Traveling the same route as the behemoth ice sheets of North America's most recent glacial period, you and your RV are taking a once-in-a-lifetime journey over more than 1,000 miles of picturesque lakefronts and unspoiled scenery from Hartford, CT, to Duluth, MN. Mountain mamas will love passing through the Poconos. Beach bunnies have ample opportunity to lounge and swim. Whether it's the splendor of the Great Lakes calling you or the arts and culture scene of windy Chicago, your Hartford to Duluth road trip has indoor and outdoor pursuits to please all travelers.
Cuyahoga Valley National Park
One of the first new national parks in the 21st century, Cuyahoga Valley National Park is also one of the most visited, welcoming over 2 million guests per year. Its popularity is due in part to being spitting distance from both Akron and Cleveland, making it the perfect destination compromise for city and country mice traveling together. Believed to be named after the indigenous language word for “crooked,” the Cuyahoga River winds its way through the valley, bisecting the park in its journey south. Full of trails for hiking and wildlife watching, the real signature Cuyahoga experience is checking out the 100 waterfalls. When it’s time to give your hiking boots a break, enjoy a trip on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad, an independently operated passenger train that runs through the park.
Indiana Sand Dunes National Park
Indiana Sand Dunes National Park sprawls over 15,000 acres of the southern shore of Lake Michigan. The eponymous rolling dunes typify the park’s landscape, but you will also find forests, prairies, and wetlands teeming with life. In fact, the abundance of flora and fauna at Indiana Sand Dunes led directly to its designation as a national park and makes it a prime inclusion on your Hartford to Duluth road trip itinerary. Home to almost a dozen threatened and endangered species, Indiana Sand Dunes is an excellent spot for wildlife observation. If you are not convinced to visit for the variety of hiking, fishing, horseback riding, biking, bird-watching, and swimming opportunities, then perhaps the chance to hear the “singing sand” of the dunes will tip the scales.
East Harbor State Park
Perched on the shores of Lake Erie, East Harbor State Park is situated on land that was once part of the Great Black Swamp. This geological designation is responsible for the abundant wetlands and beaches that make this park a paradise for swimmers and birders alike. There are ample launch ramps on the 1500-foot sand beach of Lake Erie as well as a full-time on-site mechanic, fuel, dock rentals, and boating supplies, amenities that make this park the perfect stop if you are towing a boat behind your RV.
Jay Cooke State Park
This popular state park provides travelers with all the outdoor recreation they would expect — hiking, wildlife watching, picnicking, skiing, and horseback riding. What sets Jay Cooke State Park apart is the duo focal points of the pioneer cemetery and the swinging bridge. The 200-foot bridge suspends visitors high above the St. Louis River for a view like no other. If somber and mysterious historic sights are more your speed, take a stroll through the Thomson Pioneer Cemetery, a sprawling woodland quarter that serves as the final resting place for the area's intrepid pioneers.
Devil’s Lake State Park
The largest state park in Wisconsin, Devil's Lake State Park is a wonderful place for amateur geologists and anthropologists. Whether you visit to see the 500-foot-tall quartzite bluffs carved during the last ice age or the smattering of early Native American effigy mounds, you will not be disappointed. Part of the 1,200-mile Ice Age Trail also passes through Devil's Lake State Park, making this park an important feather in any hiker or backpacker's cap.
This sleepy Pennsylvania town may not be very exciting 364 days out of the year, but if you are passing by on February 1st, it's home to the weirdest and wildest party around. The town’s most famous resident, Punxsutawney Phil, comes out of hiding on February 2nd and predicts whether there will be six more weeks of winter or an early spring. Popularized in the film "Groundhog Day," this annual tradition takes place the morning after an all-night outdoor party, capped off by the sunrise ceremony.
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
One of the most recognizable structures in Cleveland, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame houses a collection that would make any music fan weep. Every major movement in rock music is represented with exhibits on rock's origins in gospel, rhythm and blues, folk, country, and bluegrass. There are also individual exhibits celebrating artists like The Beatles and Rolling Stones and a two-story-tall replica of Pink Floyd's The Wall. If you are so inclined, step into the shoes of your favorite artists in The Garage, an interactive exhibit where visitors can pick up an instrument and jam.
Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio
Iconic works by renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright pepper the map of the United States, but a road trip from Hartford to Duluth will take you right past his very first creation. Built when Wright was just 22 years old, this family home sheltered Wright's six children and provided him the canvas on which he experimented with his new Prairie School of architecture. Available for tours, the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio is just one of the architect's buildings in the Oak Park neighborhood, just outside Chicago. Stretch your legs and stroll through an open-air museum of the master's works.
Awarded with many superlatives, Lake Superior lives up to its name. The largest of the already aptly named Great Lakes, Superior is the world's largest lake by surface area, and it's deep enough that the Empire State Building would disappear if you dropped it into the center. A force to be reckoned with, Lake Superior is not just a relaxing spot for sunbathing and watersports but also the backdrop of many historic shipwrecks. In fact, if you have the time for a pitstop in Paradise, MI, make sure to check out the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum for a wild retrospective.
Your Hartford to Duluth RV road trip will take you right through the northern suburbs of Pittsburgh, so a jaunt to the city proper would not add much time. The Steel City is recognizable by the overabundance of bridges; it even has more than Venice. The Three Sisters bridges dominate the skyline, and their bright yellow suspensions are the perfect focal point for shutterbugs. While the factory smoke of nearby steel mills no longer wafts over the city, the industry's influence is still obvious. For a great view of the mill - and a great time for kids - visit Kennywood Park and ride one of the historic wooden roller coasters. When it's time to stop for the night, there are several campgrounds ready to host you. You'll also find a number of dump stations in the area.
A compact bit of bustling waterfront real estate, Cleveland, OH, enjoys its prime location on the southern shore of Lake Erie. With a population less than half that of New York City, Cleveland nonetheless enjoys a robust arts and culture scene. The Cleveland Orchestra is widely considered one of the greatest in the nation, and the Cleveland Theatre District is home to Playhouse Square, the second-largest performing arts center in the U.S. after New York's Lincoln Center. If you are more interested in outdoor pursuits, Cleveland is a short distance from Cuyahoga Valley National Park, and nearby camping spots and dump stations abound. If you are sticking around town, brave cryptozoologists may even get a peek at Bessie, the Lake Erie Monster.
No Hartford to Duluth road trip is complete until you've had your fill of deep dish pizza in the Windy City. Replete with world-class restaurants, museums, performance venues, and historic sites, Chicago has something for everyone. One of the largest cities in the country, Chicago is the perfect urban oasis on a road trip so full of natural splendor. Instead of tall trees, "Chi-town" is known for originating the skyscraper period in architecture and still enjoys one of the tallest and densest skylines in the world. For those more interested in the performing arts than architecture, Chicago is home to The Second City, an incubator of comedic talent known for producing "Saturday Night Live" cast members and sitcom superstars. If you're planning to spend some time exploring Chicago, you may want to visit a campground or a nearby dump station before heading back out.
When you follow this road trip itinerary from Hartford to Duluth, 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 Hartford or Duluth.