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  1. Default Drive advice? CHICAGO to SEATTLE

    Hey I was hoping to solicit the opinions of the seasoned drivers here.

    Making the drive from Chicago to Seattle next month. Looks like there are a couple of ways to make the drive.

    Route 1: Google Maps suggested taking the I-90 then I-94 then I-90. This means I will go head to Wisconsin and further north through North Dakota.

    Route 2: Take I-90 all the way. So I will head to Wisconsin and stay further south through South Dakota

    I have actually driven the 1st route once, about 15 years ago. It was fine, though I remember hating the long boring trek through ND. From what I can tell, the two routes are pretty comparable. This time around it will be the wife and I, along with our 2 likely unhappy I am hoping to choose the easiest/fastest drive. With the cats in the car, we won't have much flexibility for "sightseeing", but a prettier drive would certainly be preferred.

    Would anyone suggest one over the other?

    Any advice or suggestions would be appreciated.

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


    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    First, you seem to be mistaking Minnesota for Montana, although you'd go through both states no matter which way you go.

    There really isn't a huge amount of difference between the two routes. I-90 has a few more big name attractions, like Badlands National Park, Mt. Rushmore, and the rest of the Black Hills, but I-94 through North Dakota has plenty of good scenery too, including Teddy Roosevelt National Park. I-94 also takes you through the Minneapolis area, which also has some pros and cons.

    Either way you go, if you're finding it to be boring, then you need to change your approach. Personally, I like both routes, and generally pick which ever one I've been on least recently.

    I'll also mention that you'd have a 3rd option: I-80 to I-84 to I-82 through Nebraska, Wyoming, and Utah. This would be pretty similar distance to the I-90 based routes, although personally, I prefer the more northern options myself.

  3. Default

    Sorry for the confusion, I edited my original post as soon as I saw what I typed.

    Seemed like the 80 was a longer drive, so I had crossed it off my list.

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


    I-80 is a touch longer, but you're talking about a difference of about 100 miles over a 2100 mile trip, which really isn't that significant. Either way, you're looking at needing at least 3 overnight stops for a safe trip.

  5. Default

    We are definitely breaking it down into 4 days of driving.

    We are not looking to spend much more than 8-9 hours in the car, for both our and our pets sanity.

    Our initial plan was Chicago to Alexandria, MN -- Alexandria to Miles City, MT -- Miles City to Missoula, MT -- Missoula to Seattle.

    The southern "all I-90" route possibility is making us second guess that plan.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    That's a good plan. I did fail to mention that the biggest downside of I-94 is that hotel rooms tend to be quite limited and expensive in Western North Dakota, due to the oil boom. However, with your stopping points, that shouldn't be an issue.

  7. Default

    agreee, really good plan.

  8. Default

    Anyone have any positive to say about taking the I-90 route through SD?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default A couple of stops.

    The Corn Palace in Mitchell. Wall Drug in Wall. The Black Hills Region. All of these make for good places to stop and give you something to see, even if it is only for an hour or so.


  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    I-90 -- Lifey brought up two of the places that make good stops that don't take a long time. Wall Drug is the one I've been to, more recently, and it IS huge. Depending on how long you want to take there, it's a huge conglomeration. In that set of buildings is a great ice cream shoppe. Also lots of souvenir shops. You'd have to figure out what to do about your kitties, though.

    You could drive through the Badlands National Park in about twice the amount of time that it would take you to drive the parallel interstate, and see something more scenic. Get off the freeway at exit 131, and return to it at exit 110 (it won't give you any choice) but that's when you'd stop at Wall Drug. Give it a couple of extra hours, you'll see enough.

    The Black Hills has Mt Rushmore (NOT visible from I-90; you have to head towards Keystone for that), Wind Cave National Park, and Jewel Cave National Monument.

    Also, about 30 miles off of I-90, in WY, is Devils Tower National Monument. (Think of the movie CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND.) It's a nice little side-trip.

    You wouldn't be able to do all of the Black Hills stuff and Devils Tower in the same day. You'd have to pick and choose, but something would break up your day.


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