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Road trip around Lake Superior

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A.J. Bertin:
Next summer, a friend of mine (one of my fellow roadgeek friends) and I are planning on taking a 5-day road trip that includes circling Lake Superior. On the second day of our trip, we will be driving from Sault Ste. Marie to Thunder Bay, spending the vast majority of the day on King's Highway 17 in Ontario.

Are there many people here who have traveled that section of Highway 17? Google Maps says it's approximately 440 miles from Sault Ste. Marie to Thunder Bay. I'm just wondering what the road is like as far as whether it's busy, if there are plenty of services along that stretch, and so on. Are there plenty of gas stations, restaurants, rest areas, etc. along that stretch? It seems like that would be some pretty remote territory and was just wondering.

(I considered posting this on the Canada board but figured I would start with Midwest/Great Lakes.)

AsphaltPlanet:
I have driven that stretch of highway a couple of times in the past. Highway 17 isn't very busy, but it is well travelled, so if you do run into trouble, somebody will be along to give you a hand.

Highway 17 is at times quite remote.  It is sometimes several hundred kilometers between towns and gas stations, but if you plan ahead you'll be fine.  Wawa and White River are typically the most expensive places to buy gas in Ontario, but because of their remote location it's hard to avoid a fill-up in one of the two locations.

There aren't a lot of chain restaurants between the soo and Thunder Bay (there isn't a single McDonalds for over 700 km) but there is an A&W in White River and a Tim Hortons in Wawa.  There are a number of independent restaurants along the way to tide you over though.

I haven't driven it, but I understand that Hwy 61 is quite remote north of Duluth as well.

Hwy 17 is very pretty. It is consistently rated as one of the 10 best drives in Canada, and the scenery won't disappoint. Have fun!

oscar:

--- Quote from: A.J. Bertin on December 10, 2012, 12:49:17 PM ---Next summer, a friend of mine (one of my fellow roadgeek friends) and I are planning on taking a 5-day road trip that includes circling Lake Superior. On the second day of our trip, we will be driving from Sault Ste. Marie to Thunder Bay, spending the vast majority of the day on King's Highway 17 in Ontario.

Are there many people here who have traveled that section of Highway 17? Google Maps says it's approximately 440 miles from Sault Ste. Marie to Thunder Bay. I'm just wondering what the road is like as far as whether it's busy, if there are plenty of services along that stretch, and so on. Are there plenty of gas stations, restaurants, rest areas, etc. along that stretch? It seems like that would be some pretty remote territory and was just wondering.

--- End quote ---

Services are a little scarce along that highway, nothing to worry about but you do need to think about where you'll stop for fuel, eats, etc.

Off the top of my head, the stops with a decent variety of services will be Wawa (jct ON 101) and Nipigon (jct TCH 11).  Both have Tim Hortons and Subways, if you want fast food, but there's not a single McDonald's between SSM and Thunder Bay.  Other places along the way with at least some gas and lodgings include Marathon, and little towns I don't remember (other than stopping for gas) between Marathon and Nipigon and maybe one between SSM and Wawa.

It's an unpleasant drive at night between Marathon and Nipigon, but you should have no trouble doing SSM to Thunder Bay in daylight in the summer, even working in stops to take in the awesome scenery where the road hugs Lake Superior.

Bonus tip:  Services are even more limited on ON/MN 61 south of Thunder Bay.  I don't know how far south of the border is the nearest U.S. gas station, so I suggest at least a partial fill-up in Thunder Bay, rather than striving to cross back into the U.S. on a nearly empty gas tank just to beat higher Canadian gas prices. 

agentsteel53:
on a related note, what's the furthest north you can drive in Ontario from 17?  Looks like Balmertown is the end of the line?

reason I ask is - I'll be in Minnesota this upcoming weekend, and if the northern lights forecast looks promising, I'm heading straight north.

texaskdog:
61 is not remote at all.  Small towns every few miles.  Maybe the stretch north of Grandma Ray.

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