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Old 08-01-2016, 07:06 PM   #1
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WI to Glacier National and NW Pacific Highway Planning

I've got a big job to do and could use suggestions. We've been thinking of a NorthWest summer trip and looks like 2017 may be the time. Leaving from Central Wisconsin, want to go to Glacier National (we love to see the State and National Parks), Yellowstone , want to see the Redwoods and the Pacific. All suggestions greatly appreciated. We're thinking it will be at least a 4 week trip.

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Old 08-01-2016, 07:28 PM   #2
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We did the Teton's, Yellowstone, & Glacier trip in 2009 on our way to Alaska. We then took the long way back and dropped down to Washington State, and drove the Pacific Coast Highway all the way to Napa Valley. Great Trip.

You will have to drive hard to get this trip done in 4 weeks but doable. I would drive out 94 West till you got close to Yellowstone & investigate the route you want to take to Yellowstone. Not really any good choices but the scenery is great.

Once you tour Yellowstone head north to Glacier probably via the North Entrance going through Gardner. Then head west on 90.

The best scenery on the pacific coast was in Oregon.

If you are pressed for time and just need to stop overnight you have options. We've stayed at Cabela's, Sam's clubs, Walmarts, Cracker Barrel, and many Casino's which are plentiful out across the whole USA .

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Old 08-01-2016, 09:09 PM   #3
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US 2 is, IMO, a very good highway for your proposed destinations. It's lightly-traveled most of the time, and there are many things to see along the route to Glacier NP, then to the West coast.
In order to really experience the Pacific coast, Yellowstone and other parks, were it me doing the planning, I would allow 2 months at a minimum. There will be many things you'll see along the way you'll want to visit that you do not have in your itinerary.
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Old 08-01-2016, 09:24 PM   #4
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You didn't say where in Wisconsin you'd be leaving but I'd suggest working your way to I-80 and once you get to Wyoming, Exit at Rock Springs and take 191 north into Jackson continuing into Teton Nat'l Park then north into Yellowstone.

North to Glacier you have many choices depending if you want to stay in east or west Glacier. All of the roads are good for RVs.

After Glacier head west on Hwy2/20 which will lead to north of the Seattle area. Seattle really doesn't have any good and convenient RV parks and it's an extremely busy area. My choice would to to Anacortes and drive down to Coupeville and take the short ferry into Port Townsend on the Olympic Peninsula.

Port Townsend is a wonderful town and a stay at Fort Worden State Park on the beach side is awesome. There are also some campsites in the wooded area. During the summer there is a free concert at Noon on the Fort Worden grounds and many other music performances. You can day trip to Hurricane Ridge in Olympic Nat'l Park. You can also take a day trip via ferry to Vancouver Island and pick up the city bus to take you out to Burchart Gardens. The ferry landing is in Victoria, a neat city.

Another day trip would be to Seattle but driving south and picking up the short Bainbridge Island ferry. It will let you off at the Aquarium. Walk a short distance to pick up the fun monorail which will whisk you over the city to the Olympic Games' Space Needle. Return via the monorail to Pikes Market area and do some shopping before boarding the ferry for your return trip.

As you can tell, getting around via the ferry system is easy and saves a lot of driving time. The fares are very reasonable.

You can then follow 101 around the Olympic Peninsula and take it down the Oregon coast. The state parks are great and are on the Pacific with awesome views.

You'll probably want to return via I-80 east and after Oregon there are various ways to get there. If you want a different route home work your way north again to I-90 or I-94.

When you get your definite route set and places you want to stop, come back with another post for campground or RV park questions. It'll be a fast trip to cover it all. Add more time, if you can.
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Old 08-01-2016, 10:19 PM   #5
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You didn't say what "time of the year" you wanted to do your trip. Living in Montana I can only speak to this part....Yellowstone and GNP.

The best time for Yellowstone is in the late spring...May up to Memorial Weekend. The animals are birthing their babies and you will see a lot of them. You will also likely see "snow, sleet and rain" during this time. Closer you get to Memorial weekend the greater the crowds. June to late August...you will see nothing but "millions of other people" and not a lot of animals.

Depending on the size of your "rig". Camping spots inside of Yellowstone are going to be tight if your combined length is over 40'...ie tv and trailer. Slide outs can also be a problem. Distances to various parts of Yellowstone can be long in both miles traveled and speed. Speed limit is 45 or what ever the Bison will allow....they like to travel by roads also....100's of them at times.

After school starts in late August the crowds drop off sharply and camping spaces become more accessible. It is strongly recommended if you plan to camp inside of either Glacier or Yellowstone that you plan "well ahead" and make reservations. Most of the park campgrounds offer "no hookups". There are a few exceptions in Yellowstone. But there are several RV and Campgrounds surrounding each of the parks ...offering full hookups.

Regarding Glacier...the main attraction is the "Going to the Sun Road". This road generally opens towards the end of June or early July. You will "not be able" to pull any kind of a trailer on this road, including motor homes. The road coming from the west side of the park is steep and winding. Often right up against the mountain plus there are two tunnels on both sides of Logan Pass....the highest point of the GTTS road. The other option to getting from one side of the park to the other is over Marias Pass. Again...there is a 20 ft trailer limit. Otherwise you will need to go around the southern side of the park.

On the east side of GNP is the town of St Mary. It's a great place to camp and the route up the GTTS road is only 18 miles or so to the top of Logan pass. Frankly, the best way to see GNP is via one of the shuttles or the "Red Buses". Parking is very limited.....did I say limited! You can reach the summit and spend hours waiting for a parking spot to open or you can take the buses...they have reserved spaces.

I also strongly recommend if you camp on the east side that you include the Canadian side of GNP. It's called Waterton Lakes Provincial Park. It is distinctly different from the "stateside" of the park and only about a 30 to 45 minute drive from St Mary. The village of Waterton is neat place. Lots of restaurant choices.

Should you decide to do the Canadian side you will "need a passport". And be aware that the border crossings are "not open 24hrs".

If you are a "hiker or biker" there are a lot of trails to ride and hike. Be sure and plan on "bear spray" for "each member" of your party or family. Learn how to "wear it and use it"! There's not a year goes by that a Grizzly doesn't enjoy a "human meal" by someone who "opted out" of carrying it! You can "rent cans" in both Yellowstone and Glacier Parks. When it comes to carrying it into Canada there may be problems and I would research it closely. I was in Waterton just last week and crossed the border with BS in my vehicle and nothing was said. A "camping neighbor" crossed the same day and they were questioned. Maybe I was just lucky.

Enjoy your planning process...that's half the fun. You're getting some good info on here. Enjoy Montana it is beautiful place.

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Old 08-11-2016, 08:07 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Ray,IN View Post
US 2 is, IMO, a very good highway for your proposed destinations. It's lightly-traveled most of the time, and there are many things to see along the route to Glacier NP, then to the West coast.
In order to really experience the Pacific coast, Yellowstone and other parks, were it me doing the planning, I would allow 2 months at a minimum. There will be many things you'll see along the way you'll want to visit that you do not have in your itinerary.

X2 on RT 2, avoid the Interstates as much as possible. The trip is just a bit slower because there is so much to see and do, but the roads were fine when we did it in 2014. We did make a slight detour to Medora, ND http://medora.com/ the musical and Pitchfork Fondue is worth the trip, also there is Teddy Roosevelt NP across the street where the "dogs" are plentiful and comical.

If you want enough time to see it all, well at least most of it, either shorten your miles, or spend more time, in my opinion 1 month is not enough time, you will spend most of it driving, not seeing things. JMHO.
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Old 08-15-2016, 06:54 AM   #7
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Many thanks for all the suggestions

The recommendations from those that have been thru there are so valuable. I love the details and already thinking that extending the time is a must. Planning continues! Looking at mid August thru September.... nothing reserved just yet but will work on that soon. Next outing to Elkhart, IN hope to see many of you there.
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Old 08-15-2016, 04:53 PM   #8
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When we travel we seldom make reservations far in advance. This allows us to investigate any sites we want to see as we are traveling. Once we get close to a destination that has the potential of being overcrowded we will call ahead and get reservations.

I think on our entire 3 1/2 month trip to Alaska we only made a couple reservations more then a day in advance.

That being said, we will boon dock pretty much anywhere that it is allowed.
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Old 08-15-2016, 07:53 PM   #9
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Smile WI to Glacier and onward to west coast

I agree with the response so far and think four weeks will be to short especially for being retired The west has one thing, BIG and a long distances with many potential stops along any of the routes suggested. We did this trip in the opposite direction and Hwy 2 was fun with some off the beaten path stops like Fort Assiniboine. We were warned not to travel trough Williston ND many times when fueling so we diverted south but I suspect the frenzy is over and it may be a bit easier now.
We loved Grasslands NP and intended to stop for one night and stayed several days but at that time no water or dump available just electric.
Loved the I80 truck museum, well worth the stop, Jim's probably been there.
My take on Yellowstone is to stay at West Yellowstone KOA and if you are traveling the 80 or 25 enter through Grand Teton NP and if you are on the 90 enter through Gardener. I exited Yellowstone from the east entrance and we traveled some of the steepest grades we have ever encountered. Slow go from that direction.
If you visit Grand Teton be sure to do the raft trip on the Yellowstone River. We also did the raft trip out of Gardener but not as exciting.
Glacier is nice but make sure you get a nice park, some of them are grim. Traveling late in the year should make this no problem but winter comes early to this part of the world.
On the west coast visit Long Beach Washington and if you have 4WD drive the beach, longest in the world says the signs. Astoria is great for a long day visit, Goonies house is now discouraging visitors so I guess that is off the list but all the Lewis and Clark sites are great.
Oregon coast is the best, if you can stay in Netarts you will find good clamming. Many lighthouses to visit. Fort Stevens at the mouth of the Columbia is a great place to visit. Staying in the park is less expensive and full hookups are available but Mosquitos can be bad. KOA across the road has fewer mosquitos.
Be sure to stay a night or two at Pacific Shores in Newport Oregon, pricey but nice. We also love Seal Rocks RV park. Right across from the beach and the tide pools are great. Boiler bay should be churring by late Sept so you may see the ocean roaring.
Crab fishing in Newport is fun by the cannery.
Traveling down Hwy 1 is great and everyone should have the opportunity at least once. The remaining Redwoods are a site to behold. Lots of wineries along the route.
The admonition to carry bear spray is important even for short walks in Yellowstone or Glacier. Canada may confiscate your USA bear spray and then you get to buy another in Canada? Also wise on Oregon or Washington trails.
Seattle and Portland are both great cities as is Victoria BC. Having a cocktail on the veranda of the Empress Hotel watching the Sunset is recommended. Butchart Gardens is also an experience in grandeur.
Powell's book store in portland is an experience. The Rose Gardens in Portland are beautiful and you will want to visit the Grotto, National Sanctuary of Our Sorrowful Mother. I am sure I can think of more places but you get the picture that the history of America is boundless in the west and Northwest
Custer Battlefield has tours by the rangers and by the local tribes. Did both tours and loved the narrative from both views and how history is finally coming to terms with a shameful period in our growth as a nation.
Dinners ready so no more for now

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