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  1. Default RV trip-Pensacola to Yellowstone slow and scenic.

    I am a single, retired woman planning to travel with two standard poodles on a long slooow meander to Yellowstone and back. I had originally planned to drive to Kansas City, on to Sioux Falls, the Badlands and Rapid City, up to Billings to the Little Big Horn, across Montana to Boseman on 94 and then down to Yellowstone. I don't want to miss out on any special places to visit. The route home has not yet been considered. I hope to leave sometime in late April and be back south before the really cold weather sets in. RV's aren't well insulated.

    The plan is to paint my way across the country- scenery and portraits of ordinary Americans. I would appreciate any input to this plan because I've never been this way before and unlikely to go this Northern route again.

    Thank you for any informed input. It is much appreciated.:)

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,101

    Default That First Step

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    With that amount of time, you could hit just about anywhere in the Southwest, Great Plains, Rocky Mountains, Missouri-Mississippi River Valleys, and mid-South. So you're going to have to at least decide on a few places or areas that are most important to you before we can be of much specific help.

    I will say, by way of getting your thinking started, that I would addopt a slightly different plan: First head west, then north, east and south, is a good one, making the most of both the usual climate progression and the miles driven to see as many things as possible at their best. Such a plan would let you see the great desert and red rock national parks of the Southwest before summer's heat sets in. (no matter what anyone says, 110º of 'dry heat' is still hot.) Then head up through some great Rocky Mountain locations as spring moves northward to Yellowstone, hopefully just before school lets out and the hordes descend. Next go east across the plains following one of the historic old pioneer routes to the upper Mississippi and Mark Twain country before finally heading home thorough some of the music, barbecue, and Civil War history of the South.

    In all of that, you will find many opportunities to paint, especially if you stick to the roads less traveled that are not cluttered with chain motels and fast food joints. Again, we can eventually offer specific recommendations, but not quite yet. Let us know how your thinking progresses as it does and we'll be more than happy to serve as both sounding board and suggestion source.

    AZBuck

  3. Default

    Thank you for your suggestions. I used to teach school on the big Navajo reservation and I am familiar with a lot of Arizona and the southwest. I traveled I-40 from Window Rock to Memphis several times a year. I will likely be going to Quartzsite next winter on I-10 and so will have an opportunity to explore Carlsbad Caverns and the southern route more thoroughly.

    Florida is flat (a sandbar) and I have no experience with driving in hilly country let alone the Rockies. I intend to avoid them for now. I am traveling alone with no help but a cell phone (if coverage is available) and the road service. The dogs are useless at tire changing or map reading. I may swing by the Smokies for fall color on the way back, if it isn't too late in the season. They are familiar territory and I have driven them many times- in a car. Those roads can be worrisome in a car. I am not secure about driving them in an RV.

    The plan is for minimal mountains this trip. Next year I may be a seasoned professional driver.

    I am also familiar with the lower areas of the Mississippi River from Illinois to New Orleans.

    The timeline for the trip is not really extremely long when you consider I will drive for only a few hours in a day and stop to camp for several days to a week or more in some areas. My days of burning up the road in 27 hours straight-through drives are finished. I want take my time to explore scenic and historic Montana and South Dakota. Not sure if North Dakota or Wyoming will show more than those two states, but then I've never been there.

    As to what I am interested in: scenery, wildlife, people watching and painting. I can't leave the dogs alone in a locked RV in summer so most of my outings will be with them on walks and outdoors. Not interested in spending time in cities.

    Thank you for taking the time to reply and offer suggestions.
    Last edited by yellowroses; 09-25-2016 at 12:50 PM. Reason: added a word

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,215

    Default

    We drove much of that route you mentioned (KC to Sioux City to the Black Hills to Bozeman) this past summer. You may have some very easy grades, but nothing impossible. Interstates are built to specs that include light grades.

    You will find some opportunities for scenic painting all along your trip, but one that may be obscure would be from a rest area off of 90 near Chamberlain SD. There is a lovely view of the MO River. Another thought is Headwaters of the MO River near Three Forks, MT. Beautiful there, too. It is just west of Bozeman and Belgrade, MT.

    Bear in mind that you may not have full access to Yellowstone until mid-to-late May, which is why AZBuck made the suggestion to go south first.


    Donna

  5. Default

    The South Dakota Tourism site has a download booklet of attractions. It is a bit hard to read online with the tiny print, but I found some areas of interest and blew them up for reading. It mentioned the Oyote Trail (Hwy 50/18) which starts at Vermillion and runs south of I-90 to Edgemont at the Montana border. I thought it might be interesting to take I-90 to the Mitchell area then drive south to pick up the trail then drive north to Custer State Park, Mt. Rushmore etc. then backtrack east on I-90 to the Badlands.

    The booklet also suggested a circle loop from exit 131 on I-90 to Wall that has great views of the Badlands. After that the Custer battlefield on the Crow reservation is an important stop. Then on to Livingston and Boseman (Art Central).

    I had no idea the source of the Missouri was near Boseman. Thank you. There is so much to see, I don't think I will reach Yellowstone until mid May- before school lets out and the great rush begins.

    Because of the wealth of activities and scenic sites I am considering taking the route back through Montana and dropping south at Miles City, MT and taking Route 12 to the Missouri River in South Dakota and seeing the North Central Tribes area. Is it worth the detour?

    Thank you for the information about the stop on I-90 for the overlook of the Missouri River. It's worth going to Chamberlain first before turning south to pick the Oyote Trail.

    I will need to make a list of all the great places to go to and then try to organize it into an itinerary. So far, I'm all over the map and zig-zagging back and forth with art festival and Pow wow dates and even a Buffalo Round-up.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,215

    Default

    The booklet also suggested a circle loop from exit 131 on I-90 to Wall that has great views of the Badlands.
    That is actually the main park road through Badlands NP. Depending on the direction you're going, you're either getting off or getting on the freeway at exit 131. Don't miss Wall Drug, even if you're not into Kitschy. It's pretty well a landmark, and you'll see signs all over about it. Get free ice water, or pay 5c for a cup of coffee. (Free for veterans.)

    I haven't taken the route 12 you're speaking of, at least not at that point, so I couldn't say "worth it" or not. That would be up to you.


    Donna

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,756

    Default From one solo senior to another.

    Quote Originally Posted by yellowroses View Post
    The booklet also suggested a circle loop from exit 131 on I-90 to Wall that has great views of the Badlands. After that the Custer battlefield on the Crow reservation is an important stop. Then on to Livingston and Boseman (Art Central).
    Many States have such a booklet. I have been collecting them over my last few trips, with a view to doing all the scenic routes in one State, per trip. Most visitor centres and Welcome centres have them.

    I had no idea the source of the Missouri was near Boseman. Thank you.
    The Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument is also a very scenic area, and there are some great camping areas there.

    Because of the wealth of activities and scenic sites I am considering taking the route back through Montana and dropping south at Miles City, MT and taking Route 12 to the Missouri River in South Dakota and seeing the North Central Tribes area. Is it worth the detour?
    Only a month or two ago I drove US-12 from Miles City MT to Lewiston ID. Why not take US-12 from Garrison MT to Miles City? It's a great trip.

    I will need to make a list of all the great places to go to and then try to organize it into an itinerary. So far, I'm all over the map and zig-zagging back and forth with art festival and Pow wow dates and even a Buffalo Round-up.
    It's not the zig zagging that bothers me, it's the missing out on what I really wanted to visit. I have an ordinary school book which has a page for each State and two for some. Whenever I hear of a new place which interests me, I add it to the page, to be considered for a future trip.

    BTW, don't let the fact that you are travelling solo deter you anywhere, even in the Rockies. In the last decade and a half I have clocked up 200000 miles north of the Mexican border, including four trips to Alaska and back. And probably like you, I was a senior citizen before I ever hit the road for my first trip in North America.

    I know it takes a little longer when you have to stop to read a map, check a detail or get another drink out of the fridge, when travelling solo. But for me the pros outweigh the cons. A roadside assistance package is your best friend. Mine has come in very handy at times, as I would not be able to change a tyre either.

    Enjoy the planning, have a great trip, and I look forward to reading about your adventures when you are on the road

    Lifey

  8. #8

    Default Montana and nearby parts of ND and SD

    Quote Originally Posted by yellowroses View Post


    Because of the wealth of activities and scenic sites I am considering taking the route back through Montana and dropping south at Miles City, MT and taking Route 12 to the Missouri River in South Dakota and seeing the North Central Tribes area. Is it worth the detour?

    Thank you for the information about the stop on I-90 for the overlook of the Missouri River. It's worth going to Chamberlain first before turning south to pick the Oyote Trail.
    US 12 from Miles City, MT eastwards into southwestern ND then crossing into north-central SD is a route I've traveled before, though not since 2002. I was a geology student participating in a dinosaur fossil excavation north of Marmarth, ND in 1975 and have returned to that area a handful of times since. You're in lonely high plains ranch and wheat farm country all the way from Miles City, MT to Mobridge, SD. Particularly between Baker, MT and Bowman, ND you will see some badlands topography, and Baker and Bowman are the only towns at which you may best rely on services being available.

    The area around Mobridge, SD is, in the eyes of many, not particularly scenic. That said, I personally feel it's important for any American to see the reservation lands of the northern Plains. With your considerable experience on the Navajo reservation, it's likely much of the surroundings will be familiar.

    It is correctly noted that the head of the Missouri River is at Three Forks, MT. From that point all the way to St. Louis the waterway bears the name Missouri. As to the source of the Missouri River, that's a long way upstream from Three Forks. Following the Jefferson River to Twin Bridges, thence the Beaverhead River to and beyond Dillon, MT, brings you to Clark Canyon Reservoir where the principal stream becomes the Red Rock River. Following the Red Rock River upstream from Clark Canyon, past Lima, MT, brings you to the Centennial Valley, one of the more remote and wide-open parts of Montana. A graded gravel road (MT 509, aka South Shore Road) runs east-west for some 60 miles between I-15 at Monida and US 20 at Henry's Lake, ID, just west of West Yellowstone, MT. Along the way, MT 509 passes through the Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge and crosses Hellroaring Creek. Way up the canyon from the crossing, a good 10 or more miles, is Brower's Spring, the true source of the Mighty Mo.

    Foy

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