Next: The Oregon Trail!

Time for another road trip! This time we’ll be spending time in the mountains. The kids are ready and we’ve got a beautiful GMC Arcadia from Hertz. Yeah, that’s a bit bigger than the cars we’ve been using but sometimes you need extra space for gear. Oh and 4-wheel drive is handy, too.

Here’s the layout of our trip. It will take us four days to drive out to Deadwood, South Dakota, where we’ll be staying in a vacation rental for a few days. Then off to Big Sky, Montana. It’s too early for skiing, but the town is fabulous.

After that we have a long drive to Oregon. We’ll be spending a little more than a week visiting Holiday Inn Resorts. They have two in the state, The Lodge at Eagle Crest, a Holiday Inn Resort Redmond and The Lodge at Running Y Ranch, a Holiday Inn Resort in Klamath Falls.

Heading back east, we’ll make stops in Nevada as well as Utah and Colorado. Our last stop is in Branson. By then we should be ready to be home.

I know you’re wondering what we’re going to do about school. Florida has been in the classroom since August 13th but our virtual school is on a Northeast schedule. We used the time to get a little ahead in our lessons so we have some wiggle room, should we want to explore an area a little more deeply. Also the time zone change driving toward the West is in our favor. The kids will be getting up earlier and we’ll start school at first light.

Let us know of your favorite places along this route. We make frequent stops along the way and would love your suggestions of side trips at any of our destinations.

13 thoughts on “Next: The Oregon Trail!

  1. Be sure and stop by the National Historic Trails Center in Casper, WY. Four trails: Oregon, California, Mormon and Pony Express came through here, and the Trails Center is great.

  2. One of my strongest memories of the trail as I was going through Colorado is stopping at a rest area to make and eat my lunch. It was hot, I was totally alone and I felt what it must have been like. Wide open, golden hills, deep blue skies, absolute quiet, the sun beating down. As I munched on my sandwich I felt like nothing had changed, that I was seeing what they saw, felt the stunning beauty they encountered every day on their ride. This adventure happened over 30 years ago for me yet I remember and feel that stop like it just happened. Enjoy your trip!

  3. I thought for sure when I saw the headline that you were taking the Oregon Trail through Nebraska from Missouri. I think you’re missing out on the emotional impact of the long upward trek toward the foothills of the Rockies along the Platte River, where day after day the early pioneers saw nothing but endless vistas of grass and sun, until they got to prominent landmarks such as Scotts Bluff and Chimney Rock, Windlass Hill and Ash Hollow.
    Oh well. I see you’re traveling up I-29 along the Iowa side of the Missouri River. Your “D” stop point looks to me to be Plattsmouth, NE or Glenwood, IA. I wouldn’t recommend either as a stopping or overnight place. Think chain motels and fast food. Nebraska City, a little to the south has more interesting things to see/do and eat than does the Plattsmouth area. A little farther north is Bellevue, Nebraska’s First City, but not really charming when it comes to stops. Farther north than that is Council Bluffs/Omaha and there’s LOTS to do and see around there.
    Nebraska City has a Lewis and Clark exhibit, is situated on bluffs overlooking the Missouri and is home to Arbor Lodge, as in Arbor Day. Arbor Day Farms just to the west of Arbor Lodge has food for sale and to eat, and lots of short loop hikes that would be good for burning off energy. The Lewis and Clark exhibit is much larger than the Western Heritage Trails Center in Council Bluffs, but that exhibit is nice too, and also has short loop trails to run off some pent-up energy.
    In the Sioux City area, there are plenty of places to stop and eat and look out over the Missouri, such as the Sgt. Floyd Memorial. Find a S. Dakota Welcome Center along I-90 and see if they still have the tourist CDs to loan for your trip along I-90. It’s been a few years, so I don’t know if that’s still available. The CD had great local information on history, geology, sights – very informative. Trust me, you’ll need something to entertain the kids and yourself along I-90.
    Just west of Sioux Falls, SD on I-90 is Mitchell, home to the Corn Palace. Don’t. Resist it. It’s a local convention center, built long before there was such a thing as a convention center, and the exterior is decorated in colored kernels of corn. The interior is a flea market, but also has corn kernel mosaics. Okay, you now know all about it and don’t have to stop. Unless you really, really love kitsch!
    I don’t know your schedule, but would love to meet up with you in Nebraska City or Omaha and show you around if our schedules coincide! I think I once promised Chris some good Nebraska steak.

  4. Please tell me you’ll at least get to the coast in Oregon! Astoria (my hometown) is at the mouth of the Columbia. It’s known as the “Sunset Empire” due to the most beautiful sunsets you’ll ever see! It’s 80 miles west of Portland. You have to at least get your feet wet in the ocean near the wreck of the famous Peter Iredale!! It’s also the end of the Lewis and Clark expedition.

  5. When you are down in Klamath Falls, I certainly hope you will hop over to Crater Lake National Park. You cannot see the lake from the ground outside the park. Take a ranger-narrated boat excursion on the lake. The whole family will love it. I often fly from Redmond, (my daughter lives in Bend,) to San Francisco, where I catch my connector to Newark. The aerial view of Crater Lake, followed by Mt. Shasta is truly incredible.

    You, Kari and the kids might like a visit to the High Desert Museum, an indoor/outdoor museum with live animals and fun stuff to see. They also have an adults-only x-rated room, which tells the history of the brothel proprietors and cheating gamblers that were a big part of the area’s history. Check out

  6. Omaha is a MUST stop! Take the kids to the Henry Doorly Zoo..absolutely WORLD CLASS! Stop for a stroll in the Old Market area of Omaha as well, and have a steak at Gorat’s, where you might just run into Warren Buffet! By far, the better route to the Black Hills would be to actually follow the Oregon Trail across Nebraska and stop at the Archway Monument on I-80 at Kearney, Nebraska to see the history of the route and at Chimney Rock near Scottsbluff, then turn north through Chadron to SD. Chimney Rock was a very significant landmark on the trail westward, both on the Oregon and Mormon trails, and you can actually still see the ruts left by the wagons there. Nebraska was such a significant part of the Oregon and Mormon Trails that it is unfathomable that you would bypass it on this trip! Oregon Trail and not seeing Chimney Rock? Unthinkable!

  7. Welcome to Oregon. Be sure to visit the “high desert” of central Oregon where the rainfall is 2″ to 10″ per year, yes that’s right, and where you find Bend, Crater Lake and various volcanoes. The Oregon coast is entirely different than the east coast and is worth the time. The Columbia Gorge and the water falls that Lewis and Clark saw as they traveled, The sheer cliffs of the Wallow mountains where it was reported that someone one said, “if you could flatten them out, they would dwarf the size of Texas”, and their next door neighbor, the Hells Canyon between Oregon and Idaho. Oregon has a beautiful fall season. Enjoy.

  8. Thanks for mentioning this wonderful museum. I visited there (alone) about a year ago and it was well worth it. With all the “interactive” exhibits, I actually “felt” like I was a real Pioneer myself, riding across the Missouri on a riverboat and pulling a Mormon cart behind me, with all of my belongings that would eventually get me started in a new place. I kept thinking what a shame that I had no children with me to share this with. I was even inspired to write this article for the Examiner, based that visit to the museum.

  9. Favorite SD spots on the route: Falls park in Sioux Falls is an excellent place for a picnic. The Corn Palace in Mitchell is neat, but I wouldn’t go out of my way for it. Wall Drug is worth a stop–just make sure you pass the modern souvenir section and head for the back where the old animatronics are. We were underwhelmed with the visitor’s center at the Badlands, but the hiking opportunities are priceless. Wind Cave and Jewel Cave both have enjoyable tours. Make sure you drive through Custer State Park and see Mt. Rushmore. Don’t forget to ask about the Junior Ranger Program at each national park you visit. In Deadwood, we enjoyed our tour of the Broken Boot Mine. A lot of attractions in that region close for the winter after Labor Day, so you may run into some difficulty.

    When you’re in the Ozarks, you’re in my neck of the woods. Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield in Republic is definitely on the to-do list. If you’re interested in Route 66, there are several sites in Springfield that are worth a drive-by. Fantastic Caverns in Springfield is America’s only ride-through cave, and it is a neat contrast to Wind and Jewel Caves (different kind of rock, different formations). In Branson, there’s a brand new visitor’s center at the dam that’s worth a stop. Not far from there is the Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery which is small but will give you a good overview of the region’s wildlife. If you can find a good coupon (it’s not worth the full admission price in my opinion), Ride The Ducks is fun. The Ralph Foster museum in Hollister is dedicated to the Ozarks and is well worth the admission price.

  10. Sweet road trip! We are Oregonians and went on a similar road trip this summer. I had wanted to pass through Missouri, but instead we took a northern route through South Dakota. Thanks for sharing, here is my blog on our trip! Www.

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