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  1. Default Moving to Seattle from Washington, DC and driving cross country

    This forum is an amazing resource - thanks so much to all the posters for making this community what it is! As the title suggests, we (my wife, pup and I) will be moving cross country in a few weeks from Washington D.C. to Seattle. Most of our stuff will be shipped - so we will look to be traveling light (without a trailer, etc.)

    We have about 12 days to make the drive - so are nt too rushed. We wouldn't mind putting in a couple of long days and then spending a day or two extra at a great place. Here is the proposed itinerary (from to for each day)

    1. Arlington, VA Columbus, OH: visiting a close friend here
    2. Columbus, OH Bloomington, IL: drive through - nothing specific; just breaking up the drive
    3. Bloomington, IL Des Moines, IA: drive through - nothing specific; just breaking up the drive
    4. Des Moines, IA Sioux Falls, SD: drive through - nothing specific; just breaking up the drive
    5. Sioux Falls, SD Mt. Rushmore
    6. Mt. Rushmore Mt. Rushmore
    7. Mt. Rushmore YellowStone NP
    8. YellowStone NP YellowStone NP
    9. YellowStone NP YellowStone NP
    10. YellowStone NP Coeur d'Alene, ID
    11. Coeur d'Alene, ID Coeur d'Alene, ID
    12. Coeur d'Alene, ID Seattle, WA

    I didn't think there was much to do / see in the Mid-West and Great Plains area that we haven't already seen (we've spent a lot of time in Pittsburgh, Chicago, Cleveland, etc.) - so are hoping to get through it relatively quickly and to the mountain states. We would do it faster and cover more miles per day, but also want to ensure our pup is relatively comfortable. Few questions:
    1. I have heard a lot about Stanley Idaho and the drive through Sun Valley, but think it would be too much to squeeze into this trip and still have a good time. Thoughts?
    2. Any location recommendations for the 2 - 3 day stay in YellowStone? Since we have the pup we would prefer to stay in cabin and do some mild hiking. We are open to camping too, but a cabin stay would be our first preference
    3. Should we spend the extra day at Coeur d'Alene? Or should we just spend one night there and drive on through to WA? It looks beautiful!
    4. Any other suggestions for getting through the Mid-West / Great plains?

    Would love to hear from the group here! Thanks so much.
    Last edited by kingkreep; 07-12-2016 at 12:55 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default First

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    While your plan looks perfectly enjoyable on paper, there is a major scheduling problem that you need to at least be aware of and then deal with as best you can. If you are leaving in a 'few weeks' and will take about a week to get to the Black Hills, that will put you there right smack dab in the middle of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. The roads will be clogged and accommodations often full up for a week before, a week during and a week after the rally as thousands upon thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts descend on western South Dakota and enjoy many of the scenic wonders both there and on the way. If your time frame is fixed and conflicts with the rally, I'd suggest you find a different route than I-90 through the northern Great Plains. Either I-94 west from Chicago or I-80/I-84 west from Des Moines should work. Since that will be a major change in your routing, you should make the decision on which way you'd like to go before you or we proceed any further.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    Being that this trip is just a few weeks away, finding lodging around Yellowstone could be tricky, especially if you're looking for something as specific as a cabin. You will probably have to be looking outside of the park, and if that's the case, the West Yellowstone area is the most centrally located to all of the park's features.

    Having said that, visiting National Parks with dogs is a little tricky, as pets are quite limited in where they can travel. Here are Yellowstone's guidelines, but generally know that hiking isn't really permitted with pets within National Parks. National Forest lands as well as State Parks are typically a better bet for places to explore with a pet.

  4. Default

    Thanks AZBuck and Midwest Michael. This is very helpful intel.

    @AZBuck: You are right - based on my current plan, we should be hitting SD Aug 2 through 4. I'm going to spend some time today trying to find accommodation (no mean task given we are also trying to find pet friendly places!). And if it's all booked up, we might end up taking 80/84. I'd be really disappointed as I was really looking forward to take in Black Hills. But I guess we could still hit Yellowstone up through 191.

    @Midwest Michael: we've always taken our pup on hikes in Shenandoah NP, which is one of the few parks that allows pets on leashes pretty much anywhere - so I guess we are spoiled! We would really not want to kennel her - so I guess the options would be to either find a cabin that is pet friendly (or find a hotel in the greater Yellowstone area). Do you know whether pets are allowed near the attractions? The guidelines do say "Pets may accompany you in the developed areas of the park. This includes any areas within 100 feet of roads, parking areas, and campgrounds." Not sure whether the attractions qualify as "developed areas".

  5. Default

    Thanks for the responses folks - fantastic suggestions!

    I hustled and was able to find solid accommodation in the Black Hills and the YellowStone areas. Sturgis looks amazing - it's like Rolling Thunder here in DC, but on steroids. We're going through the area about 1 week before the rally, so we're hoping that we get through without too much congestion.

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


    The Black Hills will be very busy 1 week before the rally, as many people will already be making their way there. I'd be quite surprised if you didn't see large crowds throughout the Black Hills.

    What did you find for accommodations in the Yellowstone area?

    As far as pets at Yellowstone, that's going to be somewhat of a case by case basis. There are some things you can see from near the parking areas. Old Faithful, for example, is something you could do with your pet. However, many of the attractions are Thermal Areas where you have to stay on boardwalks, and it wouldn't be safe to bring a pet.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    I have heard a lot about Stanley Idaho and the drive through Sun Valley, but think it would be too much to squeeze into this trip and still have a good time. Thoughts?
    Should we spend the extra day at Coeur d'Alene? Or should we just spend one night there and drive on through to WA? It looks beautiful!
    My husband and I just spent two days meandering through Idaho, plus two days at Coeur d'Alene. I just wrote up the extra day at CDA in my trip report, but haven't gotten to the Idaho meandering yet.

    Whether to spend two nights and a full day in Coeur d'Alene is a personal preference. We did so because we are always on the lookout for a place to retire. We hiked there, around Tubbs Hill, but there is a lot more to do. Silverwood (theme park) isn't too far away, outdoor sports and water sports are available, of course it's not far from skiing.

    We took US-95 south from CDA, and eventually meandered through Stanley and the Sawtooths to arrive at Twin Falls. Very beautiful, though will tell you that ID-75 is slow going -- it's very much a national park, though the designation is National Recreation Area. There are two passes - one is near Galena, within the NRA. The other is on ID-21. The pass near Galena (I think that's what it's called, but my maps aren't near me right now) has a scenic pullout at the top and is very worth stopping at.

    BTW, I noticed you also left a full day for Mt Rushmore. Hubby and I started out early in the morning, took 2 or 3 hours there, then had the rest of the day to spend on Iron Mountain Scenic Road and the Needles "Highway" through Custer State Park. Both are worthwhile, as is Custer's Wildlife Loop Road. (That was all described in our 2014 trip, page 5, #57 and forward.

    If you're moving TO Seattle, remember that Idaho is only a day's drive away. It would be a nice place to spend time when you have a week.


  8. Default

    This is great input folks - thanks again for the help.

    Midwest Michael - for Yellowstone, we will actually be staying some ways away at Powell. We found a great tent-tel (accommodation with tents) which would be an amazing experience for the three of us.

    Donna - great info, thanks! We will definitely add Iron Mountain Scenic Road and the Needles Highway for when we are in Custer. Incidentally, we are staying in the Custer area - so this should work just fine!

    For those looking for a final itinerary, here is our route - we'll have multi-day stops at Custer, Powell and CDA.

    Arlington, VA

    Columbus, OH

    Peoria, IL

    Omaha, NE

    Alliance, NE

    Custer, SD

    Powell, WY

    Coeur d'Alene, ID

    Seattle, WA

    Thanks again for all the posters on this forum for your help!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default A little tweak

    Your route through Montana and Idaho runs almost parallel with a route I have driven only a couple of weeks ago.

    Look at US-12. From Miles City MT to Forsyth it doubles with I-90, then it takes off on its own through Helena to Garrison where it once again doubles up with I-90 all the way to Missoula.

    From Missoula into ID it goes over Lolo Pass and through Central ID to Lewiston.

    This scenic route is also a very interesting route, as it covers a lot of history. You may like to read up about it before you go, or when on the road. Just after Lolo Pass, there is a large and interesting - as well as pet friendly - rest area/visitor centre, with boardwalks and walks through the wetlands. All through ID it is incredibly scenic and not all that much unlike the area around Stanley and the Sawtooths. It continues to be interesting in an historical way, all the way.

    Alothough it is mostly a two lane road, it is not a slow road. In MT its speed limit is 70 - really a bit too fast to take in all the sites. I loved it, and thought it might give you a break from the interstates.


  10. Default

    And, add a 1/2 day for traffic getting into Seattle! (You think I'm joking...)

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