For the years you're considering, I'd probably hope to find a nice F350 dually diesel, but if I found a GM first, that would be just fine. I'm not partial to Dodge due to their cars from YEARS ago, but I'd probably go against my prejudice if I found the right one at the right price. I certainly wouldn't mind the the engine, and I honestly don't think there's much difference among the big three. I'd be looking for low miles and something highway driven.
FWIW, my last pickup was a 2000 F250 diesel that I drove for 15 years. After about 13 years and 120K miles, it did start giving me a few mechanical problems, and at the end, with 150K miles on it, I finally traded it off due to several mechanical problems. (I was driving it 30K miles per year at that point, and it was "nickel and diming" me into the poor house!) Overall, however, I did like it. I miss it!
You can get two National Parks for one entrance fee. Yellowstone and Grand Teton are about 40 miles apart and the 7-day entrance fee for either park includes entrance to the other. Yellowstone is amazing and Grand Teton has beautiful mountain scenery.
Sorry to report that this is no longer true, or won't be within weeks. Entry fee for each is dropping a little, but it will no longer be a "two for the price of one." I don't recall the exact fee, but I just read it the other day. I'm thinking it's going to be $20 (per car) for each rather than $25 for both.
I'm probably a little prejudiced, living between Yellowstone and the Black Hills, but my vote would be Yellowstone, Grand Tetons, and the Black Hills, including S.D. Badlands. The Black Hills are really geared to kids -- lots of great attractions in and around. Glacier is just too far for 3 weeks. Utah's parks/Grand Canyon is too hot for summer vacations. If Yellowstone is too far, my second choice would be Colorado/RMNP, etc.
Very easy drive. Two lane blacktop but very little traffic. Set the cruise at 55 and enjoy the trip....Dennis
Uhhhh.... I agree that it's not a bad drive, but it's got a LOT of traffic -- highest traffic count of any 2-lane road in the state, if I'm not mistaken. That includes a lot of truck traffic all the way to I-25 (Douglas). I think I just read that it's had 5 traffic deaths already this year and is considered the most dangerous highway in Wyoming. I drive it regularly (65 mph limit, but I drive it at about 67 or 68 to blend with the traffic). I don't advise driving at 55 for safety reasons. It's fine except for the heavy traffic. Long range plans are to make it a 4-lane, but that's a long ways off. The governor was pushing for several more passing lane sections next year, but the legislature nixed most of that too.
Somewhere around 30 miles south of Gillette is a big bison ranch that you might find interesting. The last I knew they were running in excess of 2000 head. It's on both sides of the highway, but you'll usually see the bison on one side or the other.
May I add, welcome to Gillette. I hope you have a good time while here. :)
Mountain Passes in Iowa? :h
I have traveled through Iowa and the elevation difference anywhere in the state is 10'. :B
I'm from FL and haven't lived in the mountains in 14 years. Anything higher than sea level is a mountain pass to me! Just kidding.
One can never be too careful :)
Still for us in mountain states who are familiar with SD and Iowa, it's a question that makes us smile. Both are lacking in mountain passes and coastal highways.
The only steep grades in the hills that come to mind are Strawberry Hill on Hwy 385 just south of its junction with Hwy 14 (between Lead and Deadwood) and the climb on Hwy 16 out of Rapid City towards Rushmore, etc. Strawberry Hill is steeper, I think, and pretty much straight as an arrow. Certainly there are other similar stretches in the Hills, but I wouldn't call any of them passes, just long, steepish hills. (A "pass" to me is the crest of a route over a mountain range. No mountain range, no pass to cross.)
We will be leading a caravan of friends this July,from Ontario to Gillette Wyoming, which is just past Mount Rushmore.
From Buffalo I would suggest:
Qew to 403
403 to 401
401 to 402
Cross Border at Sarnia-Port Huron
I 69 to I 94
I94 to I 80 West
I 80 to I 29 north
I 90 to Rapid City.
Don't forget to travel through the Badlands on your trip.
We have already travelled the I90 route through Chicago and Wisconsin and the I 380 to I 35 through Iowa so are trying the new route I 29 this time.
You may want to consider avoiding I29 from 80. Its going through a major rebuild in Council Bluffs with the eastern interchange. Pretty slow last time I was through A few weeks ago. The western side where you go north is better since that work is done. The segment through CB is ok, but can be slow. They will be working on that for a while.
IF you are adventurous try going up to US20 on I35 Out of DesMoines. A lot of 4 lane, about 40 or so miles 2 lane Towards the western end.
You should actually revise your route plan to:
I-80 to I-680
I-680 to I-29
You'll find I-680 towards the western end of Iowa, not too far west of Shelby. At that point I-80 turns to the southwest (towards Council Bluffs/Omaha) and I-680 continues straight west through some scenic hills until it meets I-29. Just stay in the right lane. (Follow the signs.) It'll save you some time and keep you away from the heavy traffic.
If it's a roundtrip, you might consider going through Canada one way. My late wife and I spent our last vacation doing just that. We visited my brother in Minneapolis, then headed through Duluth and up Lake Superior's North Shore. I've been all over the Rockies, Alaska and Pacific Coast, and that North Shore drive rates right up there with the best of 'em -- actually reminded me a lot of Alaska. It was a very pleasant camping trip, but it's been 20 years and I can't remember the exact route we took. We crossed back into the U.S. in NW Vermont, then headed to the Maine coast, and from there followed I-95 to NYC.
We came back west on I-80 all the way, as we had a wedding to attend in Iowa and I wanted to drive through Nebraska for a change. We definitely took the long way, coming and going.
I-80/I-90 would be the shortest. You might ask specifically about the road surface condition of I-90 through Minnesota. The last time I was on it, it was pretty rough, but that's been a couple years now.
We've had two RK models over the past 14-15 years and only once did we have any broken dishes. That was a BAD section of road! We also lost part of the window housing in the bedroom (front) and had a flat tire on that same section of gravel road, so I don't blame the broken dishes on having a rear kitchen. Neither had shocks on the suspension -- an older Jayco and our current (2006) Puma.
We hope to get a bigger 5th wheel in the coming years, and we'd get it with a mid kitchen simply because on the larger ones we like the rear living room. On a small one, we'd stick with the rear kitchen.
Summertime strong winds are usually associated with thunderstorms. It's impossible to predict them... anywhere.
There's no "Bighorn National Park," only a Bighorn National Forest. This is a guess. You're planning Hwy 16 over the Bighorns? If so, that's the one I usually recommend. It's a mountain road, but it's a good, paved, wide highway with mostly gentle curves and not-too-steep grades -- if you're careful and don't ride the brakes.
(Use lower gears and use the brakes wisely. Don't "ride" them, don't "tap" them. Brake hard to slow, then get off of them until you must use them again to slow. With an engine brake you won't need the brakes much. If you find that you're using them much, pull over and do the touch test on all wheels. If they're hot, take an hour break and enjoy a picnic or some roadside photography.)
The mountain driving on Hwy 16 will be between Buffalo and Ten Sleep (60 miles?) You'll get into it again once inside Yellowstone -- nothing that all rigs can't handle; just take your time and use your noggin.
It's a nice drive that I'd recommend to anyone. The only thing I caution about is to watch out for bicyclers. On many curves there's really not room for bikes on the shoulders, so if you come around a sharp curve, you may also be coming upon a cycler in your lane and be meeting a vehicle in the opposite lane.
It happened to me the last time I came across Hwy 12. I was traveling slower than the posted curve speed, suddenly came upon two cyclists at the edge of the road just ahead of me, and at the same time was meeting a motorhome on the corner. The cyclists tried to get over as far as they could, but there was a railing so they couldn't get any further over. All I could do was slam on the brakes, which I did. I ended up with a birthday cake and misc. dinnerware on the floor of my camper but we all escaped anything more serious.
Just be careful of cyclists and keep the speed down on the curves. You never know what's around the next corner.
...If it is cold enough the battery can freeze, crack cells, and warp plates! At very least keep the battery compartment at least 32 degrees to prevent freezing.
:S You must have never left Florida. I live in Wyoming. We've had many winter days at -30 (MINUS!), and I've never had a battery freeze. I take that back. Once, when driving across South Dakota with temps of -30 to -40, the alternator quit. As a result the battery went dead and froze. I also lived in Alaska for a few years. No problems with batteries.
Most of the commercial tourist sites will still be closed, usually until Memorial Day or the weekend before it. Most public sites will be open and operating, although with off-season schedules. I don't think you'll have much problem finding a camping spot. With those it seems commercial campgrounds are open as soon or before public ones are.
I have two Interstate 6V batteries in mine. I bought them at a marine dealer. (Actually, they were out when I went there, but they were able to have two delivered to their store within about an hour.) That was 3-4 years ago. I didn't use my camper last summer, only went out to the storage facility to check the batteries once and they were good. I went back again last week and tested them. Still right up there, however I did remove them and put a charge on them since I won't be hooking up again this year. (Sold my truck and will sell the camper soon.)
I was really impressed with how well they've lasted, through nearly two years of non-use, temps ranging from -30F to 100F. This was my first set of 6V, always figuring that two 12Vs gave me additional options and were cheaper. They do and are, but they didn't last anything like these 6Vs.
We boondock 95%-99% of the time, from two nights to five nights at a time usually. In Wyoming's mountains, the furnace is usually running much of the night. If you'll be on the grid most of the time, a single 12V will last a night. If you won't be using the furnace or lights much, it'll go much longer. Go from there, but if you won't have hook-ups where you camp, a pair of 6V batteries would be a good choice, imho. They are heavy! Whew!!!!
My pickup, hauling a tall cabover camper, ran out of gas on I80 in Iowa one summer about 20 years ago. We were heading into a 50 mph wind, and the last thing on my mind was needing fuel so early. I hadn't been paying any attention to the gauge. I think it's the only time in my life that I ran out of fuel.
I went back to the camper and dug out a 10-year-old can of Coleman Fuel and dumped it into the tank. Truck started right up and headed to the next service station, a couple miles up the road. :) Works in an emergency.
I always buy Coleman Fuel for my old Coleman stove and lantern -- always as in every 5-10 years! :) At most it might cost me 50 cents per camping weekend. I think it's closer to a quarter. I can afford either one.
Thanks for posting that, 2gypsies. Mostly pretty simple to understand regs.
I haven't fished Yellowstone in 20 years, but it was the site of one of my most memorable fishing trips. (Stop here unless you want to read about fishin an finaglin.)
A good fishing buddy of mine and I were fly fishing on the Yellowstone. It's got great fish but is crowded to the max. The Russian River on Alaska's Kenai Peninsula during the red salmon run used to be close, but this was crazy, as in, wait for someone to give up his space, then take it.
The brown trout were splashing all across and up and down the river. But NO ONE was catching a thing, not even with all their fancy new L.L. Bean vests, waders and fly rods. (Sorry, but some of us "locals" have to chuckle at high fashion fishing dudes now and then.)
We knew there had to be a hatch in progress, so we waded the shore enough to find the bug that was causing all the ruckus, gathered one up and took it to the TC (25 feet away), where we each had a fly tying kit, and tied up our versions of the bug. (Big difference between his and mine, btw.)
We walked back to the shore, waded out a few feet and each cast our lines. POW! We both had immediate hits. Nice fish, around 20". We landed them, set them free (then legal), cast again, and the same thing happened. It wasn't long before we had 20 fishermen crowded around us trying to see what flies we were using. Some asked. My buddy gave our flies names and told them we'd gotten them at a fly shop down the road 10-20 miles. (Snicker)
We had the whole river to ourselves! Well, compared to what it had been. We each landed 15-20 in the next half hour, then took off (in the other direction) before the Bean Brigade once again descended on us! LOL (I was just NASTY in my youth!)
I assume you meant "across on I-90 to Badlands", correct? Because that would be the normal route.
Unless you're really frightened of mountain driving, I'd also recommend Hwy 16 from Buffalo to Worland. Much of that is mountainous, but it's all a good, wide 4-season highway used by vehicles of all kinds. Take it easy, use lower gears descending and DO NOT RIDE your brakes, and you should be fine.
As Mr Shoe noted, there will be at least a couple pull-offs where you're encouraged to stop and check for overheated brakes. Do it. Use that time for a little break, take some photos, maybe have a sandwich. I've hauled my campers up and down and over both Hwy 14 and 16 dozens of times. In my opinion 16 is the easier route. Scratch that. EASIEST route. Just use some common sense.
I also encourage you to spend some time in the Black Hills -- Rushmore, Crazy Horse Monument, Custer State Park, Jewel Cave and Devils Tower, just to mention a few. Also plan on a day in Cody for the Buffalo Bill Historical Center, etc.
Bull Trout and Dolly Varden are now considered two different species. (and Pluto is no longer a Planet) Neither are actually Trout, they are both Chars. I don't know what that actually means, but I do know that you get in a whole lot of trouble if you kill a Bull Trout and it is actually illegal in some streams to even target them. You are totally responsible for identifying the species of fish you catch. A Bull trout has a dorsal fin with no black spots or markings, differentiating it from the common Brook Trout. "NO BLACK, PUT IT BACK" is truly the law of the land.
Really?! Bulls are catch and release? And you can't "target" them? Sad. A couple of my friends and I used to take annual fishing trips to the Flathead Valley to float and fish the North Fork (of the Flathead) from the border to Pole Bridge, sometimes a little further. We mostly fished for bulls (July?) but also for cutthroats, rainbows, browns, etc. After a week of that we'd meet another friend with a big boat and fish for bulls and lake trout on Flathead Lake. Always, always had a great time. We also spent a week on the Beaverhead one year. (danged whitefish!)
My vote goes to Gros Ventre. Your camper is self-contained; the only reason you probably need hookups (every day) is for AC, and you can live just fine without that in Jackson Hole. Gros Ventre is close to Jackson and the whole valley.
Coulter Bay is nice too, but it's a long drive from there to Jackson.