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Driving Seattle to Minneapolis early July

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I am a amateur landscape photographer who after going to Alaska am meeting my wife in Seattle for the drive to MSP. I have 7 days to get to MSP. I want to show her the grandeur of the mountains and the vast prairies--am thinking about Yellowstone, Grand Tetons and dropping into Estus Colorado and then north into the Badlands. I know with the limited time--I am going to have some big driving days. My question is where to go and what to emphasize--should I run and gun? 400 miles a day and hop from place to place --or, have big driving days--600-700 miles--in order to buy time for 2-3 days in a location? I am hoping some experienced travelers can help me.

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    > My question is where to go

    For a seven day trip, I strongly urge you to see nothing but Yellowstone, the Tetons, and Badlands NP. A landscape photographer could EASILY spend a week just in the first two places -- plain and simple, they are filled with that much photographic beauty.

    Myself, I could handle a 600-mile driving day *IF* it meant getting an extra day in Yellowstone. But I certainly don't recommend such a break-neck pace for everyone. Have you ever done either type of driving? If so, how did you feel when you woke up the day after twelve hours on the expressway -- energetic enough to see beauty or dreading the idea of driving one more mile?

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    Wow... I like the challenge, although if there is one way to DULL your appreciation for "the grandeur of the mountains" in the western 48... it is to immerse yourself in Alaska beforehand!!

    (I concluded this whilst driving through the Canadian Rockies after driving the path to and from Anchorage)

    (sound of me THINKING so hard - and wanting to accomplish just what you seek)

    In a perfect world you'd somehow find a way to see the Columbia Gorge (Oregon-Washington border/river) on the path which might then include "Grand Coulee", WA).

    (read up on "Glacial Lake Missoula" for understanding of why this is interesting)

    Assuming a more direct path... maybe start out from Seattle over Hwy #2... toward Wenatchee/Ephrata... then consider seeing Grand Coulee from there, if the reading piques your interest. Then down/south via Moses Lake, WA, Pasco, WA, Umatilla, OR... La Grande, OR, Boise, ID.

    If inclined to take an alternate, more scenic path between Boise and West Yellowstone, MT... then go ahead. Give Yellowstone NP its full due, and from there determine whether you have enough tiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiime for your other interests.

    Montana has appeal in the west, but you don't have much reason or time to see it. Eastern MT doesn't exactly rate high on the priority list.

    I'm sure your own mind is going to be altered, considerably for your having just returned from Alaska, but don't forget the appeal even to Washington's mountains to someone from the upper midwest.

    FOUR reasonable options for the start of your trip (from Seattle, I mean) include South to and through the Columbia Gorge, east over Hwy #2, east over Interstate 90, and southeast via Enumclaw, WA... hwy #410 toward Mount Rainier. That is where you need to make a decision, and I would do so beFORE going to Alaska (and seeing all of the huge mountains there).

    Ending up in Boise, ID... before pressing on toward West Yellowstone, MT is a no-brainer.

    I just... need a better sense for both of you, and what the detailed priorities are, to be of better assistance.

    (still challenged very much by your very fair interest, and very fair questions)

    If the eventual answer means driving 600-700 miles a day on your last two days, then you DO so without grumbling, but save the longest hauls for the end.

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    I am doing a similar trip but am taking two weeks. I will be watching this thread too for suggestions :)

    A question...Do you live in WA state? If so, make your first day of driving your power-drive day. Everything to see in the first day in something you could drive to in a day and therefor could do another time, assuming you are a WA native.

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