Most scenic route from Minneapolis to San Francisco

This guide to driving from Minneapolis, MN, to San Francisco, CA, should take you 43 hours 27 minutes. The average fuel cost for the journey is about $552.17, which should get you through the 2,547 miles of distance. It starts in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and comes to a close in San Francisco, California. You will travel through Mt Rushmore and the Badlands, Lamoille Canyon Scenic Byway, and Pyramid Lake Scenic Byway. These tourist attractions all have beautiful scenery that is exciting to see in summer and winter. Lake Tahoe is the final step in the trip and is well-known for being a clearwater lake. During winter, you can enjoy the adrenaline-inducing beaches and ski resorts. You can crusade through the majestic Sierra Nevada Mountains.

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Most scenic route from Minneapolis to San Francisco Map

Highlights to see on the Most scenic route from Minneapolis to San Francisco

Mt Rushmore and the Badlands

Travel Overview: 7 hours 44 minutes — 501 mi

Mt Rushmore and the Badlands need one hour to drive the 39-mile loop of South Dakota Highway. As you move on the 240 between Cactus Flat and Wall, you will need to stop to see the rock formations. Travelers often describe these as breathtaking. The route is filled with native grasslands that can see exotic plant life. Many species of plants and animals guarantee can be found here, making it impossible to drive past without stopping. You are spoilt for choice. With 16 designated scenic overlooks, your photobook will fill up quickly. It is an excellent place to stop and go hiking if you need to stretch your legs. This route is popular nationally for an animal called the black-footed ferret. You will also likely bump into pronghorn antelope, mule deer, prairie dogs, and birds of prey. Traveling further on Creek Rim Road, you should catch glimpses of some buffalo; however, it is gravel. The road is curvy and needs attention as you drive through the “wall” of rugged rock pinnacles, buttes, and mounds. Travelers moving on a motorbike or fast car will find this experience exhilarating. The location has commonly been recreated in movies and video games.

Lamoille Canyon Scenic Byway

Travel Overview: 6 hours 25 minutes — 409 mi

You can consider the Lamoille Canyon Scenic Drive one of the top drives available for tourists. The area around the Grand Canyon uses Interstate 80 and is often considered an easy drive. It is a truly local place that can be enjoyed for about 6.5 hours. The roads are well designed and well maintained. The Lamoille Canyon Road is found on State Highway 227, and this area is beautiful hence why it is a designated National Forest Byway. The signs pointing to Lamoille Canyon and the Lamoille Canyon Scenic Byway allow you to pierce deep into the higher elevations of the Ruby Mountains. It is one of the most otherwordly mountain ranges in Nevada. If you drive this route in winter, you can see the stunning glacier-carved canyon. This site is possible because the area usually gets significant snowfall during the winter months, and this means the tops are tipped in the snow around June. This area is best for hikers who enjoy a high-altitude climb. You can use the Lamoille Canyon Road to access the high-altitude trailhead. You can often get through this route without experiencing traffic. The road is ofter busier in the summer periods.

Pyramid Lake Scenic Byway

Travel Overview: 2 hours 45 minutes — 194 mi

Pyramid Lake has some sparkling blue-green waters that are irresistible to see. This oasis in Nevada’s desert landscape is popular with tourists because it is in the middle of mountains. The mountains are pretty fascinating because of the natural tufa rock formations. Historically, the lake is a remnant of an ancient sea and greatly interests those who enjoy geological history. It offers the most extensive contiguous span of watersheds in North America. To enjoy all the sites there, you will need almost 3 hours. The journey there begins in Reno, going north on NV-445. As the car climbs, you will note signs that show you are now in the Virginia Mountains. As you drive past Mullen Pass, you will soon see the descent to Pyramid Lake. Ensure that you take pictures as you encounter the 400-foot tall pyramid-shaped rock. 

Anaho Island National Wildlife Refuge will be the next step to seeing migrating birds and American White Pelicans. The NV-445 joins into NV-446; you can find beautiful beaches that support fishing and boating. Ensure you pack a pair of binoculars because the island is off-limits. 

As you proceed, you can head south on NV-447. The I-80 should take you to Lake Tahoe.

Lake Tahoe

Travel Overview: 1 hour 42 minutes — 86 mi

Lake Tahoe is fun and packed with attractions along the National Scenic Byway. As you will be coming from the Stateline, Nevada on the U.S. 50 there is a chance to see the stunning sites at Zephyr Cove. This area is known as the home of the M.S. Dixie paddle-wheeler boat. Tourists often stop here to go on lake cruises and visit different restaurants and gift shops. There are magnificent sites for boat launching and the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival. It should take you just under two hours to complete. You can stop at one of the rental cabins for the night. These areas offer horseback riding and snowmobiling if you decide to visit during the winter period. State Route 28 is the following route, and from here, you can get to the Thunderbird Lodge estate. This lodge was designed by tycoon George Whittell and had three beaches.

FAQs

How long is the flight from Minneapolis to San Francisco

The flight from Minneapolis to San Francisco takes about 4h 10m.

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