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  1. #1

    Default Maine to Oregon, US route-2 or route-20?

    I will be departing central Maine (Bangor area) on August 16 with my brother to drive to Portland, OR. We plan to spend about 12 days on the trip, we will be camping every night, and we would prefer to avoid interstates. I've been looking at routes, and I can't decide between taking route 2 or 20. We're interested in seeing the best of the northern US, particularly quirky towns and beautiful scenery. Have any of you done either of these routes? Neither of us can decide which would be better. Also, this will be our first big road trip, so any pointers would be helpful!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula

    Default I've done parts of Route 2

    I can't seem to find Route 20. Do you mean Route 200? Where does Route 20 go through?

    Route 2 has some breath-taking scenery. It goes through Glacier. One of the most beautiful places around. Personally, I'd choose Route 2 just for that. It also goes through some of the most beautiful parts of Idaho. In Washington, I'd take a detour off of Route 2 and go see Grand Coulee Dam, then go back to Route 2 for a beautiful drive through the lovely Bavarian village of Leavenworth, then over beautiful Steven's Pass into the Seattle area.

    I haven't been much farther east than central Montana so I can't speak to the eastern leg of Route 2. With 12 days, you should have time for lots of exploration. It sounds like a fun trip. That is if it's a one-way trip. If you're doing this roundtrip in 12 days, you won't have time for much exploration at all. It will be an intense drive.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Tough Call

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America forum.

    There is no US-2 between Rousses Point, NY and Sault Ste Marie, MI. So if you're serious about taking just one highway across America, then it will have to be US-20. But, that technicality aside, let's look at both routes. Of the major transcontinental highways, US-20 has perhaps the least amount of 'pavement sharing' with interstate highways. This is especially remarkable given the section of county that it covers in its eastern half. It is almost possible to follow it all the way from Boston to Newport without using any freeways. And for the most part (the exceptions being Cleveland and Chicago) it does not go through many large cities. I have driven chunks of it in the east and midwest, and it can be a very pleasant, if unspectacular, road. With the exception of Yellowstone National Park, there are few 'must see' type of attractions along its length. On the other hand, I've also driven significant parts of US-2 (and ON-17, which is where 2 would be if it went through Canada), and this can be a beautiful drive as well. The scenic highlight along its length is Glacier National Park. In fact I would have to give a slight edge to US-2 for a scenic route, and probably for quirky towns as well.. But you would pay the price of it being a longer and more remote route as well. I hope that info helps you decide, but you're right, it's a close call, and I don't think you would go too far from your stated purpose with either route.


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

    Default Filling in the gaps

    I've been on parts of both roads, although I haven't done anything close to all of either of them.

    My experience with US-20 is mostly in the midwest. Interestingly, as Buck points out, that the highway runs is almost all 2 lanes throughout the East, but once you get to Chicago, that changes. The road is 4 lanes most of the way from Chicago to Nebraska, particularly through Iowa, where has become a link between most of the major towns in the northern 3rd of the state. It does however, go back to mostly 2 lanes once you get through Nebraska.

    I would also agree with Buck about US-2. I have a lot more experience with this route, and it really is a great route for scenery. If you have the time I would recommend it. It really has a lot more variety in my book. The section through Canada is really very nice, and Ontario's provincial parks are really done well. I stayed at Samuel de Champlain Provincial Park near North Bay a couple of years ago, and I was quite impressed. Once you get back to the US, it is also nice because you get to spend much more time in the Northwoods and less time in the Plains. The Macinaw Bride and Lake Itasca (headwaters of the Mississippi) are just short detours from this section. Plus if you are looking for great quirky northern US towns, you can't do get much than Bemdji, Minnesota, the Curling Capitol of the Country. From there to around Glacier, you get a really nice feel for the northern plains. Maybe its because you are surrounded by wheat instead of corn, but there really is a different feel for the plains than through Nebraska and Kansas. I'm not much help once you get west of Glacier, but Buck and Judy have already provided some tips in that section.

    Whichever way you go, I'm sure you'll have a great time.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default US-2. East of Glacier

    Quote Originally Posted by whiterose1713
    Have any of you done either of these routes?
    Last summer I drove US-2 between Columbia Falls and Havre, Montana. Here some field reports from the area. Great Food in Shelby and the National Bison Range near Dixon.


  6. #6

    Default A solution for this trip!

    To clarify, it will be a one way trip. I am moving to Portland, OR and my brother will fly back once we get there. I'm interested in seeing parks and beautiful scenery (any natural scenery is beautiful to me, even the plains), as well as lots of kitsh and Americana. The leg through Canada is a plus for us because we're both canadian citizens and haven't been to Ontario since we were little. Do any of you have a sense of which route would be longer driving wise, not just mileage? The remoteness is a slight concern, because my car isn't exactly new, but it will be getting a thorough tune up and probably a cb radio. Also, bonus points for places I can go canoeing. I built my own canoe a few years ago and I'm bringing it with me; I'm looking forward to trying her in new waters.

    Oh, also, route 20 starts in Provincetown, MA and ends just past Portland, OR. It drives through Yellowstone.

    OK I think I've got it! Instead of choosing, I'll do both, because I like the idea of route 2 in the east and route 20 in the west. I'll take route 2 from Maine to Minnesota, then take the Great River Road down to Iowa, where I'll hop on route 20 for the rest of the way. This way I can see yellowstone, craters of the moon, and do a short detour to the badlands, which are all top priorities for me. I've already been to galcier international park. I think this will be a perfect blend of everything I'm looking for, and it will take me right to Portland. What do yall think of this plan? I've been looking at a lot of route information on
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 06-22-2006 at 01:10 PM. Reason: Same thought

  7. #7

    Default Maine to Wisconsin -- First Leg of Journey

    I've been working out the details of my trip from Maine to Oregon, and now have the first 4 days pretty well fleshed out. I welcome suggestions of other things to do along the way! I plan to spend from about 9am to 7pm travelling, with frequent stops. We want to drive around 300-400 miles per day on this first leg, following the route suggested on for route 2.

    Day 1- Bangor, ME to extreme northwestern VT
    Route 2, plan to stop at the Ben and Jerry's factory, Burlington, and probably briefly in the Green and White mountains for some scenic views. Camping in North Hero State Park on the shores of Lake Champlain.

    Day 2- Lake Champlain to past Ottowa
    Canadian highway 17 from Montreal. Plan to stop at the Canadian museum of civilizations. Camp either in Brimley or Samuel de Champlain Provincial parks, depending of what time we make.

    Day 3- Ontario through both sault st maries to the UP Michigan
    highway 17 then route 2 or 28. Plan to stop at the Dionne quintuplets museum and science north. Camp either Brimley or Tahquamenon state parks, depending on time/route

    Day 4- UP to Wisconsin
    route 2 or 28 in MI, then route 2 in WI with route 13 loop detour along the shore. Plan to make scenic stops. Camp in Big Bay state park.

    Does this seem do-able? Are there any things I should be sure not to miss? All tips are helpful!
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 07-05-2006 at 01:41 PM. Reason: title clarification

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default A better route could be had

    Quote Originally Posted by whiterose1713
    We want to drive around 300-400 miles per day on this first leg, following the route suggested on roadtripusafor route 2.
    The only criticism I have for any of Jaime's routes is that he hasn't kept the information very current. But if you take everything he reports with a "huge grain of salt" and only use that information as A very sketchy outline, you will have fun. Actually, I kind of like the "Great North Highlights" route that was put together by the folks at "Let's Go" -- my review of the underlying guide book is online here.
    Day 1- Bangor, ME to extreme northwestern VT
    I would fortify myself with one more stop at the Sea Dog Brewing Company for sandwiches.... If you get up to Skowhegan -- go get a photo of the "world's tallest Indian statue" located just behind the Chamber of Commerce building. For your drive over NH -- be sure to factor in SR-12! and if you have time, and are really feeling adventurous you can drive the Mt. Washington Auto Road to the summit. In Vermont, you could go by the world's largest can of maple syrup at the Maple Grove Farms in St. Johnsbury.

    Hope this gets you started!

    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 07-05-2006 at 02:16 PM.

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