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Old 06-16-2016, 07:06 AM
286 posts, read 615,521 times
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I will be driving west from Minneapolis for a two day stay in Banff, Alberta then on to a family function in Central Alberta. One option being explored is driving across Montana on my trip to the Canadian Rockies then doing the same on my return trip back to Minnesota.

I could enter Canada in North Dakota or even northern Minnesota. If I stay on the US side as long as possible to avoid higher Canadian gas prices, and currency exchange issues? When arriving in Glendive on I-94, should I take Montana Highway 200 West to Great Falls then I-15 north over the border at Sweet Grass? Is US Highway 12 from Forsyth to Helena a good option?

I am also looking at US Highway 2 since I am more familiar with hwy 2 as I've taken the Amtrak Empire Builder to Glacier National Park from St. Paul and driven US hwy 2 from St. Ignace, MI across the UP, WI, MN, ND etc. Even though staying on Interstate 94 and then 90 to I-15 is longer, would it be quicker? Are there other border crossings I should consider such as: Havre/Simpson or Plentywood

I am concerned about not being able to find a hotel before dark and extreme distances between gas stations/restaurants etc. I've also posted on the Calgary forum where there are similar related questions from me.

All feedback is welcomed, and thank you in advance!
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Old 06-16-2016, 07:40 AM
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I can't speak to US-12, but I've done both US-2 and Highway-200 and definitely prefer US-2. At Glendive I turn off 94, head to Circle, then pick up US-2 at Wolf Point. To me, US-2 feels much safer. You have better sight-lines in case animals run out into the road. On 200 I felt like I saw a ton of roadkill deer, and there were a lot of fairly steep pitched rolling hills, so if you were doing the speed limit of 70 mph you came over the top of those hills and wouldn't have a prayer of stopping in time if there was an animal or breakdown at or just beyond the crest of them. I hope the way I explained that makes sense? 200 is a beautiful drive, don't get me wrong, but in terms of getting from A to B in a quick, relaxing manner, I'd choose US-2.

The speed limit on most of US-2 is 70 mph (except where you pass through towns) so it would be quicker than 94-90-15. The towns are close enough together that unless you're the type who waits until it's on E at 11 PM at night you shouldn't have any trouble finding gas but you might want to eyeball where you'd be stopping and call ahead to have a room reserved rather than pulling in late and hoping to find a vacancy.
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Old 06-16-2016, 10:23 AM
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I don't know the gas prices in Canada, but the exchange rate is very favorable to US...one US dollar is worth $1.30 Canadian.

I think fly to Calgary, rent a car.
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Old 06-16-2016, 11:23 AM
Location: Where the mountains touch the sky
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Got to admit, I love the trip on Hwy 200, some beautiful ground between Great Falls and Lewistown.
Hwy 2 is a good drive, more monotonous in my opinion.
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Old 06-18-2016, 09:15 AM
Location: Montana
387 posts, read 417,360 times
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Pretty much any of the drives will be spectacular this time of year.

I just returned to Bozeman from Great Falls, and it is one of the most striking drives, even though it is on the interstate. Also, know that across Montana, last year they upped the speed limits to 80 on interstates.
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Old 06-23-2016, 09:23 AM
Location: Brew City
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I love Hwy 12. I've taken it several times from Helena until it meets up with 94 in Forsyth (I've never stayed on into ND, We just stay on 94). There aren't many chain hotels but you should be able to find a decent place to crash if need be.

I'm not a fan of Hwy 2. I've taken it from 5 miles from my house in Upper Michigan across to Malta, MT and back down to Helena. I won't do it again. Plus even though the Bakken has died down Hwy 2 still goes through the heart of it. It was a nightmare back in 2013.

Hwy 200 would be my second choice.

For the record, I'm not considering distance or time. I've simply taken all three of these routes from Upper Michigan to Helena and I prefer Hwy 12 but you're going north so I don't know if it's worth it to you. Keep in mind that the drive from Helena to Great falls is quite beautiful through canyon walls. It does get brutally boring from Great Falls north to Calgary though .

We're also planning a trip to Banff next month. Our plan is to head north out of Duluth on our way to Winnipeg and on across to Calgary. After Banff we'll likely take 93 south and dip into Glacier for a few days before heading back down to Helena. Then it's off to Colorado and Kansas before returning to Michigan. Here's to road trips !
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