I-90 Chicago to Yellowstone points of interest
Some friends and I are going to be heading out to Yellowstone National Park soon. We'll be picking up a friend in Chicago and driving west down I-90 through Wisconsin, Minnesota, and South Dakota. The only points of interest I know are Buffalo Grasslands/Badlands and Mt Rushmore in South Dakota. Any other photogenic points of interest you'd recommend to break up the drive? Also if anyone knows of any ghost towns/urban decay areas along the way, my friend might be interested.
Some years ago I took a road trip from Minneapolis to Yellowstone.
These are some of the points of interest I recall, in addition to the ones already mentioned.
Devils Tower National Monument.
Bighorn Medicine Wheel.
From LaCrosse WI. take 14 west to Pierre SD and then south on 83 to HWY 20 and head west into Casper and then over and up into Yellowstone. Or a variation on that theme.
That will be a far better bet for life experience and photography.
Have a great time.
My wife and I drove that route with our dog when we moved across the country in 2007. We used http://www.roadsideamerica.com/ to find interesting kitschy places to stop along the way, but we also hit the major attractions like Mt. Rushmore, the Badlands, and the Crazy Horse monument.
Of course we stopped for cheese in Wisconsin, and drove through the super-kitschy resort town of Wisconsin Dells. We also stopped to see the Jolly Green Giant statue in Blue Earth, MN. South Dakota has a lot of corn, and the Corn Palace is not far from the freeway. Interesting place to see if you are into roadside kitsch or basketball (it's a functioning Basketball facility).
You won't be able to miss Wall Drug since you start seeing the billboards soon after leaving Chicago. It can be a quick stop and good cheesy fun if you're into that sort of thing. If not then I recommend continuing on to Rapid City, and getting a hotel room for two or three nights. You won't be able to see the Badlands, Mt. Rushmore, and Crazy Horse all in one day. Maybe in two days. It's all worth seeing. The Badlands are stunning, but it's a lot of driving to hit all of these national treasures. I'd say the Badlands offer the best photo ops for landscapes hands down. There are some other interesting photo ops along the highway.
Take your time if you can, but of course there is more to see as you head towards Yellowstone. We ran out of time and didn't get to stop at Little Big Horn or Devil's Tower.
There is the Buffalo Bill Cody Museum in Cody, Wyoming on the east edge of Yellowstone. The museum is well done with several sections.
I just (like in last sunday) got back from a long roadtrip, and Chicago-Yellowstone was part of it...
Between Chicago and Mt Rushmore we took the US-20 untill about Cedar Falls, which offered a much more scenic alternative to the I-90. Be sure to check out the historic town of Galena along this stretch.
East of Rushmore, you can take either the 16 + 85 or the 71 and get back on the US20. We took the former, and basically continued on the US20 untill Thermopolis, than took the 120 to Cody. You'll again pass through some amazing landscapes (Black Hills, Oglala Nat Grasslands, Souther Wyoming), but the very best part of it (to us at least) was between Shoshone and Thermpolis, pas the Boysen Reservoir and through the gorgeous River Canyon.
Cody itself has also a few nice things to offer, and to shoot if you so please. Be sure to check out Irma's, the original hotel and restaurant of Buffalo Bill, and maybe go and enjoy the (daily) Cody Nite Rodeo.
The Beartooth Pass, (Highway 212) runs southwest into Yellowstone, and is considered among the most beautiful roads in the country!