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Old 07-01-2012, 08:47 AM   #1
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2011 28' International
Enumclaw , Washington
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First Road Trip: GP to YNP

Hi...we are planning our first big road trip in the AS. Heading from Seattle through Couer D'Alene to W. Glacier....then on to YNP. I have read through some of the threads...and thought I'd ask some more seasoned travelers for some guidance.

1. Is 2500 miles in 2 weeks too much ??
2. What is the max miles suggested to drive in one day ?
3. How many nights to stay in each stop ? Is it a pain to get all settled for just one night ????
4. Can you drive from W.Glacier through the park to Great Falls towing a 28' AS ??

Thank you in always appreciate all the advice...I LOVE this forum!!


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Old 07-01-2012, 09:41 AM   #2
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2500 miles is a little under 200 per day. When I was still employed and traveling on vacation time, I usually did 450 per day, sometimes more if I really wanted to push myself. Now that I'm retired and don't have to be back at any certain time I make much shorter days. Maybe 250-300, maybe more or less.
I only stay at a stop over one night if it is not my destination. I do not get settled for one nighters. I usually do not even un-hook. Stop, go to bed, get up, go again. If the place I stop has some interesting thing I want to see or do, then I may get settled in to a camp spot a little more. Still, not near as much as I do at my destination or main reason for the trip (Such as Yellowstone)
I'm not familiar with the route you ask about in #4 so I can't help you there. Have a good trip! You will love YNP!

James Rudd
2001 25' Safari
2003 Dodge 2500
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Old 07-01-2012, 10:22 AM   #3
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Everyone has a different pace that they like to travel and different times to get up and going, meals and so on, so it is difficult to say what works for one person will work for another.

My recommendation would be to take your time to get to Glacier, there is a lot to do there. Then skip Yellowstone for this trip, you are close enough so you can make that a trip of it's own another time. If you wind up having too much time on this first trip, and wish you had gone more, and faster, you learned something about your travel stile. But better too slow than too fast and feel the need to go more miles to see more things only on the surface. I go to Glacier NP at least 3 times a year, and never tire of all the different camping available, and rides, views, changing weather and just going to sit in one of the old great hotel lobbies and people watch. But that is me.

You cannot take your trailer over the Going to the Sun highway through Glacier, but you leave it at your campground and drive your vehicle only, or even take a shuttle bus, or pay for one of the Red Jammer busses for a tour. When you want to go from West Glacier to the East side you will travel over highway 2, and excellent road. To go north from East Glacier to places like Two Medicine you take highway 49 but you cannot travel it with your trailer north to highway 89, you must backtrack to East Glacier and then to Browning to pick up 89 there and then north to St. Mary and then up to Many Glacier entrance. Campgrounds at most places.

Take it slow, make yellowstone a destination of it's own, is my advice.
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Old 07-01-2012, 10:30 AM   #4
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You cant tow your trailer on the Going to the Sun Road. Do take the Red Bus tour though. Dont know if you want to camp on the east side but check with AAA or somebody about the roads into there. We got on this windy and very narrow highway (I think it was 89) and I was totally exhausted when we got to our destination. Think about going to the Grand Tetons. Coulter Bay is an awesome place to camp.
John & Lisa
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Old 07-01-2012, 10:56 AM   #5
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Hi Day Tripper,

It's cloudy (rained overnight) this morning in West Glacier. We are at San-Suz-Ed, a nice campground just outside Glacier (only downside is it is close to Hwy 2). There was a Safari from New Mexico and a Classic from Minnesota that were here when we arrived. KOA down the road, some other parks around, but we like this little place - it has pull-throughs if you are still uneasy about your backing skills - oh, and it has options for no hook-ups, electric only, or elec and sewer - and they are on both sides of the site so you can pick and choose. BUT that was not your question!

No, you cannot pull through the Park and go on out the other side. There is a length limit (21') so unhitch and drive the Going-to-the-Sun Road in your car to the east side and back. Just plan two days in one spot. Don't miss doing that as the Sun Road is the most scenic drive in... well, just about anywhere, and you'll explain forever that "you mean you went to Glacier but did not go across the Sun Road?" - you don't want that. You'll see, and you'll also think after you start up the pass that anyone trying to tow something even 10' long is crazy on that road! But, when you head east, do so over Hwy 2 and Marias Pass. An easy uphill to the Divide with only the last mile or so a steep pull. You can go south out of Browning via Choteau for the scenic route to GTF or continue east to I-15 to go south... and I'm sure you've figured on the rest.

As to your other questions, I think you'll just have to do it to see. For example, for us it is a just under 3 hour trip from Missoula to West Glacier by car - it was 4+ with the Airstream - mostly because we stopped twice to double check tires/brakes, insure bolts on the hitch were still tight, etc. And, you go slower.

Have fun!
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Old 07-01-2012, 11:05 AM   #6
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Some great memories are generated at overnight stops on route.
Try to stop early enough to research that area and talk to the locals. Just like life itself, it's the journey that is important, not the destination.

Have fun

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Old 07-01-2012, 12:02 PM   #7
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Day Tripper,

You didn't mention whether you are traveling with adults, children or pets. Depending on the mix of additional traveling companions, these may help or hinder trailer hookups and setup times, and influence the frequency and length of fuel and food stops.

We frequently travel with our young granddaughters, which dictates shorting driving days (fewer miles), more rest stops and potty breaks, and more evening activities (to burn off all the stored energy from sitting/sleeping all day in the truck).

While my wife and I are fine with driving vacations (long driving days with brief overnight stops), kids usually do better with shorter driving hours (usually 3-5 hours per day), early stops at kid-friendly campgrounds with playgrounds and/or swimming pools, and late morning departures.

As others have suggested, on your first roadtrip, you may wish to travel less and enjoy your new Airstream more, with longer stops at each campground. However, your personal preferences may dictate otherwise.
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Old 07-01-2012, 12:04 PM   #8
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Day, we are planning an almost identical trip. In fact leaving on the 9th. We are travelling from Gig Harbor.
We figured two days to travel from GH to YNP(650miles), stay at the park for four or five days then head to GP(200) miles stay four or five days then come home. Another six or seven hundred miles. Of course we expect to put 2500 miles on the truck during the trip but this won't be all towing. Lots of sight seeing in there as well. With Google maps I've routed the trip and it's no more than 1500 miles for the travel. I'm curious about your 2500 mile figures.

Hope is not a plan.
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Old 07-01-2012, 06:21 PM   #9
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Thank you all for the great've given us a lot to think about.

Our trip is penciled out as follows:

Night 1-2: Lake Pend Orielle, ID
Night 3-5: West Glacier
Night 6: Great Falls, MT
Night 7-9: West Yellowstone
Night 10-11: Hagerman, ID
Night 12-13: Lake Wallowa, OR
Night 14: Goldendale, WA

We would be traveling w/2 adults and 1 teenager. I think I am going to leave the pets behind on this trip...we'll have to enough to worry about with just us.

We have never taken a road trip of any great length...even just by car. Our son went to school about 5 hours away...and we made that trip many times. I think my car limit is about 5 hours...but not sure as it's never really been tested.

In looking at some of the stops we have planned...they look like they could be destinations in and of themselves. I may have to re-look at this...and convince the husband to reconsider.

Since reservations will need to be made well in advance...I feel like I have to commit to a route...and then make it work.

Again...appreciate all the input...would welcome any and all campground or must see/do you have as well.

And "Going-to-the-sun" is in CAPS on the list!! Looks like the Hwy 2 route and south through Choteau is the way to go.

Thanks !!

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Old 07-02-2012, 12:01 AM   #10
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We took a two week trip last summer from bothell, wa to chain-o-lakes, indiana. It was our first trip, and we learned a lot. We found that it was not so much about miles in a day, as much as hours in car. Some days we just didn't want to pass up a good swimming lake or, take an extra day with the in-laws in Illinois. We also passed up Mt. Rushmore in favor of an extra day with family in Montana. My advice (from taking only one extended trip). Don't push too hard, and if u have a smart phone, it's easy enough to find a place to stop for the night and get a shower. We stumbled across a couple nice rv centers this way.
Did you want fries with that?
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Old 07-02-2012, 06:46 AM   #11
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Just an opinion, but I think you will find camping road trips do not require as much structure (and reservations) as travelling by car and staying at hotels/motels. While reservations may be desirable at prime destinations (e.g., Yellowstone, peak season), other stops along the way can often be made on the fly, by calling ahead an hour or two down the road as the dinner hour approaches. Or, for overnight stops, campgrounds usually have a few spaces left for late arrivals. However, stopping in mid- to late-afternoon usually improves the chances of getting a good space.

Please don't misunderstand, reservations may be highly desirable at your primary destinations (e.g., a Disneyland trip); but we have stumbled on some of the best camping spots by chance. In fact, we refer to one of our most enjoyable vacations as "travelling by litter barrel".

We usually map out specific points of interest along the planned route, then just take our time getting there, making unplanned stops at places that look interesting, and perhaps staying an extra day or two, or until we get bored.

While you can pre-plan your entire vacation, this is an opportunity to discard the travel agency-type activity schedule and enjoy the journey. Take that book you been planning to read, sit in the shade and watch the waves on the lake or the clouds drifting by. If you get tired driving, stop and take a nap. A 20-30 minute nap laying on a real bed is a lot more refreshing than 5-10 minutes leaning back in the driver's seat. Also, you'll find that having your own bathroom is indescribably better than rest area pit stops.

Travelling with an Airstream is all about the journey. Otherwise, you could just fly...
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Old 07-02-2012, 12:10 PM   #12
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When you leave West Glacier and are heading down highway 2, you will pass Essex Montana. There is a place there called the Izzak Walton Inn. Lunch is pretty good with lots of train memorabilia. It was originally a rest place for the railroad workers at one time. If you like trains at all, this is the place.
John & Lisa
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Old 07-02-2012, 09:31 PM   #13
Len and Jeanne
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Creston Valley , British Columbia
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Oh, and if you need anything for your AS or something isn't working as you think it should, Airstream of Spokane is very close to I-90. We've used their service dept. (Doug the mechanic!) several times, and have been pleased with the results. It's been nice to see other people recommend them, as well.

We've stayed at the Blackwell Island RV park just east of Coeur d'Alene several times. A bit pricey, but with a nice river location. The campgrounds around Lakes Pend d'Oreille and Coeur d'Alene (like this one) can fill up in the summer, as it is a summer resort area, so it's not a bad idea to make an advance reservation.

Also, there is some free camping at the casino in Haugan, MT (including some sites with electricity); and some inexpensive camping at a Forest Service campground, just down the road at Quartz, MT. We've also stayed at the St. Regis Campground in St. Regis-- a nice little RV park on that portion of I-90, as well.

On long days, we often pull over at a rest area or local park, while Len pops into the Bambi for an afternoon nap. For sure you can break up your long days on the road.

We're off to Glacier NP ourselves next week!

Have a wonderful journey!
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Old 07-03-2012, 03:12 AM   #14
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To save on entrance fees in National Park, National Forest, Bureau of Land Management and other "national" fee areas, check out the America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Passes. In addition, persons who qualify for the Senior Pass may also save half on camping fees in most national campgrounds:

America the Beautiful - National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass)

* Annual Pass -- $80; free to active duty military. You can get credit for previously paid entrance fees by presenting receipts at the time of purchase. Not sure of the time limit, but we got credit for entrance fees paid during the preceding week. (Period may be longer; you just need to ask.)

Several years ago, I inquired about the Annual Pass while entering Pikes Peak National Park and mentioned that I wished I had known about the Annual Pass earlier, because we had just traveled through Rocky Mountain and Mesa Verde National Parks in the preceding week. The Park Ranger asked if we still had the receipts, then discounted the Annual Pass by the amounts we had already paid.

* Senior Pass -- $10 (lifetime), for seniors aged 62 and older. Half off campground fees in most national fee areas.

* Access Pass -- $10 (lifetime), for disabled individuals.

* Volunteer Pass -- Free to volunteers who contribute 250 or more hours (see details at above link).

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