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  1. Default Pittsburgh to Great Falls, MT

    Hi everyone,

    Planning a road trip from Pittsburgh area to Great Falls, Montana at the beginning of July. The first day we plan to stop in Chicago overnight to visit family. July 4th we will head west. I've heard there are 2 main routes to take, one through North Dakota and the other through South Dakota. I've also heard that the North Dakota route is shorter. Although we would like to be in Great Falls by the end of the week, we're open to seeing some landmarks along the way. So my question is this: which route has the most places to stop and see? I've never been farther west than Chicago by car so I'm not really familiar with most of the landmarks. If anyone could give me a list for both routes and what your recommendation would be, that would be great! We're not as much into historical landmarks as we are into the great "sights" and photo opportunities...but we're open to anything! Please let me know your ideas and TIA!

  2. #2


    There is less than a hundred miles difference between the two routes with the route through North Dakota being the shortest. So whichever one you choose, there will not be a great deal of difference in driving time.

    There's probably more to see in South Dakota. The Black Hills, Custer State Park, Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse Monument, Wall Drug, Badlands Nat'l Monument and the Corn Palace in Mitchell, SD.

    Along the North Dakota route, Theodore Roosevelt Nat'l Park is very nice. While it's bad lands are not as large as the more famous Badlands of South Dakota, they are more colorful. Medora, North Dakota, where Theodore Roosevelt is located is a nice little town and their claim to fame is the Medora Musical, a great show performed in an outdoor amphitheatre. Just across the Montana border at Glendive, Makoshika State Park is a nice stop for badlands and dinosaur stuff.

    If you anticipate making any future trips out west or to the Pacific Northwest, I'd opt for the North Dakota route simply because North Dakota is not on the way to many places where South Dakota is. If you don't anticipate further trips west, I'd definitely opt for the South Dakota route. It also kind of depends on how much time you have. You could easily spend 3, 4 or even 5 days in the Black Hills/Badlands area.

    Whichever route you choose, you will pass Wisconsin Dells which is a great place to visit - especially if you're traveling with children.

    Have A Great Trip!!

  3. Default

    Thank you, great response and helpful info! Anything specific to see in Minnesota if we take Route 90? Or how about in Wyoming or Montana still using Route 90?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    With 4-5 days, you've got plenty of time for either option. I-94 would be about 150 miles shorter, assuming you use 2 lane highways for most of your trip across Montana, but you could do either in 3 days.

    I think Charlie's summed up the highlights pretty well, naming a couple of my favorite stops right off I-94. I'd add if you are thinking of going that way, you could also spend a little time in Minneapolis or head off the freeway a little ways into the Northwoods of Minnesota and see the headwaters of the Mississippi at Lake Itasca.

    As far as other options along I-90 in Minnesota, the SPAM Museum in Austin is fun. You can get a picture of the Jolly Green Giant in Blue Earth, Pipestone National Monument is about a half hour from I-90 in far western Minnesota. Heading into Eastern South Dakota, You'd also have Sioux Falls, with its namesake waterfall and the Washington Pavillion as a nice stop for kids. The Corn Palace is another hour down the road in Mitchell.

    Out into Wyoming, you'd have Devils Tower and then Little Bighorn Battlefield in Montana.

    Be sure to play around with RTA's Map Center, which will have even more stopping suggestions.

  5. #5


    If you choose the northern route, and you like malls, the Mall Of America in the Twin Cities is a combination mall/amusement park. I have never been there but I'm orginally from Des Moines, Iowa and it's a great favorite with folks there.

    No matter which route you choose, you're going to pass within about 6 miles of Indiana Dunes State Park and Indiana Dunes Nat'l seashore. Theyare north of Exit 31 on I-90/80. They're a great favorite of kids and probably would not consume more than two hours or less of time.

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