Hauling Route - Heading South
Our first target is the border crossing at Coutts, Alberta, but it takes us over 5 hours to get there. You don't always get away as quickly as you had planned in the morning, so plan on something to eat before you reach the border. Any of the marked villages make a good quick stop for coffee, food or fuel. Truck stops are the easiest option when you are hauling. They offer fuel, snacks, washrooms and even showers if you need them. You usually see the big signs near major highway intersections. Look for Maverick, Love's or other huge overhead signs.
There is a duty free shop at the border if that is of interest. You may want to call ahead to the USDA vet to make an appointment if you are worried about your timing at the border. The vets do not work holidays or weekends.
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At the border, you will be asked for your passports and travel plans. If you are hauling horses, you will be required to pull in and go inside. The officers will check your horse papers and then send you on to the USDA vet's just down the road
At the vet's, you will again get out your passports and horse papers. You will pay an inspection fee and unload the horses.
Once the horses pass inspection, you will be on your way again. South of the border, the first services are in Shelby, MT. You may find more diesel selection than you are used to. Be sure to use transportation/highway grade to avoid fines if you are stopped.
If you have any delays at the border, you'll want to look for accommodations quickly. Although you may feel a surge of panic as darkness falls, have confidence. We have always found a suitable spot to offload and rest our horses.
Shelby has a small rodeo grounds (Maria's Fair) with very basic stalls, water and power for your LQ.
You can always leave the horses on-board if you can provide feed and water in the trailer. Be cautious about high-lining at truck stops as the highway traffic is often very close and always dangerous to an escaped animal.
We generally try to make it to Great Falls or Helena for our first night, but it makes a long day. The terrain from Great Falls to Helena, Montana varies from tight mountain passes to small fishing villages in tight valleys. Look for King's Arena at Great Falls or the Lewis & Clark County Fairgrounds at Helena. Helena is in the mountains and driving can be slippery and slow if there is any winter weather. East Helena also has a small fairgrounds with basic stalls if you can't find anything else.
As you move south, through Butte and Dillon, you will see the broad valleys where ranching is king. Both Butte and Dillon have fairgrounds with stalls available. The beautiful valleys are sparsely populated, so be sure you keep you fuel tank full any chance you get. If you want to go slow and see a few sights, try Rocky Mountain Supply in Dillon, the General Mercantile in the fishing village of Dell or the Spencer Opal Mine.
Montana is a huge state and it seems like forever before you see that "Welcome to Idaho" sign just north of Spencer. Once in Idaho, those broad valleys continue. Dubois can make a good stop for fuel or overnight. Idaho Falls is a bigger centre, but we have had trouble finding good overnight stalls in that area. We generally carry on right through Idaho.
Pocatello is in the mountains and has fairground stalls available. This is a lovely town for an overnight dinner out with Idaho potatoes.
South of Pocatello, head toward Tremonton, Utah. This town has excellent fairgrounds at the Box Elder County Fair, right in town. This is a good stop unless you have time and energy enough to make it to the far south end of Salt Lake City. Intensity varies, but it always takes a couple good hours in heavy traffic to get back to more relaxed driving again. Try to avoid rush hour - 7 to 9 am and 3 to 6 pm. Even Sunday mornings can be very busy.
Through Salt Lake City, you are on a big, multi-lane highway similar to Toronto's 401 with lanes merging in and exiting out constantly. There is a High Occupancy Vehicle lane to the left but if you are towing you are not eligible. Pick a lane close to the left and try to stay there until you make it through the city. There is really no alternative route but it is manageable as long as you stay calm and patient.
At the south end of Salt Lake you will come to Sandy and Provo and finally Spanish Fork. Now you have successfully negotiated the most difficult driving. The fairgrounds at Spanish Fork offer excellent stalls and it makes a great stop, perhaps with an adult beverage.
Bryce Canyon National Park
From Spanish Fork, you are entering open, dry valleys. Fill up the fuel tank because there aren't a lot of stops available. Scipio has a good truck stop with room to offload horses for a rest and a cute little petting zoo with lamas, camels and more.
From Scipio, pay attention to your route directions. If you stay in the Salt Lake City valley, you will head to St. George, UT and then Las Vegas,NV. If your destination is Phoenix, AZ, you need to get to the next valley to the east.
There are several ways to get to Kanab, and access Arizona, but some are quite mountainous or run through many tiny summer villages.
Hwy 50 crosses to Salina from Scipio and is a good road, but adds length to your route.
Hwy 20 from Cove Fort is quite twisty and not the best when hauling.
From Beaver, Hwy 153 crosses to Junction but is mountainous and difficult.
Hwy 20 from Beaver heads to Hwy 89, an easier and more direct drive.
Further south, you can cross at Cedar City on Hwy 14, but this is long and difficult.
We prefer to stay on the I15 past Beaver and then head east on Hwy 20 toward Hwy 89 south and Panguitch. Here there is a good stopping spot and close access to Bryce Canyon National Park.
As you continue south on Hwy 89 you will pass Hatch, Orderville and arrive at Mount Carmel Junction. West of Mt.Carmel on Hwy 9 you will head to Zion National Park. If you stay on Hwy 89 you will soon be in Kanab at the southern tip of Utah.
If you are going to run into bad weather, Kanab is the spot you will find it. From here, you have the pass and high mountains to the north. To the south is the steep descent and climb from Page.
Grand Canyon National Park
Kanab is "Little Hollywood", with touristy shops and beautiful vistas. The Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument surrounds you with red rock cliffs. You can access the Grand Canyon from its North Entrance from here, where it is less populated then the Southern Rim accessed from Tusayan or the Western Entrance coming from Las Vegas. There are many great hiking trails in this area.
In Kanab, turn east and follow Hwy 89 to Page, AZ. There is parking at the east side of the dam so that you can walk the bridge and enjoy the view.
If you miss the turn, in downtown Kanab, you will be on the 89A and headed to Fredonia, Marble Canyon and Bitter Springs. It is pretty if you have time to spare. Both routes end up on the 89 south, through Cameron to Flagstaff.
At Cameron there is the old trading post and a several good spots to stop for a bite to eat before you take on the last leg of the trip. From here, follow Hwy 89 south to Flagstaff, Arizona's mountain town with winter skiing in the San Francisco peaks.
You need to make a little jog on the I40 at Flagstaff before you find the I17 south toward Phoenix. Once you are on the I17, you are on your way.
Hwy 40 West
Hwy 89 South
I 17 South
There is an alternate route from Flagstaff through Sedona, down the Oak Creek Canyon, Hwy 179. This is NOT SUITABLE for towing vehicle. It has narrow lanes, multiple hairpin turns and steep canyon sides. It is a spectacular drive, but find a place to park the trailer before you try it. You will not want to be driving or parking a trailer in Sedona in any case. There is a good parking lot at the top where you can leave the trailer, enjoy the view of the canyon and head down to Sedona for a few hours. Come back via I17 if you need to save time.
If you wish, you are welcome to use the attached spreadsheet to plan you trip.
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