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Driving conditions December

Brisbane Australia
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35 posts
7 reviews
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Driving conditions December

I am driving from Las Vegas to SLC and onto West Yellowstone, Bozeman, Billings, and down to Denver. Taking 12 days for the drive. Are there other options to get from West Yellowstone to Bilings if the weather near Big Sky is to dangerous for me to drive. Have a 4WD and have driven in all kinds of conditions but I don't want to end up stuck between places because of weather. Is this all ok to try in December or should I rethink my plans. I am willing to take our time in the tricky areas but I am not sure where they will be.

I have only booked a place in Bozeman and have left the rest of the drive free until Denver. Any suggestions would be very grateful. Will be driving the first week in December.

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590 posts
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1. Re: Driving conditions December

Since you can't drive through YNP that time of year, the only route from West Yellowstone to Billings is through Bozeman and Livingston. I would be more concerned about high winds and blowing snow on the Interstate, which is wide open, than on the highway through the Gallatin Canyon by Big Sky, which is more protected by forest and cliffs.

Truly, you never know about the winter weather. Roads could be clear and dry, or you could have a major snowstorm. You are less likely to run into such a storm in early December than, say, the end of December. Sometimes people fly out of Billings or Salt Lake City because it can be significantly less expensive for a family versus the other Montana airports. In the winter, some will make a hotel reservation near the airport and drive there the evening before "just in case" a snowstorm could interfere with getting there in time for a morning flight. You just have to be flexible and allow for the chance of having to sit tight for a few hours or a day, or a long drive at slow speeds.

Billings MT
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2. Re: Driving conditions December

Like the previous post said, you never can predict what the weather will be. Typically though, if there is a big snowstorm it will usually pass within a day. While driving during the storm may not be advisable, once it passes the roads usually get plowed pretty quickly. The road between West Yellowstone and Bozeman is heavily traveled and is kept plowed. A big thing to watch for through the Gallatin Canyon is ice. While the canyon is protected from wind by the forest and cliffs, the road also stays shaded in many spots so the ice may not melt off as quickly. The road is also curvy as it follows the river. Just watch the signs that let you know a curve is coming and observe the posted speed limit for the curve (or slow down even more if there is ice) and you should be fine.

western WA
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3. Re: Driving conditions December

They have excellent road crews so the thing is to follow the above advice and sit tight if a big storm comes through while the road is cleared.

You should travel with emergency gear though, just to be safe. That includes blankets, food, water, flashlight, batteries, charger for your phone, etc.

Livingston is known for high winds with gusts up to 100 miles per hour. Windy conditions are noted so you will be able to find out before leaving Bozeman.

Instead of Billings, I'd go from Columbus to Red Lodge, a ski town in winter. From Red Lodge, go to Bearcreek, Belfry and on south and a little west to Cody, WY. It looks like a small road on the map but it is an important connector and a good road. From Cody, you can go to Thermopolis (another hot springs - actually many) and on south to Denver.

If it is windy, it has snowed, and it is quite cold, you can run into a situation called a ground blizzard. Thats snow blowing across the roadway so you can't see the road anymore! The road is dry and otherwise safe, but it is very difficult to drive in a ground blizzard, particularly at night. As a general rule, stick to daytime driving only.

Bring your bathing suit and hit the hot springs to warm up. Norris Hot Springs, Bozeman Hot Springs and Chico Hot Springs are all along your way. There are others but you'd have to alter your route a bit.

Edited: 16 November 2012, 06:03
Winter Park, Florida
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4. Re: Driving conditions December

Keep your gas tank full and your phone charged!

5. Re: Driving conditions December

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