For those considering doing the long drive to Calgary, Alberta, Canada for MG 2023, I have now completed planning for the route from Texas to Calgary. While this is still preliminary and subject to change, I expect the route we take will be pretty close to what is presented below. If you are interested in joining us, please contact me as soon as possible. We will have to finalize the route as soon as we can so that we can make reservations at hotels and other places, like Yellowstone and Going to the Sun Road.
I have shown pdfs of the daily drives. Some of the drives cannot currently be shown in Google Maps because of winter road closures, so I have marked those by hand. This drive to Calgary will take ten days and cover approximately 2,600 miles plus whatever you drive on Day 1 to get to the meeting point in the Texas panhandle.
General rules of the road: We will have breakfast eaten and be ready to leave by 8:00 am each day and will arrive at our destination by 5:00 pm. The mileage shown is for each segment of the planned route, as is the driving time. We will avoid interstate highways where it is possible and reasonable to do so. We will make frequent stops for pictures, bio breaks, food and interesting roadside attractions. All of the roads will be paved, and we will be flexible for route corrections if needed.
Day One - Thursday, July 6: Drive to Hotel Turkey, Turkey, TX Approximately an 8 hr drive from Houston
Meet at the Hotel Turkey, home of Western Swing music, for dinner. If more than four cars participate, we will need to switch to a meeting destination near Lubbock. I am open for suggestions on this as long as we meet in this general area.
Day Two - Friday, July 7: Turkey, TX to Trinidad, CO 338 miles, 5 hr 50 min, time zone change to MDT
We will plan a morning stop at the Cadillac Ranch near Amarillo. Not a whole lot else to see, so we'll just have a leisurely travel day with plenty of rest stops to get used to being on the road. With the time change we will get in early.
Day Three - Saturday, July 8: Trinidad, CO to Georgetown, CO 298 mi, 6 hr 20 min
First day of scenic drives in the Rocky Mountains. Leaving Trinidad we will take the Highway of Legends Byway over our first mountain passes on the way to Walsenberg, CO. We end the day taking the Guanella Pass Scenic Byway over an 11,669 ft pass. An alternative to Guanella would be to drive through Breckenridge and crest the Loveland Pass on Route 6.
Day Four - Sunday, July 9: Georgetown, CO to Cheyenne, WY 228 miles, 5 hr 50 min
A full day of scenic drives in the Rocky Mountains. Leaving Georgetown we head for scenic Hwy 40 which passes Winter Park ski area on the way to Granby. From Granby we head into the Rock Mountain National Park and take the Trail Ridge Road Hwy 34 through the park. One of the highest continuous paved roads in the US, the high point is 12,183 ft above sea level. The road ends in Estes Park, and we will continue through the eastern slopes and catch part of the Cache La Poudre Scenic Byway before heading into the plains and onto Cheyenne.
Day Five - Monday, July 10: Cheyenne, WY to State Game Lodge, Custer Park, SD 299 miles, 5 hr 50 min
A lot of open plains to cover before we hit the scenic roads of the Black Hills. Possible stops include Wind Cave National Park or the Crazy Horse Memorial. We will end with the amazing Needles Highway before stopping at the State Game Lodge in Custer State Park for the evening.
Day Six - Tuesday, July 11: Custer State Park to Gillette, WY 249 miles, 5 hr 35 min
Our day begins with a drive to Mt. Rushmore on Iron Mountain Road, which features unique views of the monument framed through tunnels on the road. After Mt. Rushmore, we drive the fabulouse roads of the Black Hills through the towns of Deadwood and Spearfish on our way to Devil's Tower National Monument. From there we head on to our destination in Gillette, WY.
Day Seven - Wednesday, July 12: Gillette, WY to Cooke City, MT 342 miles, 6 hr 40 min
A lot of driving, but the great plains are broken up by a scenic highway through the Bighorn National Forest and the day ends with a drive on the glorious Beartooth Highway, cresting at 10,947 ft in the mountains east of Yellowstone.
Day Eight - Thursday, July 13: Cooke City, MT to Bozeman, MT 134 miles, 2 hr 50 min plus Yellowstone Loop
We start this day driving through the bison populated plains along the East Yellowstone entrance. We will do a loop through the grandfather of our National Parks that will take us past Yellowstone Falls, Old Faithful, Grand Prismatic Spring and Mammoth Hot Springs, and will spend as much of our six hours or so in the park seeing as much as we can. We end the day in the college town of Bozeman.
Day Nine - Friday, July 4: Bozeman, MT to Whitefish, MT 317 mi, 5 hr 40 min
We get to enjoy a lot of scenic Montana on our way to Whitefish. Plenty of empty roads, trees, large valleys and mountain passes. We end the day in the resort town of Whitefish.
Day Ten - Saturday, July 15: Whitefish, MT to Deerfoot Inn and Casino, Calgary 279 miles, 5 hr 40 mins
Our last day on the road starts with driving through Glacier National Park and the incomparable Going to the Sun Road cresting Logan Pass (small cars only). We will cross the border at the Chief Mountain crossing and stop at Waterton National Park in Canada. From there, we will travel north through the foothills on our way to our destination hotel in Calgary.
Sunday, July 16 Stampede Grounds, Calgary: The closing day of the Calgary Stampede! Gates for the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth open at 9:00 and the show closes with fireworks at 11:00 pm. We can catch both the Rodeo Finals in the afternoon and the Chuckwagon Finals in the evening if we buy our tickets early.
Monday, July 17: Registration for NAMGBR is open until 5:00 pm, so we can spend the day driving through the foothills, Highwood Pass, Kananaskis Provincial Park, and Banff National Park if anyone is interested.
I will work on the return route and hope to have something by the end of the month. In the meantime, register for the MG2023 and reserve the hotel in Calgary. Remember to add the Saturday night July 15. And make sure to register to see the tour of the Phillips car collection on Tuesday, July 18, it is great!
- Scott Hardy