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Old 02-11-2020, 04:44 AM   #1
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NW Yellowstone via Beartooth pass

Hi all, I am planning a trip from Virginia to the west coast. One of my destinations is Yellowstone. I will be arriving via I-90 west to US 212. I will be driving my 2017 Sunseeker gts 30 foot class C towing a Toyota Avalon on an acme dolly.

For those of you that have made this trip through Beartooth pass can you offer any advice? Will I have any problem with driving issues, sharp turns, or low bridges? Total length is around 45 feet. My dolly has surge brakes. Anything I should be concerned with? I have done this trip in a car many years ago. My memory is not so good of the actual driving conditions which leads me to believe it was an easy drive. I know it is over 11,000 feet at the summit.
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Old 02-11-2020, 04:51 AM   #2
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I would not consider this an easy drive. Especially towing. There are restrictions on this road as to size of vehicle. Very steep and many hair pin turns. Look at it on a map.



Also, it may be closed due to snow, depending when you are going.
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Old 02-11-2020, 09:05 AM   #3
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Good morning Charles,

You didn't tell us why you are leaving Virginia and then ending up so far north of Yellowstone. Beartooth Pass is formidable. I've lived in Wyoming and Colorado most of my life and mountain driving is a normal event for me but there are still places I avoid in a motorhome. If it were me and I didn't have specific reasons for being in Montana I would take this route:

Leave I90 at Buffalo Wy and take US16 to Worland then US20 to Greybull and US14 to Cody. From Cody you can continue on into Yellowstone via US14. If your intention is to enter Yellowstone via the North East Gate at Cooke City MT you can still do that and avoid Beartooth Pass. My favorite route into Yellowstone is to leave Cody on WY120 to the intersection with WY296 then take WY296 to the intersection with US212 and take it west into Yellowstone. This is still a mountain road but NOT NEARLY as challenging as Beartooth Pass and will take you on one of the most spectacular drives in the US!

Have a great trip!

Me...US ARMY...not retired just went on to other pastures!

Thanks for your service.

A picture of WY296!
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Old 02-11-2020, 09:33 AM   #4
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I’m a brave guy, have driven all of our motorhomes with toad over many roads and mountain passes. Beartooth Pass would NOT be one of them ... beautiful but formidable.
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Old 02-11-2020, 11:22 AM   #5
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Got it. I drove it in a car easily about 10 years ago. I want to enter the (Lamar?) valley and see the buffalo. I do not remember how the roads were exactly. I guess I can try the alternate route you mentioned above. Once I enter the park do you think the roads are acceptable to drive through the upper loop to west Yellowstone entrance?

The reason I am so far north I want to drive through a few states I have not been to.
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Old 02-11-2020, 12:27 PM   #6
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Got it. I drove it in a car easily about 10 years ago. I want to enter the (Lamar?) valley and see the buffalo. I do not remember how the roads were exactly. I guess I can try the alternate route you mentioned above. Once I enter the park do you think the roads are acceptable to drive through the upper loop to west Yellowstone entrance?

The reason I am so far north I want to drive through a few states I have not been to.
I drove my truck with slide-in camper over Beartooth Pass twice last Sept as a day trip out of Yellowstone over to Red Lodge. There were thousands of buffalo in Lamar valley, many of them blocking traffic on the road. It was nice going over the pass, but we ran into a blizzard on the return trip a few hours later.

The only way I'd attempt that drive in your rig is to have someone else drive the Toyota as a lead vehicle. You might have to go over the center line in a few of the really tight turns, and you won't be able to see oncoming traffic around some of them.

If you do the pass as a day trip from Yellowstone in your Avalon, I think you'll be more relaxed and be able to enjoy the spectacular views from that insane road.
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Old 02-11-2020, 12:42 PM   #7
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We were in Yellowstone and my wife wanted to go to Billings MT, looked at the map and saw the route not knowing about Beartooth Pass. I guess ignorance is bliss. We have 38PKD Windsor which is almost 40' long and heavy, we weren't pulling a toad. We didn't have any problems although some of the grades slowed us down and hair pin turns took some getting use to.

We made it to the top without incident, my wife took about 50 pictures going up.

Got to the top and were took some pictures. It was June but it was cold and windy with fresh snow on the ground.

A man walked up to me and asked about the RV, I told him it was ~40' long. He said he had one parked in his garage that size and there was NO WAY he'd drive it up to Beartooth Pass.

Headed back down toward Billings MT. Descending the down hill grades were more of a challenge then ascending them. I could hold onto the steering wheel to brace myself, my wife found it easier to put her feet on the front dash to keep from sliding out of the seat. At one point she said "If we die I will haunt you for the rest of my life" >>scary thought. Made it down without a problem but my wife managed to take only 3 pictures when she wasn't holding herself in her seat.



Even though I know what it is now, I'd still probably do it again.
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Old 02-11-2020, 12:43 PM   #8
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Here's a good description on all the Yellowstone entrances:

http://www.rvcruzer.com/ystonervroutes.php

You didn't say what time of year you'd be there but Beartooth gets snow at any time of the summer.

You said you wanted to see buffalo in Lamar Valley. You have an excellent chance to see them everywhere you go. They are always either on the roads or nearby. It will be more enjoyable to get set up on your campsite and then take your car to tour the roads of the park.

Be sure to check out the park's website as you're traveling for up-to-date reports of any road or other issues. It's a good reference for things to do, special alerts and road information and camping info.

Also, while you're in the area don't forget to tour Grand Teton Nat'l Park right next door. It's completely different from Yellowstone in looks and things to do. It has excellent hiking for all abilities.

https://www.nps.gov/yell/index.htm

https://www.nps.gov/grte/index.htm
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Old 02-11-2020, 04:44 PM   #9
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Don't let people scare you. Charles Kuralt once called Beartooth Pass the most spectacular drive in the country, and I wouldn't disagree. It would be a crime to miss it.



I have pulled my 5th wheel over it many times, never had a problem, and I'm a flatlander from Illinois. It is not unusual to see 18 wheelers driving across.


You will be going west, which is the easy way. About 15 miles west of Red Lodge. you will start with a long, steep climb. It has lots of curves, but none of them are sharp enough to force you out of your lane. You will be slow, but if you have traffic piled up behind you, there are places where you can pull over to let them go by.


On the way up, you will come to a large parking area, on your left, at Rock Creek Vista. By all means, get out and look around. If you have a little extra time, walk up the very short trail past the the bathrooms.


The way down will be a much easier drive. It is not as steep as the east side, and the curves are much more gentle.
Shortly after you start down, A stop at the Top of The World Store is worth a few minute. They have fuel there but is is rather expensive.


If you hit Cooke City around meal time, the Beartooth Cafe has excellent food at reasonable prices. If you are a fan of craft beer, they stock around 50 variaties. Near the wast end of town, the visitor center has a rather interesting museum.


Good luck, take it easy, and enjoy the ride.


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Old 02-11-2020, 08:14 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Charles L View Post
Hi all, I am planning a trip from Virginia to the west coast. One of my destinations is Yellowstone. I will be arriving via I-90 west to US 212. I will be driving my 2017 Sunseeker gts 30 foot class C towing a Toyota Avalon on an acme dolly.

For those of you that have made this trip through Beartooth pass can you offer any advice? Will I have any problem with driving issues, sharp turns, or low bridges? Total length is around 45 feet. My dolly has surge brakes. Anything I should be concerned with? I have done this trip in a car many years ago. My memory is not so good of the actual driving conditions which leads me to believe it was an easy drive. I know it is over 11,000 feet at the summit.
Best advise I can give is to come in through Cody - do the Beartooth in the toad.

Maybe catch Chief Joeseph and RedLodge At the same time.

JMHO,
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Old 02-11-2020, 09:31 PM   #11
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Got it. I drove it in a car easily about 10 years ago. I want to enter the (Lamar?) valley and see the buffalo. I do not remember how the roads were exactly. I guess I can try the alternate route you mentioned above. Once I enter the park do you think the roads are acceptable to drive through the upper loop to west Yellowstone entrance?

The reason I am so far north I want to drive through a few states I have not been to.
No problems other than the traffic taking the upper loop to West Yellowstone. I've driven it many times towing my Jeep. The road is a little narrow but still not a problem. Good place to see bears from time to time.
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Old 02-12-2020, 01:43 PM   #12
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Busskipper is right. We have done the Beartooth out of Cody several times and each time we see something new. Early spring will find rushing streams, almost out of their banks and up top frozen lakes and snow still on the road in places. From the pass down to Red Lodge is steep and several sharp switchbacks.
It can be done in a motorhome, but it is foolish to do. Why endanger others or yourself? It is much easier to do a pullout in an auto than in a motorhome (and safer also)
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Old 02-12-2020, 08:21 PM   #13
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Decided to take (from Red Lodge) MT 308 to US 212 yo MT 72/WY120 to WY 296 (Chief Joseph Hwy) to US 212 beyond the dangerous part. I do not remember it being so dangerous when I drove it 10 years ago in a car. I don't want to chance it in a RV towing a car. Besides I want my wife to enjoy the trip and continue RVing with me. Better this way I suppose. Does this route sound do-able?

Thanks for all the help you all have provided for me to plan this. Already have a reservation in West Yellowstone at grizzly rv park. Just need to get through the upper loop to the other side with the rv and toad.
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Old 02-12-2020, 09:08 PM   #14
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For those of you that have done Beartooth and the Chief hwy. Did you know there's a turnoff just south of Sunlight Bridge. Hwy 101 I believe, It turns to gravel and about 3 miles there's a turn off to the right that goes out into a field with a turnaround. Well there's a walkway out on a cliff that is only a few feet across and I'd say a hundred feet up that you can go out 50' or so on. I took some awesome drone video there as well as some pictures. Our friends that live in Clark took us there.
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