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  1. #1

    Default chicago to seattle

    Hello,

    i will be driving from chicago to seattle with my wife and son (he is 15) in July and i have 15 days including our stay in Seattle. Here are my questions:

    1- How much time should we spend in Seattle? We don't have visa for Canada but are there any must see cities around Seattle we should not miss? Would i need my car during my stay in Seattle you think or should i return the rented car as soon as i arrive in Seattle?

    2- Depending on your answer for my first question how would you organize the road trip with two nights stay at famous Yellowstone which my son wants most as he is interested in wild life?

    3-Where should we make the stops in terms of safety and the sight seeing?

    4-Any advices to make detour max 100 miles along our route?

    5-I can drive up to 6 hours a day and we can stay for more than 1 night at a stop if necessary.

    Thank you in advance for your answers.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    10,183

    Default Start with the Basics

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    OK, let's start with some basic parameters and then try to make the best use of whatever 'leftover' resources you have. The drive between Chicago and Seattle will take a minimum of four days each way. That's at a steady, but safe, pace of about 500 miles per day. With two days in Yellowstone, that means you're already used up to 10 days accounted for. Leaving a maximum of 5 days in Seattle. BUT, if you can only drive six hours per day, and your wife can't spell you, then you're looking at seven days each way and you've already used up 14 of your 15 days just making the drive and the whole trip would be fairly pointless (only one day to split between Yellowstone AND Seattle. NB: Time estimates from mapping programs are a fantasy, the drive will ALWAYS take longer than they predict. So for the rest of this post, I'm going to assume that you can make good 400 miles/day as a compromise - That leaves you two days in Yellowstone and three in Seattle. On the other hand, only covering 400 miles/day leaves you plenty of time each day to make stops en route.

    The cost of a car rental is almost always cheaper to do as a round-trip rather than two one-ways. A single rental, returning to the same spot in Chicago, would also allow you more flexibility. You won't have to waste time making two trips to a rental agency in Seattle and you can make last minute changes to your itinerary such as staying an extra day somewhere on the spur of the moment rather than having being tied to a specific time to drop off the first and pick up the second one. You'll also have a car at your disposal in Seattle rather than relying on public transit or Uber.

    I have never had to have a visa to enter Canada. Indeed when I lived near the border in Maine, I would often just walk across the border with my dog and merely wave at customs officials on both sides. However I was once denied entry into Canada, but that's another story and it did not involve having a visa. You should, however keep abreast of any COVID protocols. For further questions, there are Canadian consulates in both Chicago and Seattle. Be sure to check with your rental car company to make sure that you can take the car into Canada. If you plan to go to Point Roberts WA, you'll need to check with your rental agency AND the Canadian government just to be sure that's OK - I've had a problem in the past with just that.

    So, with those basics in mind, what else would I recommend? You've got several days to do more/other stuff on the cross-country portions of your trip. My first recommendation would be to use different routes east- and west-bound to maximize the number of sites you can visit. In one direction I-90 would provide access to Yellowstone and the half dozen or so unique venues around Rapid City SD. In the other direction, I-80/I-84/i-82/I-90 would take you by way of the old Oregon Trail, Salt Lake City, and the Snake River Valley. The second route is only 140 miles longer than the first and over five days of driving would barely be noticeable.

    So, at this point, that's about t he best advice I can give you. Once you make a final decision on those basic parameters, particularly the number of miles you can cover in a day, we can get down to the brass tacks of where to take you overnight stops and what specific attractions might appeal to you and your family.

    AZbuck

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,766

    Default

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    I presume this is a one way trip, which means you've got a nice amount of time for this journey. It's about 2000 miles, so you could make the trip in as little as 4 days, driving 9-10 hours a day on the freeway - limiting it to 6 hours would still make it easy to cover in 6 days. So, you've got roughly 10 days to play with - especially since if you're only driving 6 hours a day, that still leaves you time to explore on your driving days.

    For Seattle, I've found the public transportation is pretty good, so you wouldn't have to have a car. However, with 3 of you and since you already have the car you might want to keep it - especially if you are flying out at the end of your trip and will have to go back to the airport anyway.

    Around Seattle, Portland is the only other larger city nearby (since Canada is out) - and you could do that if you wanted - but there's tons more to do other than cities. Mount Rainer, Olympic, and North Cascades National Parks are all in Western Washington. Even closer to Seattle, you could spend an afternoon taking a ferry out to Bramerton or Bainbridge Island.

    In between, Chicago and Seattle, you're already planning Yellowstone, so that's good. It is a huge park, so 2 overnights will be good. You might always want to plan another night or two near the park - on the way in or way out. For example, you could stay around Red Lodge MT if you want to enter via the Beartooth Highway, spend the night around Cody if coming in from the east.

    There's also lots of other great spots to see nature very close to the direct path. Places like Badlands National Park, Mt. Rushmore, Custer State park, Jewel and Wind Caves in South Dakota, Devils Tower in WY, and even Glacier National Park in MT would be possible, although a bit of a larger detour than the others.
    Last edited by Midwest Michael; 05-18-2022 at 02:43 PM.

  4. #4

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by AZBuck View Post
    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    OK, let's start with some basic parameters and then try to make the best use of whatever 'leftover' resources you have. The drive between Chicago and Seattle will take a minimum of four days each way. That's at a steady, but safe, pace of about 500 miles per day. With two days in Yellowstone, that means you're already used up to 10 days accounted for. Leaving a maximum of 5 days in Seattle. BUT, if you can only drive six hours per day, and your wife can't spell you, then you're looking at seven days each way and you've already used up 14 of your 15 days just making the drive and the whole trip would be fairly pointless (only one day to split between Yellowstone AND Seattle. NB: Time estimates from mapping programs are a fantasy, the drive will ALWAYS take longer than they predict. So for the rest of this post, I'm going to assume that you can make good 400 miles/day as a compromise - That leaves you two days in Yellowstone and three in Seattle. On the other hand, only covering 400 miles/day leaves you plenty of time each day to make stops en route.

    The cost of a car rental is almost always cheaper to do as a round-trip rather than two one-ways. A single rental, returning to the same spot in Chicago, would also allow you more flexibility. You won't have to waste time making two trips to a rental agency in Seattle and you can make last minute changes to your itinerary such as staying an extra day somewhere on the spur of the moment rather than having being tied to a specific time to drop off the first and pick up the second one. You'll also have a car at your disposal in Seattle rather than relying on public transit or Uber.

    I have never had to have a visa to enter Canada. Indeed when I lived near the border in Maine, I would often just walk across the border with my dog and merely wave at customs officials on both sides. However I was once denied entry into Canada, but that's another story and it did not involve having a visa. You should, however keep abreast of any COVID protocols. For further questions, there are Canadian consulates in both Chicago and Seattle. Be sure to check with your rental car company to make sure that you can take the car into Canada. If you plan to go to Point Roberts WA, you'll need to check with your rental agency AND the Canadian government just to be sure that's OK - I've had a problem in the past with just that.

    So, with those basics in mind, what else would I recommend? You've got several days to do more/other stuff on the cross-country portions of your trip. My first recommendation would be to use different routes east- and west-bound to maximize the number of sites you can visit. In one direction I-90 would provide access to Yellowstone and the half dozen or so unique venues around Rapid City SD. In the other direction, I-80/I-84/i-82/I-90 would take you by way of the old Oregon Trail, Salt Lake City, and the Snake River Valley. The second route is only 140 miles longer than the first and over five days of driving would barely be noticeable.

    So, at this point, that's about t he best advice I can give you. Once you make a final decision on those basic parameters, particularly the number of miles you can cover in a day, we can get down to the brass tacks of where to take you overnight stops and what specific attractions might appeal to you and your family.

    AZbuck
    Sorry for not mentioning but my trip from Chicago to Seattle would be a one way trip. I will be returning the car in Seattle whether i arrive in or leave Seattle to fly back home. Thank you for your kind answer.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Thank you Michael

  5. #5

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by baron1970 View Post
    Sorry for not mentioning but my trip from Chicago to Seattle would be a one way trip. I will be returning the car in Seattle whether i arrive in or leave Seattle to fly back home. Thank you for your kind answer.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Thank you Michael
    Not sure if your flight plans are set in stone, but are you arriving to Chicago from Turkey? If so, then I would recommend a couple of days in Chicago to acclimate yourself to time zone changes and jet lag. The question about a Visa leads me to believe you are traveling under a Turkish passport and hence a need for a Visa into Canada. If you are already based in Chicago then your overall timeline could take different shapes.

    Just south of Rapid City, South Dakota, is Custer State Park, a wonderful first stop for seeing wildlife. Typically you will see buffalo, deer, and many types of birds. You might also see cayotes, snakes, a wolf or two, maybe a bear, foxes and other things. Adjacent to Custer State Park is Wind Cave which might be of interest.

    There are several different entrances to Yellowstone National Park. Plan to spend around 3 days there and be aware that traffic between 9am and 4pm can be slow and crowded. Early starts are your friend and also a better time to see wild life. Try to visit the the 3 or 4 main sectors of the park with a day allowed for each.

    South of Yellowstone National Park is Grand Tetons National Park. This is another beautiful park. Very enjoyable is a late afternoon trip on a large raft. You might also find an old cowboy style dinner -- info is usually available at the Park's visitor centers. Some time on ranger walking tours are well spent.

    There is a lot to see and do in and around Seattle... more national parks, islands, whales and more.

    If you visit for than 2 national parks you probably will want to purchase an annual park pass which is usually available from any visitor center or park entrance.

    50 miles an hour is a reasonable planning tool for cruising the larger highways. In and around the parks you will be driving something like 25 mph. Those are planning factor numbers. It accounts for traffic slow downs due to construction; rest area stops for using a bathroom or stretching your legs; buying gas and eating lunch. It does not include breakfast and dinner.

    Chicago to Yellowstone to Seattle is 2,168 miles (Google default routing). At 50 miles per hour, that would take 44 hours, but actually more when on many scenic roads or while driving in national park settings. I find that using a spreadsheet or similar tool it helps to program out an reasonable itinerary.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    11,784

    Default

    I agree with Michael that Badlands, Mt Rushmore etc would make good detours not far off track. I also agree that another night in or around Yellowstone would be beneficial and memorable, it's fantastic but HUGE !! And yes, heading slightly further south to the Tetons is also worthwhile ! I would keep the car but plan to spend a night in Olympic NP near Seattle and drive a loop around the park. Hurricane ridge, Ruby beach and the Hoh rain forest being some of the highlights !

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    10,183

    Default In That Case....

    My apologies for misinterpreting your post. As Michael noted, with 15 days for a one-way drive from Chicago to Seattle you do indeed have time for shorter driving days with more exploring, more on that in a moment. Right now your main concern should be getting your visa in order. I did check on-line and it does look like you will need a visa and that it will cost C$100 (per person?) and be valid for up to 6 months. Not knowing how long that process will take, I'd start looking into it now and have it in hand before you left home. There are, as previously noted, Canadian consulates in both Chicago and Seattle if you run into problems, but those would be a fall-back, not your prime source for the visa.

    For a one-way drive your clear best option is to use I-90 for the trip. Besides being the closest Interstate to Yellowstone, this goes through a gorgeous area of western South Dakota, the Black Hills, and I'd suggest that as the place besides Yellowstone where you could easily spend a couple of days and still not see all there is which includes: Mount Rushmore, Badlands National Park, Wind Cave, Jewel Cave, Devils Tower, the Crazy Horse Memorial, and as Michael mentioned Custer State Park. Also, some miles east of Rapid City is the 'famous' Wall Drug.

    Given your preference to only drive 6 hours per day what else might you want to see and where would be good overnight stopping points? Well, stops are the easiest to determine since they're just a matter of time and miles. A rough guide would be Albert Lea MN, Mitchell SD , Rapid City SD (see above). Greybull WY, Yellowstone, Missoula MT, Ellensburg WA, and Seattle. These towns all have multiple lodging options. The leg from Yellowstone to Missoula is a bit shorter than the rest to give you time to get out of Yellowstone and back on the Interstate, and the leg between Ellensburg and Seattle is also a bit short to give you time to get into Seattle in case of traffic.

    As for other sights to see along your route that are relatively close to the highway, have a look HERE. And finally I would keep the car in Seattle for at least a few days. I just think it would make life a whole lot easier on you than having to learn the public transportation system in a new city. Hope that's all of more use than my initial response.

    AZbuck

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