We’re at the Buffalo Crossing RV Park in West Yellowstone, Montana. Here’s how we got here.
We pulled out of the Salt Lake City KOA on Tuesday. I stopped at the Pilot/Flying J Travel Center and topped off our tank with 52 gallons of diesel fuel. From there, we hit I-215 and merged onto I-15 which took us past the Great Salt Lake all the way to Idaho Falls, Idaho. We took a break at the welcome center after we entered Idaho. We picked up a free Idaho road map there. I like our GPS, but I still like to have paper maps as well. We had crosswind from the west most of the day on the 215-mile drive.
Northern Utah was wide open and the traffic was light. The speed limit in rural northern Utah was 80 miles per hour! Donna didn’t see the first speed limit sign and didn’t believe it when I told her it was 80 mph. A little while later, she saw a sign and snapped a photo.
We weren’t traveling anywhere near 80 mph. I stayed in the right lane with the cruise control set to 62 mph. I posted about tire pressure and tire failures before. Another cause of tire failure is excess speed.
Most trailers, including cargo trailers, travel trailers and fifth wheel trailers, are equipped with tires designated as “ST” type tires (Special Trailer). ST tires have higher load ratings than passenger car (P type) or light truck (LT type) tires. However, ST tires are rated at a maximum speed of 65 mph. Many people do not realize this and tow at speeds that exceed the tire’s rating. This can cause the tire to overheat. Over time, an overheated tire will fail. It may take hundreds of miles, but it will fail. Most people will blame the tire for the failure because they don’t understand the design limitation.
Our cargo trailer is equipped with load range C, ST type tires. I may exceed 65 mph momentarily to complete an overtaking maneuver on the highway, but I don’t drive at sustained speeds over 65 mph. The tires on our coach have a H load rating and a maximum speed rating of 75 mph.
We often see vehicles pulling trailers blow past us at speeds in excess of 70 mph. We also see boat, cargo, and RV trailers on the side of the highway with tires blown out. Tire Rack® has an excellent article about trailer tire load and speed ratings here.
On Tuesday afternoon, we pulled in to the WalMart parking lot in Idaho Falls. Donna phoned ahead and secured permission for overnight parking. We found a level spot on the southwest side of the lot. Donna shopped for groceries. I bought some real beer, not the 3.2 stuff they have in Utah. While Donna was shopping, I returned to the coach. The wind was blowing at 25 – 30 mph from the west. The coach became engulfed in a dust storm. Dust came in an open window and every crack or crevice it could find. I moved the coach to another spot, out of the direct path of dust blowing from a field.
Yesterday, while Donna slept in, I had breakfast at the Subway shop in WalMart. Donna was still recovering from her trip to Phoenix and needed a few hours of extra sleep. We pulled out of WalMart a little past 10am. We merged onto US20 and drove through farm land.
North of Ashton, Idaho, we quickly gained 1,000 feet of elevation and entered the Caribou – Targhee National Forest. Road construction slowed us down through a couple of sections in the national forest. We could see the Teton Mountains to the east, in Wyoming, at times. It was beautiful country. The leaves on the aspen trees were a pretty shade of green against the darker evergreen trees.
We pulled into West Yellowstone just past noon yesterday. For a town with 1,300 residents, it’s a hopping place. Tourism fuels the economy. There are hotels, restaurants, two grocery stores and bars. Of course it also has the obligatory tourist traps with collectibles and T-shirts. The Chamber of Commerce has a large parking lot with bus and RV parking. Tour buses stop there throughout the day.
When we drove up to the chamber parking lot, we were confused by the Buffalo Crossing RV Park sign in front and the RV parking. We pulled in and parked. We didn’t see an office for the RV park. We saw the RV park with RVs in it to the south, but we couldn’t access the park from the lot we were in.
We pulled back out on the road and drove past the IMAX cinema and found the RV park entrance. There wasn’t any signage. All afternoon, after we set up, we saw other RVs make the same mistake as us. They need to put up a sign at the actual entrance.
It was raining off and on as we were getting settled in. The temperature was in the 40s. Later, around 5pm the sun came out as the skies cleared. It warmed up to the 60s as predicted. This morning we have blue skies and abundant sunshine. Donna and I are going into Yellowstone National Park on the scooter and plan to do some hiking there.