Monday, June 27, 2011

Wisconsin to Wyoming, then Pennsylvania

Hey Road Tripper ! --

My best friend and I are taking a road trip this summer starting in Wisconsin and ending in eastern Pennsylvania. We are leaving from Madison WI, going to a friends in Wausau, WI, then Minnesota.

After this we would like to go through North Dakota and Montana. I was going to take your US-2 drive, or should we take route 94? I would like to go to the Glaciers National Park in Montana, then I would like to take the scenic drive for June which you have on your website as being in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming. I want to take that to Yellowstone, then South Dakota to Mount Rushmore.

We'll come home via Iowa, then Chicago, and a I-80 straight shot to PA from Chicago.

My questions:

Heading west, should we take route 2 or 94?

What is there to stop off and see in North Dakota and Montana?

Should I add on another stop somewhere?



Hi Nikole --

Thanks for writing in to Road Trip USA. I hope I can help you & your friend have a great trip this summer.

Since you have so many wonderful destinations ahead of you, I think maybe it would be good to get yourself "out west" as quickly as possible, so I-94 seems like a good bet. It's a pretty enough drive, and I might suggest you look into lodgings at Yellowstone on your way west (since you are there before most schools get out, you might miss the summer vacation rush).

North Dakota has a couple of good stops -- Bismarck (the state capital) and Medora (near Teddy Roosevelt National Park). But parts of the northern Great Plains, particularly the very nice city of Minot North Dakota, at the junction of US-2 and my US-83 "Road to Nowhere" road trip, has suffered from terrible flooding -- the whole downtown is under water as I write, so maybe this year I-94 will be a better choice.

As far as scenery goes, things definitely get nicer as you approach the Rocky Mountains, in western Montana.

If you veer south onto I-90, via Billings, the Beartooth Highway (US-212) via Red Lodge is a great drive, and further west Missoula makes a nice break (it's a great college town, if you like that sort of thing).

Glacier National Park, along US-2 on the crest of the Rocky Mountains, is also well worth some time -- it's best seen from the Going to the Sun Road, which runs right across the park. Be sure to get out of the car and hike, so you can stretch your legs and see some of the abundant wildlife.

My "Drive of the Month" scenic route you mention, from Yellowstone to Glacier via the Grand Tetons, follows US-20 and US-93 (and a few other roads), and it is a gorgeous drive. Lots of wide open spaces, and some nice towns, too.

(I like Whitefish MT, and Stanley and Boise in Idaho are also very nice places to visit.)

From Glacier National Park and wherever else you go in Idaho, you can circle back via Yellowstone (and Grand Tetons and the town of Jackson -- both of which are well worth adding to your plans. And if you like Wild West history, be sure to stop in the town of Cody Wyoming for the Buffalo Bill Museum, perhaps the best in the world.

Then on your way back east, I-90 will carry you past Mount Rushmore, on to Chicago, then your race home to Pennsylvania. Sounds fun -- hope it works out for you.

Happy Trails,

Jamie Jensen
Road Trip USA

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