Fuller

T shirts & flip flops...
Skier
Posts
585
Location
Whitefish or Florida
We have a couple of free days at Red Lodge with our Whitefish season passes and our schedule and route can be arranged to get there at the end of a driving day (this would be Jan 20th). We will be coming from Silverthorn CO straight up through Wyoming, at least that's what Google Maps is suggesting. This is not a destination so much as a handy place to break up the trip and ski a lesser known place for free which I always enjoy.

So two questions:

Any guidance as to the mountain and skiing? We are intermediate skiers and are easily amused.

Any comments on the Silverthorn - Red Lodge drive? It looks like mostly, if not entirely, 2 lane highway in a very remote area. The Subie is reliable and has snow tires but I prefer not to freeze to death in the middle of Wyoming if I can help it. We are smart enough to watch the weather and back off if needed but it can get sketchy once you're committed.

Thanks in advance...
 

Jack skis

Ex 207cm VR17 Skier
Skier
Posts
352
Location
Fidalgo Island, WA
The drive from Silverthorn to Red Lodge in the winter can be tough on two lane roads or on Interstates. An alternative for you would be to drive down to Denver and take I25 to Buffalo, Wyo and then I90 to Billings, MT and then to Laurel, MT and Hwy 212 to Red Lodge. Longer for sure, but less remote. If you try shortcuts be on the lookout for roads that are closed in the winter. My map search shows Denver to Buffalo if 5 1/2 hours and 391 miles. Buffalo to Billings 2 1/2 hrs and 165 miles, Billings to Red Lodge
1 hour and just about 60 miles. 600+ miles without counting the drive from Silverthorn to Denver. Estimated 9 hours if the weather is perfect -- and it won't be.

I've done the Colorado, Wyoming, Montana drive many times and survived, but it can be a miserable experience. Check out the weather before committing. Enjoy.
 

wyowindrunner

Getting off the lift
Skier
Posts
321
latigo drifter RLM.JPG

The Interstate is generally the best bet. The Wind River canyon can be closed at infrequent times and you will have to sit
and wait or back track to Casper. Driving in Wyo is generally a high speed thing if you have cowboy plates- driving a greenie plated vehicle not so much- but I -25 is 80 mph speed limit most of the way. WDOT has some different ideas on keeping winter roads passable( witness the difference on I-80 at the Utah-Wyo border out side of Evanston) and eastern Montana can be neglected at times also. Commuted on a regular basis from various cities in Wyo to Billings years ago as my wife was working there and later we bought a small house in Roberts,MT to have a local address near RL to ski from. When there is snow, RLMR is a kick *ss place to ski, with no shortage of intermediate terrain. There are a lot of groomers on the front side, some more on the back (Cole Creek) and if snow cover is adequate, the Palisades area has some groomers also. Lazy M is a long 2 + blue mile groomer from the top of Grizzly Peak to the base. (take the chicken trail above the bottom runout if conditions are kinda icey.) There is a long, low angle bump run -Barriers- that is lots of fun-used to ski it with the Gerry Rhoades mentioned above a few years back when we both worked at the ski school there. Would get a snow report- coverage can be spotty and windblown in areas. There can be some surprises under what looks like pristine snow. There is a reason there are no tracks there. (You may hear the name "Rock Dodge" occasionally). the pic is a blue run-(Latigo or Drifter -Latigo-can't remember-runs into Drifter halfway down-- that is normally groomed. Was taken during a weekday after a nice 8-10" dump-had a friend I worked with who was a novice- third time skiing- and he was navigating this just fine. Red Lodge is really worth a stop.
 

Sibhusky

Whitefish
Skier
Posts
2,504
Location
Whitefish
In a snow storm, the road to Red Lodge from I-90 can literally vanish due to blowing snow. I did a white knuckle drive years ago in the dark from the Columbus exit to Red Lodge (much of it overlaps the Laurel-Red Lodge route) where literally the only hint of where the road was for the entire 40-odd miles was the reflectors on the side of the road. There were no plow berms, nothing. Two lanes winding thru hills and valleys, not another track or vehicle in sight, just "fresh tracks" due to wind. Imagine that for hundreds of miles. Stick to the interstate as long as possible. Even that will be no fun if the weather is bad. Make sure you fill up every chance you get.
 

Pete in Idaho

Out on the slopes
Skier
Posts
742
Location
St. Maries - Northern Idaho
Fuller, I have a few rules that are adhered to regarding winter driving up here in the N. rockies and the PNW. I never drive at night, can't see ice and road conditions, animals are mostly nocturnal and hitting a Moose or elk can be the end of your trip and maybe the end of you. Gas up and don't let tank get below half, WHY spent 5 1/2 hours on interstate 80 at Immigrant Gap (sierras/tahoe) in a blizzard. I was warm because had fuel. Always have a winter pack in car: blankets, hand warmers, water, food, extra gloves, candles, wool hat, and above all a SHOVEL. The 5 and half hours I spent in blizzard, I needed shovel to keep my tailpipe clear and myself dug out so when road did clear in front of me I could leave too.

Just some suggestions, good luck, good skiing, have a great time.
 

wyowindrunner

Getting off the lift
Skier
Posts
321
What Idaho Pete said- absolutely- plus tow ropes and jumper cables - if not for you some other unfortunate.
 
Thread Starter
Fuller

Fuller

T shirts & flip flops...
Skier
Posts
585
Location
Whitefish or Florida
Good advice from everybody. We had a taste of that sort of driving last year coming back from Grand Targhee. Teton Pass was blowing snow at 50 mph with literally 20 ft visibility. Not much better through the rest of Rt 191 to Rock Springs. Saw 10-12 overturned semis on I-80 but we made it all the way to Limon CO that day. I was exhausted.

We have all of the emergency items listed except for the tow rope - that's a good suggestion. You think 1/2" nylon is big enough? The Subaru has threaded inserts in the frame and screw eyes to use in times of need. I'm thinking a 2 point attachment with doubled up 1/2" (50ft length) would work for most situations.

As for the route, I would still like to take the direct path if the roads are open and the weather is good. But I would have to asses the situation that morning.

We would only ski Red Lodge for one day so unless the slope conditions are really awful the novelty alone will be enough to make it worthwhile.
 

Gerry Rhoades

mtcyclist rippin' again
Industry Insider
Posts
563
Location
Billings, MT
I live in Billings and RLM is pretty close. When there is snow it is a really fun place to ski, but good snow years are not as common as bad snow years. Every three or four years it's good. Last year and the year before were pathetic. I buy a mid-week season pass for Bridger Bowl and just drive the 140 miles. IF RLM has good snow this year, might be due but who knows, a day pass for old coots lke me is pretty cheap. If you're an intermediate, I'd stay away from Cole Creek, only one blue run in that area. If the snow is good and the Palisades lift is running, Paradise and Columbine are seriously fun. If you want to break up your trip, I'd recommend coming up through Idaho Falls and skiing either Big Sky or Bridger Bowl. I wouldn't waste my money at RLM if the base is less than 40 inches, it's called "Rock Dodge" for a reason.

If the conditions are good and you are going to ski there, send me a PM and I can give you a tour.

And, 1/2" webbing won't do it, you need 1.5" minimum. The one I have in my truck is 3".
 
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wyowindrunner

Getting off the lift
Skier
Posts
321
The eyes on those inserts aren't very big if I remember right 3/4"? It would probably be ok for one time use. Safe working load limits are generally 20% of the tensile strength of the rope. Most nylon braids are in the 5000-6000 +/- tensile strength area. It could ease you out if the tow vehicle doesn't get too western. You can get a 2" nylon strop with hooks at each end Napa. check to see if the hooks will fit thru the eye and DON'T point load the hook! Would pick up a two part screw type shackle that will fit the eye in the Subaru insert- don't get a Chinese one-get a Crosby shackle-They will have "Crosby" and the load rating on the body. The straps hooks should fit thru the shackle. Used to see quite a few "pray for me- I drive US 212" bumper stickers. Reference to the mix of traffic- agricultural vehicles and impatient tourists on a two lane road with a 70 mph speed limit. This is the highway down to Red Lodge from Laurel. It is not as bad as the road Sibhusky took -Hwy 78? That would be a white knuckles in a storm! Too bad you won't spend much time in RL- The town is cool- As far as I know Carbon County still does not have a stop light anywhere!
 

Sibhusky

Whitefish
Skier
Posts
2,504
Location
Whitefish
This looks like my tow strap, with the same descriptions, only I got mine from NAPA.

Capri Tools CTW2-20 2" x 20' Heavy Duty 10,000 lb Tow Strap with Hooks https://www.amazon.com/dp/B011ARI3FK/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_taa_Man7zbCYPXJZW

I think I came 421 to 212. But really, it was pre GPS days, I just followed the signs. It was dark. It was also 13-14 years ago. Now I'm not chasing a racing daughter all over the state.
 
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Bad Bob

old n' slow
Skier
My newest piece of safety gear for the car, $50 at Costco. It will give you two jumps to a charging.
I drive a lot of pretty remote ranch roads by myself in my work. Already had to use this thing twice; highly recommended.

Take the Interstate. The antelope around here can not be considered bight and they are plentiful. They aren't big but will ruin your day.

20171022_121111_resized.jpg
 

Pete in Idaho

Out on the slopes
Skier
Posts
742
Location
St. Maries - Northern Idaho
Bad Bob, thanks for tow rope, jumper cables addition, forgot. I carry a chain/heavy one with hooks and always have jumper cables in both car. Will that COSTCO jumper deal work on a cummins diesel, if you have time could you explain what it is a little?
 

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