I live near I-90 in eastern Wyoming. Our standard trip to Yellowstone is over the Bighorns (Hwy 16 or 14), then through Cody and the East Gate. While I prefer to drive through Yellowstone bobtail, there are lots and lots of others driving through with their campers, and I can do it too -- and enjoy it.
That's what I'd recommend to you. Hwy 16 leaves I-90 at Buffalo and is a fairly gentle mountain drive across the Bighorns. Hwy 14 leaves I-90 about 50 miles NW of there at Ranchester and is a little steeper going up and coming back down from the Bighorns, but it's not hairy-scary. Both are about the same distance, whether measured by miles or time, and both are good, wide, scenic, all-season highways. If you choose Hwy 14, DO NOT take 14A at the top. It's too steep for your rig, imho.
This recommendation comes with the assumption that you're fairly experienced at handling your rig (gathered from your profile) and that you've done some mountain driving with your rig (w-a guess). :)
Here's another in favor of using 4LO, especially coming down! Inching down a steep trail with 20K+ pounds can be too much for your brakes. (Ask me how I know.) ;)
Yes, I did it once. I had a 2500 lb. slide-in camper on an F250. I'd been down that 4x4 canyon trail dozens of times before, but this time my girlfriend (now wife) was riding along. She's scared to death of steep and narrow mountain trails, so when she started freaking out I slowed down. I don't remember whether I was in 4LO or 4HI, but I'm thinking it must have been 4HI, as I rode the brakes a little too much... and suddenly they were GONE! Luckily I was almost at the bottom of the canyon when they left me, and I was able to find a place where I could leave the trail and head up a little hill until we came to a complete stop. Were it not for that little hill, I'd have been plowing into cars, people, or maybe a very swift stream.
And you're talking about doing it with a 14K trailer. Don't do it in 4HI! If this is a 25% grade, you need 4LO. This is why you have it.
As for the front tires grabbing in a turn, let 'em. On a dirt road it's not going to hurt a thing.
OP, you need to tell us how you're going to use it. If it's for a few days at the lake and back home for a month, you won't need much in the way of size nor quality. If you were to take off for a year of traveling, then decide to winter in the south, etc., etc., you'll want it bigger with more load capacity, and you'll want flooring, cabinetry and everything else to stand up to heavy use.
One thing I would recommend is that you don't decide on a 3/4-ton truck too soon. That's what I did with my last truck. I was sure 3/4-ton trucks would haul whatever I'd want. So we were stuck with smaller 5ers than what we really wanted.
So, what I'm understanding is that because it is called an F250, the most GVWR that will be on the sticker is 10000 lbs,, even if it had a greater capacity than that, right?
And also, since this truck has the same engine, transmission, tires, transmission, ect as an F350 (I'm assuming) the whole issue is about payload. If this is true, would adding some type of auxiliary springs or airbags take care of the problem.
I don't know about the first paragraph. I've never before heard that statement but can't say it's not true. My old (2000) F250 PSD with camper package had an 8,800 pound GVWR. They've been inching upward since (and before) then.
However, I'm fairly certain that your assumption is wrong about an F250 having the same wheels and tires as an F350. That's one place you can beef up fairly easily, however. I installed slightly larger tires on my old F250, as I drove it the last few years considering to buy a larger 5er and wanted the highest load-carrying capacity I could get for a few bucks -- so if I found one I could carefully tow it home and park it until I got the bigger truck. You can also switch wheels to get even heftier tires. And add a spring leaf for stability. I'm not positive, but I think that would give you the added capacity that you'd get with an F350 (wheels, tires, leaf).
A neighbor of mine "converted" his F250 to an F350 dually by getting a wrecked F350 and switching out the bed, axels/wheels/tires/differential/springs. I kept driving past it seeing the "F250" on the side of it and "F350" on the tailgate. Then he put a for sale sign on it, and I had to stop and ask about it. I think he said it only cost him about $2000 for the upgrade, doing it all himself. I think he found a bargain for the upgrades.
The last (3rd) 5er I towed with my 2000 F250 had a GVWR of 10K pounds, and I thought it was about perfect (at 8-9K pounds loaded). It was small enough to get me into most FS campgrounds and large enough that we never wanted for more room during weekend and 1-2 week vacations. It was 27' long with a small slide-out. I was slightly over the truck's GVWR but only by a couple hundred pounds. I started with a smaller one, then got a larger one, then got one "just the right size." :)
I'd think the biggest advantage to having 2-wheel drive would be that the truck sits lower, and most 4x4s sit too high for the 5ers we pull.
That said, I wouldn't go back to 4x2 if I could help it. I've used my 4x4 to wander along jeep trails for sightseeing/photography, wood gathering for the fire pit and fishing trips, steep driveways, stump pulling, towing stuck 4x2s and, most important, snow, ice and mud. Oh, and for those mountain passes with chain laws in effect... that don't require chains if you have 4x4/AWD. In other words, 4x4 is really handy for me, summer or winter.
I wouldn't worry about it. Taking I80 will put you amongst the truckers; I90 amongst the bikers. I'd prefer the bikers. And really, even at the height of the rally, the bikes are only a "problem" within about 50 miles of Sturgis -- those out touring after arrival. I've always enjoyed seeing the bikes when traveling on I90 across SD. 99% of them seem to be careful and considerate travelers. That's better than auto travelers or truckers, btw. :)
Harleys are not cheap bikes, and most of the bikers I've talked with in Sturgis are pretty fine people -- middle income or higher and just as friendly as RVers. They just like to dress the part for the Rally.
I ran into a friend of mine at the gas station several years ago during Rally week. He was the local funeral director that I'd known for years -- president of our Rotary Club, active in our church. I didn't recognize him -- nor his wife, who was one of the prettiest and best dressed women in town. They were headed out to Sturgis on his Harley. He had grown a beard for the occasion; she was his biker chick; both were dressed in leathers. :B Simply amazing! But typical of the Sturgis crowd.
My daughter and son-in-law also attended for several years (until they sold their bikes a couple years ago). He's an architect, she's a pharmacist, both in management jobs. The have three beautiful and gifted young daughters and a lovely upscale home in Tucson... but for Sturgis they looked like... bikers. One year we were going to meet them in Sturgis and take in a show. I didn't even recognize my own daughter when she came running up to me!
I've "cut the corner" from Ft Collins to Laramie many, many times. It's not a bad road, and there are a fair number of passing lanes as I recall. It has claimed a few lives, however. The worst part of it for me is getting through Ft. Collins to the highway. I've always had something else to do while in Ft Collins, so had to approach it from... the mall! ;)
My son and daughter both attended UW in Laramie, so between the two of them, we made a lot of trips that way when going to or coming home from Denver.
25mph is a nice day in Wy.
Most every day is a nice day in Wyoming. But this is a topic about wind. 25 mph isn't WIND, not in Wyoming! That's simply a gentle breeze. ;)
Glad you had a pleasant drive across the state, OP. Y'all come back again real soon.
I'll agree with most; it's a good road and will save you some time. I-90 is a little more scenic, a bit safer, and has more services should you want or need them. You won't experience traffic congestion on either!
Yes, 16 is easier. It may be a couple miles longer but not much more than that. I once had a partner who lived in Greybull (east of Cody) who drove both routes regularly during his semi-weekly visits to Gillette. He said the time difference (in his Buick) was less than 5 minutes.
Hwy 14 has a bit more spectacular views going up and coming down, but across the (flat, straight) top it's pretty bland. Hwy 16 doesn't have as many tight curves and isn't quite as steep going up and down, but it has gentle curves and grades the whole way across.
Both are scenic, both are good roads, and both are mountain highways that should be treated with respect. Not too many years ago an older couple descending down the east slope of 16 into Buffalo overheated the brakes on their smallish motorhome and ended the journey inside a store on Buffalo's Main Street. The hubby was killed. Sad. Totally preventable if you mind your brakes (don't "ride" them), but it can happen easily if you ride them too much. Ironically, they probably overheated because he was being TOO careful. It's happened to me once (inching down a jeep trail) when my wife (girl friend then) kept telling me to "slow down," but we were lucky and spared the possible consequences when we reached the bottom just as the brakes totally gave out. I'd been down that trail dozens of times. Brakes were hardly needed at all, but this time I had a gal with me who was frightened of mountain driving. Brake fade was the last thing on my mind.
Just to be clear, when your engine braking isn't enough to slow you for the next curve, brake fairly hard until you've slowed below your target speed, then leave your brakes alone until your speed builds up to or beyond the target speed and brake hard again. DO NOT use light brake pressure to maintain the speed. That'll kill ya on any mountain. There are pull-offs where drivers are encouraged to stop and check the brakes for heat build-up. Use them if there's any doubt at all.
Lantanatx, you mentioned that you have a month scheduled in the parks. I don't know if it would work out for you or not, but Gillette, WY will be hosting the "World Fireworks Convention" (Pyrotechnics Guild International) August 8-15. I'm not sure of the dates for the fireworks shows, but I can guarantee they'll be bigger than anything you'll see on July 4. They have their convention here every 2-3 years iirc. We "watch" them from our home 5 miles away. ;)
Just thought I'd mention it, in case the timing would work out better. (Gillette is on I-90, about halfway between the Bighorns and Black Hills.)
Wow! I don't blame you for being upset!
The only new camper I've ever bought was our current one (now for sale). We bought it in 2006 -- a cheap one because our old one broke down during a trip and we didn't want to wait 3 days for the repair. It's a small Puma. It didn't start well, as we had a blowout within 500 miles. Replaced all the tires. The only problems since then were the sink drains. I had to tighten them by hand when they started leaking, then apparently tightened one too tight and it broke. Took me 5 minutes to replace it. That's it. Nine years. Wanna buy it? ;)
I'd still bet you've worked through most of the problems you'll have in the first 5 years. I hope so! Good luck!!
I've made many, many camping trips to Yellowstone and very seldom make reservations ahead of time. As other have stated, some of the FS campgrounds outside the park are outstanding (no hookups) and we prefer to use them, maybe half the time. Inside the park, if we can get there at check out time, we've usually had good luck. Your rig will make a difference. Big ones are harder to find spots for.
When you enter a gate in the morning, ask where there are spaces available. They keep an updated list.
We do it this way because we don't live that far from the park and usually go on the "spur of the moment."
With 45+ years of mountain driving behind me, it wouldn't bother me, but I doubt I'd enjoy it much either. I drove it both directions with a 30-foot motorhome 20 years ago. It was a pleasant drive, but I was constantly pulling over to let cars pass me, and that was 30 feet total, not 50+ feet.
Bear Tooth is currently closed due to recent snows. They just got it opened last Friday, and now the whole state/area is getting dumped on with rain in the valleys and snow in the mountains! I haven't heard when it'll be reopened, but I'd expect it to clear again in a couple days. Wind River Canyon (south of Thermopolis) is also closed due to mudslides, along with a few other highways in Wyoming. For anyone headed this way right now, check ahead. This has been the wettest May since '78.
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.)