It’s probably too late to see many fall colors en route, but it’s the beginning of the ski season, so a trip to western Montana doesn’t sound like a bad idea! The drive is going to last us 4 days, covering 2094 miles. That means we will average 523.5 miles a day at a pace of 65.4mph. That’s a little slow, but that’s what you get for traveling through mountains and Chicago.
DAY ONE (Tuesday)
It’s going to be a rocky start on our trip to the Rockies. A very active cold front is forecast to be descending from the Appalachians as we get a move on from Lynchburg. At the very least, we will start the day with very heavy rain, and perhaps some embedded thunderstorms. That heavy weather will last us until we reach the West Virginia state line, but there will be lingering showers until we pass through Charleston. From that point forward, we will be within the dry slot. Enjoy Ohio in all it’s glory, I guess. We’ll make it to the east side of Indianapolis before the day comes to a close.
DAY TWO (Wednesday)
Overnight, the cold front bringing us rain on Tuesday night will reform over the Tennessee Valley. We’ll wake up to a rainy, breezy day in eastern Indianapolis, but will get a bit of a respite by the time we reach Lafayette. It should be mostly dry through Chicago and Rockford, but some of the backwash associated with the area of low pressure will be producing some light snow showers in Minnesota and Wisconsin, which we will encounter first somewhere between Janesville and Madison. These flurries might slow traffic in the bigger towns, but winds will be light, and it won’t accumulate enough to really slow us down out in the open country of western Wisconsin. We’ll call it a night in Elk Mound, halfway between Eau Claire and Menomonie.
DAY THREE (Thursday)
The unfortunate thing about an unfurling swath of low pressure when it’s cold out is that the effort to create clouds and flurries is so much less than it is to create clouds and drizzle when it’s warmer. With no impetus for this modicum of instability to clear out, we will be threatened by flurries in borth Minnesota and North Dakota. We’ll stop for the day in New Salem, North Dakota, west of Bismarck
DAY FOUR (Friday)
Those flurries will continue off and on overnight while we sleep in New Salem. But then, the Rocky Mountains and good fortune will step in! High pressure will develop over the Front range, sliding south through Montana and Wyoming and ensuring our drive through one of the most desolate stretches of North America will at least be without any weather concerns. We will get to Great Falls after sunset (thanks a lot latitude) but there is a chance the moon will be peaking through the clouds.