Whitefish Lake, Montana with a stunning sunset sky of pinks and purples, mountains in the distance reflecting in the water and green land either side.
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Road Trips

Road Trip from Minneapolis to Seattle

By Dianne Titos | Published on 10 May 2022

Seattle is a popular vacation destination with a wide variety of entertainment options and vibrant nightlife. The road trip from Minneapolis to this iconic city promises excitement at every turn with all the magnificent landmarks and fantastic attractions on the way.

The 1,823-mile road trip from Minneapolis to Seattle will take you 28 hours of non-stop driving. Highlights include Sioux Falls, Rapid City, Spokane, Mount Rushmore, Black Hills National Forest, and Hanford Reach, Theodore Roosevelt & Glacier National Parks.

This is not a trip to be done in a rush as there are so many things to see and experience along the way. Below we discuss the different routes you can take and some of the must-see attractions along the way, so keep reading and start planning your next trip.

How far is Seattle from Minneapolis and how long will the road trip take?

Comparison of road trip routes between Minneapolis and Seattle
RouteDistanceDriving Time
The Interstate Route1,823 miles28 hours
The Scenic Route1,836 miles32 hours

A trip from Minneapolis to Seattle stretches over 1,823 miles and takes 28 hours of driving without any detours along the way. This trip could probably be completed in four days, only accounting for the necessary breaks and traffic, but what would be the fun in that?

A better option would be to take at least a week to enjoy all the exciting attractions along the way.

You can stay on the interstate for most of the trip or take a more scenic route which will take you to the Theodore Roosevelt National Park and Flathead National Forest. The Scenic Route is 1,836 miles long and will take you 32 hours to drive without any stops.

Whichever route you choose, you will travel past some amazing landmarks, which will vary from flatlands and cities to rivers and forests. On your way, you can see limestone canyon walls, rock tunnels and even some indigenous wildlife like elk and bison.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota with the Little Missouri River cutting through, rock formations to one side and flat plains in the other leading into the distance at sunset with a stunning sky.
If you decide to take the Scenic Route, you'll pass right by the majestic Theodore Roosevelt National Park.
ZakZeinert/Shutterstock.com

Best road trip route from Minneapolis to Seattle

The best road trip route from Minneapolis to Seattle differs widely depending on what you are after. The Interstate Route is a bit quicker, and you will be driving along the highways most of the time, while the Scenic Route takes longer but leads you through majestic forests and sights.

The Interstate Route

Take US-169 towards Mankato and drive past Minneopa State Park. Turn right onto MN-60 and follow it until you reach Worthington, where you will merge onto I-90.

As you cross into South Dakota, make sure to take a break at Falls Park in Sioux Falls where you can stretch your legs before carrying on down the road until you cross the Missouri River and enter Oacoma.

Continue following I-90 until you reach Rapid City and take Exit 61 onto US-16. Keep right to continue onto US-16A, which will lead you to Mount Rushmore.

Take SD-244 after your visit and turn left onto US-16 W/US-385. Follow the road through Black Hills National Forest and into Montana where you will cross Thunder Basin National Grasslands before getting onto I-90 again.

Seattle, Washington, USA with the pier and skyline at dusk and sailing boats in the foreground.
Seattle is a great city. Surrounded by mountains, forests and water, it's a great location to end this road trip.
Sean Pavone/Shutterstock.com

Stop at the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman to take in some history and then head down through Lolo National Forest for some magnificent views.

Enter Washington and drive through Spokane to reach your destination in Seattle.

Take Highway 55 through Minnesota, stopping at Clearwater / Pleasant Regional Park for a break before continuing into South Dakota on MN-28 past Morris.

Take a break at Sand Lake National Wildlife Refuge to do some bird watching. Continue onto SD-10 keeping Lake Traverse on your right, and turn left onto US-83. Turning right onto US-12 will take you across the Missouri River past Mobridge.

US-12 will lead you into North Dakota and to Theodore Roosevelt National Park where you can take in some rugged badlands. Turn right onto US-85 in Bowman and make your way into Montana. Drive north and turn left onto US-2.

You will drive past Sleeping Buffalo Rock, which is a historical landmark, and the Great Plains Dinosaur Museum. Make a stop at Flathead National Forest to take in some nature before continuing into Idaho.

Continue straight onto US-95 to cross Lake Pend Oreille which will take you towards Silverwood Theme Park, the Northwest's biggest theme and water park.

Briefly turn onto I-90 towards Spokane as you cross into Washington and take Exit 277 to get back onto US-2.

Driving past Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, you will reach Seattle.

Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, Washington with a road surrounded by tall trees and the forest and mountains in the distance on a sunny day.
Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest has over 3.8 million acres of wilderness.
Velimir Zeland/Shutterstock.com

Best places to stop between Minneapolis and Seattle

You will find some of the best places to stop on a road trip between Minneapolis and Seattle in South Dakota and Montana. This is a long road trip and we suggest breaking it up and taking in the spectacular views and activities along the way.

Explore the City of Presidents, Rapid City

Black Hills National Forest is home to some of the most breathtaking sites, forested hills, and towering mountains. There are a lot of accommodation options in the area, but we recommend the fabulous Summer Creek Inn in Rapid City.

The rooms are beautifully decorated, giving you a sense of peace and tranquillity with beautiful views. You can enjoy your breakfast on the sun terrace, overlooking the garden and waterfall, before you set off to see some of the most iconic sights in America.

The hotel is located a short drive away from some iconic attractions and fantastic sights. Make a day of it by stopping at Mount Rushmore National Memorial and then taking some stunning photos at Needles Highway Scenic Overlook.

You can stretch your legs with a hike at Custer State Park before heading back to the hotel, where you can enjoy your favorite drink at the bar or relax with a massage in the spa.

Custer State Park, South Dakota with storm clouds rolling in over Sylvan Lake, with the rock formations in the distance and trees.
Just a breathtaking view, Custer State Park is a fascinating and beautiful spot for a hike.
Jim Pottkotter/Shutterstock.com

Hit the slopes in Whitefish

If you follow the Scenic Route, you will pass through the gorgeous scenery of Glacier National Park, known for its pristine forests, meadows and mountains. Located in this area, Lodge at Whitefish Lake is about 550 miles from Seattle, so it is the perfect place to spend the night.

This beautiful lodge is right on the shore of Whitefish Lake, which offers opportunities for boating, swimming, water-skiing, and fishing, and the rooms will make you feel right at home with a fireplace and wonderful views of the lake and surrounding forest.

With its close proximity to the more than 700 miles of trails in the Glacier National Park, this hotel is located on the perfect base for your adventures. If you are visiting in winter, you can stop by the Whitefish Mountain Resort to ski or snowboard on its world-class slopes.

To help you unwind after your day in the great outdoors, there is an award-winning restaurant, spa and gym that will make your stay unforgettable. The best part is that the prices at this lodge are reasonable and even cheaper than some of the other hotels in the area.

Whitefish Lake, Montana with a panorama shot of the lake and snow-capped mountains in the distance, stony shore in the foreground and on a sunny day with a pure blue sky.
You can swim, fish or take a boat on the vast and beautiful Whitefish Lake.
Nathan Dugan/Shutterstock.com

Things to see on a road trip from Minneapolis to Seattle

There are so many things to see and do on a road trip from Minneapolis to Seattle. Instead of thinking of it as a road that leads to where you want to go, think of it as a journey to be enjoyed and take your time exploring all the natural beauty and activities along the way.

Here is a list of our favorite places to stop between Minneapolis and Seattle.

The Interstate Route

  1. Minneopa State Park, Mankato - A beautiful park filled with wildflowers that features the largest waterfall in Southern Minnesota.
  2. Falls Park, Sioux Falls – Feast your eyes on the spectacular falls from a five-story high observation deck and enjoy a meal at the Falls Overlook Café.
  3. Wild Water West Waterpark, Sioux Falls - Awaken your inner child by spending a day at this fun-filled water park that hosts a variety of water slides, a swim-up bar, a wave pool and so much more.
  4. The Mammoth Site, Hot Springs - An indoor active dig site where you can go on a self-guided tour and see some Ice Age fossils.
  5. Wind Cave National Park, South Dakota - Explore one of the longest and most complex cave systems in the world.
  6. Mount Rushmore National Memorial, Keystone - Marvel at the magnificent mountain carvings of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln as you learn about the history surrounding these legendary presidents.
  7. The Needles Highway Scenic Overlook, Custer - A beautiful spot to take photos to immortalize this moment in your trip.
  8. Thunder Basin National Grassland, Douglas - Mixed-grass prairies where you can spot hawks, foxes, pronghorn and black-tailed prairie dogs.
  9. Black Hills National Forest, South Dakota and Wyoming - Go on a hike around this stunning park and take in the natural beauty of the surrounding mountains and pine forests.
  10. Custer State Park, Custer - You can camp, hike, bike, swim, and fish in this stunning 71,000-acre park.
  11. Yellowstone River, Montana - See the majestic Yellowstone River in all its glory and keep an eye out for wandering wildlife.
  12. Museum of the Rockies, Bozeman - Visit this eclectic museum to see a full T-Rex fossil and learn about the area's rich history and its paleontological roots.
  13. Lolo National Forest, Huson - This forest offers nine stunning trails through dense vegetation and narrow canyons.
  14. Manito Park, Spokane - Spend a day walking through the picturesque gardens of this 90-acre park and have a picnic in one of the manicured gardens, visit the conservatory and enjoy watching the ducks paddle along in the pond.
  15. Hanford Reach National Park, Mattawa - A historical hike along the river will mesmerize you with beautiful views and abundant wildlife sightings of elk, coyotes, and porcupines in this national park.
Black Hills National Forest, South Dakota at summer with a view of Roughlock Falls on the Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway, surrounded by greenery.
Go on a hike at Black Hills National Forest and discover the surrounding mountains and pine forests.
Ami Parikh/Shutterstock.com

The Scenic Route

  1. Clearwater / Pleasant Regional Park, Annandale - A lakeside park that has a picnic area, swimming pool, fishing pier and disc golf area.
  2. Sand Lake National Wildlife Refuge, Columbia - Observe migratory birds and wildlife in this refuge.
  3. The Klein Museum, Mobridge - This museum focuses on European and Sioux cultures and houses many local Native American and pioneer artifacts.
  4. Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota - You can observe amazing vistas and views of elk, deer, wild horses and bison roaming free in this park of rugged badlands.
  5. Sleeping Buffalo Rock, Saco - A historic landmark located right on the highway.
  6. Great Plains Dinosaur Museum, Malta - See some of the world's best-preserved dinosaur fossils here.
  7. Flathead National Forest, Swan Lake - Sculpted by glaciers, and covered with a rich thick forest, the landscape of this national forest is a sight to behold.
  8. Glacier National Park, Montana – This park boasts a variety of animals, lakes, mountains and over 700 miles of hiking trails.
  9. Whitefish Mountain Resort, Whitefish – A skiing resort in the winter and an adventure park that offers all sorts of different activities in the summer.
  10. Kaniksu National Forest, Clark Fork - Perfect for an adventurous hike or a family trip, you can take scenic hikes of all levels of difficulty here.
  11. Silverwood Theme Park, Athol – Let go of your worries at this exciting theme park that offers more than 70 rides as well as a water park, live entertainment, and a restaurant.
  12. Leavenworth Reindeer Farm, Leavenworth -Learn about these fascinating creatures in this family-run reindeer farm, nestled in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains.
  13. Big Four Ice Caves, Granite Falls - Fascinating ice cave formations that can be reached after a short and easy hike.
  14. Wallace Falls State Park - A gorgeous lakeside camping park that offers opportunities for birdwatching, boating, paragliding, and beach activities depending on the season.
  15. Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, Wenatchee - You can camp, hike, and pick mushrooms in this national forest that encompasses 3.8 million acres.
Glacier National Park, Montana, USA with trees and land covered in snow in the foreground looking down to a lake and mountains beyond covered in snow.
The stunning views from Glacier National Park in Montana make it worth the hike.
Vaclav Sebek/Shutterstock.com

Best time to go on a road trip from Minneapolis to Seattle

The best time to go on a road trip from Minneapolis to Seattle depends on what you want to do along the way. Keeping in mind that this is a long journey, you will want favorable weather conditions to safely travel through it.

Some of the roads and attractions will be closed in winter, especially if you are following the Scenic Route that travels further towards the North. The temperatures tend to fall below 20 degrees Fahrenheit, which is something to keep in mind for outdoor activities and driving.

However, if you are traveling in winter, you can enjoy skiing resorts like Whitefish Mountain Resort and take a stroll through the Park Winter Wonderland.

If you are travelling in the summer, there are numerous national parks with an abundance of hiking trails and wildlife that you can enjoy but this is also the peak season for most of the attractions on the way and hotel prices will be at their peak.

Summer temperatures stay mild on both routes, with temperatures staying in the range of 75 degrees Fahrenheit, meaning this is an excellent time to enjoy outdoor activities.

Spring and fall are great times to take this road trip to enjoy the changing colors of the natural scenery. Since you will be driving in the northern parts of America, the weather will be chilly with temperatures seeing averages of 40 degrees Fahrenheit, so pack accordingly.

If you are traveling to Seattle in April, you can check out the colorful Skagit Tulip Festival to admire many fascinating flower fields at their peak season.