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  1. Default Some SD/NE advice please

    June 2017 I am planning a West to East Coast to Coast trip, loosely following the Oregon trail/US 20 route. I'll be posting the itinerary shortly :)
    Of course, there are several worthwhile diversions that I plan to take. One of which is after Casper in WY driving to Keystone in SD.
    My question relates to driving after this. I've read that the Badlands is a must, so would you suggest taking the 44 to Scenic, and then the Sage Creek Road to link up with the 240 loop to Interior, OR jump on the I90 to Wall and take the 240 from there?

    Also, after Interior, I had planned to get back to US20 via the 44 and 83 to Valentine. Ideally as far as O'Neill but that might be over ambitious. Someone mentioned Mitchell was worth a visit, but that's way more east SD than I'd planned. Is it worth going off my planned route? I'm trying to avoid the Interstates as much as I can really

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default Fragmentary

    Unfortunately, you've simply plopped us all into the middle of a "West to East Coast to Coast trip" with no real idea of what you're trying to accomplish, nor how much time you have for the overall trip, nor what portion of that time/distance/objective this segment represents, nor what else you might hope to see or do in this area, nor why you have picked the roads you mention to choose between, not even where you're starting from or where you final destination is. Additionally, the route of the old Oregon Trail is significantly south of every place you've mentioned, although it's conceivable that you use it farther west along the Snake River in southern Idaho, again, we just don't know. All of which is to say, it's going to be tough to give you any meaningful information.

    What I can tell you is that I would use I-90 to SD-240 through Badlands NP. Taking SD-44 from Keystone to Interior would just result in a lot of needless backtracking to actually see the park. Similarly, if US-20 east is your goal after leaving the park, I-90/US-89 is clearly the most efficient, and perfectly scenic, route for that purpose.

    AZBuck

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

    Default

    Buck, don't you mean US-83 from Murdo to Valentine?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default Ah, Yes

    US-83, as the Original Poster said. Fat Fingers.

    AZBuck

  5. #5

    Default The Sandhills vs. Mitchell in SD

    Hello BritTrip,

    Just a year ago we visited the Corn Palace in Mitchell, SD while enroute from North Carolina to western Montana. In 2010 and again last year we drove through parts of the Nebraska Sandhills. I won't offer hard opinions since such are primarily my personal preferences, but it is accurate to say the Corn Palace in Mitchell is an interesting cultural stop with a nice enough museum and many, many opportunities to purchase trinkets and collectibles, while the Sandhills are a unique geological feature consisting of 20,000 square miles of grass-stabilized sand dunes ranging from 100' to over 400' high, and the area is pockmarked (in the places I've visited) with thousands of small lakes and marshes, with bold running streams and rivers all draining to the east/southeast.

    In 2010, I first bisected the Sandhills from Grand Island to Alliance via NE-2 and on the return trip I dropped down from Murdo, SD to and through Valentine to Thedford via US 83 to pick up NE-2 again there, headed back towards I-80 at Grand Island. Between Murdo and Valentine is open high plains, with some piney ridges and moderately deep river drainages, and at the southern end, the Native American reservation communities are along the road, including a sizable casino right on the SD side of the SD-NE state line not far north of Valentine. Valentine is a neat ranch town and is the county seat of Cherry County, NE, one of the larger and least populated counties in the Lower 48 states. The Niobrara River runs through town and the outdoorsy ranching, paddling, and off-highway travel vibe is palpable there.

    Running east on US 20 from Valentine to O'Neill should be Sandhills all the way, as O'Neill is a "Sandhills town" with a large portion of its denizens being of Irish descent.

    It's not a lengthy drive from Casper, WY to Keystone, SD, so you may want to look in to spending an hour or two at Fort Robinson State Park just outside of Crawford, NE, right on US 20. Fort Robinson is a very well restored US Cavalry post, complete with a large 3-storey brick barracks building and many restored homes along "Officers Row" adjacent to the parade grounds. There is a fine museum there and it includes natural history/geology exhibits. From Crawford to Keystone, I'd go up NE-71, entering SD at Ardmore (a ghost town), to US 385 at Hot Springs for some additional "lonely high plains" flavor. For a bit more of that, look at taking the SD-471 loop off to the west of SD 71 north of Ardmore, through Provo (no services) to Edgemont, SD, where you'd pick up US 18 on east to Hot Springs and US 385. There is a spooky World War II ammunition plant facility visible from SD 471 and the overall lonely high plains character is the dominant visual. Edgemont, SD is a current railroad crew change station with its own isolated Western states vibe, including a cool general store and fuel available. You can even get some "mud on the tires (tyres)" since SD 471 is a graded gravel road for part of its length.

    You would not want to leave Lusk, WY or Crawford, NE low on fuel, nor should you leave Murdo, SD low on fuel, as fuel stops are infrequent from Casper to Edgemont and moreso south of Murdo to Valentine.

    Enjoy the planning and the RoadTrip!

    Foy

  6. Default Seattle-Boston - June 2017

    Planning a west to east trip for next June taking 3 weeks. This is not my first US road trip, having done Route 66 less than 2 years ago and a CA/NV loop and New England trips prior to that.

    Loosely follows Oregon trail initially, then US20 for most of the rest, some US30 and 2.
    Generally kept it to under 300 miles a day, although we have 3 drivers.

    This is the plan so far, only one hotel is booked already:

    June 16 - Seattle - Hotel Andra
    June 17 - same. Buy Annual NP pass whilst here
    June 18 - I5/101 to Cannon Beach,OR via Lewis & Clark NP. Sea Sprite on the Estuary
    June 19 - US26 via Portland to Prineville (Best Western)
    June 20 - US26 - Boise, ID (Grove Hotel)
    June 21 - I84/US26/20 via Craters of the Moon NP - Idaho Falls (Residence Inn)
    June 22 - US20 via West Yellowstone,MT - US191 Old Faithful Inn (booked 2 nights)
    June 23 - Explore some of Yellowstone
    June 24 - US14/20/120 via Cody - Glenrock, WY. Higgins Hotel. Not 100% sure of this route idea.
    June 25 - US20/71/385 via Fort Robinson, Hot Springs, Custer/Crazy Horse - Keystone,SD (Rushmore Express Inn)
    June 26- US44/240 Badlands NP loop then US83 & back on US20 to O'Neill, NE (Holiday Inn)
    June 27 - US20 (US30 after Fort Dodge) - Ames, IA. Grandstay Hotel
    June 28 - US30/151, then US20 after Dubuque to Galena,IL. DeSoto House Hotel
    June 29 - US20 - Chicago (Drake Hotel)
    June 30 - Chicago
    July 1 - Mixture of I90/US20/12/I80 to Cedar Point, OH. Hotel Breakers
    July 2 - Cedar Point, OH
    July 3 - US2/6. I90/I190 to Niagara Falls, NY. Comfort Inn The Pointe
    July 4 - US20 thru finger lakes - Albany, NY. Fairfield Inn.
    July 5 - Mostly Route 2, Mohawk Trail. 2A Concord, Lexington etc. to Boston

    Only the Old Faithful Inn is booked. If anyone thinks of any better routes, hotels or things to see along the way, feel free :)

    Please keep all posts about the same trip in the same place. - Mod
    Last edited by AZBuck; 08-04-2016 at 06:02 PM.

  7. Default

    Many thanks Foy. I had thought of Fort Robinson, it has a tragic history, right? I've now incorporated both it and 71/385 into my plan.
    I think I'll drop down from Murdo on the 83 via Valentine.
    Thanks for the tip on the I90/US83 there, AZBuck.
    I have now posted the whole route plan in a separate thread. I was trying to use the map tool but struggled with waypoints, so gave up for now.
    Regarding entering the park via US44 at Interior, I thought of this as I had read the the Sage Creek Road was a most impressive route (if dry), and had more wildlife than usual. I hadn't planned on backtracking to Wall, but rather linking to the 240 loop from it by the Pinnacles and staying on it to the I90 at Cactus Flats. Then onto the 83 as suggested.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,545

    Default

    Once you get this completely thought out (you have a wonderful start!), you should book anything that falls between July 1st and July 5th next. That's the US 4th of July Independence Day weekend, where Americans have extra time off, start their vacations, and more. This is especially true if you are in a tourist area like Cedar Point, Niagara Falls, but it can fill anywhere.

    You're fortunate to have grabbed Old Faithful Inn!!!



    Donna

  9. #9

    Default Correct you are

    Quote Originally Posted by BritTrip View Post
    Many thanks Foy. I had thought of Fort Robinson, it has a tragic history, right?
    I was aware that Crazy Horse died at Fort Robinson prior to my first visit in 2010, it was not until my second visit a year ago that I paid much attention to the buildings, signboards, and the story of the events leading up to his death. We purchased "The Killing of Crazy Horse" by Thomas Powers during that trip but I did not read any of it prior to the late-trip overnight and brief morning tour of the grounds at Fort Robinson. I read it months later, and now I've got to go back!

    Foy

  10. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by DonnaR57 View Post
    Once you get this completely thought out (you have a wonderful start!), you should book anything that falls between July 1st and July 5th next. That's the US 4th of July Independence Day weekend, where Americans have extra time off, start their vacations, and more. This is especially true if you are in a tourist area like Cedar Point, Niagara Falls, but it can fill anywhere.

    You're fortunate to have grabbed Old Faithful Inn!!!



    Donna
    Good call Donna. Don't know how I'd forgotten about that weekend. I managed to get the Niagara hotel I wanted but it was a bit of a struggle. The Cedar Point one had gone, but I managed to get a Holiday Inn just 5 minutes away so wasn't too bad. I had to change the Albany one too.

    I knew that Old Faithful Inn would be a tough one, so I actually had to book that in May, over 13 months in advance! I'm now going thru the others...

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