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  1. Default St Louis to Seattle best route mid May

    My daughter is moving to Seattle mid May, and we are driving her car from St. Louis to Seattle. I have been studying alternate routes and am curious which will be the best.
    1. We will not be pulling anything behind the car.
    2. We have no experience driving through mountains as we are from the very flat south.
    3. We have no experience driving in snow as we are from the very warm south.
    4. It may be my one and only chance to drive through this part of the country.
    5. We have allotted ourselves 5-6 days so not trying to rush.
    6. We will be traveling with a tiny dog.


    My question is should we go I-70 to Denver, I-80 to SLC, I-84 up to I-82 until it connects with I-90 into Seattle or I-70 to KC up I-29 to Sioux Falls to I-90 the rest of the way? Or is there another way that I havenít listed? Iíd like to see some mountains and scenery. I also understand to check weather reports before we leave. Iíd like to not spend the entire trip in the middle of nowhere. We are not much worried about tourist stops. More so about the safest way ó pros /cons about elevations, dangerous driving conditions, routes where there are more places to stop, etc. I am doing lots of research on both routes, whatís available on exits along the way, etc. I just thought I could get some additional information from more seasoned road trippers than us. Iíve been on tons of road trips, but mainly in the southern, eastern, midwestern USA. Never in the West/Northwest. Iíve been as far as Pueblo, Colorado and Santa Fe , NM.

    Any advice anyone can give us would be extremely appreciated. Thanks in advance. 🙂

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,497

    Default

    Welcome to RTA!

    I'd recommend the I-70/I-29/I-90 route. This has the lowest elevations of all the alternatives, and is the fastest way. I-80 across WY is at a higher elevation and is subject to some pretty windy conditions.

    You are looking at 4 days of dedicated driving (sunrise to sunset), so you have a bit of time to do some sightseeing. Notable along that route are the Badlands and Mt. Rushmore/Black Hills. I don't think you would have time to do Yellowstone or Glacier, and in May neither park is fully open for driving cars.

    You should never be more than an hour or so from any services and you should have pretty much continuous cellphone coverage.

  3. Default

    Thank you for the reply. Most searches I did for this trip recommended this route, but many of the questions were asking about towing a trailer or driving in winter. Having never been to this part of the country, I just imagine vast stretches of nothing and big piles of snow everywhere. �� This is probably the best route for us just due to the lower elevations. Thanks again for the information. It is greatly appreciated. It is very kind of you. ��

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,819

    Default

    The route that GLC suggested is the one I'd suggest, too. We did much of that same route a couple of years ago. You'll cross the Mighty MO River a number of times. South Dakota isn't superbly "interesting", but a stretch of the legs at the Corn Palace might be fun, then a few miles down the road near Chamberlain, SD, there is a rest area accessible by both sides with a lovely view of the MO River as well as an interesting exhibit about Lewis & Clark's journey through there. There's the Badlands, if you have an extra hour or two to drive through it, and as you exit, there's Wall Drug Store which is a kitschy place even if you don't drive through the Badlands.

    Just inside Montana, at exit 510, you'll find the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument. Quite interesting. The scenery gets prettier once you pass Laurel and coming into Livingston and Bozeman, if memory serves. Just past Belgrade, there's Three Forks and the Missouri Headwaters State Park ... where that big bad MO River begins at the junction of three rivers. Pretty place if you have an hour or two to spare!


    Donna

  5. Default

    Thank you for the reply Donna. I will check those places out. I appreciate the help!

  6. Default

    Also glc, I would love to see Mt Rushmore, being that close, but since we will be traveling with a dog, it says the park isn’t pet friendly. Do you know if you can at least see the monument without entering and do you think it’s worth it to just get a look?

  7. #7

    Default

    While one can take a glimpse of Mt. Rushmore, it is much better to be the rider than the driver as there is a strict "no parking" enforced along miles of roadway. Admission is free but parking is around $15, and you can't be "admitted" without parking (one way of getting around the US Park Service annual and Senior cards which do not include parking).

    As to driving, I-90 is a more relaxing (my experience is few tractor trailers) and scenic drive across the comparable plains states on I-70 and I-80. Shame you have to drive across I-70 in Missouri. I didn't mind the I-80 stretch in Wyoming but wow was it ever windy.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,497

    Default

    Parking passes are $10, $5 for seniors, free for active military. The passes are valid for 1 year after purchase.

    https://www.nps.gov/moru/planyourvisit/fees.htm

    If the weather is not too hot, I don't see why you couldn't leave the dog in the car with windows cracked open. Pets are okay in the parking garages and areas adjacent to them.

    https://www.nps.gov/moru/planyourvisit/pets.htm

  9. #9

    Default

    Thanks for the correction, GLC. Seems like they were closer to $15, and certainly not $5, one year ago July, in which case I would have cruised in! As it was it gave me more time for an evening cookout at the Wind Cave campground :)

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,819

    Default

    That's amazing -- I just went back and checked my expense logs for our trip, 4 years ago, and parking was $11 back then. Something went DOWN in price?!?!?

    Another place that's not far off I-90, in Wyoming, is Devil's Tower National Monument. If you've ever seen the movie, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, this place was featured in that flick. Pets can come into the park, but they can only be out on leash in the parking lot of the visitor center and in the picnic area. They can't be on the trail. But you can see so much from the visitor center area. There's also a prairie dog town on the outskirts of the park where you can stop and watch the little rodents. They are quite fascinating!


    Donna

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