of the vacation are too long (I'm okay with 'sprinting' TOO Banff, but I think we need less time in the car on the way home; but I am open to suggestions wherever on the trip.)

    Day 1: Drive North Liberty, Iowa to Kenmore North Dakota. (No particular interest in Kenmore, just selected as a bit more than halways to Banff, we wanted Day 1 to be longer than Day 2 to allow a bit more time for border control.) 850 miles, I suspect just under 14 hours in the car.
    Day 2: Drive from Kenmore to Banff National Park area (Probably Canmore) 715 miles, again, probably a 14 hour day
    Day 3-6: Enjoy Banff
    Day 7: Drive to Glacier National Park: 350 miles (7 hours?)
    Day 8: Enjoy Glacier National Park/ Going to the Sun Road (Need to find a dog friendly activity to get us out of the car! Any suggestions for a state park or national forest?)
    Day 9: Drive from GNP to Custer State Park 800 miles (15 hours?) <-- Any suggestions for a midway point to make this a two day drive and give us a little something to do between?
    Day 10: Enjoy Custer State Park (hope to get a peak at Mount Rushmore, but I can't stop there because it is not dog friendly)
    Day 11: Drive through the Badlands to return home from North Liberty (800 miles) (13-14 hours?) <-- This is one I think adding a day to would REALLY help; as it would be nice to be able to stop to photograph stuff.

    The main purpose of the trip is landscape photography and a chance to camp and do a few easy hikes. With the extra days I think we would love to stop and spend more time in some areas, or add new destinations, but I think some of the driving days do need to be broken up.

    I greatly appreciate your advice!
    (For anyone who wants to suggest totally alternate vacations: I haven't been to N. Dakota, S. Dakota, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, Oregon, or Washington. I'd really like to get SOME of those things checked off the list. Also Alaska and Hawaii, but I hear the Hawaii roadtrip from Iowa is just brutal!)
    Last edited by iowajes; 12-17-2015 at 01:22 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    I can tell you that no one here will give you any support for your 1000 mile drives - that exhaustion you speak of frequently turns into fatalities. Driving fatigued is every bit as dangerous as driving drunk, and exhaustion is simply impossible to avoid when you're in a car for 15+ straight hours - even with 2 drivers.

    Similarly, Driving 850 miles is very dangerous, and following it up with another 700 mile drive is simply reckless. Fatigue adds up, so while you may be able to fool yourself into thinking you're just fine after driving a 1000 mile sprint, the idea that you could be a safe driver for consecutive days of being in the car for 15 hours at a time just is not realistic. The other 800 mile days you have scattered throughout your proposed trip continue to add to the point where A, you're not going to be able to enjoy your trip because you'll constantly be exhausted, B, you're not going to have time for camping, photography, hiking or anything else much fun, and C, you're quite likely to hurt yourself or someone else by repeatedly driving unsafe distances.

    Professional drivers are limited by law to driving roughly 600 miles a day, because any more than that and they start to become a danger to themselves and others. Even that is a full day that doesn't leave time for much in the way of enjoyment, and camping on that kind of pace can even be tough when you factor setup/teardown times. I would keep that in mind and come up with a new, safer, and more realistic plan.

    Going to Banff and back in 12 days is possible, but you need to plan for at least 3 days of driving each way, and you'll really need to look to add more time, or cut some spots out if you want to have an enjoyable, and more importantly, safe trip.

  3. Default

    Sorry- I thought I made it clear that for this trip I was not interested in 1,000 mile days, since we would have so many driving days, and I wanted advice on where to plan to stop to shorten the longest days on the trip.

    I only mentioned I regularly do 1,000 mile trips because we are used to a lot of seat time in the car, and the dog can handle it. I have no interest in that long of driving a single day on a roadtrip with many days of driving. (And for the record, I would never ever drive if I was sleepy; that is not what I mean by exhausting; exhausting like a stressful work meeting is- maybe taxing is a better word. I never plan a driving day for me to be awake more hours than a typical day.)

    Anyway- now that you've lectured; would anyone be interested in helping me plan what I'm trying to do: NOT have such long driving days.

    If anyone is able to help with their experience, I think limiting to driving hours makes a lot more sense than in terms of mileage. Miles on an interstate are way different than miles on a back road.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default

    Anyway- now that you've lectured; would anyone be interested in helping me plan what I'm trying to do: NOT have such long driving days.
    You laid out a trip where you have repeatedly planned to drive 700, 800, or more mile driving days. Doing that repeatedly over a short period of time is every bit as dangerous as driving 1,000 miles at a time. I don't know how you can claim you're not trying to have dangerously long driving days, when you look at the proposal you laid out in your initial post.

    Being sleepy is not the only way that fatigue shows itself. If you are actually sleepy behind the wheel, you have gone way beyond the point of fatigue. Taxing is exactly the point, can you do a stressful job for 15 straight hours and think you're still doing your best work at the end?

    Yes, driving hours do make a difference - and the hours I was talking about assumes Interstate travel. If you're driving on back roads, you need to significantly reduce your mileage even beyond the 600 miles that professional drivers are allowed to cover in a day.

    Certainly, we're willing to help you create a great trip, but the point you didn't seem to get is that what you laid out in your first post is filled with drives where you will be a danger to yourself and everyone else on the road, and that's not much of a starting point to get help from the people with whom you will be sharing the road.

  5. Default

    but the point you didn't seem to get is that what you laid out in your first post is filled with drives where you will be a danger to yourself and everyone else on the road, and that's not much of a starting point to get help from the people with whom you will be sharing the road.
    Are you completely missing what I'm asking though? Because what I'm saying is initially I wanted a 12 day vacation (11 days with a spare). Because I don't want to do the trip I laid out. That trip is not my plan; that trip was my starting point that I recognize I need help modifying! You're ignoring the entire question I came to ask. I didn't ask "hey- does this look good?" I said it didn't and was adding more days: I am now looking for a 15 day trip; I am asking for help placing 4 more days. So that I DON'T have such long driving days. I am asking for help specifically so that we aren't, as you put it "a danger to other people on the road". The point is I'm not wanting 800 mile days on this trip and am asking for help eliminating them.

    Looking at the map, I don't know where to stop in between.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default Some more things to think about.

    Hear, hear! to all of the above. One of my favourite ways of proving what he has said is my 'game boy'. After six hours in the car I find I can only get a score about half of what my high score normally is. A good measure of how much my reflexes have deteriorated during the stressful work of driving. You might like to try something similar, and proof to yourself in a safe way, that you are no longer as good as you thought you were. It is sobering!

    Howevver, you get the picture. I am assuming that you are planning this trip with a good set of maps, such as you get from AAA, or a road atlas such as the Rand McNally. You will also have to take into account that you will be travelling a lot slower in Canada than what you are used to. The roads are mostly two lane, and the speed limits much slower.

    If I wanted to see this area, including the parts of Iowa through which you will be travelling, I would limit myself to something between 250 and 400 miles per day, to take any interesting detour I might see along the way, to wander and find the photogenic places you obviously seek, and simply just immerse myself in the places visitied. Here's one of the best pages on this website.

    As for the alternatives. I have driven to AK and back three times over the last decade, You might like to check it out and get some idea of what that is like, though that would be a trip several times longer than what you are planning this time. In fact, if you check out the roadtrip field reports, it could give you many ideas about destinations of which you may not have thought, and the attractions which others found of interest.

    But to really see what is where and all your alternative routes, you do need good detailed maps.

    Lifey

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

    Default

    How's this?

    Day 1: North Liberty IA to Fargo ND - 525 miles
    Day 2: Fargo to Regina SK - 515 miles
    Day 3: Regina to Banff AB - 540 miles

    That is as far as you can stretch each day and still be safe.

    Day 9: Midway point is Billings MT.

    Day 11: Sioux Falls SD would be a logical overnight.

    This adds 3 days to your original proposal.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default A complete set of veterinary records

    Have you checked the current rules for taking a dog into Canada? I've done it a few times and it is possible, but you have to travel with a complete set of veterinary records. And there will be (highly likely) a delay at the border while they confirm that records are accurate.

    Mark

  9. #9

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by iowajes View Post
    I am now looking for a 15 day trip; I am asking for help placing 4 more days. So that I DON'T have such long driving days. I am asking for help specifically so that we aren't, as you put it "a danger to other people on the road". The point is I'm not wanting 800 mile days on this trip and am asking for help eliminating them.

    Looking at the map, I don't know where to stop in between.
    My wife and I did a 6,200 mile road trip to the same general area last summer in 10 days, so you can certainly do this 3500 mile one in 15 days. I like glc's stops on the way to Banff, and I see a five day trip coming back, so you have 7 extra days to see the sights there and along the way home. I'm sure there are camping areas at all stops, too. Here goes...

    Leg 1 - Banff to West Glacier via Going to the Sun Road (305 miles)
    Leg 2 - West Glacier to Bozeman via Seeley Lake (425 miles)
    Leg 3 - Bozeman to Gillette, WY (375 miles)
    Leg 4 - Gillette to Chamberlain via Devils Tower and Mt Rushmore (385 miles)
    Leg 5 - Chamberlain to North Liberty (515 miles)

    Now you can tailor that to fit your trip. You might even consider shortening the miles and taking 6 days on the way home. There is a lot to see and do along that route, and the Black Hills alone could take a full day to do it right.

    Harry

  10. #10

    Default

    Another option in the Glacier NP to Custer SP drive, is driving to Cody, WY from Glacier NP. Then take a more leisurely non-Interstate drive on US 14 to US 16, continuing on to Custer SP. I want to say there is a beautiful Alternate US 14 stretch along that way which is recommended.

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