It’s a long drive from Glacier National Park to Michigan. Theodore Roosevelt National Park and the Lake Superior shore make nice stopovers.
Day 1: Columbia Falls, Montana to Williston, North Dakota
We saw a deer downtown as we turned onto the main road. And got a last look at bison. And at mountains, with better visibility and a passenger train for a change.
Then it was another long drive across Montana, on US-2 all the way. Lots of little half-dead looking towns. Some major road construction. Lots of empty — or nearly empty — fields.
Once we got to our hotel in Williston we didn’t feel like getting back in the car or dealing with COVID wild west so we ordered Domino’s.
Day 2: Theodore Roosevelt National Park North Unit
Not a crowd at breakfast so we felt reasonably safe. Today was our day to explore the North Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Then we hit downtown Williston for some Hawaiian food. Williston was kind of a surprise. It’s kind of an oil-boom town, so more going on than we expected, even if it’s mostly chains.
Day 3: Williston to Grand Forks, North Dakota
Another day of driving across flat landscape, though with lots of swamps and lakes. We had nice enough weather to sit outside for dinner, at The Toasted Frog. We’d seen it on TV and had to try the fried cheesy pickles.
Day 4: Grand Forks to Schroeder, Minnesota
First thing this morning we crossed the Mississippi again, into Minnesota. We saw lots of what we think were salamanders crossing US-2 just over the border.
We were glad for Nagatha (AKA Google Maps navigation) as we made our way over to the Lake Superior coast of Minnesota.
Day 5: Minnesota's North Coast
We spent the day exploring Minnesota’s North Coast, the Lake Superior shoreline. We had a nice view of the lake from our room. At least when it wasn’t foggy.
We tried to wait out the fog but it was foggy and off-and-on rain all day. We started by driving up to Grand Portage State Park on the Canadian border to check out the High Falls of the Pigeon River. The falls — and the park in general — were beautiful and it was an easy walk to the falls.
We then worked our way back south along the coast, stopping at Cascade River and Temperance River state parks. There are lots of rivers flowing into the lake along this stretch.
There were nice fall colors and lots of people about despite the weather. Judging by how full the lodgings were, this is a popular weekend spot in the fall.
We would have taken the Mt Oberg trail but with poor visibility it didn’t make much sense to hike to an overlook!
Day 6: Schroeder to Marquette, Michigan
Today’s drive was through the woods along the shore of Lake Superior through Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan’s upper peninsula.
We took the scenic way through Wisconsin hoping to catch a glimpse of the Apostle Islands but never really saw them. We did go through Bayfield, a cute little town with some nice old houses. (Duluth has some good ones too.)
Day 7: Presque Isle Park
We planned a day of hiking and exploring in and near Marquette. It rained most of the day so we didn’t get out until late afternoon, but that gave us time to explore Presque Isle Park. The trails aren’t terribly well-marked but the views are great.
Day 8: Marquette to Home
Our last day was spent driving home from Marquette. We thought about stopping at the cottage but opted instead to go home and get the stuff to winterize the cottage. Summer is over!
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The Microtel Inn and Suites in Williston is a typical lower-priced chain motel. Room was nice but small. Right next to Walmart, if you’re into that.
Expressway Suites had a spacious and comfortable room. There wasn’t much in the immediate vicinity but it wasn’t a bad drive to downtown Grand Forks.
At the Superior Ridge Motel we had a spacious room with a view and a fireplace. It was the only reasonably priced option we could find on Minnesota’s Lake Superior coast.
The Quality Inn offered a good-sized room with a chair for lounging and a desk chair. There was a grocery store nearby.
We drove our own car. A lot of the roads we drove were two-lane highways. There wasn’t much traffic and speed limits were generally 65-70 mph so traffic moved along. There are long distances between towns so don’t let the gas tank get too empty. And long distances between rest areas too! Appreciated Google maps going through Duluth.