Your Grand Rapids to Billings road trip will take you through the six states of Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, and Montana, depending on the route you choose. These states are in the upper northwestern sections of the U.S., and you will find a diverse landscape of rolling hills, forests, plains, prairies, cultivated fields, rivers, and lakes. Your route begins in the city of Grand Rapids on the eastern shores of Lake Michigan and continues around its southern end through the city of Chicago. After leaving Chicago, you will set off across the northwest to Montana, the "Big Sky" state. You will have the opportunity to visit two National Parks on your journey, the first along your route being a newer National Park and the second having the distinction of being the oldest National Park.
Indiana Dunes National Park
Indiana Dunes National Park has been providing recreational fun for families for many years. First designated as a National Lakeshore in 1962, it was promoted as a National Park in 2019. The importance of this large 15,000-acre park lies in the wide diversity of the habitats, and it is ranked 4th in the National Park System in terms of ecological diversity. The park contains numerous sand dunes, many of which can reach upwards of 200 feet in elevation, and it runs for 15 miles along the shores of Lake Michigan. You will be able to experience distinct habitats like forests, rivers, bogs, marshes, lakeshores, prairie grasses, and sand dunes. The many miles of trails provide access to these areas throughout the park, and everyone can enjoy all the activities available on Lake Michigan. There are also several historical landmarks inside the park.
Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park was the first national park created by the U.S. in 1872. This huge 3,500-square-mile park is primarily located in Wyoming and also extends into parts of Montana and Idaho. The park is most famous for possessing a number of geysers and hot springs, including "Old Faithful," named thusly because of its regular venting of water and steam (around every hour and a half). Yellowstone has an incredibly diverse landscape, which includes canyons, alpine rivers, hot springs, geysers, forests, and meadows. There are many species of wildlife, like bears, wolves, bison, elk, and antelope, among others. Native American nations inhabited these lands for many centuries, and later European settlers accessed these areas as well. One of the main attractions in the park is the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, which is around 20 miles long and almost a mile wide. The Yellowstone River, which is the longest undammed river in the U.S. and runs for 600 miles through three states, has carved out a deep, terracotta-hued path through the canyon. The park is also known for its 900 miles of hiking trails.
Maplewood State Park
Maplewood State Park is a fun park to visit any time of the year, but it is especially beautiful in the fall because of the flaming autumn colors of the sugar maple, basswood, and oak trees. The park contains several small lakes and ponds, and the landscape is varied with western prairies, forests, valleys, and meadows. Visitors can hike on multi-use nature trails, and in the winter you can enjoy skiing cross-country, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling. The park also is home to around 50 species of wildlife and 150 species of birds.
Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park
Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park is the oldest state park in North Dakota and serves to both educate the public and to preserve history. The park contains two main areas of reconstructed buildings: On-a-Slant Village and the United States Cavalry and Infantry. The Mandan people lived here for many centuries but were affected tremendously by Smallpox and subsequently abandoned the villages. The 7th Calvary and the 6th and 17th Infantries were stationed here in the 1870s, and General Armstrong Custer was commander until his death at Little Big Horn in 1876. The original fort and its buildings were dismantled afterward. While in the park, visitors can explore the sites, camp in tepees or cabins, fish, hike, and ride horses.
Cooney State Park
Cooney State Park is located near Billings in southern Montana and is known for its excellent walleye and rainbow trout, which are restocked every October; Visitors are happy to fish in all seasons, as ice fishing is popular here. Everyone will enjoy partaking in various boating activities like water-skiing, kayaking, and paddleboarding. There are three boat ramps with docks and a fish-cleaning station. The park has a beautiful backdrop of picturesque hills, and the nights are dark with great opportunities for stargazing on clear nights. Birdwatching is a popular activity, and hundreds of bird species have been logged and identified, like franklin gulls, American kestrels, and short-eared owls.
USS Silversides Submarine Museum
USS Silversides Submarine Museum is a naval museum that houses the USS Silversides submarine and the USCGC McLane W-146 cutter. The USS Silversides was a World War II submarine that is credited with sinking 23 ships during the war, the third-most number of any allied submarine in the war. She has received 12 Battle Stars for service in WWII and one Presidential Unit Citation. The USCGC McLane W-146 is a prohibition-era Coast Guard cutter that is interesting to tour. The tour of the USS Silversides is self-guided and begins with a visit to the museum for an informative display and presentation of WWII history, the history of submarines in general, and the story of the USS Silversides. Visitors then tour the USS Silversides and experience some of what it meant to live inside such a small environment. There is a gift shop on-site, and the museum offers programs for staying overnight on the submarine.
Minnehaha Park is a city park located in the city of Minneapolis and is the home of the famous Minnehaha Falls. You can view the impressive 53-foot Minnehaha Falls, the lower cascades, Minnehaha Creek, numerous limestone bluffs, and other sights via trails and scenic overlooks. This historic park was designed in 1883 and was part of the former Grand Rounds Scenic Byway and the Upper Mississippi River "Fashionable Tour" during the late 19th century. Besides viewing the natural wonders, you can also tour the several historic buildings inside the park, like the John H. Stevens House, the Minnehaha Princess Station depot, and the Longfellow House, which is a replica of the poet's Cambridge home.
The North Dakota State Capital
The North Dakota State Capital, in Bismarck, ND, is a 21-story tower constructed in an art-deco style. It is located on 160 acres that contain several other buildings of note. The grounds also contain parks, walking trails, and informative monuments commemorating the state's history. The entire site is attractive and educational, and it is worthy of adding to your Minneapolis to Billings road trip itinerary.
Chicago is the first major city that you will travel through on your road trip from Grand Rapids to Billings. You should not miss your chance to experience the exciting sights and attractions in Chicago, which include Navy Pier, Grant Park, the Skydeck, Lake Michigan, and many more. If you are planning on using a dump station before you get too far down the road, then there are plenty in the nearby area. Yogi Bear's Jellystone Park is a highly rated Yogi Bear RV park and is conveniently located in the Chicago area, and your family will enjoy the amenities and activities.
Fargo, North Dakota
Fargo is located in North Dakota, and the city gives you a great opportunity to get some rest during your Grand Rapids to Billings RV road trip. The city has museums that explore both the past and the present, such as the Plains Art Museum that contains Native American, contemporary, and regional art. The Fargo Air Museum has interesting displays of a wide range of historic and modern aircraft. If you are looking for a restful RV park, then Governors' RV Park & Campground is a quiet site that is still near the city of Fargo. There are plenty of dump stations for your use around Fargo as well.
Bismarck, North Dakota
Bismarck is the capital city of North Dakota and is a good place to take a break before arriving at the end of your Grand Rapids to Billings road trip. Here, you will find much to see, such as the North Dakota Heritage Center and State Museum, the Former Governor's Mansion, and the Dakota Zoo. The KOA in Bismarck is a typical KOA park with all the expected amenities, and you will have no problems finding a dump station if you need one.
When you follow this road trip itinerary from Grand Rapids to Billings, 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 Grand Rapids to Billings.