Your road trip from Seattle to Chicago begins and ends with breathtaking destinations from Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton to Devil's Lake State Park and Mount Rushmore. You'll explore the beautiful towns of Jackson Hole, Billings, and Sioux Falls as you make your way through Wyoming and Montana with chances to glimpse grizzlies, wolves, and elk in their natural element as well as the striking monument, Devils Tower, that has a strong connection to past and present Native American culture.
Stops at a few national parks are a must on any vacation. Consider adding some to your Seattle to Chicago RV road trip to experience some of the most rugged, beautiful, and fierce lands in the world.
Mount Rainier National Park
On your way out of Seattle, be sure to visit Mount Rainier National Park for sweeping vistas of subalpine wildflower meadows that surround the active volcano. At this park, you can enjoy over 236,000 acres of rugged wilderness with 260 miles of trails to hike and numerous rock climbing routes of varying difficulty to explore. Some of the highlights of this park you'll want to see are Crystal Mountain, Narada Falls, Chinook Pass, and, of course, Mount Rainier.
Glacier National Park
Glacier National Park is a 2.5-hour drive north from Missoula. On your way in, take the Going-to-the-Sun Road for breathtaking alpine views, and then relax and enjoy a meal at the Belton Chalet. You can navigate the park on foot, by bike, or on horseback with 61 beautiful trails to explore. Expect to see a variety of wildlife from mountain goats to grizzly bears.
Yellowstone National Park
A visit to Yellowstone National Park is a must on your Seattle to Chicago road trip and is only a 2-hour-and-40-minute drive south from Bozeman. At Yellowstone, you can explore over 10,000 hydrothermal sites that include geysers, mud pots, fumaroles, and hot springs with chances to view grizzly bears, wolves, bison, moose, and elk in their natural habitats. Top attractions to experience while you're here are Old Faithful, Mammoth Hot Springs, and the Grand Prismatic Spring. This park is a hiker's paradise with more than 1,300 miles of trails to trek and beautiful lakes and rivers to fish. Popular spots where you can wet a hook are Yellowstone Lake, Shoshone Lake, and Firehole River.
Grand Teton National Park
Grand Teton National Park is only a short distance from Yellowstone and is well worth your time. Start your adventure by hiking to Grand View Point for majestic views of the Grand Teton mountain range and Jackson Hole, and then head to the tallest mountain in the park, the Grand Teton. Spend the day on Taggart, Leigh, or Jackson lakes for a day of fishing and photography. Jackson Hole is nearby, so be sure to sample the local cuisine and visit a few hot spots, such as Jackson Hole's Elk Antler Arch, Pearl Street, and the Jackson Hole Winery.
Badlands National Park
At Badlands National Park, you'll have 244,000 rugged acres to explore with incredible sights to see, such as Yellow Mounds Overlook, Sheep Mountain Table, and French Creek. Be sure to check out the Ben Reifel Visitor Center and Minuteman Missile Visitor Center, a couple of excellent educational sites that feature information about the park and the history of the Cold War. This park is located just over 7 miles south of Wall, SD.
Take a respite of day or two in a few lovely state parks that offer luxurious and rustic amenities and more outdoor fun than you can shake a stick at.
Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park
Located 45 miles west of Bozeman, Montana, Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park features one of the largest limestone caverns in the U.S. along with phenomenal hiking trails, picnic areas, and RV campsites. Guided tours of the cave are available from May through September in a softly lit atmosphere that makes the limestone formations all the more mysterious.
Bear Butte State Park
Bear Butte State Park also goes by the Lakota name Mato Paha or "Bear Mountain" and is still used for ancient religious ceremonies by local tribes. At this park in South Dakota, you can hike to the summit of the 1,200-foot butte on a relatively challenging 1.8-mile trail for spectacular panoramic views of the park and surrounding areas. Less strenuous hikes can be found around Bear Butte Lake, where fishing and boating are welcome activities.
Devil's Lake State Park
On your way through Wisconsin, make sure to visit Devil's Lake State Park for a few fun days of hiking, biking, fishing, and kayaking. Two beautiful sandy beaches await and are yours to enjoy with nearby picnic areas featuring barbecue grills, so you can cook what you catch. Seasonal hunting, skiing, and snowshoeing are also available; the nature center and camping are offered year-round.
The Space Needle
Before you leave Seattle, take a ride up to the top of the iconic Space Needle, a 605-foot-tall structure that features an observation deck and a rotating restaurant as well as the only revolving glass floor in the world.
Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument
At the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument in Montana, you can visit several important sites at the Seventh Calvary Memorial, Last Stand Hill, and the National Cemetery. The Little Bighorn Visitor Center and Custer Battlefield Museum offer historical exhibits explaining the events of the Battle at Little Bighorn.
Devils Tower National Monument
Aside from being a rock climber's paradise, Devils Tower in northeast Wyoming is a magnificent sight and a sacred monument for local Native American tribes. Take a look at the visitor center for information about the natural history of the park and its cultural origins, and then go for a hike around the base on the Tower Trail. The Circle of Smoke Sculpture is a must-see that represents world peace and the tower's significance to over 15 indigenous tribes.
Mount Rushmore National Memorial
You'll enjoy every minute you spend at Mount Rushmore National Memorial as you view the magnificent monument through free telescopes on the Grand View Terrace, the perfect place to snap a few memorable photos. You can also walk through the Avenue of Flags, taste historic ice cream, dine at Carver's Marketplace, and watch the lighting of the memorial scheduled every evening at 9:00 p.m.
A stop in Missoula treats you to a variety of mountainous adventures in the Rattlesnake Mountains with hiking, backcountry skiing, biking, and horseback riding. In town, you can enjoy tastings at Montana Brewery Tours and Ten Spoon Vineyard and Winery and go for a stroll through Caras Park, this city's epicenter for fun. Campgrounds close to town allow you to take your time as you explore Missoula. You can find dump stations nearby as well.
The city of Billings welcomes you with lovely scenery and a variety of interesting places to see and explore. Stop by the Moss Mansion Museum for a guided tour through one of the city's most historical homes and peruse ancient cave paintings at Pictograph State Park, where you may also see wandering bison and elk. More fun places to visit are the Yellowstone Art Museum, Two Moon Park, Skeleton Cliff, and Yellowstone Cellars and Winery. A stay at a campground is the best way to enjoy more of this beautiful city. Local dump stations are also available for your convenience.
Sioux Falls is a fantastic place to unwind and sample some excellent wine at the Strawbale Winery. You can take a peaceful walk through the Japanese Gardens and explore the nearby Queen Bee Mill Ruins. Interesting museums to check out are the Old Courthouse Museum and the Pettigrew Home and Museum. Time spent in downtown Sioux Falls treats you to excellent restaurants, art galleries, shopping, and local entertainment. Enjoy beautiful campgrounds near this city to extend your time here. Conveniently located dump stations are close by to help you keep your RV clean.