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  1. Default Loop from Florida up to Montana and back again

    I'm planning to spend about a month (July) travelling from Florida up to Montana and back again...any suggestions for "must see" locations along the way? I'm thinking that a loop route would be nice, something like going through the southwest and up, then east through the Dakotas back down to Florida.

    -Arthur D

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    I'm sorry, but the possible must sees on a month long trip that covers 3/4 of the US are in the millions. There's just no way for us to start narrowing things down, especially when you've told us nothing about the kinds of things you might be interested in seeing or doing.

    Once you've got a better idea of some of your major stopping points, we can help you fill in the gaps, but we need to know more from you first.

  3. #3

    Default And..........

    Hello Arthur D,

    It would be helpful to know approximately where in FL you're departing from/returning to, as about 2 days' travel is involved for far South FL vs North FL.

    As noted, some info as to your desires to do some touring en route vs. mostly in MT is key info, too. Not noted, but equally important, is info as to what you'll be driving (motorhome vs sports car vs SUV), and what your general limitations might be as to navigating to oddball sights, how you can handle some hiking, cycling, rafting, etc.

    I just returned from 2 weeks in MT in July 2010 (plus a week there and back from NC) so I have some ideas which I can tailor to your own desires and any limitations. I tend to go heavy on the "out of the way" stuff, with some physical efforts involved (hike-in fishing, day hiking, off-road driving, etc).

    A month to MT and back is a GREAT idea. Enjoy planning and taking your RoadTrip!


  4. Default details re. loop trip

    More specifically, my wife and I intend to stay at Yellowstone and Glacier Park (Lake MacDonald) for about a week, that's our target. We'll be travelling in a SUV and basically staying at cheap motels along the way. We envision stopping at a few well-known spots along the way, but would be interested in some out of the way spots as well. We live in south central FL.

    One of us is not much of a hiker, so no long hikes, but some walking is fine. I would assume that the loop distance will require us to travel up to a couple of hundred miles per day on average, and that's ok. Overnight stays at points of interest will probably be the norm. The types of spots we like best would focus on the natural beauty of the area (like the redwood forest) or offer up an unusual experience (like panning for gold).

    Hope that's enough info for some ideas to percolate up. Thanks.

  5. #5

    Default Now we're talkin'

    Good morning Arthur,

    In July 2010 I followed my urges for offbeat travel enroute to Montana and crossed Nebraska from SE to NW along NE-2 through the Sandhills. I got on NE-2 at Cairo, just west of Grand Island, and stayed on it all the way through Alliance to Crawford, NE. It was, quite simply, a wonderful drive and a terrific alternative to I-80. Since the highway runs the old and present railroad corridor, there are plenty of tiny towns along the way, but few which slow you down (unless, of course, one would want to stop for coffee and pie at a tiny diner--like I tend to). Broken Bow, NE is a very pleasant little burg and makes a nice overnight stop (a close friend of mine did just that in late August and is still raving about it).

    There's nothing quite like I-90 across MT, where Big Timber, Livingston, Bozeman, Butte, Deerlodge, and Missoula all make nice stops. While there are not extensive accomodations nearby, the bakery at Wheat, MT (jct I-90 and US 287 west of Bozeman) is a great breakfast, brunch, or lunch stop, with a wide variety of fresh baked goods. Missoula is a fine college town/city with good eats and fun bars. A distinctly Western US treat is The Oxford, where there are no locks on the doors since they never close.

    Out of the way, but within the limits of easy SUV travel, is the secret of southwest Montana--the Big Hole. In Western US nomenclature, "hole" means broad valley, so the Big Hole is one heckuva huge valley: over 75 miles north to south, and 15-20 miles wide, with huge ranches dotting the valley floor at + 6,000' elevation. Mid- July to mid-August is haying season, so you'd likely get a chance to see a beaverslide stacker in operation. On the west side of the valley is Twin Lakes campground within the Beaverhead-Deerlodge NF's Wisdom Ranger District. It's well worth the +20 mile gravel road drive off of MT 278 even if you don't intend to camp, as the alpine lake at 7,500' and snowcapped Hirschey Mountain overlooking is a breathtaking spot for a picnic.

    Jackson, MT and its modest but fun Jackson Hot Springs Resort, restaurant, and bar make a fine overnight in the Big Hole. Nearby is the Pioneer Mountains Scenic Byway which is well-worth traversing up to Wise River, MT.

    Be thinking about Logger Days in Darby, MT and Bannack Days in Bannack, MT, both on the middle weekend in July. Of the two, Bannack Days is a bit less touristy, as it's well off the beaten path and celebrates Bannack's history as the first capital of Montana Territory in the 1860s. It's a genuine celebration of Montana history by and for Montanans, and we travelers are fortunate to look in on it.

    The "back way" from Dillon, MT to Yellowstone includes the nice town of Twin Bridges, close to the late Charles Kuralt's now-notorious Montana hideaway, and one finds Ennis a very nice town to visit enroute past Quake Lake to West Yellowstone, MT.

    Don't miss the Beartooth Highway between Red Lodge and the Northeast entrance to Yellowstone,either. Driving at +11,000' is a great, great experience.

    Have fun planning and taking your RoadTrip!


  6. Default Thanks for the trip tips!

    My wife and I have been in Montana previously and I really appreciate your insight. She loves their cowboy tradition (past and present). I'll be researching all your suggestions. Thanks again!

  7. #7

    Default Also in the Big Hole......... the Big Hole National Battlefield, near Wisdom and Twin Lakes, and not far from Jackson and Bannack. A visit there is an altogether sobering look at the flight of the Nez Perce from Idaho to Canada in the summer and fall of 1877. It's well worth a visit.


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