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  1. Default North Carolina to Montana - 2500 miles!!!

    I'm going to Montana for the summer and am getting ready to depart on my longest road trip yet (longest so far NC-Key West 920 miles). I'll have 7 days to get there. I am getting excited. Never been west of the great Mississippi (crossing the bridge and coming back didn't count).

    Right now I have a route planned out with a few of the places that I want to make sure I see. I know that I will probably take detours - not too fond of the idea of being on major interstates for 2500 miles. I'm a follow the signs and see where it takes me kinda person. Are there any alternative routes that ya'll can suggest? Maybe cool things to see? I plan on camping at Badlands and Yellowstone, maybe other places. Is camping in national parks usually first come first serve or are reservations required? I don't want to really make reservations because I don't want to have to be somehere at a specific time.

    NC – St. Louis, MO (St. Louis Arch)
    I-77 N to Charleston, I-64W to St. Louis

    St. Louis, MO – Sioux Falls, SD
    I-70 W to Kansas City, I-29 N to Sioux Falls, SD

    Sioux Falls, SD to Rapid City, SD (Badlands National Park)
    I-90 W

    Rapid City, SD to Cooke City, MT (Yellowstone National Park)

    I-90 W to Billings, MT, US 212 S to Northeast entrance of Yellowstone

    Yellowstone National Park to Bigfork, MT US 191 N to Bozeman, I-90 W to Missoula, US 93 N to Bigfork


    Thanks in advance for your suggestions. Happy road trippin'.

    Heather

  2. #2

    Default Camping in National Parks

    The problem with most of the National Park campsites (at least in the summer) is popularity. Although there are non reserved sites at most of them, they are often filled by 9AM - 10AM. Makes it difficult to hop from one to the next on a tight schedule...

    Be sure not to skip 212 The Beartooth Highway into Yellowstone. One of the most beautiful highways in the country (although I also recommend checking out Chief Joseph Highway and, as long as you are going to Montana, "The Going to the Sun Road" in Glacier National Park, MT.

  3. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by vermilye
    The problem with most of the National Park campsites (at least in the summer) is popularity. Although there are non reserved sites at most of them, they are often filled by 9AM - 10AM. Makes it difficult to hop from one to the next on a tight schedule...

    Be sure not to skip 212 The Beartooth Highway into Yellowstone. One of the most beautiful highways in the country (although I also recommend checking out Chief Joseph Highway and, as long as you are going to Montana, "The Going to the Sun Road" in Glacier National Park, MT.
    Thanks. I actually just received my National Byways Map in the mail today. And I plan on doing some back packing in Glacier. I am getting excited. Thanks for the warning about NP campgrounds.

  4. Default Mudslides keep Beartooth Highway closed

    and there is no estimated reopening. Found this in todays news:

    http://www.mtstandard.com/articles/2...jehfjcjaff.txt

    Check before you head out on the Beartooth Highway!

    Utahtea

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default Good Catch!

    Quote Originally Posted by Utahtea
    and there is no estimated reopening...Check before you head out on the Beartooth Highway!
    I looked at the photo in that article -- pretty amazing damage -- That is a bummer, but it is also astounding what the highway depatment up there can do. We will be watching this one!

    Mark

  6. Default Thanks!!

    Ahhhh the power of nature. Thanks for the heads up!!!! I was planning on takin' that pass on June 15th to get to Yellowstone. I hope they will be able to get that reopened quickly or I may have to postpone that until my trip back.

    If that pass is not open, which would you recommend from I-90: US 310S at Laurel, MT-US 120S-US 20W to the east entrance of Yellowstone or US 89S into the north entrance?

    Countdown to departure 18 days. YAAAAYYYY!! :o)

  7. Default Update of my Adventures

    Hello roadtrippers,

    Sorry it took so long for me the report on my adventures. I finally found a local restaurant with Wi-Fi. I know it’s long but here it goes….

    Pictures of my adventures can be seen at www.hlclark.photosite.com

    I needed a reason to take a road trip of this magnitude, so I got a summer job in Montana. My brother rode out here with me. I can’t really explain cause I want to, to the ‘rents.

    The trip was done via mostly major interstates, boring I know, but my brother could only get so much time off. The comments are pulled from a journal I kept, so they may seem completely random (that’s how most of my comments are anyway) and very condensed.

    Day 1 – Kernersville, NC to St. Louis, MO
    774.9 miles – 11hrs 30mins
    States traveled through: NC, VA, WV, KY, IN, IL, MO
    Sites visited: St. Louis Gateway Arch and the Museum of Westward Expansion
    ~~We left at 5:00am. It was really foggy in the mountains and raining most of the way so it made for a pretty boring first day. Charleston, WV was not designed so that people could stop to get gas and get pack on the right highway. It took us 11.5 hours to get here but it didn’t really seem like that long. It stopped raining 45 miles outside of St. Louis and the sun appeared. My brother and I walked around St. Louis then went to the Arch and Museum.

    Day 2 – St. Louis, MO to Badlands National Park
    887.9 miles – 13hrs 40mins
    States traveled through: MO, IA, NE, SD
    Sites visited: Badlands National Park and Interior, SD (Population 67)
    ~~Middle America. Middle America. (in my best Pauly Shore voice). Why does Missouri use letters instead of numbers to name highways?? I have never seen so many silos in my life. Northern, MO… Corn and Cows. It’s really cool to look over the cornfields when the wind is blowing. Looks like you are looking over the ocean. I miss it already. Why am I going to a landlocked state?? Entering South Dakota on I-29 is the most annoying highway in America. There are lines across the road about every 20 ft. At 75 mph all you hear is bump, bump, bump for 30 miles. WOW. Really flat land. We could look around and see it raining in 3 different places. We drove through one pretty nasty storm. 30 minutes later we heard tornado and hail warnings over the radio. Glad we passed that when we did. The Badlands look like giant anthills. The park is beautiful and sunrise and sunset.

    Day 3 – Badlands National Park to Cody, WY
    580.2 miles – 15hrs 15mins
    States traveled through: SD, WY
    Sites visited: The Famous Wall Drug, Mt. Rushmore, Crazy Horse Memorial, Pactola Lake in the Black Hills National Forest and Devils Tower National Monument
    ~~Today was a really long day, but it was my favorite. I definitely wanna go back to Crazy Horse in the future to check on the progress. I finally got my first glimpse of the Rockies. Pactola Lake… you just don’t see water that color back east (dyed water at miniature golf doesn’t count). I held snow in my hand in June. That’s just not natural.

    Day 4 – Cody, WY to Yellowstone National Park
    217.5 miles – 3hrs 0mins
    States traveled through: WY
    Sites visited: Yellowstone National Park
    ~~The long days on the road finally caught up with us. We were both pretty tired, but I wasn’t gonna let that stop me from seeing I what I wanted. When we get to Yellowstone we found something to eat at the Lake Lodge. As we are walking across the parking lot the temperature drops fast and it begins to hail. We eat and go back to the car and it is hot again. Crazy weather!! We, being from the south east coast, don’t really think about the temperature dropping 30+ degrees over night (especially not in June) so we thought it was stupid when we walked into our cabin and it was hot as hell because the heater was on. We turned it off. Drove around the park then came back and went to sleep. We found out the next morning why the heater was on when we woke up and the thermostat was pegged at 55*. The park is beautiful. There is so much to see and the landscape changes so much. I could definitely spend a few more days exploring.

    Day 5 – Yellowstone National Park to Bigfork, MT
    433.4 miles – 6hrs 40mins
    States traveled through: WY, MT
    ~~I guess road construction has got to be done when there is no snow on the ground, but is it really necessary to completely tear up the roads in a whole town so you are driving on dirt/mud and gravel? Now we know why all the cars we saw from Montana were so dirty. And why there are so many windshield repair shops in Montana. WOW. Bigfork, MT only has 1 stoplight. MUST MAKE SWEET TEA. Made the mistake of ordering tea at a restaurant, not thinking, and took a big sip of UNsweet tea. Yuck!!!

    Day 6 – Bigfork, MT to Spokane, WA
    309.1 miles – 4hrs 40mins
    States traveled through: MT, ID, WA
    Sites visited: The airport in Spokane

    Day 7 – Spokane, WA to Bigfork, MT
    313 miles – 4hrs 10mins
    States traveled through: WA, ID, MT
    Sites visited: Historic Wallace, ID. The literally built the highway right over it but it’s a cute little town.


    SUMMARY OF TRIP
    Car driven – 2002 Kia Rio
    Length of Trip – 7 days
    States traveled through – 14
    Miles covered - 3,516
    Avg. miles per day – 502.3
    Avg. MPH – 59.7
    Avg. miles per gallon – 35.9
    Total $ Spent - $1077.26 ~$154/day (plus $ spent on souvenirs and gifts for other people. Don’t think I wanna add that one up)
    Gas $212.83
    Most Expensive gas - $2.63 in Spokane, WA on 6.17.05
    Least Expensive gas - $1.99 in Kansas City, M0 on 6.13.05
    Hotels $348.31 (Camping would have been fine with me, but we were on the move - driving long hours and leaving early - so it wasn’t all that convenient)
    Food $190.73
    Entry Fees $84.00 (Inc. $50 for National Parks Pass- definitely got my moneys worth & still going)
    Parking & Tolls $17.50
    Plane Ticket $202.00 (bro had to get home)
    Oil Change $17.99
    Car Wash $4.00
    Insect population – Down 5% by way of windshield splatter
    Road kill – A lot
    Silos – A lot more
    Fast Food restaurants eaten at - McDonalds twice because there was nothing else or nothing open when we were hungry. We tried to avoid them like the plague. We mostly ate at local cafés/diners in small towns for breakfast and dinner. We met some pretty interesting people. What is it with ketchup or Tabasco in the West? I like hot sauce, don’t get me wrong, but on your eggs??? We just snacked on granola bars and stuff for lunch.

    Can’t wait to drive back!!!!!!

    Since arriving in Montana I have also made trips to the following places:
    Glacier National Park in Montana
    Browning, MT for the North American Indian Days
    Seattle, WA (Now I have officially driven from Coast to Coast)
    The Bob Marshall Wilderness in Montana

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

    Default The Realities of Frozen Ground

    Quote Originally Posted by UNSeaBlu04
    Hello roadtrippers,
    Hello back -- great field report. I have copied some of your post into our road trip expense study found here.
    I finally found a local restaurant with Wi-Fi.
    I am just back from a few days in central, northern Montana and I can vouch for the excellent wi-fi service found in Super 8 Motels...
    I needed a reason to take a road trip of this magnitude, so I got a summer job in Montana. My brother rode out here with me. I can’t really explain cause I want to, to the ‘rents.
    Any excuse is a good one. The thing I find really amazing is the length of some of your travel days -- 650 miles is about my limit these days -- but you blew past that number several days in a row --
    Day 2 – St. Louis, MO to Badlands National Park
    887.9 miles – 13hrs 40mins
    States traveled through: MO, IA, NE, SD
    Ouch -- my back is getting a contact-sore!
    It’s really cool to look over the cornfields when the wind is blowing. Looks like you are looking over the ocean. I miss it already.
    Everytime I see those acres of wheat in Montana I (nearly) break out in song ("America the Beautiful") the wind-caused ripples make the wheat look alive!
    Entering South Dakota on I-29 is the most annoying highway in America. There are lines across the road about every 20 ft. At 75 mph all you hear is bump, bump, bump for 30 miles.
    Those "expansion joints" prevent the frost heave that would be there, if they weren't. Believe porpoising at 75 mph is a lot worse than the bump, bump, bump!
    I held snow in my hand in June. That’s just not natural.
    I have been in a blizzard in Wyoming in August -- the west is different than North Carolina.
    I guess road construction has got to be done when there is no snow on the ground, but is it really necessary to completely tear up the roads in a whole town so you are driving on dirt/mud and gravel?
    Think for a moment, what it would be like to try and do construction when the ground is frozen solid for 25" deep or so. One would have to replace a cat blade every couple of hours. Road construction is nigh upon impossible in the cold months where you are now.

    Thanks for the report -- looking to hear about your other trips. What kind of summer job did you get?

    Mark

  9. Default My summer job

    Yes most of the days were very long, but I would do it again. My brother and I took turns driving.

    I got a summer job as a fisheries technician with the Flathead National Forest. I get to spend a lot of time in the field which is what I like doing.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
    Posts
    3,318

    Default

    Great trip report. Sounds like had an amazing time. I'm looking forward to hearing about your Montana area explorations.

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