Driving recommendations PA to SD

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jennypenny
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Driving recommendations PA to SD

Post by jennypenny »

I'm road tripping out to SD this summer and I'm trying to figure out the best route. I realize that 'best' is subjective. Google fu tells me that it's best to go from Pittsburgh up to Cleveland, through Chicago, and then north to 90 before heading west. I was thinking of continuing west from Pittsburgh through Columbus and Indianapolis, through Cedar Rapids, then on to Sioux City, Sioux Falls, then west to Rapid City.

We'll be driving my old mystery machine (DS is fixing it up this summer to use for camping out west) so too much city driving/traffic is annoying. I'll also need to stop at least twice since I want to limit us to 8 hours of driving per day.

Anyone done this or have any suggestions?

eta: I'm only driving west. I'm flying back and leaving the van with DS.

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Re: Driving recommendations PA to SD

Post by jacob »

We've done I90 many times. Time it so you won't be driving into the sun all day if you can (we can't). I'd strongly recommend getting one of those automatic toll-thingamabobs for the windscreen. We estimate that saves us about 30 minutes of waiting in line at the toll booths of which there are many. Also, there are nice rest stops every 45-60 mins on the toll road. That's not the case on the "scenic" route which is also slower + you might have to leave it for gas/toilets. Waze is your friend.

Oh, and you should time it to avoid Cleveland at rush hour lest you waste an hour at snail speed. Ditto Chicago ($$$-tolls), but you can go around that via I80 and onto Cedar Rapids.

Gilberto de Piento
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Re: Driving recommendations PA to SD

Post by Gilberto de Piento »

I have done this drive a number of times though never all in one shot and its been awhile. Thoughts:
- No idea on going through Columbus and Indianapolis.
- Get an ez pass and add enough money. Cheaper and faster than cash.
-if you take 90 go around Chicago unless you need to go through. Google will send you through Chicago on 90 as the fastest route and sometimes it probably is but the times when you sit in stopped traffic aren't worth it. Take 294 (I think, might be 290) around. Even if Google says 90 is faster just before I get there I don't trust it because I hate sitting.
-Are you camping? Devil's Lake in Wisconsin is not far off your route if you take 90 and is nice but is very hard to get a campsite in and not 1/3 or 2/3 of the way from Pittsburgh. I also liked Palisades State Park just outside of Sioux Falls which might be about 2/3 of the way and just off 90. Indiana Dunes are also off 90 and have camping but I haven't been there.
-As far as taking 80 or 90 out west I'd probably go with 90 but it's not that different in my memory. The bottom of MN and all of IA feel similar to me. Not intended to be an insult to anyone from there, just an observation about the drive.

Looking for recommendations for things to do?

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jennypenny
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Re: Driving recommendations PA to SD

Post by jennypenny »

I'm actually driving out from Philly, not Pittsburgh. The best way west for me is 76 to Pitt. After that I have options. I guess 8 hrs/day would put me in Indiana the first night and Cedar Rapids (?) the second night. Not really sure.

@jacob -- I plan on driving from 5am - 2pm every day to avoid driving into the afternoon sun.

@GdP -- Normally I would plan on camping and would definitely be looking for things to do. I'd plan my route to visit places I've always wanted to see. This year, I'm not sure. If things are about the same COVID-wise, I'll probably just make haste for Rapid City. It's a shame, but I'm not feeling very social or curious right now. It's too bad because so many of you live up in that neck of the woods that a summer meet-up would be fun. Maybe next year. :(

sky
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Re: Driving recommendations PA to SD

Post by sky »

I live 80 miles from Downtown Chicago and will drive a hundred miles out of my way to avoid the toll zone and the traffic of Chicagoland.

My recommendation is to go through Indianapolis and Des Moines rather than Chicago.


https://maps.app.goo.gl/gYZjkpLcphZDNeuB9

IlliniDave
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Re: Driving recommendations PA to SD

Post by IlliniDave »

I know several guys who head out to Sturgis on their bikes every summer from the Boston area. They always take the first route, I90 goes right through Sturgis, IIRC). I third the EZ Pass. I only have one toll to go through on my Illinois->Minnesota trek, on I-90, and even with just one toll booth it's worth it. I borrow my Aunt's and just reimburse her. If you go the I90 route you'll skirt the edge of my old stomping grounds--my biker friends often overnight in Rockford on the way out. If possible I'd recommend trying to get through Chicago before 500 AM, between 10-2, or after 700 PM.

Taking 76/70/74 through Indy looks like it might be a decent alternative, alnong the lines of what sky said above. One option there is you could take I39 North from I74 in Bloominton IL, a freeway that will Merge with I90 near the Illinois/Wisconsin border, which would skip all but one or two tolls on I90. and you avoid Cleveland and Chicago. That might not be the fastest route, and it may be better to take 74 further west before going north, I'm not familiar with those roads.

Laura Ingalls
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Re: Driving recommendations PA to SD

Post by Laura Ingalls »

Gilberto’s two state park suggestions are both awesome, but both pretty popular. Not sure I would show up without reservations.

Cedar Rapids is not actually on 80 it is north of the interstate ~20 miles. Iowa City is on the interstate and it’s more interesting in my opinion. There is also the Amana Colonys’ to checkout. Iowa state parks are mostly meh especially along 80 (Lake Anita is pretty good though) The loess hills are cool and Preparation Canyon is especially nice. If you choose the 80 route do not speed through Sioux City.

Both routes have liabilities and attractions. Edit to add Iowa City has had near daily protests blocking the interstate at times.

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Re: Driving recommendations PA to SD

Post by classical_Liberal »

I'm curious, where do you hang out in Rapid? In the city or do you rent/camp in the hills?

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jennypenny
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Re: Driving recommendations PA to SD

Post by jennypenny »

@c_L -- I stay in Rapid, usually at the Residence Inn off 90 where I can use points and stay for free. Our younger son can't camp with his CF and our older son lives in Rapid, so we use it as a base for sightseeing. I don't mind too much since the points, the free breakfast, and the kitchen in the room make it practically a free stay all around (pre-COVID).

----

My current plan is to stop overnight in Columbus OH, Davenport IA, and somewhere around Sioux Falls SD on our way to Rapid. Any warnings or advice? Ohio and Iowa are currently on the COVID naughty list but I'm pretty sure everywhere will be on it by the time we leave in two weeks. This is such an awful time for a trip like this but DS needs the car out there so ... off we go.

Laura Ingalls
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Re: Driving recommendations PA to SD

Post by Laura Ingalls »

Sent a pm

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jennypenny
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Re: Driving recommendations PA to SD

Post by jennypenny »

h/t Laura Ingalls for recommending the Blackhawk in Davenport. It was great. And empty ... we felt like we were in the Shining given the decor/ambiance and lack of patrons.


Driving cross country, it's obvious that mask wearing is a localized thing. Some places we stopped, everyone was wearing one (even at truck stops), and at other places, we were the only ones. It was hard to predict. Generally it's been pretty good, except at one hotel that said it was following Marriott's mask policy but none of the employees were wearing masks (looking at you Sioux Falls :evil: ). We're flying home tomorrow, so I'l see how that goes.

We also got caught in the derecho in Iowa on route 80 between Davenport and Des Moines. We managed to get to an exit and pull into a gas station. Everyone ran into the convenience store for cover, but very few were wearing masks. I understood since it was an emergency and most probably forgot given the circumstances, but (for that reason) we weren't comfortable going inside and decided to ride out the storm in the van. It was ... exciting. :lol:

Laura Ingalls
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Re: Driving recommendations PA to SD

Post by Laura Ingalls »

My sibling in Iowa City area is still without electricity. I guess the whole area is still a hot mess.

Miss Lonelyhearts
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Re: Driving recommendations PA to SD

Post by Miss Lonelyhearts »

I lost power in Chicago for about 12 hours. My experience of the storm itself was interesting in that it was very intense but also very short. Time from sky blackening and start of downpour with maximum intensity winds to passing of storm front leaving only moderate thunderstorm rains in its wake was about ten to fifteen minutes.

George the original one
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Re: Driving recommendations PA to SD

Post by George the original one »

jennypenny wrote:
Sat Aug 15, 2020 7:16 am
decided to ride out the storm in the van. It was ... exciting. :lol:
"If this van is rocking, don't bother knocking"

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