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Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, Utah

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Even though it's a little over a month away I figured I would start researching our "loose" route for this summer. We plan to leave Oregon the first week of June and head up to Sand Point Idaho and then work our way through Wyoming, Montana and Utah before hitting Arizona again for the winter in November I guess and though I'd see if anyone had any spots they would consider great places to stay and things NOT to be missed.

We sort of plan to take highway 2 towards Kalispell and seeing Glacier National Park. Then work our way to Yellowstone and the Grand Teton National Forest and work our way to Canyonlands, Arches, Capital Reef, Bryce and Moab (not particularly in that order) before working farther south.

Any roads we should avoid in a 42 motorhome? And campgrounds or boon-docking spots we should consider? Any sites not mentioned above that should be on the list? Any culinary experiences not to be missed?

And we dont care if we end up in Colorado if there is something close to the border that we shouldnt miss. I figure we should be able to see a good chunk of what there is to see in 5 months. But we do plan to do Colorado in our next summers circle.

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If you have never seen the Owyhee Canyonlands on the border between OR and ID - and can do the detour - you might find the Owyhee Byway (or, as it's known locally, "Mud Flats Road") that heads south from Jordan Valley, OR you might consider it on your trip. It will be somewhat out of your way, though.

 

Your Jeep would be the perfect vehicle for that trip and there are two RV parks in Jordan Valley (about $30 each) where you can park the motor home. There are also boondocking spots in the area.

 

If you like the desert rimrock and rivers and hiking opportunities it's a splendid place to see. http://www.visitidaho.org/scenic-byways/owyhee-uplands-backcountry-byway/

 

Glacier Park is, of course, magnificent (even with fewer glaciers). Sue and I spent 5 days at the West Glacier (Apgar) campground in a tent summer-before-last and there were lots of big rigs there. They don't back them in... they "park" them in wide spots in the road which make up the campsites. This campground is heavily treed but the trees (pines) are not what you'd call monumental. This campground has an advantage of being convenient to local restaurants.

 

One of our side trips was via US Highway 2 through Marias Pass to East Glacier. I had flown my 1946 Taylorcraft BC12D (65hp, no electrical, no starter, no radio) through (not over - but through) Marias Pass on a cross-country trip from VA to WA in the early 1970s and was excited to see it from the ground. It was VERY exciting seeing it from the air! But I digress...

 

At East Glacier there is the historic Glacier Park Lodge and the original railroad depot built in 1913 by the Great Northern RR where easterners got their first views of the Rockies. The Lodge, all by itself, was worth the trip.

 

But west of the Lodge there is a campground on the SE shore of Two Medicine Lake which, instead of being completely hemmed in by trees, has some campsites drenched in sun with views up the lake of glaciers and mountain peaks. Perfect if you have solar panels as there are no hookups at the Two Medicine campground (or at Apgar at West Glacier, for that matter).

 

http://www.nps.gov/glac/planyourvisit/twomedicine.htm

 

A relatively short detour north via US95 and MT17 will get you to Canada's Waterton Lakes National Park. I have never been there or driven the route, however, but plan to do it this summer or next.

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Be sure to go to the Stanley, ID area and the Sawtooth Mtns. Gorgeous! If you do any fly fishing, that's the place. There's a great forest service campground at the intersection of 75 and 21 that is good for big rigs - nice and open sites right on the Salmon River.

 

If trying to get to or from West Yellowstone from Hwy 75 between Stanley and the town of Salmon, Hwys 28 or 93 are great for big rigs and they run into I-15. Then take Hwy 20 to West Yellowstone. Also, you can get to Jackson by taking Hwy 26 at Idaho Falls to Alpine, WY and 89 north into Jackson and Grant Tetons and Yellowstone. Don't take Hwy 22 from Victor, ID to Jackson, WY. It's very steep.

 

McCall, ID is another pretty area. In summer, the Boise area is very hot.

 

Montana: Around Ennis is Virginia City and a wonderfully restored ghost town. Helena, MT is a neat town and the capitol is well worth a tour. It's gorgeous.

 

Sounds like a great trip. Have fun!

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Oregon: Highway 20 or 26. 26 for the painted hills, 20 for Burns and Crystal Crane Hot Springs plus the other stuff out there. Also sets you up to head south to the Jordan valley or a swing northwards to Sandpoint missing the zoo that is Boise. Grangeville has that Bear something or other RV park which is a nice place to park if want to check out the Nez Perce reservation and some points of interest. At Lewiston you could do Lolo Pass if you like the curvy roads and on the Montana side Lolo Hot Springs and Casino - nice park. That sets you up for the Buffalo reservation Kallispell and Glacier then south to Yellowstone, Grand Targhee and Jackson Hole.

 

Southbound, if you like old time wholesome entertainment check out Victor Idaho's Pierre's Playhouse, its a good night of entertainment and their Dutch oven chicken ain't bad. Then there is Lava Hot Springs, Bear Lake or Downata Hot Springs. My slate is blank from there south as I'm not familiar BUT you are welcome to stop by and say hello at Flaming Gorge - we'll be there September and part of October.

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...Then work our way to Yellowstone and the Grand Teton National Forest and work our way to Canyonlands, Arches, Capital Reef, Bryce and Moab (not particularly in that order) before working farther south...

If you were to take US-191 South from Yellowstone, you would travel through Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area. Dinosaur National Monument and the Utah Field House State Park are located in Vernal on the way to Moab.

There is more to see in the Moab area than just Arches National Park including Kane Creek Road, Potash Lower Colorado Byway, Upper Colorado River UT-128 Scenic Byway, Sago Canyon, Dead Horse Point State Park, Canyonlands National Park, Needles District, and Newspaper Rock.

If you continue South on US-191 and then West on US-163 there is a lot to see including Monument Valley, UT-261 the Moki Dugway and Muley Point, Goosenecks State Park, Hovenweep National Monument, Natural Bridges National Monument, Bluff Fort, South Fork of Mule Canyon and House on Fire, Valley of The Gods, Edge of the Cedars State Park and the Dinosaur Museum.

Utah has many great places to see. The Ut-12 Scenic Byway between Torrey and Bryce is worth exploring including Escalante Petrified Forest State Park, Kodachrome Basin State Park, Anasazi State Park, Calf Creek Falls, the Burr Trail and Hells Backbone. The Fishlake Scenic Byway is not far East of Torrey. Cedar Breaks National Monument is not far from Bryce Canyon. Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park is near Kanab and Zion. A little out of the way, but Goblin Valley State Park is worth a visit.

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Before you get to Moab you will be going past Green River. It is well worth it to stop in Green River for a few days and use the Jeep to explore the San Rafael Swell.....one of my favorite places to ride with my RZR. Research the trail to the Copper Globe Mine...a great ride and easily doable in the Jeep. The trail to Swasey's Cabin is another good one.

 

While you are in the Glacier National Park you might want to stay at Many Glaciers they have an RV park there and definitely to do is Going to the Sun Road aka The Logan Pass, with the Jeep. The summit there is one of the few places on earth to get up close to the elusive and shy Mountain Goat. Saw a few last summer within 10 feet of me...previously they had only been white dots up high on a cliff in places.

Edited by Jimalberta

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Warland Creek Road, down to Lake Koocanusa near Libby, MT. Great fishing, nice beach, piney woods and a short hike through the trees to a marina with snacks and a diner. There is a big open area by the lake or spots in the trees on the way down or far end if you like shade.

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WOW,, thanks for the tips so far!! Creating a map with pins for all the locations and will start connecting the dots to see what works for us.

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We lived in WY for 18 years and have a lot of favorites but there are some roads which I'd not suggest for any but the most experienced RV drivers. I suggest that you look at Shell Canyon in WY which is US14 that connects the east side of Yellowstone NP to the town of Sheridan, WY. A very wonderful stretch to see but one that I do not suggest for your RV is US14a that connects Lovell to US14 up on the top of the Bighorn Range. That canyon is a very special scenic area but it is not for the faint of heart and the road rises about 7,000' in around 25 miles distance. Wind River Canyon, between Thermopolis and Shoshoni, WY is also worth your time and can be traversed with the motorhome. I would also take time to see Devil's Tower if you get that far to the east in WY. I love the Snowy Range mountains that are south of Laramie, WY and they are accessible to your RV.

 

In Idaho I suggest a visit to Harriman State Park, on US20 between Yellowstone NP and Idaho Falls. In Montana you need to see Custer Battle Field near Billings.

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Check out Yaak falls by Troy MT, also Kootenai falls by Libby. After you go through Glacier, if you come out the east side drive south via Choteau and Augusta. Gorgeous smaller road along the Rocky Mountain front. Highways 89 to 287.

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Free Corps of Engineers sites just below Libby Dam (Lake Koocanusa) on the Kootenai River. Two week stay, dry camping, one of our favorite spots. If you are an Elks Lodge member, The Kalispell Lodge has RV parking. Very reasonable and close to Glacier and Flathead Lake area. Bakers Hole Campground, 5 miles south of West Yellowstone (Rt 191) on the Madison River. 16 day stay limit.

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You will also be very close to Canada during some of this. Don't be afraid to cross the border and visit our wonderful country. Waterton Park is a joint national park with Montana's Glacier Park and very beautiful. Writing on Stone provincial park in Southern Alberta is unique and well worth the visit as well as the Calgary Stampede and the dinosaur badlands in the Drumheller area. The Royal Tyrell Museum is a world class dinosaur museum in Drumheller. Cardston, Alberta has the Carriage House Museum with an amazing and very well put together collection of wagons , carts and carriages from the horse drawn era. Then there is Banff and Jasper. The drive from Banff to Jasper is one of the most awe inspiring drives I have ever done.

 

Countless times I have heard from European and Asian tourists that Canada is the most beautiful country in the world. I am biased but I have to agree.

Edited by Jimalberta

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Just south of I-90 is a primitive road that bisects two major national wilderness areas. The Magruder Road is about 100 miles long and goes between Darby, MT and Elk City, ID. It can be driven in one day but lots of people camp in the middle. Not good for motor homes though (especially ones over 40') but perfect for the Jeep!

 

The two wilderness areas are the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness area on the south and the Selway Bitterroot Wilderness Area on the north. As far as I know, this is the only way you can see a substantial portion of two wilderness areas by car. Several spurs take you into the wilderness and up to old fire lookout stations. There are also two USFS HQ camps (one on each end).

 

The road, while primitive, is usually quite passable although it can be a bit dicey early in the season. Which, because the route goes well over 6,000 feet in elevation in places, starts quite late. The Magruder will probably be open in early June this year but it all depends on snow.

 

Fire season can be dicey too.

 

Even so, where else can you drive your Jeep into true wilderness?

 

WDR

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This is a great thread - thanks to everyone who has responded with such interesting and helpful information! I've bookmarked it and will review it when planning routes. My kind of places!

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Utah-northern part there is Heber City and the junction of I-15. Mountain View RV park is a nice park and from there you drive about 40 miles North to Mirror Lake. It is one of the most beautiful places we have seen, especially if there is still snow left. You have an easy drive up through the mountains to this Utah hidden gem. You will pass a waterfall and 2 other pretty lakes. There is hardly anyone up there and the drive is well worth it. You may even see a cowboy on his horse rounding up the free range cattle. Funny to see! We plan on returning there next fall. Then the drive South is an easy drive as you head towards Bryce, Zion, etc.

Carol

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Mirror Lake Scenic Hwy 150 is indeed a beauty. It runs between Evanston, WY and Kamas, UT. The pass is at 10,700' elevation so check road opening before going. September is a beautiful time to drive it. There are numerous forest service campground along the route and Mirror Lake itself has some big rig sites.

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Kirk mentioned Harriman State Park in Idaho and I thought I recalled something about it being an estate owned by wealthy east coast wall street types and turned over to Idaho. So you can vacation where the Roosevelts vacationed now.

 

But in checking their website I saw a blurb that said Idaho State Parks will be charging more for out-of-state campers beginning in 2015. I didn't check the difference in rates but it might mean that some RVers will bypass ID for now.

 

WDR

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Unless there's been a change Harriman State Park does not have a campground. It does have excellent fly fishing though.

Their web page is somewhat confusing. You're right but they include "campground details" and "campground map" which made me think they had a campground. They do have yurts and I think the bunkhouse.

 

http://idahostateparks.reserveamerica.com/camping/map_of_Harriman_State_Park/r/campgroundMap.do?page=map&search=site&contractCode=ID&parkId=315061

 

However they charge extra if you're not an Idaho resident and that includes an entrance fee to all the parks, apparently. You can buy a yearly pass for $40 ($10 if you're an Idaho resident).

 

Thanks for catching that....

 

WDR

Edited by wa_desert_rat

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How about up around Custer National Forest if we were to head there from the West entrance of Yellowstone? And we plan to hit Cody as well.

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Dave and Diane,

 

I tend to agree with JimAlberta that Canada we are told by many is one of the most beautiful countries in the world, and likewise we too are prejudiced :) Shame we only have two seasons, being winter and July LOL. Seriously though I would think you'd want to probably dedicate a summer visit to maybe the west half and up to Alaska in it's own right to get the best benefit. Likewise another time the East side and Maritimes. You truly wouldn't get much of a flavour for a short visit - BC province in it's own right would likely eat up a good couple of months to truly experience.

 

I know you've been doing a little boon docking this past winter (love your blog and was thrilled to see photos of Jack again on your visit), one couple that have found some really awesome locations to camp at off grid in case your interested in Utah and Idaho is Emily and Mark Fagan of Roadslesstravelled.com. I've followed their travels since they moved off their boat groovey back to RVing and I think you'd enjoy some of the places they go and what they experience at local events etc.

 

Just saying FWIW.

 

Helen.

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Anywhere central to north Idaho. Incredible.Throw a rock and you're surrounded by beauty. If you're going to Glacier, don't take your motorhome but take a ride up to Polebridge--it parallels Glacier. Wyoming--Yellowstone, Tetons are a must for first timers, and there's Flaming Gorge. The rest, I'm sure are mentioned somewhere down below--National Parks, etc. Have a great time.

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