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  1. #1

    Default Portland, OR to Ann Arbor, MI with kids

    I'm new to this forum and am considering driving from Portland, OR to Ann Arbor, Michigan next summer to visit family.

    I will be driving with experienced road trip kids who do great in the car! Projected Ages: 5.5 and 7.5, both boys. We will also have my MIL who is a great sport but prefers hotels over camping. Doesn't have to be fancy.

    We are mostly interested in cool natural experiences/parks/lakes or wacky things vs. cities/historical sites. Plus recommended lodging (inexpensive).

    We just did Yellowstone/Grand Tetons so you can leave that off the list.

    Long days in the car are not a problem. Hiking - about 3 miles tops.

    Projecting about a week in either direction but flexible.

    Thanks for any help/suggestions!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default A Week Each Way

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    That should leave a fair amount of time each day to take in some of the many great outdoor sights between Portland and Ann Arbor. So first, let's describe a couple of basic routes that will let you explore completely different areas on each leg. The shorter way would be the most direct all-Interstate route: I-84/I-80/I-94 (and a few short connecting roads) through southern Idaho, Utah, southern Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa, northern Illinois and southern Michigan. The slightly longer route would be I-84/US-395/I-90/I-94/US-10/MN-210/US-2/MI-28/I-75/US-23 (and again, a few connecting roads) across northern Oregon, southeastern Washington the Idaho panhandle, Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, northwestern Wisconsin, and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Either one could be driven in five days in either direction.

    But the real beauty of both routes is that they could be driven at a pace that leaves time for both several several short stops as well as a couple of major stops. Some of the possible major outdoor opportunities on each route would include (first route:) Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area, the Oregon Trail, and Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore; and (second route:) Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, Theodore Roosevelt National Park, and Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.

    One word or warning, however, is in order about the second route. A fairly large area of western North Dakota is experiencing something of an oil boom and lodging will be in short supply. Try not to plan on an overnight stop between Glendive MT and Bismark ND unless you can get a confirmed reservation at a reasonable rate before starting out on your trip.


  3. #3


    Those are great suggestions and resources!!

    I should have mentioned that we wanted to see some of the S Dakota sites: caves, Rushmore, Badlands as we are big NP fans. It slightly changes the route...

    Pictured rocks is also a must! Do you think kids would enjoy Little Bighorn Battlefield?

    Thanks, again!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    As far as children enjoying Little Bighorn:

    In any national park, battlefield, historical place, go to the Visitor Center and sign both kids up for the Junior Ranger program. Each gets a booklet to complete, and when you bring it back to the Visitor Center, the child gets some type of small souvenir to take home - a badge, patch, etc. If you are national park fans, start your children on this passion and when they get enough, find some way to display the collection at home. It can be a banner with the badges pinned, stitched or glued onto it, or similar. Places like Little Bighorn will be much more interesting to them if they have something to do there other than follow you around, and that was why the NPS came up with the program. Yes, it's educational. But it's done in such a fun way that kids may not realize how much they're learning. (I only wish they'd come up with this years before!)


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