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Old 03-30-2015, 08:40 PM   #1
wanderind OP
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Question Riding East to West.. What are some of the best roads in the mid-west / plains states

Want to ride to the west, have a small puny bike, slabbing it out till the rockies is an option. But I am trying to get a list of must-ride roads in the following states so that I can try to hit at least some of them on my way. What are your favorite roads in these states? I would prefer east-west aligned ones but please feel free to make other suggestions too. I am drawn to all kinds of sceneries and road types, a lonely straight flat road makes my day too.

Western Tennessee

Northern Arkansas

Southern Missouri

Kansas

Iowa

Nebraska

South Dakota

Kentucky

Thanks folks. I am
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Old 03-31-2015, 06:00 AM   #2
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Out west you have longer scenic roads that become part of your to do list, but it seems to me some of the best riding in the Midwest has been short sections put together by locals into a GPS track and often gets posted in regional threads as a local riding event.
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Old 03-31-2015, 08:24 AM   #3
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US Route 50 across Kansas isn't too bad. Heavy cross winds some places, but it sure beats the interstate. Some long straight lonely stretches but also some hills and curves IIRC. I kinda like the prairie, though.
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Old 03-31-2015, 08:31 AM   #4
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I was surprised how lovely NW Nebraska was. It wasn't what I expected. The Sand Hills are wonderful. I followed the coal trains from Wyoming and the engineers would blow the whistle if I waved. Something old americana about that. Made me feel like a young innocent. Lonely roads, trains, and waves of grain, etc.
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Old 03-31-2015, 08:32 AM   #5
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You'll be missing a lot if you slab it.
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Old 03-31-2015, 09:54 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by redwing51 View Post
I was surprised how lovely NW Nebraska was. It wasn't what I expected. The Sand Hills are wonderful. I followed the coal trains from Wyoming and the engineers would blow the whistle if I waved. Something old americana about that. Made me feel like a young innocent. Lonely roads, trains, and waves of grain, etc.
That's what I wanted to hear, and thats what I feel about the great plains too.

No, I am not going to slab it. I have driven on 50 through Dodge City and I like it. I like the way grain silos start showing up on the horizon indicating some small town, and expansive agricultural greenery all around..

I might consider Nebraska, but north-west would be too north, since I would be heading towards Southern Colorado.. but who knows what'll happen when I pack up and get on to that saddle
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Old 03-31-2015, 10:33 AM   #7
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Depending on where you are starting from heading west on US 50 could be a good start. You can make decent time but you'll be off the interstate and can enjoy the scenery and the small towns along the way. The Great River Road along the Mississippi in Missouri is a good ride, cross the river on one or more ferries to get a good feel for the Mississippi. Then you could the work your way northwest through Nebraska (along the North Platte river is a good road, or take 2W to 385 then North to Chadron (good camping in the area) and then up to the Black Hills in South Dakota. Ride Iron Mountain Road and Spearfish Canyon, take the scenic loop through Badlands NP too. Then west to the Rockies............
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Old 03-31-2015, 10:47 AM   #8
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Just saw you're heading towards southern CO, if you loop back to the north you could hit some of the South Dakota/Nebraska routes when you are eastbound.
Have a good ride.
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Old 03-31-2015, 01:03 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by XRangerRides View Post
Depending on where you are starting from heading west on US 50 could be a good start. You can make decent time but you'll be off the interstate and can enjoy the scenery and the small towns along the way. The Great River Road along the Mississippi in Missouri is a good ride, cross the river on one or more ferries to get a good feel for the Mississippi. Then you could the work your way northwest through Nebraska (along the North Platte river is a good road, or take 2W to 385 then North to Chadron (good camping in the area) and then up to the Black Hills in South Dakota. Ride Iron Mountain Road and Spearfish Canyon, take the scenic loop through Badlands NP too. Then west to the Rockies............
Thanks ! .. I see that there is only one ferry crossing across the Missisippi ( Dorena-Hickman Ferry) ..Are there others? Better question..which ferry crossings would you recommend?
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Old 03-31-2015, 05:32 PM   #10
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Thanks ! .. I see that there is only one ferry crossing across the Missisippi ( Dorena-Hickman Ferry) ..Are there others? Better question..which ferry crossings would you recommend?
I've crossed just north of St Louis on the Brussels Free Ferry (Illinois River) to the Golden Eagle Ferry (toll) crossing the Mississippi. These are near Grafton, IL which is a cool river town. There are other ferries in that general area the Winfield Ferry crosses just a few miles north between IL and Winfield, MO.

South of St Louis is the St Geniveive Ferry crossing from St Genivieve MO to Modoc, IL. There are more along the river to the north and south.

I've only crossed on the first two I mentioned but had planned to cross on the St. Gen when we sort of stumbled onto the the more northern pair, all are probably worth a try (Brussels Ferry Pictured).
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Old 03-31-2015, 05:44 PM   #11
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For larger roads that move well, I like 36 through KS. St Francis Kansas and the best free camping! It is not a scenic route but certainly gets you through the heartland. Plenty of small towns and diners to catch up on the local news.

Route 2 in southern IA has some beautiful sections. The whole IA and SD listed makes me think the Loess Hills should be in order.

Riding the Mississippi down from SE MN or NE Iowa all the way down to Missouri is pretty special too.

Of course, lake of the ozarks area is cool too.
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Old 04-02-2015, 04:54 AM   #12
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Route 2 through the Sand Hills of Nebraska is a very nice ride. Check out Carhenge in Alliance.
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Old 04-02-2015, 01:52 PM   #13
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Laugh

Thanks ! All of you are now pulling me towards Nebraska (I am kind of sold on it when I randomly checked out some google street view)
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Old 04-03-2015, 05:51 AM   #14
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You are going about this all wrong. I have ridden cross country 7 times and don't own a GPS and only used a map the first time. The best trip I ever took was when I packed the bike minimally, grabbed a road atlas and left VA just pointed west. I decided that I would not travel any faster than 55mph and if I saw an interesting road I would take it. The slower speed was relaxing, met a lot of great people, ate good food, saw AMERICA the way people live it.
If you are going out west, just get on a road that goes west and start riding. If you decided to go north, get on a road that goes north. I have never regretted riding any road that I have been on. Have fun.
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Old 04-03-2015, 11:27 AM   #15
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You are going about this all wrong. I have ridden cross country 7 times and don't own a GPS and only used a map the first time. The best trip I ever took was when I packed the bike minimally, grabbed a road atlas and left VA just pointed west. I decided that I would not travel any faster than 55mph and if I saw an interesting road I would take it. The slower speed was relaxing, met a lot of great people, ate good food, saw AMERICA the way people live it.
If you are going out west, just get on a road that goes west and start riding. If you decided to go north, get on a road that goes north. I have never regretted riding any road that I have been on. Have fun.
I love that idea and have done that quite a bit as well. I dont have the luxury of time this time around, and I don't want to miss many landscapes others have enjoyed and reported. End of the day, I might still do what you do.
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