Originally Posted by AZBuck
I think you're biting off far more than you can chew in the plan you've laid out. The biggest problem I see is with your intended route and timing from Baltimore to Denver. You can make it in three days. You can stop in Cleveland. You cannot do both. One of the primary requirements to covering a lot of ground is to keep up a steady pace and to avoid unnecessary side trips. The direct route from Baltimore to Denver is about 1680 miles. To cover this in three days means you have to drive pretty close to 560 miles a day. That is doable, especially with two drivers, and I applaud your decision to travel only during the day. Not only will it keep you rested, but you don't get to see much when traveling at night anyway. But, if you stop in Cleveland, you will have only covered 375 miles the first day, and will have to try to go 670 miles each of the next two days, which will not be enjoyable. Indiana would make a much better first day stop (I used Indianapolis in my calculations). With a second day stop in Topeka, you're then doing 3 days of 595, 545, and 540 miles - much more reasonable. Similarly, on the way back, Mt. Rushmore and Wisconsin are well off any direct route and would add a day or more to your return trip.
So what you've got to do first off is make some basic decisions. What is the purpose of the trip: Fun? Speed run? Visit friends and family? See Denver? See stuff along the way? You will have to pick and choose. You can have different objectives and do different things on the outbound and return legs. If you're limited in the number of days you have outbound, then I strongly recommend that you just get there and, other than a short visit the first night in Indiana, just enjoy being on the road and watching the world flow past at 70 in the Interstates. You seem to have more time for the return, and you could stop in Cleveland on this run. You apparently enjoy the outdoors, and you could even get to Mt Rushmore (this IS a day's drive from Denver), see the Badlands, take a few less traveled roads, and a few other things in the 5 days you indicate that you can spend on getting home. But there's nothing worse than a trip which starts to go wrong (or not as planned) in the middle when you're far from home and have only the choice to continue or abandon it.