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Old 04-17-2021, 10:34 AM   #1
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MI,WI,MN,ND,SD, & IA Trip Planning

Looking to plan a trip thru these states in the August/September timeframe. Leaving from and returning to Knoxville, TN. Iím in the beginning phase of planning and am looking for some input on route and things to see. I havenít done a ton of research yet and am hoping yíall can give me some guidance to get started.

Thinking of spending 6 weeks give or take. We prefer state highways over interstates, but do use interstates where it makes sense. Definitely will be hitting all the national parks in these states. We like the outdoors seeing the natural sites. State parks with something special are good. We like history and cool small towns. We do some hiking and biking. Would like to go thru Des Moines, IA at some point to visit friends. Anyway, tell me what you liked about these states and how you moved around them.
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Old 04-17-2021, 10:42 AM   #2
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US61 and MN61 in MN, all of it except around TC metro. It doesn't exist in the numbers north of the Cities but does use country route numbers paralleling I-35. Plan on time in Duluth and the north shore as well as from LaCrosse to Hastings. Red Wing is pretty. Frontenac SP south of Red Wing if there are openings.
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Old 04-17-2021, 12:53 PM   #3
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Head north to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and take Hwy 2 across the northern states. Lots to see in Michigan - the west coast beaches are beautiful, Sleeping Bear Dunes Nat'l Lakeshore and the whole Leelanau Peninsula around Traverse City, then along the lakeshore up to Mackinaw City - perhaps taking the ferry to Mackinac Island. Cross the bridge to the UP and lots of camping opportunities all the way across.

Get a good 'paper' road atlas or individual state maps and pick out things you'd like to see then highlight a route.

Pick up DesMoines on your return.
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Old 04-17-2021, 01:14 PM   #4
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Might I suggest looping up through MI and WI (the UP is beautiful), over to ND and then down to Black Hills. Lots to see there of course. Take toad to Needles highway and Custer State Park. Then suggest going south into NE. Ft. Robinson. Scotts Bluff Monument. Then over to Mahoney State Park between Lincoln and Omaha. Right next to SAC museum. Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha. Then over to DM.
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Old 04-17-2021, 02:21 PM   #5
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Here's something to include in your planning: The Great River Road along the Mississippi river to it's beginning at lake Itaska

https://experiencemississippiriver.c...ve-in-america/
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Old 04-17-2021, 05:48 PM   #6
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have you made your reservations? if not get busy.
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Old 04-17-2021, 07:21 PM   #7
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Thanks for all the input so far. I failed to mention that we were thinking of heading up thru MI to Mackinaw Island and over the top into WI.

I’ve been searching itineraries and things to do in these states. Lots of stuff in the Dakotas appears to be on the western side of the state. Might hit Devils Tower while we’re out there.

As far as reservations go, we typically don’t make them more than a week or so in advance. This does add some additional stress, but on a trip like this we don’t usually know how many days we might want to stay at each place. We do make lists of places we think we would want to stay at and start calling when we get close. Has worked out pretty good so far, but the camping world is different now days.

Keep the suggestions coming!
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Old 04-18-2021, 04:16 AM   #8
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This sounds like a wonderful adventure!

We found the Soo Locks in Sault Ste. Marie to be fascinating and will return when we get back to Michigan. Another vote here for Sleeping Bear Dunes - and the sweet little town of Glen Arbor which is nearby. If you like cherries, be sure to check out The Cherry Republic; there are several locations throughout the state, including Glen Arbor.

Visiting the headwaters of the Mississippi in Itasca State Park (MN) was a highlight for us, and Itasca is gorgeous. We found the headwaters to be quite crowded during the day so we went back around five o'clock and had the place to ourselves.

Theodore Roosevelt NP (ND) provided an excellent experience, and please know that the drive to the North Unit is definitely worth the time and effort.

We believe that Custer State Park (SD) rivals some of the National Parks (despite its smaller size) due to the intriguing adventures and attractions it offers.

Travel safely and enjoy your trip!

Mary
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Old 04-18-2021, 06:29 AM   #9
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If you enjoy cycling check out Elroy/Sparta WI.
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Old 04-18-2021, 01:36 PM   #10
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Was born and raised in Northern Minnesota. Given your planned route through MI and WI, suspect you are going to enter MN through Duluth. If you plan to go to ND next, most direct route is from Duluth to Fargo, ND. All state roads unless you want to pick up I94 east of Moorhead, MN. Not a lot of RV parks on the route, and most cater to much smaller units. Suggest Sherwood Forest campground in Gilbert, MN. Right on a huge water filled open pit. Not many other parks nearby. I would avoid the state parks up there because of your unit size and most don’t trim the trees up high enough. If you decide to go south, stop at grand casino rv park in Hinkley. Right off I35 and a gorgeous rv park. As suggested earlier, I would get on reservations now. We booked Gilbert for a week in June last Dec and lucky to get in. Don’t forget your bug juice. Mosquitoes are the state bird up there. Happy and safe travels.
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Old 04-18-2021, 03:08 PM   #11
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... speaking of Duluth, MN.... Here is an excellent write up on it. This blogger has a great resource on campground in the individual states. Look on the top line under U.S. camping and also under 'boondocking'. They traveled in a 40' motorhome so they know the big sites. (They're living in France right now and still RV.)

https://wheelingit.us/?s=duluth+
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