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  1. Default [Solo Trip] MN - ND - SD - NE - IA - MN round trip route suggestion

    I'm a 25 year old male. I am planning a road trip from Minnesota - North Dakota - Mt. Rushmore - Omaha - Des Moines - Minnesota for May long weekend. I am planning for a 3-4 day trip. As of now, it is solo. Not sure if anyone is accompanying. I enjoy scenic drives and nature.

    I would prefer US routes with small towns on the way instead of inter states. Also I'm a budget traveler. I'm set to visit 50 states and will be visiting 5 of them during this trip :). I'm done with 27 of them already.

    From Google Maps, all I find is interstate routes which I don't think may be interesting. However, in this part of the country, I'm guessing its safe to travel on interstates than US routes - any suggestions ?

    Initially I planned to travel in, but I wanted to visit Badlands National Park and Mt. Rushmore. So I modified it to

    I'm planning on visiting following in each place


    Few places in the city like Art museum etc.

    North Dakota

    Fargo, ND - nothing much really. Just driving through.
    Theodre Roosevelt National Park (Optional)

    South Dakota

    Badlands National Park
    Mt. Rushmore


    Few places in Omaha city like Zoo.


    Des Moines - nothing much, just drive through. Visit state capitol.

    That trips across Dakota's for 7hr each way back and forth feel like such a waste of time to cover both of the national parks. Am I mixing two different trips ? Are those drives worth it ? My friends told those area so boring to drive. Another idea is to cover only Minnesota, Des Moines and Omaha in this trip. And visit ND and SD when visiting Montana.

    I'm in for taking detours to covering scenic drives. Please suggest.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default There are Always Alternatives

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    Yes, if you leave your routing to some mindless software program that is set up to get you from Point A to Point B in the most "efficient" way possible, you will invariably end up being stuck on the Interstates. That certainly doesn't mean that that's your only option. It's a simple enough matter to find other roads. We usually recommend paper maps that give you bot the synoptic and local view at the same time, but it's also possible to find alternatives to the Interstates even on Google Maps. You just have to zoom in enough to have them show up and then pan around enough to follow them. Do that enough and you'll quickly see why detailed paper maps are the far better tool.

    In your case, routes that would work well for you are US-6/IA-191/IA-44 from Omaha through Portsmouth to Des Moines; US-65 to Albert Lea MN and then MN-13 up to the Twin City area; and US-10 to Fargo. Getting from Fargo back to Omaha is a bit more problematical since there aren't any perfect options. Probably what I'd suggest is heading west on I-94 for a bit to get to ND-18 and follow that into South Dakota where it becomes SD-25, then using SD-34 east to US-81 south. Finally, at Norfolk NE, pick up US-275 back to Omaha.

    You will need a minimum of three days to drive that route with only short stops every few hours for meals and exercise breaks. Any time spent doing in-depth exploring of sites along the way would be on top of that three days. You do not really have time for your extended plans to head out to the western Dakotas. Besides their limited ability to select roads other than Interstates, software-based mapping routines are notorious for their fantasy-world driving time estimates


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Flawed start.

    From Google Maps, all I find is interstate route....
    To choose your own routes you need something which shows ALL routes, e.g. good paper maps. Go to AAA and pick up a map of MN, and perhaps an adjoining State, such as WI. Then you may find this paragraph helpful.

    Quote Originally Posted by AZBuck
    Start with maps. Not GPS, not software, not Google, but real honest-to-god paper maps that show you your entire route, that you can mark up (and erase), that you can stick pins in, and that show something about the land you'll be driving through. Those are your essential tool in any RoadTrip planning process. Start by marking all the places you know you want to visit. Then connect the dots. Then look for more places of interest and scenic routes along the lines connecting the dots. Repeat until you've got as many sites and roads as you think you want.
    When I had a week in MN, back in 2014, I chose the scenic routes (marked on maps). One which was stood out, and I have fond memories of going through several small towns with populations of 1000 or less, is the Historic Bluff Country National Scenic Byway, and many of it sidetrips. From there there was the scenic drives along the Mississippi on both sides.

    You may have to make a choice - more states or enjoyable and memorable scenic routes.


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