Results 1 to 10 of 10
  1. Default Seattle to Yellowstone - Winter driving

    Hi, my wife and I were planning to drive from Seattle to Yellowstone and back in December. This is going to be our first long winter road trip. Look forward to advice.

    Our current itinerary is as follows:

    26th December: Leave Seattle in the morning around 9 and reach Coeur D' Alene and stay overnight

    27th December: Leave in the morning from CDA and reach Yellowstone national park West and stay for 3 nights

    30th December: Leave in the morning from Yellowstone and reach Missoula MT for an overnight stay

    31st December: Drive Back from Misoula MT to seattle


    Wanted advice on the following
    1. Is this route advisable to drive in the winter with a 4 wheel drive Honda CRV?
    2. What is the best way to get reliable weather updates? Are these highways plowed during the winter ?
    3. In case of an emergency, is there cell coverage through the route? What are options for roadside assistance if god forbid it is required?
    4. Any pointed advice on winter essentials for winter driving?
    5. Can we find a detailed description somewhere on the mountain passes/terrain in the route?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,321

    Default A big problem

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    You've got a pretty major problem that it appears you haven't considered: Most of Yellowstone is closed to cars in winter, and that includes every part that is accessible from West Yellowstone. If you wanted to see anything from West Yellowstone, you'd have to do so by snowmobile.

    The only portion of the park that is open to cars is the northern most edge of the park - basically Mammoth Hot Springs and the Lamar Valley. The Yellowstone website has more specifics on what is actually open and available in winter.

    If you've already factored that in and are planning to do some snowmobile touring, then let us know and we'll help you the best we can, but I suspect you're going to have to rethink if this is really the trip you want to do.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Ft. Collins, CO.
    Posts
    320

    Default

    I was going to post links to my dashcam vids of some of those roads in winter but MM's point about Yellowstone being closed suggests that the purpose of the trip will fall away leaving no reason to go there.

    I drive I-25 and I-90 in a Jeep from Colorado to Seattle for Christmas. I have needed 4WD in winter for portions of every trip in each direction. (needed it in April this year too) The interstates are plowed and sanded more quickly than other roads but sometimes it seems like the plows aren't actually helping when they just polish the ice. The semis will then chop up the ice with their tire chains making for a pretty rough, and slow, ride.

    I have a 14 year old phone with service with T-Mobile. I have no service in Montana or Wyoming. Coverage depends on your carrier.

    Passes eastbound- Snoqualmie, 4th of July, Lookout, Homestake, Bozeman . There are traffic cameras each state has connected to the internet so you can see what conditions are from your 'net connected device. Lookout Pass is about the steepest grades of the group. Even in good conditions you still might cross it at 30 mph because of the slow truck traffic.

    Winter essentials- reliable vehicle, new wiper blades, washer fluid topped up, good (deep tread) tires, warm clothing, shoes or boots that won't freeze your feet in the snow in the parking area, blanket or two,ice scraper, ice melter (windshield washer fluid in a spray bottle works for less $). $$$ to pay the towtruck driver if you break down or screw up and slide off the road.

    It's all completely doable but it's best not undertaken lightly.

  4. Default

    Thanks for the quick reply Micheal and noFanofCB! We have a Snowcoach tour booked out of Yellowstone west for the 28th.. but having said that if the advice we get form the experience on the group is that it may not be a smart thing to attemp the trip we are ok to let go of the booking.

    We were looking up some more and thinking to be on the safer side It maybe better to have two overnight stops each way so we ensure driving only in daylight hours

    1. Leave on 25th and stay the night at Coeur D’ Arlene. (312 miles via I 90/ snoquamie pass)

    2. Drive to Butte on the 26th and stay the night. ( 282 miles I90 lookout pass)


    3. Drive 27th morning to Yellowstone and stay 27 and 28th night ( 164 miles via I 191 or 147 miles via I 287. We were reading that 287 is a secondary highway so taking 191 maybe better even though it is slightly longer)


    4. Leave 29th morning from Yellowstone and spend the night at Missoula MT(281 miles via 191 and I90)

    5. Drive to Spokane on 30th and spend the night (197 miles)

    6. Drive back to Seattle on 31st. (279 miles)

    Does this iteanary seem better?

    On the car side, aWe have a first owner 2014 CRV. With 37K miles on it so I would think it is in pretty good condition, we got the winter tuning done and wipers replaced last week.. good point in the spray ice melter.. will pick it up. We have an AT&T phone connection .. not sure what the service is like and would we need a radio or something for emergency communication?

    We have done Stevens Pass, snoquamie pass a couple of times last winter but this will be our first long roadtrip..so all advice .. even seemingly basic pointers are welcome .. and even advice saying don’t be stupid to attempt this would be good to know .

    How essential would it be to look for accommodations with covered parking in all our overnight stops?

    Thanks so much for reading and look forward to your inputs !
    Last edited by Shilpszz; 12-18-2017 at 12:10 AM.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    7,043

    Default AT&T and US highways.

    Quote Originally Posted by Shilpszz View Post
    We have an AT&T phone connection .. not sure what the service .......
    My ordinary phone with AT&T worked well across Montana last year. Not sure if that is the same for smart phones.

    Most of US-191 south of I-90 runs through the Gallatin National Forest. Whereas it is a pretty drive in summer I don't know how that affects the road with winter weather.

    Should you choose to drive US-287, it will take you through the 1959 eartquake area. Worth checking out.

    Lifey

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Ft. Collins, CO.
    Posts
    320

    Default

    The distances all seem quite reasonable though weather is the big factor.

    In my case I've been watching weather forecasts for this week and have decided to leave one day early for Seattle to avoid a day of driving in snow all the way across Montana.

    Schedule flexibility is nice for this time of year. But you don't seem to have it. But if you can, consider a Plan B so that you can leave at least part of a day earlier because 300 miles thru heavily falling snow following a single track in a whiteout is very different than 300 miles on clear roads in good weather. And sometimes you just can't. There was a year where Snoqualmie Pass was just plain closed all day the day before Christmas because of avalanches carrying trees down onto the roadway.

    You want to avoid the driving of the kind I recorded starting at 5 minutes into this dashcam vid - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L_Eh9OSWoqk (40 mph in 4WD on new deep-tread tires following tracks ahead. Traffic very light and very sensible.)

    Covered parking? Nice idea. Don't count on it. Be sure and have a good snow brush and clothes enough to be able to use it for awhile. Be sure to clean off the top of your car and ALL WINDOWS and mirrors. (the snow on top will blow back and cover your rear window OR if it's wet snow it can blow off in chunks and hit other cars) A light shovel might be useful to clear snow away from your tires after you've brushed it off your roof so you can drive out of your parking place.

    You're travelling main roads so help comes along shortly (unless you slide off where no one can see you - not recommended). As my screen name suggests - don't bother with a CB radio.

  7. Default

    Thanks for the response...the dashboard cam link was interesting....yes we definitely want to avoid the drive you encountered south of Hardin but given that we are planning the trip in December will that be possible? I see that the video was taken in April and I am worried we would get that kind of road through the drive.....what do you think?

    Any inputs on what is the average speed we can expect for each of the journey legs would be really helpful.

    1.Seattle to Coeur D’ Arlene. (312 miles via I 90/ snoquamie pass)
    2. Coeur D' Arlene to Butte ( 282 miles I90 lookout pass)
    3. Butte to Yellowstone ( 164 miles via I 191 or 147 miles via I 287. We were reading that 287 is a secondary highway so taking 191 maybe better even though it is slightly longer)
    4. Yellowstone west to Missoula MT(281 miles via 191 and I90)
    5. Missoula to Spokane (197 miles)
    6. Spokane to Seattle (279 miles)

    We understand that snow chains can not be used on a 4 wheel drive, would we need something like an " Auto Sock "https://autosock.com/ or something like that? Any experience with the Auto Sock?

    Most of this trip is going to be driving...so if the drive is likely to be stressful with no views because of the snow it may not make sense to go at all...since it is suppose to be a pleasure trip...should we take it up at all?

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by Lifemagician View Post
    My ordinary phone with AT&T worked well across Montana last year. Not sure if that is the same for smart phones.

    Most of US-191 south of I-90 runs through the Gallatin National Forest. Whereas it is a pretty drive in summer I don't know how that affects the road with winter weather.

    Should you choose to drive US-287, it will take you through the 1959 eartquake area. Worth checking out.

    Lifey
    Thanks....knowing At&T would work is re-assuring !

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,321

    Default

    Trying to tell you an average speed is simply pointless because we can't possibly tell you what the conditions will be. In good conditions, 55-60 is pretty typical average speed on the interstates, once you factor in minimum stops and slowdowns. On 2 lane roads, you're looking at 45-50 most of the time, but if you're seeing bad weather, those numbers could be cut in half, or worse.

    I'm not sure where you heard you can't put chains on a 4 wheel drive vehicle, but that's not true at all. With AWD, you do need to make sure you've got them on all 4 wheels, but you certainly can use them. However, there is the element that if the roads are so bad you need chains, and you have little or no experience driving in snow, then you probably will be better off stopping and waiting for conditions to improve.

    The reality is you're talking about a winter trip to the mountains, we can't tell you what kind of weather you'll see. If the possibility of having to drive in snow seriously stresses you out, then perhaps you would be better off finding a different destination, because snow certainly is a possibility that you have to be prepared for.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,986

    Default

    I think the best you can do is to check the weather and road conditions a day or 2 before setting out and making informed decisions from then. I know it doesn't suit everyone, but the fact is you could see completely clear weather one day and really poor conditions the next. So for example, instead of being tied to an itinerary that says you have to travel 312 miles one day and 282 the next, it might just work that you can cover 500 miles on day one and 94 on day 2. Once you have a better idea of what you are up against you could then start to check out lodgings in that particular area. It doesn't hurt to have a plan 'B' just in case conditions work against you, even if it means staying closer to home or heading towards the coast.

    Good luck and safe travels.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Ft. Collins, CO.
    Posts
    320

    Default

    Seattle had 3" of snow on Christmas eve and slushy roads on the 26th. Looks like it's been snowing across I-90 from Spokane to Missoula for several days and will be that way for days more (including my return travel window). The below zero overnight temps in Montana are a bonus :-)

    I hope the original poster comes back to give us a post trip report.

Similar Threads

  1. Driving from Seattle to Salt Lake City during winter
    By wildcard27 in forum Fall & Winter RoadTrips
    Replies: 10
    Last Post: 01-05-2017, 08:01 PM
  2. September 2010 - Seattle to Yellowstone, too much driving?
    By grampus8 in forum Fall & Winter RoadTrips
    Replies: 7
    Last Post: 05-14-2010, 10:17 AM
  3. Driving Vegas to Yellowstone, Seattle then down the coast
    By lisalu in forum Fall & Winter RoadTrips
    Replies: 10
    Last Post: 06-03-2009, 09:29 PM
  4. Questions about winter driving for Seattle to Atlanta next week
    By BlueSky in forum Fall & Winter RoadTrips
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 01-26-2006, 05:32 AM
  5. Winter driving from L.A. to Seattle
    By njv in forum Fall & Winter RoadTrips
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 10-08-2003, 04:00 AM

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  

  • MORE STORIES