Your Columbus to Minneapolis road trip will take at least a day if driven with no breaks. The drive will route you through the five states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. Along the way, you will see many different types of landscapes that include two of the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River. Much of this area is forested, and there are also remnants of the prairies from frontier days gone by and many other and more modern cultivated farmlands. This area of the midwestern U.S. has been an important force in the lives of both early Native Americans and later settlers from all over the world. As you travel these many miles you will hopefully have time to add a national park or other significant sites to your Columbus to Minneapolis road trip itinerary.
Cuyahoga Valley National Park
The state of Ohio has played an important role in the sustainment of economic development for the early Native American nations and the exploring European settlers. Cuyahoga Valley National Park serves to preserve much of this rich history, both naturally and historically. The park lies just south of Lake Erie and the greater Cleveland area; It contains part of the towpath of the original Ohio and Erie Canal and the Cuyahoga River, which has been transformed from a polluted river into a vibrant and healthy ecosystem. Within the park, visitors can hike on the Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath Trail, view the beautiful Brandywine Falls, ride the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad, and tour the Canal Exploration Center.
Indiana Dunes National Park
Indiana Dunes National Park is the 61st national park in the national park system, being designated as such in 2019. Previously labeled as a national lakeshore, today, Indiana Dunes National Park is a national park that is one of the most biologically diverse preserves in the nation. While taking a break from your Columbus to Minneapolis RV road trip, you can enjoy forests, meadows, and prairie grass, as well as hike alongside rivers, streams, and 15 miles of shore on Lake Michigan. The dunes that lend their name to the park can reach upwards of 200 feet in height and provide a unique experience for hiking. There are waving fields of wildflowers in the spring and summer months, and everyone will enjoy the snowy adventures that await in the winter.
Findley State Park
Findley State Park is a nature lover's dream and includes a variety of plants and animals that will delight all who visit. You will see meadows of hepatica, bloodroot, marigold, trillium, and many other wildflowers; The forests of red and white pine, white ash, black cherry, oaks, beech, and maple are thick throughout the park. The butterfly sanctuary affords the chance to see the rare Duke's skipper butterfly, and the plentiful hiking trails connect to the statewide Buckeye Trail.
William W. Powers State Recreation Area
William W. Powers State Recreation Area lies between Illinois and Indiana and is home to Wolf Lake. This is a popular state park among avid anglers who can fish from the banks for sunfish, crappie, carp, bluegill, Muskie, bullhead, pike, bass, and other fish species along the 6 miles of lakeshore. The park is day-use only, but there are plenty of recreational activities available to all who come. Besides the exceptional fishing you will find, there are miles of hiking trails throughout the park and also designated hunting areas for use within the respective hunting seasons.
Lake Wissota State Park
Lake Wissota State Park is located on Lake Wissota, which is on the Chippewa River near Eau Claire, WI. This 6,300-acre lake provides plenty of fishing opportunities, and you can borrow fishing equipment directly from the park. You can also water-ski, boat, canoe, paddleboard, and kayak around the lake, and the park provides kayak rentals. There are 11 miles of multi-use nature trails within the park and 9 miles of equestrian trails. If you are ambitious, you can also hike along the Old Abe State Park Trail, which is a 20-mile paved railroad trail that runs to Brunet Island State Park in Cornell.
Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, OH
Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens is an 88-acre conservatory that offers beautiful displays of foliage year-round. The spring is an especially good time to visit, but every season has its own charm. Besides the meticulously designed landscapes inside the conservatory, there are also resident butterflies and other insects, a fish pond, a cafe, and a gift shop.
Navy Pier, IL
Taking a ride on the Centennial Wheel is one of the best ways to enjoy a spectacular view of the shores of Lake Michigan and the city line of Chicago. This popular ride on Navy Pier has been providing visitors with a unique view of the lakefront of Chicago for many years. Besides the Centennial Wheel, you can also find gardens, shops, eateries, and parks on the 50 acres of real estate that stretch 3,000 feet into Lake Michigan. Navy Pier has a storied history of use in the military, commercial, and private sectors and continues to delight and entertain the many visitors who come to the pier every year.
Cave of the Mounds, WI
Cave of the Mounds is a cave system that is often called "the jewel box" of caves in North America. This beautiful cave features a variety of speleothems that are known to leave its visitors in awe at its natural wonder. The cave was discovered by quarry workers near the Blue Mounds hills in 1939, and the park has been heavily visited ever since. While inside the caves, visitors can view the stalactites from lighted walkways.
Toledo is a city with a large urban area and a strong industrial history. The city is in the Maumee Bay area of Lake Erie and is the 4th-largest city in Ohio. An interesting tribute to the city's glass-making past is the Glass Pavilion, which has numerous displays of glassworks. Other fun venues to visit include any of the parks, museums, and sports centers, as well as the symphony. Toledo East/Stony Ridge KOA Journey park is a quiet RV park that allows you to take a quiet respite from your road trip from Columbus to Minneapolis. The city of Toledo and the surrounding areas have several available dump stations for your use.
Chicago is one of the largest cities in the U.S. and is affectionately named "The Windy City." Here you will find innumerable parks, museums, restaurants, shops, and entertainment venues. Of these, Grant Park, Navy Pier, and Skydeck (four all-glass boxes that project over a drop of more than 100 stories and offer a view of four states) are some of the more intriguing sites. You will have no trouble finding a dump station here if you need to use one, and Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park is rated in the top 10 of Yogi Bear Parks and is located in the Chicago area. Your family will enjoy all the on-site activities and planned weekend festivities for the kids.
Madison is the capital of Wisconsin and is located just west of the city of Milwaukee. A worthwhile site to visit while in Madison is the Wisconsin State Capital, which is a designated National Historic Landmark. The current capital was completed in 1917 and features 43 types of stone with Bethel white granite as the predominant material for the outer areas and the dome. Other types of granite, marble, and limestone used for the exterior and interiors originate from the U.S. and from other countries. Another interesting site is the Monona Terrace lakefront convention center, which was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Viking Village Campground offers lots of modern amenities, and if you want to utilize a dump station, then you will have several choices.
When you follow this road trip itinerary from Columbus to Minneapolis, you will enjoy historic locations and beautiful scenery along the way. If you want to travel in comfort and style, consider an RV rental from RVshare. From large motorhomes to compact campervans, there is a rig that will meet your travel and budget needs. Once you hit the road, you are protected by our renter guarantee and 24/7 roadside assistance. Find the perfect vehicle for your travel needs in Columbus or Minneapolis.