Friday, April 12, 2013

US Hwy 20 -- Detour: "Uh oh, Yogi!"

Almost two weeks into this road trip, it's been pretty clear that I'm doing it a little too early in the season: Closed attractions, empty campgrounds and dicey weather have all been clues. So far it hasn't been too much of a problem, and it's a beautiful day here in Idaho Falls. At the foot of the immense mountains which comprise the continental divide, however, reality has caught up with me.

US Hwy 20 -- my intended route in red -- leaves Idaho Falls and goes north then east through Jelleystone (er, Yellowstone) National Park before heading back down south and continuing east to Casper. Unfortunately, the road is still "Closed For Winter" inside the Park. There are many feet of snow on the road and the plows aren't schedule to have it open until sometime next month. So, my original plan is out of the question.

I'd like to take the closest alternate, US Hwy 26 -- shown in orange -- through Jackson National Park, then reconnect with US Hwy 20 going into Casper. That route has some challenges due to weather, the biggest one being Togwotee Pass which -- at 9,658 feet -- alternates between "Wet", "Slick" and "Icy" on a daily, almost hourly basis.

A more reliable route -- shown in yellow -- might be to start on US Hwy 26 then head a little farther south on US Hwy 191 before angling back up to rejoin US Hwy 20. At 7,550 feet, South Pass is likely to be better, but could still be problematic.

My fall-back route -- shown in green -- is to head south and drive US Hwy 30 southeast and east, then shift back up to US Hwy 20. I'm reluctant to take that route, however, because I drove that entire stretch last year going west on US Hwy 30. I'm loathe to retrace previous routes on principle.

What do do? Well, I'm going to spend the day here in Idaho Falls and will check conditions in the morning. Depending what I find out then, I'll make a decision and hit the road. I'm not predisposed to avoid reasonable challenges, but I know better than to take unnecessary risks… Stay tuned!

Click here to see exactly where I am posting this from on Google Maps.

1 comment:

Michelle K. said...

Be safe! Remember, Happy is in Wheel so you're driving for two :o). Praying for your safe and successful travels!