User Content > Road Trips

Montana?

(1/12) > >>

hbelkins:
I don't know if the US 160 trip is ever going to happen, but my brother has floated the idea of a trip to Montana next month or in August, and told me to be thinking about a route.

I definitely want to go through North Dakota, as it and Montana are two of the last four lower 48 states I haven't been in (Washington and Oregon are the others). I saw something about Rugby, ND, being the geographic center of North America with the requisite monument, and thought that might be a neat place to stop.

Rugby's on US 2, which gave me a thought: Not sure that my brother would be amenable to going that far out of the way, but I thought about crossing the Mighty Mac and going west through the UP of Michigan. Everything I've ever read about the UP indicates that it's a whole 'nother world up there.

If he's amenable to going that far north out of the way and then making a 90-degree left turn, what would be a good suggested routing to get the full flavor of the UP? It looks like US 2 skirts the lake for much of its length. What would be a fairly-direct route west that would still provide the UP experience?

And from there, routes west to Rugby that aren't too terribly slow but still allow for a good taste of northern Wisconsin, Minnesota, and North Dakota?

Not sure what his final destination in Montana would be, but he mentioned Glacier, which he's been to before but I haven't.

Not sure about a return routing. Probably something direct; it might involve Yellowstone.

Max Rockatansky:
US 2 is about your best bet if you want to stay direct and get some occasional views of Lake Michigan.  Really though the right way to do the UP is to loop US 41 up to Copper Harbor and back down via M-26 back to Houghton.  The Keweenaw Peninsula is the signature part of the UP given amount of historic infrastructure and towns up there related to the mines.

The northern tip of WI 13 is a good alternate to US 2 and has plenty of scenery on Lake Superior.

J N Winkler:
I did some quick checking into routes between Pikeville, Kentucky (using that as a proxy for your actual starting point) and Glacier National Park.  Google Maps' suggested most direct route is about 2022 miles and takes you through big metro areas like Chicago and Minneapolis/St. Paul.  The most direct route that passes through St. Ignace, Michigan (north end of the Mackinac Bridge) adds only 150 miles, takes you right through Rugby in North Dakota, and puts you within shouting distance of Whitefish Point (home to the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum and near where the Edmund Fitzgerald sank) and Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Yooperland, the Apostle Islands in far north Wisconsin, the Mesabi Range (big-time iron mining country) in northern Minnesota, and Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota.

In the Upper Peninsula, this route also shunts you from the north end of Lake Michigan to the south edge of Lake Superior, so you get to experience both sides to some degree.

I have driven long lengths of some of the routes involved, including US 2 and M-28 in the Upper Peninsula, and I would describe them as fairly fast, with good availability of passing lanes.  At the time I visited (2016), the two-lane speed limit in Michigan was still 55 and the State Police were enforcing it aggressively, but I think US 2 and M-28 at least have since been raised to 65.

This part of the country does have a very remote feel, though Duluth is an important inland port and the Apostle Islands in particular attract heavy visitation.

oscar:
Glacier NP's Going-to-the-Sun Road, one of the park's prime attractions, now requires reservations, which you must obtain up to seven days before entering the park.

Most of US 2 in Montana, east of the park, is mind-numbingly boring. But at least it's fast, with 70mph speed limits between towns.

Williston ND, along US 2 in ND's northwestern corner, is probably a good place to look for lodging and other traveler services, now that the Bakken oil boom has calmed down a bit. It was a bit pricey when I was there last in 2016.

webny99:

--- Quote from: hbelkins on June 03, 2021, 04:34:34 PM ---... I thought about crossing the Mighty Mac and going west through the UP of Michigan. Everything I've ever read about the UP indicates that it's a whole 'nother world up there.

If he's amenable to going that far north out of the way and then making a 90-degree left turn, what would be a good suggested routing to get the full flavor of the UP? It looks like US 2 skirts the lake for much of its length. What would be a fairly-direct route west that would still provide the UP experience?

And from there, routes west to Rugby that aren't too terribly slow but still allow for a good taste of northern Wisconsin, Minnesota, and North Dakota?

--- End quote ---

Taking the Mackinac Bridge has the advantage of avoiding Chicagoland and the Twin Cities, which could at least partially counter any added time depending on when you'd be passing through. It is absolutely a worthwhile detour in my opinion, especially if you've never been to the UP.

My recommendation would be to stay on US 2 heading west from the Mackinac Bridge until at least M-117, and then take your choice of routing (likely M-117, M-77, or M-94) up to M-28. That route meets back up with US 2 at Wakefield not far from the Wisconsin line. Personally, I think M-28 is preferable to US 2 for several reasons: it's less mileage, it has better scenery (including of the Lake Superior shoreline, which you can't go to the UP and not see), and it passes through the "heart" of the UP, including Marquette, the largest city in the UP.

Max mentioned taking the detour up to Copper Harbor, but if you don't have time for that, the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore (just east of Munising) is a great stop that's not far from M-28.

US 2 is probably going to be your best bet west of the UP. There are some two-lane sections, especially in Wisconsin and Minnesota, but much of it is four-lane divided west of Bemidji.

Navigation

[0] Message Index

[#] Next page

Go to full version