We had around 8" of the stuff yesterday (9/11) on the prairies of NE Wyoming. None stuck to the roads, and it was mostly all gone this afternoon. That's the earliest snowfall I can recall, and I've lived here 43 years.
What kknowlton said.
However, the Bighorns west of Buffalo are very pretty, and as mountain roads go, Hwy 16 is a piece of cake. My wife doesn't like mountain driving (or riding), but as long as we stay on Hwy 16 over the Bighorns she doesn't mind them a bit. We go there often. Now some of the Jeep trails... that's another story. ;)
Actually, if you don't mind the roads in Yellowstone, and you don't mind the mountains between Dubois and Jackson Hole, you shouldn't mind 16 from Buffalo to Ten Sleep either. It's easier than many of Yellowstone's roads, and I'd encourage you to try it. The highway is wide and well maintained (4-season) all the way across, and you'll only have a handful of curves that you can't safely take at 45 mph or better. Traffic is always fairly light, and there's plenty of places to pull off and enjoy a picnic or camp for the night.
There's a 5 or 10-mile climb coming out of Buffalo, then it's all gentle curves and easy hills across the mountain until you enter Shell Canyon on the other side. That's another 5 or 10-mile descent to the bottom with two 20 mph (iirc) hairpin curves towards the top of it (just after crossing Shell Creek).
As with all mountain driving, use a lower gear when descending rather than depending on your brakes, which can overheat if you "ride" them. If they overheat, you suddenly lose all braking. That's not fun.
90 to 25 to 80 to 15 seems a better choice
I think this ^^ would be the best, with a slight alteration. You're going to have a few spots without cell coverage no matter which way you go, but I'd suggest I-90 to I-25 to Hwy 287 to I-80 to I-15.
That said, with that route there will be a pretty good stretch from Casper to Rawlins that's quite remote. If you're very concerned about that, do this one:
I-90 to Hwy 59 (Gillette) to I-25 to I-80 to I-15. Hwy 59 is a busy road with more traffic than I-90 or I-25 over most of it. Cell coverage isn't bad either.
I don't think I've ever spent more than an hour there. HOWEVER, there are many, many other interesting attractions in the Black Hills. I probably wouldn't recommend any of them OVER the Faces, but several are at least as enjoyable. A few in no particular order:
Crazy Horse Monument
Custer State Park (Wildlife Loop)
Bear Country USA
Devils Tower Nat'l Monument
Badlands Nat'l Monument
Google Black Hills attractions to find others that might interest you. If you've never been there, a couple hours isn't enough time, imho. Take 2-3 days without the dog and enjoy.
That's a nice looking truck, and I think you'll be happy with it. I like my 7.3 psd, especially in the Rockies, but the V10 is a good towing engine if you don't drive a whole lot of miles. You were smart to go with a 1-ton.
I'd NOT tow that with my 2000 F250 PSD 4x4. The earlier 3/4 ton pickups didn't have much payload capacity, and you'd be over it with any of them of that age. The 4x2 probably will carry a bit more than a 4x4, but you'd still be well over the GVWR. A 1-ton diesel should work; dually of that age would be even better.
I prefer long beds. You never have to worry about hitting the cab, plus there's more room for carrying other stuff in the back. I've got a tool box. Some build a genny box behind the cab. I also have room for coolers, firewood, etc.
Many respondents to this post are (apparently) basing the load capacities of the various sizes of pickups on NEWER models, not what the OP may purchase, as he wants a used pickup. My (2000) F250 PSD has a GVWR of 8800 pounds, and I'm right at its capacity with my light weight 26-foot 5th wheel. Some of the new half-tons can probably carry as much weight as mine, if you go by the numbers. So if the OP is buying a 10-year-old pickup, he'd be best to disregard any thoughts of buying a 3/4-ton truck.
OP, even if you buy new, go for at least a one-ton, and if you can manage a dually (garage space, etc.), that'll likely be your best vehicle for towing a 5th wheel, plus you'll be able to purchase almost any 5er you might like with a dually and not be limited to the lighter weight ones. I bought mine in 2000 thinking it could tow any camper I might want. We'd have been in a bigger camper years ago if I'd have initially purchased a dually -- or even a 1-ton srw.
One other thing, OP. I noticed you were asking about "towing capacity". In case you haven't caught on by now, it's "hauling capacity" that you need to be more concerned about when towing a 5th wheel. Most 3/4-ton and 1-ton diesels will "tow" all you'll likely want, but much of that weight must go onto the truck itself. That's where 3/4-ton pickups often fall short.
There are two or three short tunnels in the Black Hills, but you won't be driving your motorhome through them -- too narrow, too low, and too short to be a concern (in a car). The one west of Cody is the only one I can think of in the area. It's roomy enough and well lit. The only other one I can recall is on I-70 west of Denver -- the Eisenhower Tunnel.
My wife is from Medford, OR, so we've been back and forth (from Gillette) many times and in about as many ways. There are no reasonable routes from Gillette to Oregon, as the mountains are in the way! ;) We usually go south and take I-80 from Rawlins, but as Redmond is further north that wouldn't be good.
There have been a few times we've gone through Yellowstone/Jackson, and those times we've taken Hwy 20 between Idaho Falls and Mountain Home. It's a good road with little traffic, and if you've never been that way, the Craters of the Moon area is kind of interesting. We also stayed on Hwy 20 between Ontario and Bend. Again, good road without much traffic, iirc. I've never been on Hwy 26 between Redmond and Ontario.
Have a nice trip. It's bound to be scenic no matter how you make it.
Nice drive, just beware of the bicyclers. It's a popular road for bikers and there's not much shoulder for them throughout most of the route. I nearly nailed a couple of them the last time we were on it, and I was taking it real easy. It was a slight incline, 30 mph curve. I came upon them at the very same time a trucker met me on the curve. They had nowhere to go, and all I could do was slam on the brakes. I had a birthday cake, plates and silverware all over the floor of the camper. (It HAD been on the rear counter.)
They all have their advantages. For decades I had a pickup camper (TC) and tents. A few times we used both -- the TC for my wife and I, and we'd set up a tent for the grandkids. For me it was near perfect. I also had a backpack tent for longer hikes when we'd want to walk in one day and out the next. Then my wife started complaining about getting into and out of the over-the-cab bed, so we traded up for a very small (23') 5er. It was the low-profile style, so while she liked it better, we were still crawling into bed (ceiling not high enough to stand up). So we traded again, this time for a 30'. It was a little bigger than we needed, so after a few years we traded for a 27-foot. We'll trade again one of these years for a bigger one, but this is the cat's meow for weekends and short vacations.
I still miss the TC, as we could take it about anywhere we could take the truck (minding overhead trees), but I'll have to admit that the extra room is nice at times, especially when we have guests, either overnight to sleep (very seldom) or just a bunch of friends or relatives who want to step in for drinks and story-telling when it's getting too cold (or loud) around the campfire. Our camper has become the center of activity when camping with others. The extra room around the bed and not having to crawl around on hands and knees to make the bed or just to get into and out of it is pretty nice.
We usually camp now in USFS campgrounds -- no hookups but spacious camping sites. With the grandpa National Park Pass, USFS campgrounds are $6-$7 per night (half price), and that gets us a decently level campsite, nice fire ring, picnic table and unlimited drinking water for longer stays. That's not a bad trade-off vs. free boon docking.
I am in GA area and am questioning if I should just fly west to maybe MT, AZ,NM and buy my RV there instead of my hometown. I don;t know if this would be financially beneficial.
Many folks buy their rig in Montana - no sales tax. Do your homework, though.
Enjoy & safe travels.
But they'll catch up with you when you license it in another state! The only out-of-staters to save money buying a MH in Montana are those who set up a corporation in Montana to buy said MH... and some states are going after their residents for this and collecting... and more.
As one who lives in the west, RVs are usually cheaper in the midwest. There's more competition there, and you can avoid a lot of the transportation/delivery costs.
X4 driving to the Park - FOR SURE!
As for Hwy 212 over I-90... ehhh. It's a good road, straight, flat, little traffic. And very little scenery. I wouldn't recommend it, but neither would I try to talk you out of it. Depends on what you want.
l'd normally recommend staying on I-90 to Sundance, then making a run to Devils Tower (good place to camp too), then head to Moorcroft and I-90 to Buffalo. From there take Hwy 16 over the Bighorns. (More good camping spots, very scenic, good all-weather highway, not too steep or curvy.) Hwy 16 will take you to Worland, hang a right to Greybull, then a left to Cody and through the Park. Cody is a great little town to explore, and it would be a shame to miss the Buffalo Bill Historical Center. It deserves most of a day by itself.
Tourism will be gasping its last breath in September so traffic will be light. Snow will be possible in late September, but that's true just about anywhere in Wyoming or Montana. It's unlikely that it will last long or amount to much; however, last Oct.1 we had enough snow throughout most of northern Wyoming and South Dakota to kill thousands of cattle and sheep, and it destroyed the three biggest trees in my yard. Still, it was here one day and gone the next.
Probably great for highway driving. I had a new set on my PU and couple flats a week driving gravel roads. Took off those Michelins and no more problems. Sharp stones on Wyoming gravel roads went right through them. Since I have to drive on gravel roads to get to our ranch got tired of changing flat tires.
Really?! I put them on my PU just a year ago. Prior to that I was having flats from sharp rocks pretty regularly (worn Firestones), but haven't had a single problem with the MS/2 Michelins. I do a lot of driving on that crappy red shale we have in NE WYO (but mostly highway) and have driven 30-35K miles since installation. I really like them... so far.
I think the best NFS campground for big rigs like yours between Buffalo and Ten Sleep would be Tie Hack. No hookups (you won't need AC), but it's fairly new (13-14 years old) and has sites that will easily accommodate your big MHs. You can reserve sites now, but the ones not reserved go to first-come-first-served within a week or two of the planned stay. Sunday-Thursday you can usually find a site if you're there by 4.
If you want hookups, Buffalo has some nice commercial RV parks -- Deer Park, KOA and Indian Campground.
We also enjoy camping at Devils Tower. Our preference is usually the Parks Service campground inside the monument -- Belle Fourche Campground. But there are no hookups, so if it's too hot we prefer the KOA just outside the entrance.