Wanna make repeat trip more interesting.
September 9, 2010 4:26 PM   Subscribe

Looking for suggestions for drive through the midwest of things to see and roads to take.

So, we are driving from Winnipeg, MB, to Natchez, MS, Oct 1-15, truck and fifth wheel, total length 47 ft., clearance height 12'8". We have made this trip 3 times in the past 18 months, and I am tired of the primary routes of I-29 to Kansas City, then either down to AR or across to St. Louis and down that way. Considering time of year, weather, temps, and that we will be boondocking the entire way down, what are some good alternate routes for us to consider? Slightly Indirect routing is fine, we have the time!

Here are some guidelines/info:
1) Two-lane roads, curves, hills are all okay (very experienced driver with this rig), road conditions are more important (the smoother the better).
2) We prefer rural areas and small towns, avoid urban, use freeways to go through the urban areas if we can't go around them.
3) Sight-seeing: we like the unusual, nature, birds, out of the way places, interesting people, photo ops.
4) We don't eat out, so no restaurant suggestions please. Cute marketplaces, Independent used bookstores, Local music venues/musicians, and local handcrafts are all of interest.
5) Have access pass for National Parks and Monuments (i.e. free to us) so these are a plus.
6) Leaving Winnipeg Oct 1, must arrive in Natchez no later than Oct 15.

Please share any routes, roads, places of interest (including places to park overnight that have scenery and are free ... we only stay at walmarts as a last resort, we prefer former staging areas, parks, anywhere off the road and relatively safe).
Thank you much for sharing the places you know of or have discovered!
posted by batikrose to Travel & Transportation (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If you can flip to a more-St. Louis-y route, my persistent midwest stopover goals (thus far unachieved) include New Madrid, MO, the site of the longest earthquake in history. There is also a geologic enclave there, caused by the earthquake, that rerouted the Mississippi river and put a chunk of Kentucky inside of Missouri.
posted by rhizome at 4:35 PM on September 9, 2010

You could try something like this and only add about 14 hours to you trip. I can't promise it will all be pretty, but it's the only way to drive along a shoreline while in the midwest.
posted by 517 at 5:27 PM on September 9, 2010

Also slightly out of your way, but Wildlife Prairie State Park. Giant bison/elk/deer enclosure, many smaller enclosures for bears and whatnot (predators are all rehabbed). Overnight stays available.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:57 PM on September 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

You can catch the Natchez Trace off I-40 between Memphis and Nashville, or at Jackson, MS off I-55. It's exactly what you are looking for.
posted by raisingsand at 6:34 PM on September 9, 2010

LOL RaisingSand ... I did not say so, but that is precisely where we are headed, to Nashville to take the Trace to (almost) Natchez ... we work in the Natchez Trace Parkway National Park for the winter! I do appreciate the suggestion, because you are right! It's wonderful!

rhizome, 517 and Eyebrows, all great ideas ... looks like we will be going more east on the way down ... keep ideas coming please .... Thanks!
posted by batikrose at 7:07 PM on September 9, 2010

The obvious, and gorgeous, alternative is US Highway 61, which hugs the Mississippi River from Minneapolis/St. Paul to Natchez. It passes all of your tests in items 1), 2), and 3). Look at the route and look at all the amazing places you'll pass through. What a great road!
posted by gum at 7:17 PM on September 9, 2010

St. Louis. City Museum. Do it.
posted by Chef Flamboyardee at 7:51 PM on September 9, 2010

gum ... duh... thanks, I did not realize hwy 61 went all the way up to Minn/St. Paul ... what we have been on it is lovely!

chef, the museum looks awesome ... and I am sure there are other sights in St. Louis we would love to see. Question: How would it be for taking a rig our size into St. Louis where the museum is? (Dropping trailer is not an option en route due to mechanical issues). Or is there a combination of easy parking/public transit that would work?
posted by batikrose at 8:16 PM on September 9, 2010

The portions of Hwy 61 I've driven are great. However, watch out when you go through Davenport, IA, as it is the home of the Truck-eating Bridge, which is right downtown on 61 and has a clearance of under 12 feet. Numerous trucks hit that sucker every year, and I'd hate for yours to be one of them.
posted by PhatLobley at 9:48 PM on September 9, 2010

The stretch of the Mississippi between LaCrosse, WI and Dubuque, IA is very nice. Can't really vouch for the rest. Galena, IL is just a few miles east of the Mississippi and is full of quaint little shops and such.
posted by desjardins at 8:42 AM on September 10, 2010

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