SE Washington State to Madison, Wisconsin

Old Jun 13th, 2022, 06:26 PM
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SE Washington State to Madison, Wisconsin

My husband and I (plus 2 small dogs) are traveling from SE Washington State to Madison, Wisconsin in early August. What are things we "must see and do" between here and there. We expect to be away from home for 2-3 weeks.

Thank you!
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Old Jun 14th, 2022, 06:34 AM
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I assume you will go on I-90. This means you can visit the Black Hills in South Dakota. The Black Hills are actually small mountains (7,242 feet is the highest point). There are lots of things to see and do there: Mt. Rushmore, Crazy Horse Monument, Wind Cave National Park, Custer State Park (a state park of national park quality with bighorn sheep and bison) and Roughlock Falls Nature Area is located in Spearfish Canyon. Go view Bridal Veil Falls which is the easiest of the three waterfalls in Spearfish Canyon. East of the Black Hills is Badlands National Park.
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Old Jun 14th, 2022, 06:48 AM
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In case you were considering it, Yellowstone is closed due to flooding and road washouts.
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Old Jun 14th, 2022, 08:36 AM
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Originally Posted by OCaTG View Post
We expect to be away from home for 2-3 weeks.
By this I assume you mean you're returning...?

I would avoid the Black Hills, indeed, most of western South Dakota and nearby parts of Wyoming (e.g. Devil's Tower) on the eastbound drive. The Sturgis (SD) motorcycle rally runs from Aug. 5 through the 14th, which means pretty much every hotel room, B&B room, campground, cafe, casino, tourist attraction, and pretty much everything else will be jammed. If it was me I'd probably take I-94 eastbound and I-90 westbound, although you could consider heading south and use I-84 through eastern Oregon and across Idaho before connecting to I-80 at Salt Lake.

With your dog accompanying, the national parks will be less than accommodating (tolerant at best - strict rules) but Yellowstone is going to be challenging (currently closed due to floods) and every accommodation resource anywhere near the popular parks will be heavily if not fully booked already. You might want to look at "second tier" attractions, like the bluffs, buttes and wonderful sand hill country in Nebraska, areas like that.
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Old Jun 14th, 2022, 09:25 AM
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I was going to warn about Sturgis but I see Gardyloo beat me to it. Everything within 150+ miles will already be full and the crowds absolutely unimaginable, like a quarter of a million people if not more. So everything in post #2 would be next to impossible

The areas Gardyloo suggested in Nebraska would be a good alternative.
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Old Jun 14th, 2022, 09:25 AM
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Gardyloo has a good point about Sturgis. Maybe you can return on I-90 and see the Black Hills and possibly Yellowstone NP (or at least Grand Teton NP). If you do I-94 you will be 90 minutes away from Itasca State Park which is home to the headwaters of the Mississippi River and it is of national park-quality. You can step across the Mississippi on stepping stones. There are bears and possibly wolves in the park, a virgin stand of red pines, a bike path, and a great historic lodge. I've been there three times and always enjoy it.
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Old Jun 15th, 2022, 07:28 AM
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Thank you!

Thank you all for your comments and recommendations. Fortunately, we saw Mt. Rushmore, Sturgis, and surrounding area a few years ago when we traveled from AZ to WA, so it's okay to not see them now. Yellowstone was on my list, but with recent events, that is likely not an option. Given that, we will likely just drive through and perhaps catch Yellowstone in a year or two. Deciding on towns to stay the night will be our focus. So if you have any ideas there, I'm all ears.

Thank you again! I sincerely appreciate your comments!!!
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Old Jun 15th, 2022, 05:47 PM
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I'm sure you will make sure your vehicle is in good shape, and that the air-conditioning is working (for the dogs if not for yourselves!).
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Old Jun 16th, 2022, 04:13 AM
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Assuming using I-94 thru North Dakota:

Lewis and Clark Caverns (Cardwell MT) is quite good, it used to be a national monument but was demoted to a state park. Guided tour only.

Pompeys Pillar National Monument, pretty quick and hard to miss.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park, South Unit, enter at Medora ND, this is a fairly short scenic drive loop that I have not done, could do some hikes also.

In Minnesota St John's Abbey is right off the interstate (Collegeville MN), free, fairly well known example of modern architecture and no charge, nice lake walk behind to stretch legs. https://saintjohnsabbey.org/church https://saintjohnsabbey.org/s/abbey_...8-12_small.pdf

For Minneapolis/St Paul I would take I-94 through the 2 downtowns, curvy and more traffic but at least you will see something, rather than I-694 which is the bypass but really nothing to even glimpse of any interest.
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Old Jun 16th, 2022, 08:19 AM
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If taking I-94 thru Eastern MT and thru North Dakota:
Short distance east of Billings, about a mile or two off I-94, Pompeys Pillar would be a quick, good stretch of the legs (Lewis & Clark historical site & small museum).
If you have extra time, SE of Billings (Hardin, MT) is the Little Bighorn National Site & Museum. It's an interesting side trip; easy to continue East on I-94 after visit.

Entering North Dakota, the tourist cowboy town of Medora is at the entrance to Theodore Roosevelt National Park. The terrain/colors are like a mini Grand Canyon; bison, prairie dogs, wild horses, etc. for wildlife viewing. The small town has shops, restaurants, gas, etc. as well as several museums dedicated to local cowboy culture. In addition, the Medora Musical is held in evenings in an outdoor ampitheatre. Pitchfork Fondue (steaks cooked on pitchforks with all the fixings) before the show on bluff overlooking the valley is also very popular. The lodging within Medora is very expensive due to the small area/popularity. 1/2 hr to the East at Dickinson there are multiple, more affordable lodging options & restaurants.
Bismarck/Mandan area also has multiple lodging - Ft. Lincoln (where Custer lived/left from) South of Mandan is restored with buildings & On-A-Slant Mandan village/museum is nearby.
Jamestown is home to the World's Largest Buffalo (large concrete statue) with Frontier Village & Bison Museum right along I-94. Fargo offers Bonanzaville, a collection of buildings/artifacts from earlier farming days.
Into Minnesota - not much to visit, except maybe the Kensington Stone (oldest ancient writing on stone, supposedly from Viking visitors?) at Alexandria - has been featured on multiple tv shows.
Minneapolis/St Paul area of course would have multiple things to do (MN Twins baseball/Mall of America, etc.) Suggestion: I would check each state for road construction, as this is the season in Northern states!!
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Old Jun 16th, 2022, 12:48 PM
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More great ideas!!! Thank you so much!!
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