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Best route from mammoth, ynp to many glaciers, gnp in Sept.

Chapel Hill, North...
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Best route from mammoth, ynp to many glaciers, gnp in Sept.

I've seen this question posted a number of times, but still am quite confused because the answers apply to different times of the year... So, here are the times of our trip: After 6 days in YNP we will be traveling from Mammoth, YNP to Many Glaciers, GNP on September 11, 2013. We will then stay in GNP for 5 days. I would like to take around 6 - 8 hours to get from Mammoth to Many Glaciers. What route would you suggest which is both scenic and takes around 7 hours?

a) 89 to I-90 to 287 to 89?

b) 89 to I-90 to I-15 to 287 to 89?

c) 287 to I-90 to I-15 to 287 to 89 t

d) 287 to 89

e) Something else (Please specify. Extra credit given for reasoning).

Billings, Montana
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1. Re: Best route from mammoth, ynp to many glaciers, gnp in Sept.

If you're leaving from the north entrance (Mammoth) there is no reason to backtrack into the park down to West Yellowstone (west entrance) to get on hwy 287 in option C and D so I would scratch those options off immediately as they would add unnecessary miles.

Option A and B are basically the same except with option B you are staying on interstate roads longer. The pass east of Butte and I15 (Homestake Pass) is cool to drive through. Once you get off of I90 on to I15 at Butte and go north it is scenic. Most people that are on I90 and want to get to I15 north of Helena take hwy 287/12 cut across at Three Forks. It is a well-traveled 2 lane road with frequent passing lanes about every 8 miles. Not the most spectacular scenery. Continuing on 287 takes you through mainly plains/rolling hills.

Another option is to go east at Livingston on I90 about 7 miles to hwy 89 north to White Sulphur Springs. You will have the Bridger Mountains and Big Belt Mountains to the west and the Crazy Mountains and Castle Mountains to the east. North of White Sulphur Springs you will go through the Little Belt Mountains and the little town of Neihart. The Showdown Ski area is south of Neihart. We took this route for the first time ever last week coming back from Glacier and I really liked the scenery there. You get on hwy 200/87 a little east from Great Falls. From there I would suggest (due to road construction) going up I15 past Conrad turning off on hwy 44 (Valier) which is a cut across to hwy 89 about 29 miles from Browning. It tooks us 8 hours to drive from St Mary (east entrance) to Billings with eating dinner at Great Falls taking this route.

Deb

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2. Re: Best route from mammoth, ynp to many glaciers, gnp in Sept.

Like Deb, we too love the drive through the Little Belts, a most unique ecosystem.

Chapel Hill, North...
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3. Re: Best route from mammoth, ynp to many glaciers, gnp in Sept.

On the basis of your and Deb's recommendation, I think that's what we'll do. Sounds really beautiful.

Watford
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4. Re: Best route from mammoth, ynp to many glaciers, gnp in Sept.

May I be rude and jump on this thread as we are doing the reverse journey on September 7th (a Saturday) and driving from Many Glacier to Big Timber where we have a room booked at The Grand. Next day (fires permitting) we will take the Beartooth Highway heading for Gardiner.

It was originally suggested to us that we take 89 through Choteau to reach Great Falls and then I-15 but your route sounds interesting and if the road construction on 89 is likely to delay us then your option might be best especially as Big Timber is close to Livingston.

I know we won't have a lot of time for stops but what is there en route that we could stop for? Thanks and apologies to zman for jumping on their thread.

Watford
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5. Re: Best route from mammoth, ynp to many glaciers, gnp in Sept.

Anyone?

montana
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6. Re: Best route from mammoth, ynp to many glaciers, gnp in Sept.

I too agree with Deb for both directions but would add, Take Duck Lake Road from Browning to Hy 89 just south of Babb. It is much faster than staying on Hy 89 and safer too as it is nowhere near as windy and many less cattle on the road.

Watford
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7. Re: Best route from mammoth, ynp to many glaciers, gnp in Sept.

Is that state highway 464? I don't see Babb on my AAA map.

montana
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8. Re: Best route from mammoth, ynp to many glaciers, gnp in Sept.

I googled "duck lake road montana" and yes apparently that is another name for it. Top of the resulte was a google map that showed it. you might try that.

Watford
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9. Re: Best route from mammoth, ynp to many glaciers, gnp in Sept.

Thanks.

Watford
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10. Re: Best route from mammoth, ynp to many glaciers, gnp in Sept.

We followed the route suggested by Deb (as well as Duck Lake Road as suggested by Montanan_traveler) and ended up in Big Timber about an hour earlier than we originally envisaged.

Not a vast amount to do and see en route but some pretty scenery and fast empty roads (along with The Bridge satellite radio station) made the day go quickly. We also had time to enjoy and admire the excellent Charles M. Russell museum in Great Falls - http://cmrussell.org/

Thanks for your help and keep an eye on the Road Trip forum for a trip report in due course.