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Old 06-08-2023, 06:19 AM   #1
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Possible Trip to Idaho

We may have family moving to Idaho in the near future and I was curious about the drive in from the Billings MT area up through the Mountains and into Lewiston ID. We will be traveling from N. Georgia, so this will be our first cross country trip. My concern was the Rockies and how tuff a drive it will be. We will be in a 35 footer with 8.1 L Vortec supplying the horses. I have tried to do my research and it seems like it would be a good trip, just going to be a pull going through the mtns. Any comments or advise would be appreciated.
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Old 06-08-2023, 06:59 AM   #2
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Did it last summer and it was no issue. The Rocky Mountains can be intimidating but people do it every day without issue. I think your route will avoid I70 which I think is the toughest east west route across the country. Go north out of Kansas City and catch I90 in Sioux Falls SD then itís I90 all the way to Billings.
For the Billings to Lewiston run Iíd stay on the I90 all the way to Coeur dí Alene then south on US 95 to Lewiston.
That route is mostly interstate with truck lanes on the grades so you can go a speed youíre comfortable with up and downhill.
There is an alternate route out of Billings on US 12 but I find 12 to have less passing lanes.
People might offer different suggestions of less interstate a more smaller state highways and I understand that and have done plenty of both but the route I suggested I find less stressful.
On the return to Georgia head south to Boise on I84 then pick up I80 in Salt Lake City for a different route home.
Last thing, cool things to see on that trip so donít be in a hurry. Safe travels.
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Old 06-08-2023, 07:17 AM   #3
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If you would prefer the road less traveled by, from Missoula head over Lolo Pass and then travel down the Lochsa. This is a slow speed road with lots of twists, turns and great scenery. Powell ranger station CG is one of our favorites as is the Pink House COE CG near Lewiston. The state park CG in Lewiston is also tops. Don't expect to average 70 mph on the two lanes and don't expect to find nice wide shoulders. Pull outs are frequent, please use them if traffic is stacking up behind you. We see lots of gasser Class A's on the roads and they don't seem to have any problems. PS if you opt to take Hsy 95 south from CdA, gear down at the top of the Lewiston grade. It's steep and long and you will smoke your brakes if you ride them all the way down. Don't ask how I know that.
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Old 06-08-2023, 07:22 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shriner 30 View Post
We may have family moving to Idaho in the near future and I was curious about the drive in from the Billings MT area up through the Mountains and into Lewiston ID. We will be traveling from N. Georgia, so this will be our first cross country trip. My concern was the Rockies and how tuff a drive it will be. We will be in a 35 footer with 8.1 L Vortec supplying the horses. I have tried to do my research and it seems like it would be a good trip, just going to be a pull going through the mtns. Any comments or advise would be appreciated.
There's a Mountain Directory for Truckers, RV and Motorhome Drivers (https://mountaindirectory.com) that might be beneficial. It has a detailed description of where the steep grades are, how long they are, how steep (%) they are, whether the road is two lane, three lane, or four lane, if there are escape ramps, switchbacks, sharp curves, speed limits, etc.

I've driven the most challenging section of your proposed route (US-12 from Missoula to Lewiston) in a 43' diesel pusher towing a Ford Edge. We've taken I-90 from Missoula to Spokane to cross the Continental Divide and US-12 from Missoula to Lewiston. My greatest challenge on the US-12 route has been dealing with my DW's dislike of mountain driving. She finds I-90 to be much more comfortable. We both grew up in Montana and have made numerous trips thru the mountains; she still doesn't 'like' it.

US-12 from Missoula up to Lolo Pass is a grade that will slow you down. In my opinion, and frequently not fully appreciated until you're into it, the more significant challenge will be the descent from Lolo Pass pretty much all the way into Lewiston:

Click image for larger version

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It's essential to control your speed during the descent. Frequent advice is to use the same gear that worked for your climb to the summit for your descent, saving your wheel brakes for occasionally slowing your speed. Firm application for a few seconds to achieve the deceleration followed by a much longer period to allow for brake cooling. You absolutely do not want to be riding the brakes which can overheat the brakes rendering them useless for slowing when you need them the most.

As an alternate route, you could continue on I-90 from Missoula west to Spokane and US-195S into Lewiston. The last 5 miles, or so, on US-195S is a rather steep descent down to the Clearwater River. It's a much easier descent (the road is 4 lanes wide with gentle curves) than a climb out from Lewiston.

Take care,
Stu
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Old 06-08-2023, 10:55 AM   #5
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The super slab is not a bad ride from N. GA to ID. Nashville-ST Louis (go through on I-64), Kanas City, Souix Falls, Missoula is all easy-peasy.



Missoula to Lewiston will be more challenging. The traffic through Missoula will be a shock after days on the interstate. US 12 west near Lolo is what google maps shows. It is one of the most scenic drives in the country. I have done it with my pickup pulling my 40' toyhauler. You'll probably love it.



Along this route I have camped at and recommend:

Duck Creek Rv Park, Paducah, KY
Lazy Days RV Park, Danville, MO
Big timer KOA, Big Timber, MT

Another way we have done this trip is to go through Kansas City and north at topeka to stay at Praire Band Casino and RV Park, Mayette, KS. You can go north from the casino and then west on I-80 to I-25, then north to I-90. There are some good camping stops along the way including:

Grand Island KOA, Grand Island, NE
Countryview RV Campground, Ogallala, NE
Douglas Jacklope KOA, Douglas, WY

Big Timber KOA


Lazy Days RV park


Countryview RV Campground


US 12, ID


Good luck with your trip. There is a ton of stuff to see along the way if you are not in a hurry.
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Old 06-08-2023, 04:17 PM   #6
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I totally agree with 777 Driver's post above ..... get the 'Mountain Directory for Truckers and RVers'. It takes all the guesswork out of the equation. That said.... the route of I-90 to Coeur d' Alene to Lewiston via I-90 and 95 will have many, many RVers on it with all different size and models of RVs. It's a popular route and we've done it a few times. Yes, you'll have some hills but totally doable. Just be prepared.

From the Directory: between Billings and Butte on I-90 you'll have Homestake Pass - 6375' EL. It has two summits 2 mi apart and between them is a valley and a rest area at MP235. Westbound is easier than eastbound. Westbound descent into Butte is about 3 miles of steady 6% grade.

Then near the state line of MT and ID is Lookout Pass - 4725' EL Westbound on the Idaho side has about 5 mi of 5-6% descent and then several more mi of lesser grade. There are two runaway truck ramps - the 1st is 3.5 mi down from the summit. The 2nd is 1 mi after the first.

IDAHO - On US95 just north of Lewiston: MP318.5. Southbound - speed limit for trucks is 35mph. The downhill grade is a steady 7% for 6 miles with 3 runaway truck ramps at mile 3, 4-3/4 and 5-1/4. The grade continues down into Lewiston with 45 mph curves the last 4 miles.

Again.... all this is doable with any RV. Gear down before beginning a downhill; not in the midst. Gearing will conserve your brakes and you'll only have to use them occasionally. Take your time. No one will be in a rush.

Hwy 12 has Lolo Pass 5236' EL. Going west from the summit you'll have 6% grade for 5 mi with 35mph. It is a steady descent with many curves then another 3 mi of lesser grade. At the top of the summit there is a warning sign - "Winding road next 77 miles" - yes, 77 miles! It's scenic but slow. (777 Driver posted a picture of 99 miles of winding road) There aren't many places to pull over on Hwy 12.

Have a great trip! Mountains are our favorite places!
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Old 06-08-2023, 08:39 PM   #7
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Hey everybody, thanks for the input. I have flown over the Rockies I can't count the times, but never driven over them. I figured there would be areas that would be a tuff pull and decent, especially for a gasser. Running these grades is where DP with a jake would come in handy. I did purchase an RV (Garmin) that so far around here on the East side has done me right with road warnings. The truck / rv route info sound like a valuable piece of advice, and appreciate the heads up on the camping areas also.

If things go as planed, the return route will take us South down to Boise, then on to Reno, to Sacramento, and on to Fresno to visit friends there for a day or two, then down to 40 and straight across to the East side. But plans are made for changing. Thanks again for all the input!
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Old 06-09-2023, 05:03 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Shriner 30 View Post
the return route will take us South down to Boise
US-95S to Boise is not a problem, at all.

Whatever you do, do NOT try WA-129 / OR-3 to Enterprise in anything larger than a car. Although it's a beautiful drive, in anything larger than a car, you will be crossing the double yellow on the switchbacks with absolutely no line of sight around the corners. I've been told by local residents that log trucks do use that route. They use their CB radios to coordinate corner meetings with other trucks; if you were to meet one on a corner, they'll invoke the "Law of Gross Tonnage" to compel you to yield.

Your GA to Lewiston (between Billings and Lewiston) will take you along portions of the Lewis & Clark Trail. Here's a link (https://lewisandclark.travel/) that might give you some ideas of things to see along the way.

Take care,
Stu
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Old 06-09-2023, 05:31 PM   #9
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90 to Coeur d Alene 95 to lewiston is the best route. Moscow is a nice place to stop for rest and or a meal. And yes the drop into lewiston is a good one. But only a mile or so. You're going to pull bozeman pass, homestake pass ( the biggest) and lookout pass. All interstate so no big deal.
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Old 07-25-2023, 07:51 PM   #10
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Change of Plans

Looks like our Plans have changed, imagine that! Family relocating to Montana instead of Idaho. So I was curious as to how the roads are and travel conditions from Sturgis up to Miles City on 212? We will leave N. GA and go through St. Louis, then to Souix City, Sturgis, then to the Forsyth area of Montana. Return trip, Forsyth to Cheyenne, then to N Mexico, over to Oklahoma, then back through Tennessee and back home to N GA.

I am hoping that this is going to be a pretty good drive, road condition wise. Any words of advise is appreciated.
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