I'm thinking ahead to the summer and have a very outline plan that
takes in two famous roads that I have an ambition to drive along.
This is just a pipe dream at the moment.
I'd appreciate any comments on things to see around this route that
any of you know about.
Day 1 Fly into Salt Lake City (I can get reasonably good flight
connections from the UK to there)
Day 2 Drive up to Idaho Falls
Day 3 Drive up to Yellowstone and overnight in West Yellowstone
Day 4 Drive on the Bear Tooth Highway to Billings MT (Road 1)
Day 5 See Custer Battlefield Monument Stay Billings
Day 6 Drive to Great Falls MT
Day 7 Drive the Going to the sun road through Glacier NP (Road 2) to
Day 8 Drive to Coeur d'Alene
Day 9 Drive to New Meadows (See Hells Canyon ?)
Day 10 Drive to Sun Valley
Day 11 Drive to Salt Lake city
I need to pad this out to 14 days. Is there anywhere en-route I
should stay an extra night because there is a lot to see ? How long
should I spend in SLC ?
Any help will be much appreciated. This is mostly new territory to
me (I've been to Yellowstone twice before, both times approaching
from Denver through Wyoming).
Bob Schaller has a couple of posts about the Custer monument that you should check out. I am on deadline at the moment, but I will be back in a few hours and share a little about what I know about that area of paradise you are considering.
I've just realised I could fly into Calgary and loop south into Montana rather than north from SLC. Any particular advantages in that ?
From Calgary or Salt Lake City, the mileage is about the same if you optimize your route. So I can't think of any advantage of one route over the other. I've not driven the route from Calgary, but I know the route from Salt Lake City is spectacular. The Calgary route might be just as beautiful.
Additional scenic roads: US89 between White Sulphur Spgs, MT and Great Falls. Idaho SR75 and US93 between Ketchum, ID and Missoula, MT. I would also drive Idaho SR12 through Lolo Pass for its historical significance.
Additional things to see:
Have you visited the Black Hills of South Dakota? That's an area you could definitely spend a day or more in – even 4 or 5 days – and worth your time. See not only the main tourist attractions (Deadwood/Lead, Mt Rushmore, Crazy Horse, Sturgis) but also Wounded Knee.
Near Billings, see Pompey's Pillar. Named for the son of Sacajawea (who guided Lewis and Clark), this is one of the very few places where the Voyage of Discovery left physical evidence of their passing – Capt. Wm Clark scratched his name onto this rock pillar that stands above the Yellowstone River.
Also, while visiting the Little Bighorn Battlefield, you might see the lesser-known Rosebud (Creek) Battlefield. Fought just days before the Custer Battle, the Sioux under Crazy Horse whipped General George Crook's troops, who were supposed to join Generals Terry and Gibbon's forces. Instead, these troops retired south to regroup. Had the outcome at Rosebud been different, the course of history at Little Bighorn might well have been different as well (Custer might have been part of a larger unit, instead of General Terry sending him out on a recon mission with his single regiment). Also in that area, see old Fort C. F. Smith, which had guarded early travelers on the Bozeman Trail.
In 1877, the Nez Perce (or Chopunnish) made a run for Canada, when told by the Army they had to leave their ancestral lands and resettle on less desirable reservation lands (the events were more complicated than that, but for simplicity's sake I'll leave it at that). They fought their way across Idaho, Wyoming and Montana, winning fight after fight (roughly 200 Chopunnish against 2000 troops), until finally through attrition and constant pressure they were "cornered" within sight of the Canadian border and were forced to give up. Chief Joseph led his people on that journey and his words at their surrender are still remembered today for their heart and simple eloquence.
The battlefields from the Chief Joseph War are worth a look – White Bird Canyon and Clearwater in Idaho (if you can find them), Big Hole in Montana (south of Missoula), Canyon Creek near Billings and Bear's Paw near Havre. Their "escape" route also followed some of the same routes you'll be driving – the Bear Tooth road you mention, also Idaho SR12 across Lolo Pass, and US93 south of Missoula.
At Browning, MT, I'd spend some time at the Museum of the Plains Indian.
See the Little Missouri National Grassland and Theodore Roosevelt National Park (across the border in North Dakota).
Get a copy of Lewis and Clark's journals and spend some time along their route, especially between Great Falls, Three Forks and Lemhi Pass in the Bitterroots.
See Red Lodge, MT – the famous mountain man "Liver-eating Johnson" was sheriff there once in later life. The movie "Jeremiah Johnson" with Robert Redford is loosely based on his tale.
See the Medicine Wheel National Monument in north central Wyoming!
Hope this gives you some ideas – I envy you this trip! The northern Rockies are one of our most beautiful and interesting areas. Bob
Wonderful post thank you very much. It will take me quite some time to digest it armed with my map books.
I have been round the Black Hills before, but such a lot more of your post introduces new places that inspire me to research some more. Thanks again.
If any of the places I mentioned cause more questions, post or e-mail and I'll try to answer. One more thing that came to my mind is Great Falls -- so many people visit there and NEVER go see the Falls themselves -- so be sure to do that!
Also, the Blackfeet are one of the most interesting of the indigenous American peoples, so I'd look for any cultural or historical museums or events concerning them -- they live in the area just east of the Glacier Park. I hope you enjoy your trip planning! Bob
One of the few times I can't reach my atlas, so this will be a little random routed...
Starting towards to the end of trip, since Bob has addressed some of the middle... Coeur d' Alene -- gorgeous country, but I would drive up to Sandpoint and arrange to listen to one of the outdoor performances of the Spokane Symphony or whatever muscical event is scheduled during your visit. Sandpoint is a friendly little town and quite fun.
If you are camping, by any chance, the owners and hosts of <a href = "http://www.roadtripamerica.com/places/foxfarm.htm">Fox Farm near Sagle<a/> are road trip friends and it is a very cool place to unwind and enjoy the moment a bit.
Before you get to Hell's Canyon -- a beautiful road -- take some time to check out the foundry business in Enterprise and Joseph. When the logging industry died in the area, some enterprising types employed under-employed loggers and created one of the foremost iron sculpture locations in the world. Some of these sculptures are mounted on the streets of Joseph <a href = "http://www.josephoregon.com/bronze_artwalk.htm">for everyone to admire<a/>. Also ride the ski lift to the top of the run near the Wallowa Lake recreational area. The famous Nez Perce leader, <a href = "http://bluebook.state.or.us/notable/notjoseph.htm">Chief Joseph<a/> was born in the Wallowa valley and there are some interesting exhibits in the area.
On your way out, you might enjoy the <a href = "http://www.roadtripamerica.com/places/nezperce.htm">Nez Perce National Historical Park<a/> near Spalding, ID
Sun Valley is pretty cool too. On your way back to SLC -- take the back road from Park City -- awesome water falls.
OK -- time to grab your atlases again. We look forward to your field reports on this one!
How to cut the route ?
Thanks for the info Mark, I've realised that I've got too ambitious with my plans and got a route that is fine for me but not for the young family I will have with me. I am going to have to cut something from this route to save time and have less driving on some of the days.
Should I lose Custer Battlefield or western Idaho ?