I'm so glad I found this website! We are taking a two week trip this summer, starting in Central IL. We'll travel to Denver and then on to the Estes Park area for a few days in a cabin. From there, we'll travel to central MN for a few days in a cabin there. We have the cabin thing down but now need to figure out our best road trip options between them. I have a a few specific questions:
First, traveling from central IL to Denver we have the I-80 route and the I-70 route as fairly equitable distances. That means were open to either but we are looking for your expereicnes/preferences/likes and dislikes for the two routes. We would typically factor in: pretty scenery (fields of grain are included in the pretty category in this household), occasional spot to get out for a brief nature walk, easy access quirky or historical sites, and great chow finds (that doesn't necessarily mean "foodie gourmet"; if you know someone who makes the best corn pudding in all the land, we'd like to know where to get some). We have plenty of time, with at least 3 travel days and up to 4 to get to Denver. One option that has recently popped up is a night in Kansas City for some music, with the following day being a drive around and a few quick walks in the Wetlands area near Great Bend, staying there that night. Then we would head on to Denver. But, we're interested in hearing other MO/KS ideas and IA/NE ideas as well.
Second, we leave the Estes Park area of CO on a Sunday and need to be in central MN on Wednesday, preferably afternoon. Clearly we don't have time to really do SD justice, so we'd like your thoughts on the best way to spend time. Current thinking: Drive to Custer area on Sunday. Spend Monday doing a loop around Custer and scenic driving around Badlands and stay near Pierre. Tuesday drive from Pierre to Bismarck. Wednesday on to MN. How would you spend the brief time?
Third, we were considering driving the Native American Scenic Byway from Pierre to Bismarck. Any experiences--highlights or lowlights--to share? Or would you skip and take a different route through SD to MN?
Thanks in advance for any suggestions you have. This website is a great resource!