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road trip/CA-ID-MT-WY-SD-UT

My sister and I and three of our adult children will be taking a July road trip that will originate in Santa Cruz, California, linger in Montana, then continue on to South Dakota (with the Black Hills as the major destination), then wander back to California via Wyoming or Colorado, Utah and Nevada (we have more family in Las Vegas), and returning to Santa Cruz through through Southern California. We're traveling cheap and light (probably camping most of the way) and I wonder what highlights might be along the way. I have no idea what our route will be (or whether we'll try to fit Idaho in at all) nor do we know how long we'll be in any one area. I know we have 14 days. We're still in the planning stages. So I'm hoping to discover some destination restaurants that can kind of focus our meanderings.

I would love to know of any unique places that serve good food at a reasonable price with local character. I'm a big fan of trying regional fare and supporting local economies.

This will be our first trip through this area for all of us and the first time we've all traveled together as adults....so it should prove interesting in many ways.

Thanks in advance for any and all advice and/or comments!

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  1. Hi-

    For the best chance of receiving the most informed responses, you may want to post seperate queries on the California, L.A. and Southwest boards for the legs of your trip that will pass through Northern California/Reno area; greater L.A. area; Las Vegas/Utah/Colorado.

    1 Reply
    1. re: The Chowhound Team

      Thanks for that tip and I've posted on the southwest board. I know what the options are in California & Las Vegas.

      So how about Montana and South Dakota. Anything unique, interesting, yummy, cheap there where a family of curious, truly we're all curious, eaters might try?

      Thanks.

    2. The original comment has been removed
      1. As a Montana native, who sadly is not living there any more but is living in Colorado, I can help with a couple of states :) Montana is quite large but I suspect you will be traveling through the southern part of it. The state is well know for the Lewis and Clark trail. That alone can lead you through a large portion of the state. My personal favorite place is Bozeman. Somewhat eclectic as it is a cow-town/univeristy that has turned to tourism. I have not been for quite a while but it was nice when I left. If you are interested in beef comsumption, I recommend Sir Scott's Oasis in Manhatten Montana. Rustic but tasty.

        Colorado has Denver and Boulder as well as a whole lot of mountains. I can't even begin to hilight the cool and groovy places and camping opportunities with out a bit more itinerary information.

        Good luck on your travels.

        1 Reply
        1. re: PhoenixAscending

          Well, Bozeman is our initial destination! My son has been living there, doing a survival/tracking program, that will end in July. We intend to spend a day or two in Montana, checking out Bozeman and environs. Then off to South Dakota, main destination Little Big Horn, and the Badlands. From there we intend to go to Salt Lake City, I'm guessing through Wyoming (but maybe pass through northern Colorado), we'll put one family member on a plane back to Hawaii, two more family members drive back to California directly. My niece and I then would like to explore Utah, possibly head north into southern Idaho.

          So, interesting eats along the way would be fun.

          Thanks.

        2. If you’re going to Montana and not going through Idaho, then you are going across lots of monotonous desert in Nevada. I’d suggest a lot of cold water and drinks. The only special meals are at the old Basque hotels in Winnemucca and Elko. For a much nicer, cooler trip cut across Idaho by going up through Oregon or north from Winnemucca on US 95 to Grangeville, ID. Then take Hwy. 12 across to Montana, which follows the Lewis & Clark and Nez Perce Trails. If you go on US 95, be sure to stop in Jordan Valley, OR for coffee at the little Stonehouse. There is a nice little Basque restaurant in town too. If you’re near Wiser, ID for breakfast, try the Busy Bee (?) on the highway. When you get up to New Meadows, ID, you can drive over the hill to McCall for a great Italian meal on the water at Lake Payette at Romano’s right on Hwy. 55. On this route, you will see why so many Californians are retiring in Idaho. Warning! If the Strugis, SD Motorcycle Hullabaloo is going on during your trip, the whole of the Mountain States will be filled with travelers. The motels and restaurants will be filled early and campsites will be at a premium.
          http://www.chowhound.com/topics/16013...

          4 Replies
          1. re: BN1

            Our travels are settling down now and I have a better sense of where we'll be when. Our tirp begins in California on July 13. We plan to stay in Twin Falls, ID that evening. From there we go to Yellowstone, spend a day, then on to Bozeman for a day or two. From there, east with the Black Hills as our eastern most point. A couple of days there, then back to Laramie, WY where one of our party flies west. The remaining four go to Salt Lake City, where two drive west. My niece and I, the remaining two, drive through Utah, ending up in Las Vegas. From there we knowthe terrain.

            So any tips on cheap, good eats would be great. Campgrounds & must see attractions a bonus.

            Thanks y'all.

            1. re: deltagirl

              If you exit Yellowstone at Mammoth on your way to Bozeman, please arrange to stop at Chico Hot Springs in Pray in Paradise Valley. The food is excellent, though you will have to make reservations ahead of time. In Bozeman, there are many good eateries downtown, including John Bozeman's Bistro and Boodles. If you come up to Bozeman from W. Yellowstone, there is the Gallatin Gateway.

              1. re: Jane917

                I second the recommendation for Chico Hot Springs. They have a wide variety of room rates, so even the budget minded can stay and enjoy the hot spring pools and the lovely breakfast buffet. Dinner in the restaurant was also quite good...they have a kitchen garden that you can visit where they grow some of the produce for the restaurant.

              2. re: deltagirl

                I make that trip all the time in winter. I've never had a great meal in Twin Falls. I think there is good food there, but I've never found it. There is a good breakfast dive in Ashton. I don't remember the name but it is really a one-main street town so turn east off Hwy 20 and look for all the cars. Mesa Falls on the back road from Ashton to Island Park is worth the detour. My favorite restaurant around West Yellowstone is Enio’s on Hwy 191 a few miles north of W. Yellowstone headed to Bozeman along the Gallatin River. You cook your own steak, hamburger, etc. with great sides and a nice salad, which you crave if you spend much time in the Rockies. This is a dive and one of the best in America in my opinion. The restaurant looks out across Hebgen Lake and who knows what wildlife you will see. I've stayed and eaten some kind of wild critter (I can't remember what) at Bucks T-4 Lodge in Big Sky. The rooms are nice and I liked the food, but Enio’s is more my style. Beware; Bozeman is a college town, so once we asked for pizza recommendations locally. I was treated to the worst pizza I’ve ever had in my life. There is a Costco, so you can get a hotdog and/or salad (salad is a theme in the Rocky Mountain states). I’ve had good eats in Billings and in Cody at the Irma. Red Lodge looked great but was overwhelmed by bikers when I was there (Sturgis weekend). The Beartooth Hwy. from Red Lodge to Cooke City (or Cody) is spectacular.

            2. Try Grand Avenue Pizza in Laramie, Wyoming. Not western high plains cuisine/food (is there such a genre?) but good and relatively well-priced. Soup and a basket of garlic bread was always a great choice. If, for some reason, you go through Greybull, Wyoming there is a great Chinese place about 3/4 of a block east of the stoplight. There is a wealth of Chinese history in Wyoming. Enjoy the trip, Mary