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Old 05-14-2012, 12:41 AM
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So cross country road trips in the south all through TX, AZ, NM get all the press, but what about driving across the US at the top through say MN, ND, ID, MT, and WA? Is it miles and miles of just vast nothingness up there with some small towns along the way? Driving along the northern part of the US for a cross country trip following a route that is parallel to the US/Canadian border has been intriguing me for a while now. Anyone ever done it?
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Old 05-14-2012, 06:56 AM
Location: Texas
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I've never done it straight through, but I've done most of that route in pieces.

Northern Minnesota is heavily wooded and sparsely populated, but it gives over to the Great Plains even before you reach ND at the Red River of the North. From there on, it's the plains all the way to the Rocky Mountains in Montana. It's farm country or badlands and there can be really significant distances between the small towns or even between farms. Remember, the combined population of ND and MT is only about 1 1/2 million people spread over 210,000 square miles and most of those live in the urban areas like Fargo or Bismarck or Billings. There literally isn't much out there. I've honest to gosh seen places near Wolf Point, MT where it is 20 or 30 miles between houses!

That's not to say there is nothing out there to see. There is, but after 3 or 400 miles of two-lane road, it can get boring.

When you reach the front range of the Rockies, you'l find that there is no direct route which hugs the border. Those are arguably the roughest part of the American Rockies and the terrain just doesn't lend itself to east/west roads. For instance, if you stay on US-2 through Glacier National Park to Kalispell, MT, that route detours south a pretty good distance to get through the mountains. From there on, the roads pretty much follow the rivers, which are oriented north/south, so your route is very crooked and indirect. That holds true all the way through the Cascades to the Pacific Coast. It's beautiful country, but impossible to travel in a straight line. Get out your map and look at the routes highways must take from Kalispell westward and you'll see what I mean.

But, I think it would be an interesting trip. You'd have to know your limits pretty well to plan where to stop for the night because you could easily find yourself driving a LONG way to find a motel. You'd better keep a can of gasoline in the trunk too, in case you misfigure.
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Old 05-14-2012, 09:53 AM
Location: Durham, NC
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I think the best scenery is on the middle route rather than the north or the south. Take I-70 to I-15 to SLC then jump on I-80 through Nevada into California. Or you could follow US-50 through Nevada to connect I-70 to I-80.
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Old 05-14-2012, 08:31 PM
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You can find a lot of good info on the Montana forum. The "Highline" is high and lonesome and windswept and fascinating in its own way, but the real fun scenery starts at the Rockies. Wiggling through on Highway 2 may take too long for you, but you'll have a chance to see Glacier. I-90 will take you through some wonderful and varied scenery, and if you want to spend some time sightseeing you can see the Devil's Tower, Mt. Rushmore and the Little Big Horn Battlefield on the way. Once you get to Missoula you can keep going on I-90 through the heavily wooded Bitterroots all the way to Coeur d'Alene and through Spokane to Seattle, or do a detour along one of the prettiest stretches in the NW along Highway 200 into Sandpoint, Idaho, and further into WA, along the rivers and lakes. Theres so much great scenery even if you just want to scoot through on the freeway, but if you have time to explore, and catch a few national parks and monuments along the way you'll really be seeing the Northwest...
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Old 05-15-2012, 01:22 AM
Location: We_tside PNW (Columbia Gorge) / CO / SA TX / Thailand
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Don't forget The Black Hills or Colo Rockies (neither north nor south)

I do a bit of zig-zag and look to America's Byways®: National Scenic Byways Online & http://www.freecampgrounds.com/index.aspx

If in ND, see some fun stuff, like this EnchantedHighway.net -- Enchanted Highway in Regent, North Dakota Sept is really pretty in ND with miles of sunflowers following the sun.
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Old 05-15-2012, 11:59 AM
Location: Whiteville Tennessee
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Or US Hwy 64 from Kitty Hawk NC to Shiprock NM!!!!!!!! We live in a most beautiful country!!!
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Old 05-16-2012, 08:32 AM
Location: Phoenix, AZ
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It really depends on where you're starting and ending.

In general, I would go across the middle. From Kansas, through Denver, and straight through Utah to Las Vegas, you will see some drastic changes in beautiful scenery. Flat grasslands give way to pointy mountains, which slowly turn into desert. For the eastern part, I would either stay North, by the great lakes (you could pass through Chicago, or even make a trip up to Canada if that's a possibility), or go through Kentucky (personal bias here, as it's my home state, but you go from the old Appalachians to rolling green hills, and the countryside is truly scenic. It's not as "hillbilly" as people say once you leave eastern Kentucky).
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Old 05-17-2012, 04:57 AM
Location: North Baltimore ----> Seattle
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U.S. 50 from Ocean City MD to SF. It's awesome.
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