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Minnesota and Wisconsin Road Trip - itinerary help

Overland Park...
Level Contributor
38 posts
Minnesota and Wisconsin Road Trip - itinerary help

Hi,

We are in the process of planning a Wisconsin/Minnesota Road Trip. We'd like to get a taste of your state and during my research I realized there's a lot of ground to cover; there are so many amazing areas. So, we’ve settled on the North and South western parts of the state. Here are my thoughts and I'd be forever grateful for your feedback so that we can make the best use of our travel time. Details – we’re late fifties, we'll be driving from Kansas City, and we love the outdoors, moderate hikes (knees), kayaking, canoeing, fishing, waterfalls and food. I’d like to travel the following itinerary, but I’m not sure if I have the best route, or the best approach from KC. Help!

Day 1 - Home to Prairie du Chien (6 ½ hours) to La Crosse (another 1 ¼ hour) – stay in La Crosse

Day 2 – Explore this area, stay in La Crosse

Day 3 - Follow Great River Road to Stillwater (2 ½ hours) – stay in Stillwater

Day 4 - Stillwater to Ely MN (4 hours) – OR - Stillwater to Grand Marias (4 ½ hours)

Day 5 - Ely MN to Grand Marias – (2 ¼ hours) – stay in Grand Marias

Day 6 - Grand Marias to Duluth – (2 hours)

Day 7 - Duluth to Bayfield – (1 ¾ hours)

Day 8 - Bayfield to Des Moines 7 ¼ hours

Day 9 - Des Moines to Home (3 hours)

I look forward to hearing your suggestions.

Mary

6 replies to this topic
Minneapolis...
Level Contributor
5,308 posts
1,185 reviews
1. Re: Minnesota and Wisconsin Road Trip - itinerary help

I think you have too many hotel changes and too much driving on this trip. I would cut Ely out and spend an extra day in Grand Marais (with no hotel change). Also, why are you driving to Des Moines? Is this just to rest or are you going to explore this city?

Overland Park...
Level Contributor
38 posts
2. Re: Minnesota and Wisconsin Road Trip - itinerary help

Thanks for your feedback rockyjoe. I thought of Ely, because I'd like to see the Boundary Waters, and I may not get that far north again. Still trying to make up my mind.

Also, would you stay in Grand Morais or Duluth as a base for a 2 day base? My husband is not fond of backtracking.

Yes, Des Moines is a means to break up our long trip back from Bayfield to KC.

Minnesota
Level Contributor
24 posts
38 reviews
3. Re: Minnesota and Wisconsin Road Trip - itinerary help

Hello. In my opinion I would rather stay in Grand Marais than Duluth but everyone likes different things. There are many beautiful things to see and walks/hikes you can do in GM. Duluth has the waterfront boardwalk of course, and the lift bridge which is cool to see . I highly recommend the Boundary Waters.

I would say drive from Stillwater to GM and stay for a couple days because from there you see all the amazing things AND you can go to Tofte and see the BW. Then I would start the back track and you could stay in Duluth and see all those cool things. I HIGHLY recommend staying at the Park Point Marina Inn which is located on the other side of the lift bridge from canal park. It's a beautiful hotel and a short (3 blocks) walk to the lift bridge in canal park. I just stayed there and wrote a review about it.

I hope this helps!

midwest
Level Contributor
779 posts
223 reviews
4. Re: Minnesota and Wisconsin Road Trip - itinerary help

Hi Mary - Here's another take:

Day 1 - Madison WI

Day 2 & 3 - Munising MI

Day 4 & 5 - Bayfield WI

Day 6, 7 & 8 - Grand Marais & Gunflint Trail

Day 9 - Austin MN

Day 10 - Home

There's obviously a few permutations to be considered... You could skip Munising, or Grand Marais and make the trip shorter, spend more time in other areas, etc. Is your 9 - 10 day time fixed? There's a lot to fill in-between for any part of the above itinerary. I could spend 10 days between Munising & Bayfield - easy! I could (& have...:) spend a lifetime along the north shore of Superior. To me, the Gunflint Trail area is a good BWCA like experience - as good as you can get if you are in an automobile versus a canoe. It'll be great whatever you decide! Good Luck!

Edited: 13 June 2018, 06:03
Minneapolis...
Level Contributor
5,308 posts
1,185 reviews
5. Re: Minnesota and Wisconsin Road Trip - itinerary help

I would much rather stay in Grand Marais than Duluth. The scenery in that part of Minnesota is amazing. In addition, the Gunflint Trail starts in Grand Marais and you can access several lakes in the Boundary Waters from that road.

Also, you could add an extra day in the Apostle Islands and Bayfield if you bite the bullet and drive 3 extra hours home on day 9. Nothing against Des Moines but I would much rather spend time in Northern Minnesota and Wisconsin than that city.

Level Contributor
24 posts
5 reviews
6. Re: Minnesota and Wisconsin Road Trip - itinerary help

Mary,

I think you have way to much planned . You will be the car most of the time. Road construction is peak during the summer and your times don't allow you to stop and visit fun places along the way for your hiking pleasure. I believe some of these roads are just single lanes and reduced speeds.Unless your planning on getting up early and staying out til dark.

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