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Old 09-26-2021, 03:01 PM   #1
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Need wise counsel on West-East route--2 or 12?

Hello, We are in Bellingham Washington and are headed to Washington DC. No hurry; we don't have a plan until Thanksgiving. We are considering either Route 2 or Route 12 across Montana. We are headed to Eau Claire Wisconsin to visit younger son in college, then on to DC for the holidays with friends and family. We plan to do lots of boondocking and occasional stays in places with full hookups. We also belong to Harvest Hosts.
We have been taking advantage of this rainy Sunday to plan our route and are undecided between taking Route 2 and Route 12. We are starting on Route 2 for sure, and are deciding between dropping to Route 12 at some point, or just staying on 2 the whole trip East.
Is anyone familiar with these roads? Given that we are not in a hurry, which is more scenic? Driveable pulling a 30 foot Airstream? More places to boondocks? Thanks in advance! (Been on the road for two years now.)
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Old 09-26-2021, 03:18 PM   #2
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I did route 2 from Montana through Minnesota and enjoyed it a lot. The road was fine, however the Baken oilfield area was busy with oilfield trucks and a lot of stone throwing. I'd do it again though.
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Old 09-26-2021, 04:01 PM   #3
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We took Route 2 all the way to the west coast some years back, and it is an interesting drive.

Lots of prairie, wide open spaces.

Watch the weather carefully, as you could run into snow.

Maggie
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Old 09-26-2021, 04:50 PM   #4
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Hi

I'd vote for 2 as well. Been there / done that.

Bob
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Old 09-27-2021, 09:29 AM   #5
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I've done Route 2 and Route 200. Route 200 gets your off the beaten track more with good roads. I loved it.
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Old 09-27-2021, 11:12 AM   #6
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Did route 2 this summer from E to W. Not a bad route but I was mainly looking for a quick way to get to Glacier. Looking at my Atlas, both 2 and 12 are marked scenic. I'm not certain, but I'm thinking that 2 is more plains with less hills/mountains and 12 might be more hilly/mountainous with a little less plains.
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Old 09-27-2021, 11:45 AM   #7
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In 2016, we took Route 2 from Bangor, ME through to the west coast, with a detour, from northern Vermont through Canada to the U.P., and then connecting to 2 again. Scenic, less stressful and a great "slow trip". Larry McMurtry's Berrybender narratives on e-book accompanied us through the trip---highly recommended all around!
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Old 09-27-2021, 12:58 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wells View Post
I've done Route 2 and Route 200. Route 200 gets your off the beaten track more with good roads. I loved it.
Yes, I did much of 200 this summer, roads in good shape, but definitely off the beaten path.
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Old 09-27-2021, 02:01 PM   #9
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I've done Route 2 and Route 200. Route 200 gets your off the beaten track more with good roads. I loved it.
Which stretch of 200 were you on? The whole thing, or just the western part? We are planning to be on 200 from the Idaho border to Missoula at least, and are wondering whether/when to go back to 12. Thanks for your opinion!
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Old 09-27-2021, 04:13 PM   #10
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Yes, I did much of 200 this summer, roads in good shape, but definitely off the beaten path.
Were there sufficient opportunities to gas up pulling a 30 foot trailer, and an occasional place to hookup?
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Old 09-28-2021, 04:10 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by kareylou View Post
Were there sufficient opportunities to gas up pulling a 30 foot trailer, and an occasional place to hookup?
Yes, there was at least 1or 2 gas stations in most every small town, but don't wait until getting near E to fill up. And there was the occasional small campground. If you want to get away from traffic, this is the way to go.
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Old 09-28-2021, 05:43 AM   #12
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I did route 2 west bound from MI to WA last year and returned on 12. I'd stick with 2. We ran into an issue on 12 coming home where we did not have a "Covid permit" to enter a tribal reservation and had to shunt an extra 100 miles around the reservation land. Also, I found 12 to be extremely boring vs. 2.
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Old 09-28-2021, 07:32 AM   #13
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If you get yourself a good app, like AllStays, many fuel and camping options are shown along any route you might take.

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Old 09-28-2021, 08:05 AM   #14
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Hi

One thing we have noticed: Once you get out of town on these roads, the gas stations tend to be a bit less "compact". Land prices aren't as high out of town. Many of the customers are pulling trailers full animals that are both longer and heavier than the typical AS.

Bob
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Old 09-29-2021, 08:01 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by kareylou View Post
Which stretch of 200 were you on? The whole thing, or just the western part? We are planning to be on 200 from the Idaho border to Missoula at least, and are wondering whether/when to go back to 12. Thanks for your opinion!
We started in western MN and took it to the Idaho/WA border
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Old 09-29-2021, 08:23 AM   #16
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I'll join the others recommending Route 2. Note, Chester, Montana offers free overnight camping (donations accepted) in their town park. A dump station is a litle further down the road at the rest area. Gas station and market on the way out of town. Safe travels.
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Old 09-29-2021, 08:53 AM   #17
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US 2 is a fine road but we found Wisconsin to be an awful state to travel in if you have to get off the beaten path.
go 5 miles then turn go 1 mile then turn. it went on like that for way too long.
We won't go through Wisconsin again.
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Old 09-30-2021, 07:12 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by Acheron2010 View Post
I'll join the others recommending Route 2. Note, Chester, Montana offers free overnight camping (donations accepted) in their town park. A dump station is a litle further down the road at the rest area. Gas station and market on the way out of town. Safe travels.
Hi

There are a surprising number of town and county parks along many of these roads. 2 is no exception to that rule. In general they are a much better bet than the local Walmart parking lot. Some are quite nice (and dirt cheap ...).

Bob
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Old 09-30-2021, 11:31 AM   #19
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I've done "all" of the Montana routes several times, (twice a year: Port Townsend - Sidney/Wibaux) though usually w/o the AS. And I just got back from Sidney (far far east) two days ago.
Hwy 2 is perhaps the easiest/safest way to go - towns on a regular basis (fuel, services if necessary and assistance - remember November can be mid-winter in Montana). Once past Glacier NP (Browning) it is flat. That said I think it is pretty boring.
Hwy 12 has a few more mountains and more interesting to the eye...yet mostly ample towns for things.
My favorite cross-state route is Hwy 200, the immediate east side of the Rockies is phenomenal and from there on (once over Rogers Pass) it is a nice drive. However, other than Great Falls and Lewistown there are few towns or accommodations.
Others have mentioned city & county parks but few are open during the winter. And while I hate to admit it...taking the Interstate is far safer if there is a chance of snow and ice - better maintained and assistance if necessary.
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Old 09-30-2021, 01:08 PM   #20
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Hi

One "interesting feature" of these roads in the winter: Maintenance is often done at the county level. You zoom along on a well plowed road in this or that county. Get to the county line and *pow* there's a snow drift across the road .... I have empirical data on this ... Yes, the storm had just blown through.

You can see this on interstates as well. I've not seen the dramatic "nothing at all to 18 inches of snow" sort of changes on an interstate.

Bob
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