Chicago to Houghton, best route?

General Discussions: ASK John: Chicago to Houghton, best route?

By tdmorlan on Thursday, January 10, 2008 - 11:37 am: Edit Post

This may be a dumb question, but I live in South Bend In. and normally get to the Munising area by way of the Mac Bridge traveling through MI.

We are considering coming up to the Kew Pen. this year and was wondering if you have any short cuts or better routes then the obvious which looks to me like staying right along the western coast of Lake MI. traveling through Chicago, Milwaukee, Green Bay, etc. Thanks for your input. Love the site, gives great info!

By 1000 on Thursday, January 10, 2008 - 12:10 pm: Edit Post

I live in the Western burbs of Chicago which makes a difference. I go up through Rockford, Madison, Portage and up I39 / Rt51. But I stop at the Cisco Chain or Watersmeet. Going through Chicago and Milwaukee you better pich your time right or it can add over an hour to the drive due to traffic. North of Milwaukee to Green Bay is great. Watch speed Illinois border to Milwaukee. Tickets fly in that area. North of Green Bay someone else will haVE TO COMMENT.

By jtm_67 on Thursday, January 10, 2008 - 03:31 pm: Edit Post

94-43-41-8-n-u or u-n (don't remember which way going north/south) 2-141-28-41-houghton

By ilinisnwchasr on Thursday, January 10, 2008 - 08:14 pm: Edit Post

I would avoid going through chicago and milwaukee. people i ride with from Joliet take 55-355-290-90-39-51-8-17-70-45-26. This is the the fastest way to Houghton. taking the eastern route 94-43-41 will add more than 30 minutes to your drive time. Just watch your speed around Wausau and Marathon County. If the 355 meets 80 now take that. also depending on the time of day it may be quicker to take 88 to 39.

By todds on Thursday, January 10, 2008 - 08:59 pm: Edit Post

There is no single, best way to get there from South Bend. Some of the route is highly dependent on when you're making the trip. I have a bit of experience here as I used to live in Porter County, IN and made the trip northward many times.

First of all, and I'm sure you're well aware of this, you need to decide if you're going to take the Toll Road/Skyway/Dan Ryan or if you're going around on the Tri-State. Most of the time I went downtown, but that was before they came out with I-Pass. Either way, I think it's dependent on the time of day along with other factors. If you're early enough or late enough, personally, I'd probably go through the City, but it can be a crap shoot. If the traffic isn't cooperating, then take the Tri-State.

From there I'd take the route that JTM 67 provided using the advice of 1000. Actually it's Racine County that hands out tickets like candy during a parade and you'll have to watch Milwaukee County too where they switch from 65 to 55. I've been nabbed twice in the last 6 years.

Watch your speed north of Green Bay through the towns.

The route through Rockford and Madison is good too, no doubt about it. Like I said, there is no one best route.

By xcr800 on Thursday, January 10, 2008 - 09:04 pm: Edit Post

I would go I90 west to I94 west I43 north to 141 north to US2 west to 45 north to MI 26 about 9.5 hours depending on traffic and weather conditions. I would plan on leaving late at night or early morning before rush hour traffic.

By admin on Friday, January 11, 2008 - 10:15 am: Edit Post


I did not see this was actually in the Ask John, or would have answered more quickly.

Anyway, some good advice already posted. The shortest trip mile wise is just to drive through the big cities of Chicago and it's subarb Milwaukee (just kidding Milwaukeeans!), and then up through Green Bay, Iron Mountain L'Anse and to the Keweenaw.

Of course any traffic jams in those cities can set you back an hour or two easy. So if you plan to travel during the height of any rush hour, then perhaps an end around would work.

If you do plan to drive through Chicago from NW IN, I do not know if you can take a trailer over the Skyway, but it is worth the price of admission as it really cuts miles and time off taking 80/94 to 94 or 294. That is as long as they are not doing construction on it!


By 1000 on Friday, January 11, 2008 - 10:27 am: Edit Post

One other note to keep in mind. I355 is now open all the way to I80. If you decide to do the Rockford route and up I39, keep that in mind.

By tdmorlan on Friday, January 11, 2008 - 11:23 am: Edit Post

Thanks for all the friendly advise!!!

Now...I have one more favor... my group has left it on my shoulders to deside on whether to come to Houghton, where nobody has been, or keep our reservations in Munising for the 19th thru the 23rd where we have gone the last 5 yrs.

In the event that the conditions are equal...which trail system is better?

By xcr800 on Friday, January 11, 2008 - 03:32 pm: Edit Post

If you enjoy trail and alot of off trail and lots of powder Houghton area you can't beat it all the way from Rockland, Mass City, Twin lakes on up you can't beat it. I rode the Munising area but prefer the Keweenaw area best. And if you want a really good day of riding book a trip with Keweenaw snow expeditions here's the link They offer all kinds of different riding truly a great time

By mjkaliszak on Sunday, January 13, 2008 - 09:20 am: Edit Post

I just came down from Gogebic area thru the big cities in Wisconsin. We traveled home on a saturday/ and went up on X-mas day. They way up I went my usual over the MAC bridge route 11.5 hrs. When I returned we came down thru Wis's big cities and to Mattawan/Kalamazoo Mi, it was 9.5 hrs.with a stop in the hood of Chic @ White Castle ( 25 min ). This was quite a savings in road time. Rember to travel at OFF rush hr times and you will blow right thru.I have been a Central/Eastern UP lover for years BUT the Western UP was phenomenal and we plan as making it a main-stop. I agree you can't beat the Houghton/Porcupine-mtn/Bergland-Gogebic / Mass city area was some of the best riding we have ever done. That entire side of the UP seems to produce the best snow.Your about 1 hr from Kalamazoo, your travel time to Houghton during OFF rush hour travel should be approx 9 hrs. Including fuel stops.

By cuzzinolaf on Monday, January 14, 2008 - 01:20 pm: Edit Post

Fastest way from Northeastern, IL, where I live, is 94, to 894, to 45, to 41, and then straight up 45. I've tried every other route and this is the ONLY way I go as of now. Once you get to M-26, just head north.

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