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  1. #1

    Default Portland to Glacier and Yellowstone and Back

    I'm thinking about a last-minute trip from Portland, OR to Glacier NP, Yellowstone NP, and Grand Tetons NP. What are the best roads to take there? I have two weeks in mid-Sept.

    I'd like to stop in Spokane to see friends. I'm really not sure the best way of getting to Glacier NP from Spokane - no straight shot there.

    I'm also worried about the time involved. Am I trying to see too much in two weeks? I am willing to do a few days of 7-8 hours of driving, but other days I'd like to drive shorter distances and enjoy the parks. What is the minimum time needed for each of these parks? If I have time to see other things along the way - what should I see? Where are good places to stay along the route?
    And am I insane for planning this so late - will there be places to stay? Should I make reservations if I can or just wing it?

    P.S. I previously posted about a trip to Colorado and Arches in Sept. My budget just isn't allowing for the airfare and rental car. I appreciate all suggestions I received on that trip - can't wait to do it. Just next year!

  2. Default September

    Sept is a great month for roadtrips -- you probably won't need reservations anywhere. I am short of time at this moment -- but if someone else doesn't respond to your routing and time questions before I return, I'll take a look at them later! Last-minute road trips are as good as any -- doesn't matter anyway once you get on the road! :)

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default (Never) Enough Time

    Of course 2 weeks is enough time. Then again, you could easily spend months exploring the territory you'll be travelling through. You can drive the circuit you describe comfortably in 3-4 days if all you did was view it through the windshield, so think of it as having 10+ days to just poke around.

    The 'minimum time' for the parks is whatever you can afford. Would you not go see Yellowstone if you only had 2 rather than 3 days? In mid September the traffic in the parks should be starting to thin out, and there will be a snap in the air that will make hiking all the more enjoyable. I was last in Yellowstone in mid October and felt like I had the place to myself at times.

    As for routing, I'd suggest that from Spokane, you head east on I-90 to Missoula and then north on US-93 to Kalispell, US-2 to West Glacier, and then Going to the Sun Road through Glacier and across to St Mary, MT (again, spending whatever time you want and can afford in the park.) You then have a choice of two routes to Yellowstone/Teton. My choice would be to just take US-89 all the way. The alternative is to split off on US-287 to I-90 east and rejoin US-89 south to the parks, whichever way strikes your fancy. Returning from the Tetons to Portland, the backbone of your trip would be US-26, I_86, and I-84.

    And finally, a couple of things along the way. Just east of Spokane is the lovely town of Coeur d'Alene, ID, and try out the scenic byways (Coeur d'Alene and White Pine) to the East and south. On the return through southern Idaho, check out Craters of the Moon National Monument and the almost unknown Bruneau Sand Dunes and Bruneau Canyon (my favorite hidden gems in the area).

    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 08-31-2005 at 06:57 PM. Reason: Add URL

  4. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by AZBuck
    As for routing, I'd suggest that from Spokane, you head east on I-90 to Missoula and then north on US-93 to Kalispell, US-2 to West Glacier.
    Instead of going all the way to Missoula you can get off at St. Regis, MT (about 8 miles past the border)on Highway 135. Turn Left on to Highway 200 and drive through Paradise, MT. Turn Right on Highway 28 (toward Elmo, MT). Turn Left onto Highway 93 at Elmo. Turn Right on Highway 2 in Kalispell. Sorry i can't remember the mileage off the top of my head.

    It is much more scenic than staying on the interstate and it doesn't take any longer.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default National Bison Preserve

    Quote Originally Posted by UNSeaBlu04
    Instead of going all the way to Missoula you can get off at St. Regis, MT (about 8 miles past the border)on Highway 135.
    I would certainly agree with the exit at St. Regis, but my route would be to turn right on SR-200 and take the time to drive through the National Bison Preseve. Click here for some photos I snapped about thirty seconds from the visitor center parking lot. From there is a nice drive north on US-93 to Flathead Lake and then on to the Glacier NP turn-off. When you are driving on US-93 -- be sure to look to the left (west) and look for the giant bathtub lines when this entire area was under a vast sea.


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula


    You've already gotten great suggestions on routes and some things to see, so I'll just let you know that your route will be approximately 2100 (give or take depending on exactly which roads you take). This translates into about 38 driving hours. Maybe a tad more since some of it is through national parks with ower speed limits.

    This should give you plenty of time to explore. I would try to make time to visit the Copper King Mansion in Butte, MT. And the fantastic museum of dinosaur finds (many found by Jack Horner, the man that the Sam Niell character in Jurassic Park was loosely based on) at the University in Bozeman, MT.

  7. #7

    Default Great ideas!

    These are all really great ideas! I can't wait to leave! Is there anything really cool to see between Glacier and Yellowstone? If I don't want to drive straight through, what's the best town to stop for the night?

    What is the best "base" for Glacier? The west or east side? Or should I split this evenly? Is it worth it to venture up to the Canadian side of the park?

    Same for Yellowstone - best "base"? I think I'll do 3-4 nights there.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula


    The stuff I mentioned is between Glacier and Yellowstone (see above).

    I think the best base for Yellowstone is West Yellowstone, MT. Unless, of course, you're staying in the park itself. In that case, I'd go for Fishing Bridge or Grant Village areas because they have more amenities.

  9. #9

    Default Jackson WY

    When in the Teton's area - be sure not to miss Jackson Hole, WY - an upscale old west town. Be sure to check out the Wort Hotel and the Silver Dollar Bar & Grille. The Jenny Lake Lodge in the Teton NP is quite quaint - nice place to stop for lunch.

    The Going to the Sun Highway in Glacier is not to be missed - how did they build that thing!

    If you have a little extra time on your return trip, maybe a side trip to Joseph Oregon (leave the interstate at LaGrande - go due E for about an hour!) -- one of the most beautiful places in Oregon. A major bronze casting area - artists from all over the world have their bronze pieces cast there. Also, it is called the "Switzerland" of America -- beautiful lake and even more gorgeous mountains.

    Have a great trip - you can hardly miss with the venues you have chosen.

    Oh - and the tip about St. Regis - absolutely - that is how we always go between relatives in Spokane and relatives in Ronan, MT!

    Carol White, author of
    Live Your Road Trip Dream
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 09-13-2005 at 12:03 AM.

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