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  1. Default Traveling in winter from the east coast to Yellowstone

    My wife and I are planning to drive from the Baltimore area to Yellowstone in either January or February. We're familiar with the East West Interstates (40, 70, 80, 90 and 94) during summer but not in winter. I've been reading posts about I-90 but they all seem to be 5 or 6 years old and deal with travelers from the west, especially thru Idaho and Montana. Is I- 90 the best route to take from Chicago thru Indiana, Iowa, South Dakota, Wyoming and Montana? Or should we stay south to Denver? We're planning on taking 10 to 14 days to do this so we can hole up if weather does get bad.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    10,294

    Default An Alternate Route

    While most mapping routines will send you through Chicago via I-70/I-76/I-80/I-90, and then either I-90 or I-94 west from there (the 'standard route'), that would not be my preferred route for a few reasons. First it would involve a lot of toll roads. Second it would involve dealing with the traffic in and around some major cities including Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Chicago, And third it would involve driving along the shores of two Great Lakes where running into lake effect snow is a real possibility.

    I would suggest instead that you look at I-68 west from Hancock MD then I-79/I-70/I-74/I-80/I-35/I-90 through Columbus, Indianapolis and Des Moines. It would keep you a bit farther south which might help with the weather. You could also shorten the distance a bit if you were willing to use some US highways in the Midwest rather than stick exclusively to Interstates. The suggested route would be 50 to 100 miles longer than the standard route, not really that much over a four or five day drive, and it would avoid the three problems I noted with the standard route.

    You could also use my suggested route and just continue on via I-80 from Des Moines to north of Denver and beyond, but that would add few more miles and there is no good Interstate connection between Rock Springs (where you would leave I-80) and Yellowstone. Instead you'd be on two-lane roads through the Rockies.

    Weather and road conditions seem to be paramount in your considerations. Unfortunately we can't accurately predict the weather a week in advance let alone two seasons from now. Indeed, despite my statement that remaining a bit farther south might help, there is no guarantee of this. Conditions might be even worse on the 'southern' route. I can say that the Interstate Highway System, as the backbone of surface transportation in the US, receives first priority for plowing, salting, and sanding, but even so, I'm glad to see that you've built plenty of time into your schedule for weather related delays.

    AZbuck

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    10,285

    Default

    Welcome to RTA!

    Are you familiar with how much of Yellowstone is (is not) open in the winter to wheeled vehicles?

    I agree with Buck's recommended route except you should take I-880/I-29 instead of I-35. It's 30 miles shorter.

  4. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by glc View Post
    Welcome to RTA!

    Are you familiar with how much of Yellowstone is (is not) open in the winter to wheeled vehicles?

    I agree with Buck's recommended route except you should take I-880/I-29 instead of I-35. It's 30 miles shorter.
    I am aware of how much is closed to traffic. Our current plan is to drive to Mammoth Springs hotel for a few days and then shuttle to Old Faithful Snow Lodge for a few days. I know it's a lot of driving but I hate to fly. We've actually done 5 trips across the country when we still had our motor home, but they were in spring or fall so we only had a few minor snows to deal with. And Yellowstone in winter is on my bucket list.:)

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    12,660

    Default sounds like a retired firefighter

    "smokeater46" sounds like a retired firefighter?

    In addition to the normal winter closures, there is still so much of the road infrastructure that was damaged in last spring's thaw and we are anticipating even more damage this year. Is this a NPS shuttle that you are planning to take? Or an outfitter? Sounds like an adventure in any case, but you will want to remain "flexible" --Is this a snow cat shuttle?

    Mark

  6. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Sedenquist View Post
    "smokeater46" sounds like a retired firefighter?

    In addition to the normal winter closures, there is still so much of the road infrastructure that was damaged in last spring's thaw and we are anticipating even more damage this year. Is this a NPS shuttle that you are planning to take? Or an outfitter? Sounds like an adventure in any case, but you will want to remain "flexible" --Is this a snow cat shuttle?

    Mark
    I am. It is the NPS snow coach shuttle. We're planning to get the couples winter package that has 3 nights at Mammoth Springs and 2 nights at Old Faithful. It also includes 3 all day excursions and all meals.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    12,044

    Default Sounds amazing !

    Hi. I would love to see some photos from your adventure if you could post some in the Field trip reports section when your trip has finished.

    Dave

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