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Road trip: Where Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin meet

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We are headed out for a road trip next weekend to the "Driftless" region where Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin meet. We have very limited time (most likely leaving from Chicago Thursday night just to get some ground covered, returning Sunday evening) and a limited budget, so would like to see the highlights of this area but are prepared to do a lot of it by way of scenic driving with short stops at different locations.

I am thinking we cross into Iowa at Dubuque, head north along the Mississippi, check out a couple parks and small towns in the southeasternmost corner of MN, then drive back through WI--possibly crossing the river at La Crosse and heading back to Chicago through Madison or points south.

A bit about us: We are in our early 30s, in decent shape but one of us is recovering from a knee injury so extensive hiking or biking are out. We do love to hike and a bit of uphill is okay, but would do best on mostly even ground this time around! Canoeing one day might be nice, too. We'll probably just look for the cheapest lodging available, but will have camping gear with us so that is an option if the weather cooperates.

Can anyone give advice on the highlights? Best small towns, parks/trails, places for good overlooks of the river? From the reading I've done so far, I've come up with the following list of possible stops. Any help narrowing them down to a few top choices would be much appreciated...

IA: Dubuque, Grant Wood National Scenic Byway, Bellevue State Park, Pikes Peak State Park, Yellow River State Forest, Effigy Mounds, Guttenberg, McGregor (cross into Prairie du Chien), Spook Cave, Postville, Decorah, Upper Iowa River

MN: John A. Latsch State Park, Root River & Harmony-Preston Valley State Trails, Lanesboro, Forestville & Mystery Cave State Park, Winona & Great River Bluffs State Park (may not be able to make it this far north)

WI: Prairie du Chien, La Crosse, Nelson Dewey State Park, Stonefield Village State Historic Site, Spring Green, Mineral Point, Monroe

Thanks!!

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