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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I traveled I90 from Buffalo to Rapid City, SD in 3 days. Toured Montana and Wyoming for several days. I’m dreading the ride back on I90 and I’m considering using either Google maps or my Wings Navigation and simply selecting no tolls and no highways.

Questions for anyone that’s crossed the county without Interstates:

How many miles per day is doable, let’s say no more than 8 hours per day?
Was the ride enjoyable?
Do the small towns slow you down much and are they aggravating?
How did you select your route?
Any tips on what to look for and what to avoid.

This is my first long trip and I know there’s a lot of seasoned riders on this forum that can offer advice.
 

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Miles per day: Depends on the secondary road....is it a 60+ MPH speed limit or is it a 40 MPH speed limit? I normally do 300-500 miles per day depending on roads, weather and my fatigue level
Anything off the interstate is usually enjoyable.
Small towns are the best part of the trip.
I look for a scenic route that is fairly direct.
Look out for dirt or gravel secondary roads, look for good local restaurants and local culture. Rural America is a very cool place,
 

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I've ridden the Lincoln Highway (starting from Alberta and joining it in Wyoming) and ending in Chicago. The Lincoln Highway pre-dates Route 66. Google it.

It's mostly but not entirely 2-lane. Towns do slow you down, but that's part of the charm. If you need to make time, interstate is the only way to go.

Only you can determine how many hours in the saddle is do-able each day.

Tim
 

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In Google maps options, select Avoid Highways will help quite a bit. As b206driver said enjoy the back roads, one caution though, watch your speed in and close to the small towns.
 

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I've done several cross country trips using mostly secondary roads. Very rewarding. You can always jump back on the interstate if ya need to.
 

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If you have the time and funds slow down and do it that way. It’s the way I like to travel on a bile. I really seem to like 350-400 miles per day type of riding. You’ll figure it out for yourself what your speed Is.

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If you are in Wyoming then take US 20 from up near Cody and it goes to Casper. It hops on the 4 lane for around 40 miles then you get off and head to Lusk. It is nice and you can travel at 65 as the limit is 60 in Nebraska. Halfway across is Valentine and you can stop for the night. Eat at the Peppermill restaurant you will love it. If you get out by 0700 you will cross the rest of Nebraska. (There is a nice Holiday Inn Express in Chadron NE or O'Neil NE for alternatives) 20 turns into an almost deserted 4 lane Interstate across Iowa. Cross that and it turns to 2 lane in Illinois. Nice road. At Freeport IL it turns back to 4 lane and will hit I-90 at Rockford IL. Take Interstate around Chicago. If you don't want deserted Interstate across Iowa then take 20 out of Sioux City and in a few miles by Holstein take 59 south to Denison and then East on 30. 30 is very straight but heads towards Chicago. But when you get to Sterling, IL you might as well get on I-88 east and go through Chicago and get around the south of Lake Michigan. After that you're on your own.
Although if you're up in Montana the take US Rt 2 east across the top of the US and beautiful country. Then when you get to I75 near the Mackinac Bridge go south across the bridge and in mackinaw city get off on 23 and follow the lake around then when 23 almost gets to I75 again go south on 13. The in a few miles East on 25 which follows the lake until you get to I94 take it to Detroit then hop on I75 to Toledo then hop back on 2 east until Huron then get on 6 which follows the lake and gets bogged down in cities. I'd hop on 90 and just get home as you're close then.
Choices, choices... Enjoy.

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I found you a couple options using my Microsoft Streets and Trips (with interstates turned mostly off). Option 1 is all non-interstate but takes you into Canada. Option 2 has interstate once you get onto the upper Peninsula. The blue quarter moons are roughly stop points based on my own preference of ~8 hour days. Absolutely double check the routes with Google. Microsoft stopped updating the map several years ago, but I love the software for estimating rough overnight stop points. The 2&3 markers on the 2nd one are forced route changes I did to stay out of Canada.

Edited to add: You could also take Rt 12 from Bascom, MT to about Willmar, MN and then swing up towards Duluth from there.
 

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Go North, get on Hwy 2. There is a nice ferry ride to take you into Vermont. Hwy 2 will take you all the way to the Hwy 1 on the East Coast if you want to go that far. In Vermont I like to go North to the last East/West road into New Hampshire then North to whatever road goes through Dix's Gap and then into Maine. It is beautiful the whole way.
 

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How many miles per day is doable, let’s say no more than 8 hours per day?
As mentioned, it depends. If you're doing it now you have 9-ish hours of daylight still in those latitudes. Don't plan for 8 hour day; plan for a 9 hour day - you'll ride 8

Was the ride enjoyable?
Do the small towns slow you down much and are they aggravating?
SO, there's the rub - it can be enjoyable, or it can be a real slog. Much depends if you're stopping to smell the roses, or if you're just looking for another way home. If the latter, as mentioned, try US-2 for a while - best of both worlds?

How did you select your route?
Any tips on what to look for and what to avoid.
If you're using Google Maps/Waze to route you, it takes you to the direct center of town, rather than any bypass roads, so you do get scenery.

I'll give you another warning - you do not really want to be on these roads when it's harvest season. a 20MPH combine or other farm machinery can really mess up your timing, unless it's completely open.

Have fun!
 

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Go North, get on Hwy 2. There is a nice ferry ride to take you into Vermont. Hwy 2 will take you all the way to the Hwy 1 on the East Coast if you want to go that far. In Vermont I like to go North to the last East/West road into New Hampshire then North to whatever road goes through Dix's Gap and then into Maine. It is beautiful the whole way.
He is only going to Buffalo NY
 

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How many miles per day is doable, let’s say no more than 8 hours per day?
Was the ride enjoyable?
Do the small towns slow you down much and are they aggravating?
How did you select your route?
Any tips on what to look for and what to avoid.
My wife and I usually do our best to avoid interstates. We travel about 8 hours a day. How far we get in that day will vary greatly because if stop and see lots of stuff we don't make many miles. It will range from 0 to about 750Km. I would say 450Km is common.
Small towns do slow you down but not being on the interstate will slow you down. The few times we have been in a hurry we have jumped on the interstate but mostly we are not in a rush and prefer a small town mom and pop motel anyway.
How do we select our route? Sometimes it is quite literally " Umm, how about this way"
Tips? An old fashioned map is your friend. 'While traveling across NY state we some how lost our map. We set the GPS to avoid highways and toll roads, and it figured out a way to do it but it would have taken the better part of a week! So we did the NY throughway. If we had our map we would have seen a way to avoid most of the throughway and just a bit of toll road at the end by Niagara Falls. I am sure we missed out on a few great tidbits but in the end - It makes a good story-'
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Thanks for all the great tips and advice. Leaving Cody, I rode the Bighorn Scenic Biway rte 14 then picked up I90 to Rapid City. Bighorn is an incredible ride!
Some others pointed out that through the prairies and Nebraska, etc you might be better off on the interstate. Let’s you get through them quicker. Sine the scenery is the same and the roads are straight, I think I’ll do that. But once through that I’ll likely ride Rte 30. I can’t repeat my mistake of riding I90 through Chicago!
 

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wish I was doing this ride with you. Have fun.
 

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Thanks for all the great tips and advice. Leaving Cody, I rode the Bighorn Scenic Biway rte 14 then picked up I90 to Rapid City. Bighorn is an incredible ride!
Some others pointed out that through the prairies and Nebraska, etc you might be better off on the interstate. Let’s you get through them quicker. Sine the scenery is the same and the roads are straight, I think I’ll do that. But once through that I’ll likely ride Rte 30. I can’t repeat my mistake of riding I90 through Chicago!
Johnny, Yes it is a nice ride. Did this ride in 2007 from Ranchester to Cody, WY.

Wednesday we continued west through Buffalo and Sheridan to Ranchester then west on route 14 to Cody, Wyoming. Crossing the Bighorn National Forest and going through Greybull was a very scenic ride to Cody. The steep and curvy mountain pass with great views reminded me a lot of Bear Tooth Pass between Red Lodge and Cooke City, Montana. Arriving in Cody around noontime, we decided to have lunch at Granny’s Family Dining, which was an excellent choice.

I suspect you will like route 30.
 

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Thanks for all the great tips and advice. Leaving Cody, I rode the Bighorn Scenic Biway rte 14 then picked up I90 to Rapid City. Bighorn is an incredible ride!
Some others pointed out that through the prairies and Nebraska, etc you might be better off on the interstate. Let’s you get through them quicker. Sine the scenery is the same and the roads are straight, I think I’ll do that. But once through that I’ll likely ride Rte 30. I can’t repeat my mistake of riding I90 through Chicago!
What most people don't know is that the middle of Nebraska is basically sand dunes covered in grass. That's why the main thorough fares... I80 on the southern edge and US route 20 on the northern edge are where they are at. On 20 from the western 1/3 of the state are bluffs and looks like it is still Wyoming then the northern edge of the Sand Hills until halfway through the state and it's all cattle country. After halfway it starts to become row crop country. I've always wanted to go through the middle of the state instead of around the sand hills.

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