Some of the best road trips in the United States are hands down in its Midwest region composed of 12 states occupying the northern central part of the country. One can expect to find scenic lakes, verdant rolling valleys, pristine beaches, and high limestone bluffs. Though one can plan road trips at any time of the year, the most recommended period is during the summer seasons, when there are plenty of fun outdoor activities to do. This is a good way to escape the frenzy of the city and instead experience a road go-slow trip right in the midst of the therapeutic nature.
Voyageurs National Park
Get right into the real spirit of adventure by starting right from the northern part of Minnesota near the Canadian border at the off-the-beaten-path of Voyageurs National Park. This water-clad sanctuary expands across 218,054 acres of rugged terrains, forests, and waterways. Back in the colonial period, this place was often used by the first European settlers notably the French-Canadian fur traders. Today it is a real nature lover’s paradise, where kayakers and hikers come here to sync with the rejuvenating energy of mother nature. The nature park is composed of a third of the water endowed with four main lakes and several smaller interior lakes. Visitors can access three pathways into the park’s three visitor centers including Ash River, Kabetogama Lake, and Rainy Lake. The recommended one is Kabetogama Lake, which is an ideal spot to experience the serene setting decked out with crystal clear water and 100 miles of forested shoreline.
Another of its main features is the Ellsworth Rock Gardens a brainchild of artist Jack Ellsworth, where visitors can feast their eyes on the abstract sculptures on a terraced outcrop. But the northern lights are the real standout, especially if visitors are planning to camp at night. The best time to see those incredible northern lights is in winter, though there are still chances that one can spot them in summer as well. There are many campsites in the park that are accessible by boat.
- Address: International Falls, MN 56649, United States
- Camping Fee: Small Campground between $10-$26 (depending on the season)
- Note: It requires a permit in order to camp at the Voyageurs National Park
Apostle Islands National Lakeshore
About four hours drive away from Voyageurs National Park stop at the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore right at Wisconsin’s northernmost point. The attraction is lauded for its scenic views featuring its beautiful sea caves, sandstone cliffs, unblemished beaches, quaint lighthouses, and 21 rugged islands. On top of that, the wildlife here is abundant with over 260 bird species that breed and migrate to the surrounding islands. Its dense forest consists of towering hardwood trees and its fauna are made up of animals such as the black bear, red fox, whitetail deer, coyote, and squirrels.
There is a panoply of eco-activities to indulge in when visiting this gorgeous place. One can hike the off-the-beaten-path, kayak through the sea caves, try scuba diving to see the fascinating shipwrecks, or even visit the lighthouses to have a bird’s eye view of the breathtaking surroundings. In addition, there are several options to consider when camping here. There are individual campsites that can accommodate up to seven people. Each of these sites is outfitted with a fire ring, bear locker, and a picnic table.
- Distance Between Voyageurs National Park To Apostle Islands National Lakeshore: 4 hr 4 min (228.6 mi) via US-53 S and State Hwy 13 S/WI-13 Trunk S
- Address: 415 Washington Ave, Bayfield, WI 54814
- Individual campsites: $15 per night (Reservations can be made up to 30 days before the trip)
Devil’s Lake State Park – Wisconsin
Another amazing spot to visit is hands down Devil’s Lake State Park, which is just a five-hour drive from Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. Tucked in the Baraboo Range in eastern Sauk County in Wisconsin, Devil’s Lake State Park is a place packed with lots of fun outdoor activities, which is a great way to explore the pristine nature here. Thanks to its 29 miles of off-beat trails, this place is a gem for hikers looking to explore the National Ice Age Trail and bask in the incredible views along the East Bluff. Plus there are two large beaches, where visitors can swim and unwind. Facilities include picnic areas, grills, and children’s play areas as well. The park is also popular for its scuba diving sites reaching a maximum depth of about 45 feet.
Another reason to visit this place is its diverse range of wildlife serves as an ideal spot to take some amazing photographs. The park is home to 115 bird species and 38 species of mammals. Some of the most common birds one can spot are the Turkey Vultures, and the Great Blue Heron rookery, which is more likely to be found on the south shore.
- Distance From Apostle Islands National to Devil’s Lake State Park: 5 hr 4 min (318 miles) via US-53 S and I-94 E
- Address: S5975 Park Rd, Baraboo, WI 53913, United States
- Opening Hours: 6:00 am - 11: am
- Day Pass: Between $8 - $16
- Ideal Time To Visit: From June to September