Roadtrip with RVshare Detroit to Madison

Embarking on a Detroit to Madison road trip is a great chance to see the natural and historical features of the Great Lakes region. You will begin your journey at Lake Erie and pass Lake Michigan before turning north to Madison. Besides containing the largest inland lakes in the U.S., this area is home to a diverse number of rivers, wetlands, forests, and plains. This particular route will also grant the opportunity to drive along the Heritage Trail of Elkhart County, Indiana, which is a collection of scenic roads and dwellings that demonstrate Amish living and other ways of life from centuries ago.

Detroit to Madison Road Trip Itinerary

  • Trip Length: Seven hours
  • Mileage: 450 miles
  • Fun Fact: More than 200 WWII planes lie at the bottom of Lake Michigan as a result of training accidents at the Navy Pier in Chicago.

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Nearby National Parks

Indiana Dunes National Park

Indiana Dunes National Park is the 61st national park in the National Park System, and received this designation in 2019. Previously, the park was a national lakeshore and was designated as such in 1964. The park is named after its signature sand dunes that border the shores of Lake Michigan, but there are many other unique aspects to enjoy while visiting. Indiana Dunes National Park contains 1,500 acres and lies along 15 miles of Lake Michigan's southern shores. The park is the fourth most diverse park in the National Park system and has more than 1,100 species of plants that include prairie grasses, ferns, white pines, marsh plants, algae, and many other species. The park is also home to hundreds of animal species and more than 350 species of waterfowl and migratory birds. You will be able to see much of this biological diversity by hiking along the more than 50 miles of trails.

Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Cuyahoga Valley National Park is uniquely connected by towns and roadways and contains both privately and publicly administered lands. This area of present-day Ohio has been an important economic force for many centuries, and the park serves to preserve the natural habitats and the historical legacies of this region. The Cuyahoga River runs through the park, and this once-polluted waterway is now a pristine river that everyone can enjoy. There are around 100 waterfalls and more than 125 miles of nature trails, and the 20-mile Towpath Trail is part of the original 308-mile Ohio and Erie Canal towpath. Taking the Buckeye Trail will lead to the Everett Road Covered Bridge, and you can also visit the Station Road Bridge, a metal truss bridge from the 1800s. Another popular destination is the Hale Farm & Village, which features cheese making, glassblowing, and hearth cooking. Visitors can enjoy the park equally in all seasons, and many visitors snowshoe and cross-country ski with their own equipment or rentals from the park.

Nearby State Parks

Harrison Lake State Park

Harrison Lake State Park is a small park located in northwest Ohio and is a few miles south of the Detroit metropolitan areas. The park has charming views of the lake, wetlands, and woods. Fishing for largemouth and smallmouth bass, carp, crappie, bullhead, catfish, bluegill, and northern pike is a popular activity. Waterfowl hunting is permitted in season, and you can also swim and boat on the lake.

Potato Creek State Park

Potato Creek State Park is located a few miles southwest of South Bend on your Detroit to Madison road trip. The park is home to Worster Lake, a 327-acre lake that affords plenty of recreational opportunities for all ages. Visitors can fish, swim, and enjoy both non-motorized and trolling boating, and the park offers rentals for various types of boating equipment. There are almost 10 miles of hiking trails, a 3.3-mile bicycle trail, and a 6.6-mile mountain biking trail. Many of these trails wind around the lake and through fields, woods, restored prairies, and wetlands.

William W. Powers State Recreation Area

William W. Powers State Recreation Area is a popular destination for avid anglers. You can fish for sunfish, crappie, carp, muskie, bluegill, pike, bass, bullhead, and many other species, either from the banks or from a boat. You can also ice fish during the winter. There are numerous hiking trails, and if you enjoy hunting, there are hunting areas and waterfowl hunting blinds that are open for use during the different hunting seasons. If you would rather just view the wildlife, you will often be able to see trumpeter, mute, and tundra swans during the winter months. An interesting addition to the park is the presence of several nesting pairs of non-native monk parakeets, which took up residence in the park in 1999.

Along the Way

Toledo Museum of Art

The Toledo Museum of Art is a renowned art center. The Neoclassic marble main building is adjoined to the Frank Gehry-designed Center for Visual Arts and to the new addition of the Glass Pavilion. The Glass Pavilion is made of curved glass panels and houses a vast collection of art glass and glass artifacts, and visitors will enjoy the daily glassblowing demonstrations. The entire complex is situated among green spaces, sculptures, gardens, and the Victorian buildings in the Old West End of Toledo. The museum houses more than 30,000 objects in 45 galleries, including famous Old Master paintings, sculptures from Alexander Calder, and numerous glassworks.

Navy Pier

Navy Pier has a rich history of service for the citizens of Chicago. The pier has been both a private and public entity since it was opened in 1916, and it was engaged in various military uses during both world wars. Currently, Navy Pier is a vibrant part of the Chicago entertainment scene and contains a multitude of gardens, eateries, and recreational venues all along the 3,300-foot pier that extends over Lake Michigan. The Centennial Wheel Ferris wheel is one of the most popular attractions on the pier, and it is an especially fun ride at night.

Cave of the Mounds

Cave of the Mounds is fondly known as "the jewel box" of the known cave systems in North America because of the large number of colorful limestone formations found inside the chambers. These rich and brilliant hues are produced by manganese and iron oxides, and many of the formations are partially luminescent and will give off a temporary glow when they are exposed to light. The caves are beneath the southern slope of the east hill of the Blue Mounds hills, which are located a few miles south of Madison.

Main Cities You Will Pass Through

Toledo, Ohio

Toledo is located near Lake Erie in the Maumee Bay region. There are many things to see and do in this large urban city, including outside recreational activities and cultural centers. The Toledo Museum of Art should be added to your Detroit to Madison road trip itinerary if you have the time, and you will marvel at the number of galleries and objects in these beautiful buildings. The Toledo East/Stony Ridge KOA Journey park offers comfortable amenities in a restful setting, and there are many options for finding a dump station for your RV.

South Bend, Ohio

South Bend is on the St. Joseph River in Indiana and is the home of the University of Notre Dame. While in South Bend, you can tour the university and see many interesting collections housed in architecturally significant buildings. You will also enjoy taking the time to visit the Studebaker National Museum, which has a unique collection of classic cars. You will have no problem finding a convenient dump station at this midpoint of your Detroit to Madison RV road trip. The South Bend / Elkhart KOA is full of family-friendly amenities and is close to all the activities in South Bend if you plan on staying overnight.

Chicago, Illinois

Chicago is the largest city you will pass through on your road trip from Detroit to Madison, and you should plan on seeing some of the many wonderful and exciting attractions in the Windy City. Located on Lake Michigan, Chicago has a number of historical, cultural, and recreational opportunities for every taste. Navy Pier, located on Lake Michigan, is a must-see destination, and the Skydeck at the Willis Tower offers a unique view of the four states of Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, and Michigan. You will appreciate the dependable amenities offered at Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park, and there are lots of dump station services in the local areas.

Find Adventure from Detroit to Madison

Find your One-Way Rental

When you follow this road trip itinerary from Detroit to Madison, 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 Detroit or Madison.