Rocky Mountain Road Trip
(Jul 31st – Aug 7th, 2021)
After many months of being pinned down due to COVID-19 it’s time to look forward to the days we can all get back out on the open road. From reading articles of the Beartooth Highway, looking at past pics of Glacier NP and with the help and awesome suggestions from Gordy Nicholl (actually he threw out this idea in Toole several months ago) this is my get-out-of-the-house road trip for 2021. My intent is to not be in a rush to get to the next stop, but to cruise over some of the most gorgeous scenic byways and scenery America has to offer. It’s almost 1900 miles of backroads with the exception of a very short freeway hop. This trip will require people to be flexible, spontaneous, to expect the unexpected. Though the daily drives are long I’m hoping to stop along the way for pictures, wandering around and enjoying the time away from home. There are no planned stops for lunch, dinner, etc. as I don’t want a clock to dictate our time. I have posted maps of each day’s drive under the Files tab. There’s also another document with the hotels I have reserved though you are free to stay wherever you choose. I tried to balance the stays based on location, can I walk to eat and bum around, price and quality reviews. Obviously some locations worked out better than others.
Day 1 - We begin in Roy, UT and head north through Logan to Soda Springs, ID and finally stopping for the night in Jackson, WY. There are a couple of hotels a block from the town square that are within easy walking distance to restaurants and shopping.
Day 2 - The adventure picks up. We head north out of Jackson, past Grand Teton NP and through the southern entrance of Yellowstone NP. After waiting in line to get by the cars and bison, we head around the north end of Yellowstone Lake exiting the park on the east side as we drive to Cody, WY. Heading north out of Cody we take a left turn on to the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway. Continuing north we join up about mid-point with the Beartooth Highway. Be ready for some abrupt stops for picture taking. We finally end up in Red Lodge, MT for the night.
Day 3 – This day is a casual drive as we leave Red Lodge and head to Great Falls, MT. This is the only time we’ll have to jump on the freeway.
Day 4 – On this day we drive over the 3rd scenic byway of the trip, the Going-to-the-sun-Road in Glacier NP. Entering Glacier NP from the east we drive along Saint Mary Lake, over Logan Pass and down along Lake McDonald to Apgar Village. Apgar Village would be a great place to stop and walk around, grab a snack or something to eat. Time and crowds permitting it would be good place to catch the shuttle back up to the Logan Pass Visitor Center. Finally we leave Glacier NP and head for the night’s stay in Bigfork, MT on the northeast corner of Flathead Lake.
Day 5 - We head south along the east side of Flathead Lake. If you’ve never been to Flathead Lake it seems like you will never get to the end of it. Passing through Missoula we leave Montana and make way for our 5th night in Salmon, ID.
Day 6 - We leave Salmon, ID and head for West Yellowstone. Before we get to West Yellowstone we pass through 2 ghost towns, Nevada City and Virginia City. There’s a great article that talks about these 2 towns that I will post on the Facebook trip event. I plan to stop in Virginia City and wander around.
Day 7 – If you plan to end the trip here this is where we’ll say goodbye. For those staying a 7th night this day is a short drive from West Yellowstone back to Jackson. This would be a good day to spend in Yellowstone catching the highlights and scenery Yellowstone has to offer with a little yelling at tourists blocking traffic in between.
Day 8 – Time to head home.