High Plains Haul: Toward the Great Northwest

Well, it looks like I might be spending my Independence Day in Bozeman. Yay me. I hope… 🤪

Anyway, I’ve fleshed out my plans for my next big road trip, which will be my most distant excursion to the Great American West yet: I shall start by making like a Nazgûl to North Dakota, specifically the Theodore Roosevelt National Park, home of North Dakota’s very own badlands. Why North Dakota? Because it’s one of the states I have yet to visit, and I am determined to visit all 48 contiguous states by the time I turn 30 on February 13, 2024. North Dakota is actually the last state east of the Great Divide and west of the Appalachians I haven’t been to yet.

In red are states, provinces, and territories I’ve visited; dark grey ones I have not visited. This is also the entirety of the world I’ve been to, since I’ve never gone south of the border or overseas (poor me!).

After the North Dakota Badlands, I shall follow the highways into Montana. I’ve been there before, but only really touching the border and going: on my trip to Devils Tower in Wyoming the welcome sign in Alzada was too close for me to resist going to. But now for the first time I shall visit the state properly, penetrating as deep westward as the Bozeman area before diverting northward toward Glacier National Park. Crowds and complications might ward me off from actually entering the park, but I’m seeing those gorgeous Canadian Rockies from Highway 2 regardless!

Only then, after I cross the High Plains at their very widest point (I’m going to be seeing so, soooooo much High Plains in this trip…) and shadow the Continental Divide for several hundred miles, will I actually be crossing into the Pacific watershed, not long before entering a state I’ve yet to visit, Idaho, passing through the Panhandle — and setting a new personal Farthest North, since the latitudes I’ll be traversing are slightly higher than my previous best, Agawa Canyon in Ontario — before entering the state of Washington, yet another new state to cross off my list, crossing the Cascade Range and arriving at America’s premier Pacific Northwest city: Seattle.

Puget Sound will be the first arm of the sea I encounter on this trip, but after Seattle I’ll be driving onto the Olympic Peninsula clear to Cape Flattery, the northwesternmost point of the contiguous United States, where I’ll take the little hike from the road to the beach and behold the open Pacific Ocean in all its glory.

From there I’ll head southwards along the coast, to my ultimate destination of Astoria, crossing into the last contiguous state I’ve yet to visit outside the Northeast — Oregon — before turning back. I’ll be sure to pay Portland a visit on the way out.

After that it gets a bit fuzzier, but my current thinking is I’ll follow US Highway 12 through northern Idaho, the most iconic road trip in the state according to some sources, and surely closer to the atmosphere I’m looking for this summer than the Snake River Valley route would be. Going through Bozeman again, I’m thinking I’ll then pass through Yellowstone and through the Tetons area to Jackson, then turning eastward again toward South Dakota (where I might see the greatest of all the badlands once again), completing the journey.

That’ll take care of all the contiguous states, bar ten: Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont, which I shall be visiting for the autumn, completing the set.

Next stop after that? I don’t know. The beaches of Southern California again? A closer look at the Wine Country of Northern California? Lake Tahoe for some winter sports action? The desert loop through Utah, hitting Moab, Bryce, and the Grand Canyon? Alaska? We’ll see. 😀 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *