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Old 08-09-2011, 06:18 PM   #1
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Pensacola to Badlands - avoiding I-29

We leave August 25th and had received good advice about the best route that suited our wants/needs- pushing hard to get there, then slowing down to enjoy the sites. But that was prior to the flooding throughout much of that area. Our planned route had been:

Pensacola, FL to Interior, SD via Jackson, MS; Little Rock, AR; picking up US 71 at Joplin, MO joining I-29 at Kansas City. Stay on I-29 to I-90, then I-90 to the exit for the Badlands.

Latest DOT reports and info on safetravelusa.com, show parts of I-29 still closed due to flooding. Since this is our first trip up that way, we aren't familiar with alternative routes. Have no desire to get into detours and single lanes (for bridge repairs) if we can avoid it.

Now we're thinking about keeping the route as it was, to 43 miles north of Kansas City on I-29. That would put us in St. Joseph, MO where we'd exit onto US 36 heading west. Right now they aren't showing any problems along that stretch of I-29.

We'd stay on US 36 until we reached US 81 in Belleville, KS and turn north. It's about 75 miles north of that turn, that Tom and I are divided on what to do.

Option 1 - Stay on US 81 all the way to I-90, then west on I-90 to the Badlands.

Option 2 - Stay on US 81 until we reach I-80. Hop on I-80 for about 40 miles until we reach the Grand Island, NE/US 281 exit, then get on Route 2 (Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway) until it intersects with US 83. Get on US 83 to I-90 to Badlands.

Option 3 - Follow Option 2 as far as Grand Island but take Routes 11 and 91 (the Loups River Scenic Byway) to Dunning where we'd pick up Route 2 and then US 83.

Any advice on any part of this plan is welcome. Also, if you know a better way to get from point A (Pensacola) to point B (The Badlands), that advice is welcome too. As I said, we've never driven any of this past Jackson. And while getting there as quickly as possible is important, we'd also like to enjoy the ride and have something interesting, or scenic, to see along the way. On our vacations we're always scouting for places to return to for a real "visit."

Sorry this is so long, but I wanted to be as clear as possible.

Thanks again for helping 2 newbies get off to a good start on their first long trip.
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Old 08-09-2011, 11:03 PM   #2
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I live in Wisconsin now ... but lived the first 25 years of my life in Nebraska ... and began my teaching career in the sandhills of Nebraska (Burwell) ... I have travelled most of the roads that you mention.

My choise would be your Option 3. There is an article in the most recent Motorhome magazine about the Loup River Scenic route ...

There is a very nice overnight spot at the intersection of I-80 and US-281 (just south of Grand Island) ... it is a State Recreation area ... nice sites (some pull throughs) with 30 and 50 amps ... water and a dump station ... the name of the place is Mormon Island ...

There is also a nice little campground just east (about 2 miles) from Burwell ... very low key ... and gigantic sites ... Willow Springs (308-728-5337

At Dunning you will come to Nebraska National forest ... this was started by one man years ago ... and Valentine is a very interesting and amazingly beautiful place ... there is a bison and elk herd south of town ...
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Old 08-10-2011, 02:33 PM   #3
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skigramp,

Thank you for your detailed reply. It was the Motorhome magazine article that started me thinking about which route to take when avoiding I-29.

I keep discovering more and more interesting things to see and do in Nebraska. I have to confess, I've never been there and that my perception of the state was wrong. We won't have time to do much more than enjoy the changing scenery on this trip as we drive though, but I've found plenty of reasons to return and spend some time there.
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Old 08-10-2011, 07:24 PM   #4
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I assume that at some time while you are in the Badlands that you will go to Wall Drug ... if you do the best thing there is the gallery of "the way that it used to be" photos that are way in the back ... way back by the dinosaur ... I spent an hour looking at them ... I would have spent longer but my copilot was getting ansy to move on ... sooo we moved on ...
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Old 08-11-2011, 05:46 PM   #5
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skigramp,

Don't know if we'll hit Wall Drug or not, but thanks for the info on the old photos. That's more along the line of what we'd be interested in.
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Old 08-12-2011, 03:07 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Floridafran View Post
skigramp,

Don't know if we'll hit Wall Drug or not, but thanks for the info on the old photos. That's more along the line of what we'd be interested in.
does wall drug still have free ice water?
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Old 08-12-2011, 10:20 AM   #7
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Website for Wall Drug

==> walldrug.com
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Old 08-12-2011, 10:38 AM   #8
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Option 3 is your best bet. Don't plan on I 29 this year. Flooding continues and this mornings report reveals extensive damage to I 29 at the Missouri/Iowa border to Sioux City, Iowa.
A trip to the Badlands has to include a stop in the Black Hills and Mount Rushmore.
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Old 08-12-2011, 08:10 PM   #9
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Never fear, Our Time. The Badlands are just the first stop on our adventure. After that we'll spend a few days in the Blackhills area to see Rushmore, Devils Tower, and other things I've found to see/do. Then we're off to Glacier, Yellowstone, etc. We'll end our wanderings in the SW part of Colorado in the Ouray/Silverton/Telluride/Durango areas to get in some back-road time in the Jeep before heading back home to Florida.

And thanks for your suggestion as to which route we should take. Looks like I-29 is going to be a problem for awhile.
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