Go west old woman!
July 9, 2012 9:39 PM   Subscribe

Roadtrip filter: I am planning on a solo road trip from Denver to Portland, OR by way of Missoula, MT, to visit friends in both of those places. Need suggestions of places to stay on the way.

Having plotted the trip in Google maps, I estimate that it will take me two days to get to Missoula, one day to Portland, and two days from Portland back to Denver. I need either a tent campsite not too far out in the boonies, or a cheap cabin, somewhere in the vicinity of Billings, MT (give or take) on the way out, and near Twin Falls, ID (approximately) on the way back. I am open to motels/hotels, but camping would be my first choice. If I should plan on stopping for the night somewhere other than these places (but close to halfway), let me know.

I would feel more comfortable with a campground host or the like (no dispersed or primitive camping). I plan on stopping only for the night, to set up the tent, blow up the mattress, perhaps for morning coffee, and then I want to get back on the road.

Estimated departure would be July 21 or 28. Tips on what to expect on this router are also welcome. Thanks, hive mind!
posted by caryatid to Travel & Transportation around Denver, CO (5 answers total)
Billings ex-pat here -- grew up watching the "exotic" license plates of travelers from all over North America arrive at the very first Kampground of America. Both Billings and Twin Falls have a KOA and I've stayed at both in an RV. For a quick, safe overnight with reliably clean showers and flush toilets, guaranteed to be waiting for you (reserve online), KOA is a solid choice. If I remember correctly, Billings KOA tent sites are right on the Yellowstone River. Figure between $30-$40/night to tent or rent a cabin at somewhere near double that.

Both cities have other private campgrounds that would be equally secure and probably less pricey. If saving money is the primary reason to camp rather than motel, you might want to check reviews at RVParkReviews. While obviously RV-biased, the site attracts enough traffic to give you a very good sense of what's available and how parks compare to each other. You can then click through to individual campground websites to find current tenting rates, see photos and make reservations. I agree that, for safety from four-legged critters and security from two-legged ones, you should avoid primitive or dispersed campsites. At this date, late July availability in public campgrounds may be dicey, so reservations at a private campground are likely your best bet.

If you're from Denver, you won't be surprised by the serious mountain passes -- and breathtaking views -- along your route. IMHO, you'll be traveling some of the most beautiful country in the nation. If you have the time, do yourself a favor and visit Glacier National Park while you're in the neighborhood. If you do no more than spend an afternoon driving the Going to the Sun Highway, you'll have an unforgettable experience.
posted by peakcomm at 6:50 AM on July 10, 2012

I don't know that there is much of what you are looking for near Twin Falls Id, but if you can stretch your leg a bit farther, we always stay at Farewell Bend SP on the Idaho/ Oregon border. It's right off the interstate, roll in , pay the fee (10-12 bucks for a campsite like most state parks these days) pitch a tent, no muss no fuss. it's a fishing area, so there are wide open sites that are easy for just what you want.
One day to go from Missoula to Portland via 84 will be a HAUL tho.
posted by OHenryPacey at 10:08 AM on July 10, 2012

Response by poster: One day to go from Missoula to Portland via 84 will be a HAUL tho.

I used to do Denver to Las Vegas, 750 miles, in ten hours. Missoula to Portland is only 550.

They call me baby driver, and once upon a pair of wheels, hit the road and I'm gone...♫

Good ideas so far, thanks! Looks like I have a choice between I-90/I-84, and U.S. 12/I-84. There's only 30 mins. driving time difference and the mileage is the same. Which route is more scenic?
posted by caryatid at 4:14 PM on July 10, 2012

Response by poster: Er, that should be set of wheels...
posted by caryatid at 4:28 PM on July 10, 2012

Firstly, I misinterpreted your route and thought you were going through twin falls on the way to Portland by going south and then west, a 900 leg, which is why i framed the comment the way i did, but secondly, there is no doubt that 12 is more scenic than 90, worth the extra half hour.
posted by OHenryPacey at 4:58 PM on July 16, 2012

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