road trip Chicago to Seattle - help?

Dec 21st, 2009, 03:11 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 41
road trip Chicago to Seattle - help?

Me and my best friend (both late 20s females) are planning a road trip for May 2010.

We are Canadians but are planning on flying to Chicago, spending a few days there and then taking off for a 10 day road trip to Seattle.

I'm looking for ideas/suggestions for what to see. Obviously the big things are on there:
Badlands National Park, Mount Rushmore, Yellowstone. But what routes to take? What else to see? Any help/tips/advice/suggestions would be appreciated.
bells_on is offline  
Dec 21st, 2009, 10:24 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,830
Having traveled that route by car and by train in recent years, here are a few sugestions. This presumes you are flying home from Seattle and not driving back to Chicago.
Since you have 10 days, this is not the most direct/quickest route...
If you have an interest in US history, go south out of Chicago to Springfield, IL, the Abe Lincoln Museum is great. As are the other Lincoln sites in the area.
Cross the Missippi at Hannibal, MO for some Mark Twain momenths. Swing north through Iowa and the Amana Colonies and more US history. You can follow some of the Lewis & Clark route into South Dakota at Souix City and from there into the Badlands and Mt. Rushmore parks.
If you cross into Wyoming on I-90 you come close to the Devil's Tower Monument. Then head for Billings. MT via the Little Bighorn (Custer) Battlefield. In Billings you back track a bit andgo south to Red Lodge and go to Yellowstone via Beartooth Highway into Cooke City. Cody, WY is a sidetrip you can consider, but if the road is open, Beartooth is spectacular.
From Yellowstone drip south for a day to see Grand Teton then cross into Idaho and make your way to Glacier Park,MT, or backtrack up through Yellowstone to West Yellowstone, thence to Bozeman and on tp Glacier. Now follow Route 2 through Bonner's Ferry, Spokane, Wenatchee, Leavenworth (touristy but very alpine) into Everett and then Seattle.
A couple of alternatives
Dip south out of Chicago and visit the southwest, Denver, Durango, Mesa Verde, Moab and Grand Canyon before heading north though Salt Lake City.
OR cross the Great Plains of Iowa, Neb and eastern Colorado before hitting Denver, Rocky Mountain Nat Park before going north to Grand Teton, Yellowstone, Glacier, etc.
Have Fun!
boom_boom is offline  
Dec 21st, 2009, 10:38 AM
Join Date: Apr 2004
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Wow, when you helped bells_on, boom_boom, you helped me.

I printed this out. This is a drive we'll do in the next 2 years sometime too- and I like your routing. We have done the Chicago to SW drive, but not your Northern route.
JJ5 is offline  
Dec 21st, 2009, 11:07 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 17,190
I do this drive fairly often and I've found that South Dakota is one of my favorite states. Mitchell (Corn Palace), Badlands NP, Deadwood/Lead, Mt. Rushmore... it's all good.

I totally second the idea of including Devil's Tower and the Little Big Horn battlefield - amazingly evocative place. Also agree that if time (and weather - check, it's high country) allows, detouring down from Bozeman to Yellowstone NP is an excellent alternative. However I also think Helena (MT) is a fascinating town, well worth the detour.

In Washington state, I'd also recommend leaving I-90 at Spokane and taking US 2 west past Grand Coulee Dam, but just as far as US 97, then north to SR 20 across the mountains through North Cascades National Park, which in May will still be snowy-looking and impressive.
Gardyloo is offline  
Dec 21st, 2009, 12:30 PM
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Snow at high elevations is likely. We have been "snowed out" of Yellowstone and several other of the places listed above in June. Also, some of the suggestions above describe trips that cannot be comfortably completed in ten days.

The Grand Tetons, south of Yellowstone, are a spectacular sight.

What, other than magnificent scenery, are your interests? Battlefields? Dams? Museums?
happytrailstoyou is offline  
Dec 21st, 2009, 01:27 PM
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 2,832
Here is a link to my trip report from this past summer:

We did most of the things recommended by boomboom, gardyloo and htty, except that I flew from Seattle to Boise, which is where my sister lives and where our road trip began. We did a round trip in 3+ weeks, and went past Chicago to NYC before starting back.

You may have difficulties with snow in the mountain parts of the trip; the later you go in May the better. If you get to Cody, Wyoming (which is at the east entrance to Yellowstone) the Buffalo Bill Historical Center is well worth seeing, as is "Cody Night Rodeo"... a fun, if schlocky, taste of the Wild West.
azzure is offline  

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