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Southwest MT winter travel route - SLC to Billings

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A question for people who drive in SW Montana in the winter... we're travelling from SLC to Billings for Christmas. Mapquest says to leave I-15 at Idaho Falls and take 20 to West Yellowstone to 191 to Bozeman. My brother in law in Billings says to avoid that area as they aren't plowing some roads this year (???) He says to take I-15 to Hwy 41, from Dillon to about 20 miles east of Butte, then head over on I-90. Any opinions from locals? Thanks in advance.

 

Steve

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Well, if you haven't left yet. I would stay on !-15 to Butte and hang a left on I-90 straight to Billings. You'll cut HOURS off the trip by staying on the interstate, and avoid any road condition issues. Stop at the 1st MOntana rest stop you come to and you'll hear a constant 24/7 weather/road condition report in the rest rooms, or call 511 on a Montana phone.

 

'sides, it's "almost" as pretty.

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Haven't left yet... we're watching the weather to see if tomorrow or Thursday looks better. So far looks to be about equal either day, chance of light snow and kinda cold, but no big storms forecast :)

 

Steve

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Outback, if you get off I-15 onto 20 north of SLC and go to West Yellowstone then pick up 89 north to Bozeman you'll cut off quite a few miles, but hardly (if any) time. The trip will, however be beautiful. If this is a leisure trip and the passes are open (check the Montana road report as soon as you get into the state) that is the way I would go. There's a neat wildlife Park in West Yellowstone where you can see Grizzlies and wolves in a natural environment captivity (but the bears might have gone nighty-night for the winter).

 

BTW temps are projected into the negative teens for the rest of the week, so watch out for road ice. Snow showers off and on, but the roads should be clear.

 

Enjoy Montana, we moved here from Hawaii after visiting West Yellowstone on a fly-camping trip,and seeing much of the surrounding area from our small plane. We intended to stay for three or four years, do a spec house and go back to Hawaii and get warm again. We're heading into year ten, with no inclination to return to the Socialist People's Republic of Hawaii ... third world country masquading as a state.

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Hello from Montana! Actually, we've been here for over 24 hours, but haven't had time to follow up. Here's what we ended up doing. Left work a lil' early on Wednesday afternoon, my wife had the car ready to go, we headed up to Idaho Falls (220 miles from SLC, took us 4 hours due to snow storms and after dark driving in Idaho). Got there later in the evening, woke up to a brisk -1 F, but very beautiful blue sky. Headed up I-15 to Dillon and took Hwy 41 over to I-90, nice drive, good road. I-90 was not bad, there were some packed snow / ice patches in the passing lane, very windy in spots, some blowing snow, but not that bad.

 

I'd like to try the W. Yellowstone road some time, maybe not in winter though. Our objective was to get here ASAP and safely to spend time with the family. I like Montana, I could live here, I'd miss the desert of Southern UT though.

 

Thanks for the advice, mtsmiths!

 

Steve

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I run through there a few times a year due to my girls living in Idaho Falls. Watch out for Staters around Dillon, got a fast driving award there last yr. Enjoy your trip.

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I grew up in Billings and have wanted to go back and take a peak to see what has changed.

 

How long does it take to get from SLC to Billings? :confused:

 

Thanks,

Glenn

82 SubaruHummer

01 Forester

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Sweet:

 

Well, we pretty much keep it to 75-80 at the most, I see no reason to drive faster than that. And there are a few towns with slow speed limits along 41 from Dillon to Whitehall, so that adds a little bit of time but I thought it was a nice diversion from constant freeway driving.

 

We left Billings at 7:30 or so. Got home (Murray) at 5:30 or so, and that was with near perfect weather (except for a little fog and wet roads near a pass by Bozeman. Only stops were to gas up and bathroom breaks. A very long days drive IMO... I don't like to drive more than 500 miles or so in a day. The TS is a great little car, comfortable for most trips, but my 6'4" body is sore today. I'm just a little too tall for that car on the longest trips.

 

Observations on the skill and courtesy of drivers along the way: let's just say it went downhill as we went from MT to ID to UT to SLC.

 

Steve

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Well Steve, thanks for the compliment 'bout us drivers up here in Montana. You think SLC is bad, try driving in 'The Aloha State'. Not only plenny rude, but l-o-u-s-y drivers.

 

Your line about the 500 miles cracked me up. Once I took off in a company truck from Kalispell, MT and drove straight through to El Paso, TX. I totally freaked out the office manager when I called back and reported arriving. After that, they allus insisted I have a co-driver on long trips.

 

If you ever plan a Glacier NP trip let us know up here along the High Line.

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