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  1. #1
    Tony J Case, Super Genius Guest

    Default Seattle to Detroit up US Highway 12!

    {03-13-09 Edit: The original Fall trip has morphed into an early Summer trip and the scope has changed as well. Hence the change of venue on this forum.}

    Call me crazy (Yer crazy), but I have this wild notion that I want drive the length of I-90 from Boston all the way to Seattle. The tenitive plan would be: fly to Boston, rent a car, drive to Seattle.

    The questions I have are: Has anyone done this before. I imagine that the east coast is pretty cool, and I know the west coast well enough that the far end is covered - but how about all the points in the middle. Is it just one long, boring stretch? Is it worth doing, or would I be better off with another route?

    About how long should I plan for? Mapquest says that it's only 46 hours to physicaly get from A to B, but that's the blow through top speed, who cares about stopping way of doing it. I'm thinking 14 days - too much or not enough?

    Any other suggestions or crazy ideas?
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 07-04-2009 at 10:30 AM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default Sounds like Fun

    I think you've got a pretty great plan. 14 days should give you a nice amount of time to explore. Realistically, you'll need 6-7 days to make the trip just driving, but that gives you a whole week of time to look around.

    I've never found a boring place, and there are things to do along every interstate in the US. However, just a few of the major highlights along I-90 would including Niagara Falls, Cleveland/Sandusky, Chicago, Badlands, Black Hills/Mt. Rushmore/Devils Tower, and Yellowstone.

  3. #3
    Tony J Case, Super Genius Guest


    Niagara falls? I didnt think that 90 got that far north. If it does, then heck yes I'll hit that for sure. But so far my random brainstorming - and mind you, this is just the first couple of states, based on about half an hour of reading on wikitravel - has included:

    Devils tower
    Mount Rushmore
    Wall Drug (which might be too far north - we'll see)
    Continental Divide
    The Last Stoplight on I-90 - Wallace, ID
    Custer's Last Stand- Crow Agency
    Our Lady Of The Rockies - Butte
    1880 Cowboy Town - Buffalo Ridge, SD
    Petrified Wood Park - Lemmon, SD
    Chief Crazy Horse Memorial - Crazy Horse, SD

    And I havent even gotten to the east coast yet. :)

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    It's about 25 miles from I-90 to Niagara Falls, well worth the side trip. Wall, SD is right on I-90. The last stoplight was bypassed in 1991. Bring your EZ-Pass, you have a lot of tolls to deal with! You also have a traffic nightmare through Chicago.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default mapping it

    I-90 doesn't go directly to Niagara Falls, but its only a short detour via I-190 from Buffalo. The same is true with Yellowstone, its not directly on I-90, but its a pretty easy detour. Wall, and of course Wall Drug, are directly on the interstate. Its hard to have something that's a pure and proud roadside tourist trap be anything but right off the highway!

    I hadn't heard about the last stoplight, but after looking at it, that sounds pretty interesting. It sounds like the town of Wallace certainly had some fun "mourning" when it lost its claim to fame, as the stoplight is now on display, in a casket, in the town's museum.

  6. Default

    Well, From the Badlands west, you probably know most of what you can see.

    From Rapid City to Chicago is quite nice. The drive through Wisconsin heavily wooded. Southern MN is quite flat, as is eastern SD.

    If you're taking your time, stop at gas stations, ask locals, as well. They may tell you hidden gems. Crossing the Missouri south of Pierre is cool.

    Usually, my times through there have been to just 'get through there' to the west coast.

    Last edited by Sykotyk; 01-15-2009 at 07:37 PM. Reason: bad keyboard

  7. #7
    Tony J Case, Super Genius Guest


    Quote Originally Posted by Sykotyk View Post
    Well, From the Badlands west, you probably know most of what you can see.
    Yeah, I'm not so concerned with Washington and Idaho (and probably Montana). those are easy enough to get to on a weekend trip. Pretty much the east side of Montana onwards is what I'm interested in.

    If you're taking your time, stop at gas stations, ask locals, as well. They may tell you hidden gems. Crossing the Missouri south of Pierre is cool.
    Good point - idealy, I'd like to wander a bit, find side roads and whatnot. The interstate is great for getting about, but I'm not adversed to diversions as we go. And two weeks should be plenty of time.

  8. #8

    Default A few other thoughts

    Hello TJCSG,

    What a great trip idea! Here are some other ideas of sights, scenery along the way, or just a bit off of I-90:

    Any of the Mississippi River towns along the WI-MN and WI-IA border are worth a look. Although they're closer to I-94, the towns of Red Wing and Hastings, MN and the whole Lake Pepin area (a wide section of the Mississippi lined by tall sandstone bluffs) are very scenic, particularly in the Fall.

    "Right-angle" traverses in SD and MT: Most Federal, State, and local highways follow "section line" boundaries or sub-boundaries. The result is one's ability to go northwest by going north, then west. Such makes it possible to see some cool old farm towns and rural scenery along the way.

    The Beartooth Highway: South of I-90 and west of Billings, US 212 passes through Red Lodge, MT, itself a fun tourist town, to the Northeast entrance to Yellowstone NP. The Beartooth Highway rises to some 11,000' of elevation along the way and passes through tundra terrain. One can then make a loop through Yellowstone and back to I-90 at either Livingston or Bozeman.

    The Berkely Pit: A large concentration of the rich copper ores mined by underground methods were consolidated into a huge open-pit mine at Butte, MT, and the result is one of the largest holes in the world. A viewing platform right in Butte provides a look, and a nearby mining museum provides a great look at a historic mining district.

    A bit farther down the road is Anaconda, MT, where the smelter for the Butte ores stood. Still standing is one of the largest, if not the largest, smokestack ever built. Stay on MT 1 through Anaconda to Philipsburg, the coolest town in all of MT, as far as I'm concerned. Overnight at the Broadway, have ice cream at the town soda fountain, carouse at the local bars, and take a bag of home-made candy from the town's candy store when you leave. Travel back to I-90 near Hall, MT, completing the loop. If you're somewhat more adventurous, travel a short distance west of Philipsburg to Rock Creek Canyon and take the 40 mile gravel road northward through the canyon, amidst lodgepole pines, fir forest, talus slopes, bighorn sheep, moose, and trout fishermen back to I-90 at Clinton, MT. A quick look at Beaverhead NF and Lolo NF maps shows the way, as do most any MT highway atlases. Or, traverse the mountains opposite of Rock Creek on the Skalkaho Road to US 93 in the Bitterroot Valley and travel south to Missoula and I-90 that way.

    In Missoula, the Clark Fork River winds through town, with street and pedestrian bridges and walking paths on each side. The downtown is alive with cool college (U of M) and locals (Stockman's) bars, and the venerable Oxford, where the Western tradition of going out to breakfast following a session at the bars is played out nightly, 365 days a year. The place doesn't even have locks on the doors, as they never close. The nomenclature related to breakfast orders is worth the price of breakfast, not to mention the large servings of eggs, breakfast meats, potatoes, and coffee.

    The time of year you're looking at is perfect in my opinion, as you should be in full Autumn foliage, including aspens out West, the whole time.

    Have a great time planning and taking your trip!


  9. #9
    Tony J Case, Super Genius Guest


    Well, the plan has changed slightly. My travel partners have all wussed out on me, and I cant afford to rent a one-way car by myself, so the Boston->Seattle trip is off.

    However, I did secure 10 days off this Memorial Day, so the new plan is drive up US Highway 12 (a route that runs parallel to I-90) from Seattle to as far as I can before I have to turn around and bomb home. I figure 8 days of leisure out, 2 days of non-stop driving home, and I should be able to cover a great deal of ground.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default How'd you choose US-12?

    US-12 does go through some interesting farming country, but it's not as scenic as other routes. Given the time frame and that you are starting in Seattle -- if it were me... I would choose US-2 over the mountains to Spokane and then north to State Route 20 and go has far west on SR-20 before you have to bomb home. A much more interesting set of routes and topographies.


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