Monday, July 9, 2012

Wallace, Idaho-Missoula, Montana-West Yellowstone, Montana (July 8-9, 2012)

Our next destination is Yellowstone National Park. The entire route is 385 miles and approximately 6 1/2 hours. This was longer than we wanted to drive so we decided to split the trip.  We had taken a few day trips while in Wallace and found that the section of I-90 East from Wallace into Montana was a bit steep. The road crosses Lookout Pass at the Idaho/Montana state line and is one of the steepest and highest mountain crossings in the U.S. Interstate system.  Having crossed it without pulling a six-ton trailer was a slow enough (speed limit only 50 MPH) so we decided to make our first stop for the night after about two hours on the road.

The day of our departure from Wallace was clear and warm.  As soon as we entered onto I-90 we began a slow and very winding climb to the top of Lookout Pass. Our truck did fine on the way up.  It was the downhill trip that concerned me. As we topped the mountain and began downhill, I shifted the transmission to manual control and let the engine/transmission supplement the brakes.  We declined at a steady 30 MPH.  The descent down the mountain was about 35 miles taking us almost an hour to complete. Body was aching from the tenseness. Thank goodness it was a winding as the uphill portion. We had traveled only 54 miles from our starting point and, already we had been on the road for an hour and a half.

Taking the mountain crossing into consideration we choose a KOA in Missoula, MT to be our stop for the night. It took another hour and a half to get to the RV park, but once there we settled in for the night and relaxed. 

The next day we were up and out early for the 270 miles to the Buffalo Crossing RV Park, in West Yellowstone, MT. This segment was easy and very beautiful.  We arrived at the RV park mid-afternoon and settled in for a four night stay.  Tomorrow we explore the wonders of Yellowstone.

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