TravelFilter: Looking for things to see/do between Seattle, WA and Mansfield, MO.
June 10, 2010 1:01 PM   Subscribe

Mum and I are going on a road trip in a week. We're starting from the Seattle area and the farthest point is Mansfield, MO. There we will see the last "Little House" of Laura Ingalls Wilder. We'll also be visiting DeSmet, SD to see the "Little Town on the Prairie". We're also going to see Mt. Rushmore which is also in South Dakota. Other than that, we have no definite plans. What is there to see and/or do between those two points? Any hotel/motel/B&B recommendations?

Limitations:
- We want to keep things flexible. There are a lot of States/routes in our path and anything is possible.

- We want to keep the trip down to about two weeks.

- While we can spend want we want, we'd rather keep it as inexpensive as possible.

- Neither Mum or I are up to strenuous physical activity. Mum has a bad case of fibromyalgia and uses a cane. I'm diabetic, have a bum knee, have peripheral neuropathy (bad feet) and should be using a cane. Short walks on fairly flat terrain are fine.

I know that Washington to Missouri covers a pretty wide area. Throw what you have at me and I'll do the sorting.
posted by deborah to Travel & Transportation (27 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
If Laura Ingles is your thing, you might like the Prairie Museum in Holdrege, Nebraska.
posted by Lutoslawski at 1:08 PM on June 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


If natural stuff is your thing, Badlands National Park, Wind Cave National Park and Jewel Cave National Monument are worth a look (all in SD near Mt. Rushmore). Also (at age 12) I thought Devil's Tower National Monument in Wyoming was really cool.
posted by janerica at 1:23 PM on June 10, 2010


Drive the Beartooth Highway near Yellowstone.

See the Minuteman Missile National Historic Site just east of Wall, SD.

Visit Pipestone National Monument near Sioux Falls, then follow the Missouri River down to your destination.
posted by jon1270 at 1:34 PM on June 10, 2010


Badlands National Park, near Mt. Rushmore, is really stunning. It's like being on another planet at times. Also, Wall Drug Store is a pretty well-known tourist spot, right at the entrance to the Badlands. It's an okay stop, but not necessarily a must-see location. It has some interesting history to it.

Mount Rushmore to Badlands. Badlands to Wall Drug Store.
posted by SpacemanStix at 2:06 PM on June 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


If you're driving across SD on the interstate anyhow between DeSmet and the Black Hills, you might as well factor in a little extra time and take the Badlands Loop, which has some spectacular views of stratified rock formations; you can see plenty from your car, and there are a couple short easy walks if you feel so inclined. The Corn Palace in Mitchell, SD, is a curious sight - a sort of Byzantine structure decorated with murals, yes, of corn.

It's probably worth at least driving through Yellowstone Park along your route (I think admission is $25 per vehicle). Some of the sights, such as Old Faithful, the geysers in Norris Basin, the formations at Mammoth Hot Springs, and the big canyon, don't require more than a short walk from the a visitor parking lot (and driving through the park takes you through some breathtaking scenery in general).

On preview, yes, Devil's Tower is cool too, and is something you don't have to hike to either (there is a loop trail around the base but as huge as the formation is you can obviously see it just fine from the road in and the parking lot).

Also on preview, the Beartooth Highway is spectacular but Beartooth Pass is 11,000 feet so depending on health issues you might feel the altitude (light headedness, headache) - also always check the road conditions before setting out on the Beartooth Highway because sometimes there are rock slides that close portions.
posted by aught at 2:10 PM on June 10, 2010


Deborah, The Wallowa Lake Lodge might be a good first or second stop, if you are going that direction (Google Maps has an I-84 option which would be close to this).

It's got this gondola that is pretty fricking spectacular.
posted by Danf at 2:16 PM on June 10, 2010


Definitely Badlands. I once spent an entire night watching the stars there, saw Venus rise, and then as the sun came up I watched a herd of bison grazing on a plain twenty yards from where I sat. There are places in the Badlands with zero light pollution and starwatching cannot get better, if you're interested in that.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:22 PM on June 10, 2010


Walnut Creek, MN (On the Banks of Plum Creek) and Pepin, Wi (Little House in the Big Woods) don't have intact Little Houses, but they're definitely aware of being part of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Story. They're gorgeous territory -- the non-prairie part of the books. That would also give you the option of following the Mississippi River to Missouri, which is a spectacular drive. If you tire of the plains, you might consider these.

Wall Drug!

The Corn Palace in Mitchell!

Pipestone National Monument is a great suggestion, too -- more really beautiful territory.
posted by gum at 2:34 PM on June 10, 2010


If you come through the Sioux Falls, SD area and have any specific questions about it, feel free to MeMail me. My job has to do with local business/tourism and I know the city/area pretty darned well.

In the meantime, I will try to think of local flavor things you can do here since you seem to be into prairie and pioneer life!
posted by bristolcat at 2:44 PM on June 10, 2010


The Corn Palace is pretty wild.

Yellowstone gets all the press, but I thought Glacier was even cooler.

The National Park Service website is really well-done, and has a lot of valuable information. Definitely have a look at the pages for the parks you're planning on visiting before you head out. Also, you can get a pass for a year's entry into all parks for $80. Best deal in America. (Actually, if your mother's over 62, she may be able to qualify for the senior pass, which is only $10 and valid for a lifetime. Either way, the entry fee is charged per vehicle, so you only need one.)

I took the scenic route while moving from the Twin Cities to San Francisco (traveling via Seattle), and can send you a link to my photos from the trip on Flickr if you think they'd be interesting.
posted by tellumo at 2:54 PM on June 10, 2010


Near MT Rushmore you can also see the Crazy Horse monument. Nthing the Badlands: absolute must see.

On your way west in Washington you might try to go by Dry Falls, which is pretty impressive.
posted by LobsterMitten at 3:46 PM on June 10, 2010


If you'll be passing through St Joseph, MO on the way to Mansfield, the Glore Psychiatric Museum is not to be missed. Museum highlight: Artfully arranged display of over 1,000 foreign objects removed from the stomach of a patient with pica.
posted by madforplaid at 5:34 PM on June 10, 2010


The Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman, MT might be of interest: dinosaurs, planetarium, anthropology and art.
posted by DarkForest at 5:36 PM on June 10, 2010


If you were big fans of the TV show Twin Peaks, you might want to stop by in Snoqualmie and North Bend, WA to see a few sights. Similarly, if you were a big fan of Northern Exposure you could stop in Roslyn, WA.
posted by DarkForest at 5:52 PM on June 10, 2010


The Maryhill Museum of Art in the Columbia Gorge is nice if you like art. The Columbia Gorge itself is scenic if you are going that way.
posted by DarkForest at 6:11 PM on June 10, 2010


If you like art musuems, Nelson Atkins and Kemper in Kansas City and Marianna Kistler Beach in Manhattan, Kansas are great -- and they're all free. A good portion of Manhattan is made out of limestone rock and has a fairy-tale, Disney look to it. Des Moines, Iowa has a fine art museum and botanical garden. Sioux City Iowa 's "Trinity Heights" has 33-foot steel Jesus and Mary statues overlooking the Missouri Valley.

If you want to venture further west, Carhenge is about an hour off Nebraska I-80, near Alliance. If I think of others, I'll mail you. I like www.roadsideamerica.com

I've never done badly at any B & B, even if it was just someone's house. The Prairie City, Iowa (just west of Des Moines) "Country Connections" B & B: really nice people. The Super 8 in Onawa, Iowa is clean with courteous staff.

Oh, we stayed at Big Lake Park in Craig, MO (just south of the Iowa border). $69 for two bed "motel room" that overlooked a lake. Spotless and quiet. I want to go back there. I'd call them now as we took the last room when we called a week in advance.

Have a great time!
posted by Prairie at 8:15 PM on June 10, 2010


The Little House on the Prairie site (which still has the well Pa Ingalls dug) is about 3 1/2 hours east of Mansfield near Independence KS. Willam Inge was from there and the Independence Community College Library has a collection, with a free map of places related to his life.
posted by brujita at 11:17 PM on June 10, 2010


The Corn Palace in Mitchell, SD... is boring as hell. If you're on 90 then it's along the way, so go ahead and stop if it's convenient, but there's no reason to plan your route specifically to see it.

The Badlands and Yellowstone are great parks to visit, and Rushmore is fun.

Mansfield isn't far from Branson, if you're into that sort of thing or are a big Yakov Smirnoff fan.
posted by kyleg at 11:38 PM on June 10, 2010


Someone mentioned it upthread, and it's not too far off I-90 in southwest Minnesota, is the Walnut Grove, MN, Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum, and they have events going on all through July (a little late for you, though). The Pepin, WI, museum is a bit off the path for you, unless you go south to Missouri through there.

If you want some more old-west, hit Deadwood in South Dakota, not too far north of Mount Rushmore; the Crazy Horse Memorial is worth seeing, too.
posted by AzraelBrown at 7:21 AM on June 11, 2010


The Corn Palace in Mitchell, SD... is boring as hell. If you're on 90 then it's along the way, so go ahead and stop if it's convenient, but there's no reason to plan your route specifically to see it.

I hate to, but I have to agree. If you are going to stop in Mitchell, a better plan would be to see the Archeodome at the Mitchell Prehistoric Indian Village. It's a domed structure over an archaeological site that provides year-round access and research facilities. The museum is also pretty good. And then on the way back you can drive by the Corn Palace, gawk, and move on.
posted by bristolcat at 8:54 AM on June 11, 2010


This is great, folks. Keep 'em coming!
posted by deborah at 10:13 AM on June 11, 2010


If your mom is over 62 years of age, you may want to consider buying a Senior National Parks Pass. My mom and I have used it to save quite a bit of money. You can find out more here. Have a great time!
posted by Coyote at the Dog Show at 12:42 PM on June 11, 2010


nthing the badlands loop, its an amazing sight and you don't need to get out of the car to enjoy it. Devils tower is impressive too even without hiking around it.

Crazy horse and the museum next to it are pretty good, although it is not even close to complete. it is neat to see a work in progress and imagine the monument it will become. If memory serves me correctly it's not easily seen from the highway and they do charge money to get close enough to get a good view of it. Its a little bit of a drive south from Rapid City/Mount Rushmore, but the drive is pretty and lots of potential wildlife to see along the way (buffalo, bighorn sheep, burros, prairie dogs).

The caves in the black hills area are interesting, but I think most tours include lots of walking and/or steep stairs.

Personally, I would skip the corn palace. The main thing it has going for it is that it is in a part of SD that has nothing else to see. Its good mainly for breaking up the long drive through the vast plains.
posted by missanissa at 3:43 PM on June 11, 2010


Sorry, Independence is WEST of Mansfield.

There are two Oz museums in KS. The one in Wamego
is the nicer one.
posted by brujita at 1:35 AM on June 12, 2010


Seconding the OZ museum in Wamengo (near Manhattan if you want to combine the two)!
posted by Prairie at 8:53 AM on June 14, 2010


I've marked a few best answers - they are the things we most likely will do/see while on our road trip. I didn't mark duplicate suggestions.

I'd love to do and see everything but we have only so much time!

Regarding Oz - Mum's first name is D*****y. She's rather anti-Oz oriented stuff thanks to a childhood full of taunts.

Many thanks to all comments and input!
posted by deborah at 11:24 AM on June 15, 2010


Posted too soon!

I meant to thank for the suggestions along the Columbia Gorge, but we have seen them. And we're not going through Oregon this trip.

Also, I'd love to see more LIW homes, but it's just not in the cards for this trip.

Thanks again!
posted by deborah at 11:28 AM on June 15, 2010


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