Leaving Wednesday - I do the route from St Louis through Rockford, Madison, and take 53 from Eau Claire. When I get to Duluth I usually take 61 along Lake Superior to Two Harbors, then Hwys 2 & 1 to Ely. From what I understand, this summer it's better to do Hwys 53 to 169. Am I correct on this?
Isn't 53 and 169 always faster than through Duluth and up 2 and 1? My outfitter tells me it is unless you are really going to drive high speed on 1 - reportedly fewer patrols. 53 is so nicely rebuilt and 4 lane just about all the way to Virginia.
Unless I have totally forgotten, Hwy 1 is extremely curvy and tough going if a slow driving group is ahead of you. Duluth is no problem getting through on 53. I would definitely try 53 and you will know for sure if that is for you. At the least, you miss Hwy 1 this year and may actually gain for years to come if time is the objective.
the greatest come backs are reserved for those with the greatest deficits.
If you are coming from Duluth, without the current construction on Highway 1, going on 61/2/1 can be as fast as going on 53/169. And as the others say, it is remote, so if you like that, it's a nice change of place. I think Highway 53 between Duluth and Virginia is kind of blah, but 169 is great. Anyway, the two routes are kind of a wash time-wise (give or take) under normal conditions, and that will be even more true after they finish rebuilding the stretch of Highway 1 that is currently under construction. But right now, the construction requires a big detour, so 53/169 is definitely the way to go for the rest of this paddling season.
Thanks guys. I have done both routes numerous times, and I agree totally with HoHo. I was hoping to get the update, and you guys have given me all the info I need for my trip this week. A year from now I'll be back on 2 & 1 and enjoying the solitude during that part of my drive.
I went from Ely to Two Harbors about a month ago. Even with the detour (which probably didn't add more than 15 minutes to the drive), I'd take that route over the 53/33/169 route any time. Just personal preference, but I love that drive much more.
Sloth is correct that the detour probably only adds 15 minutes. Much of it is on a gravel road. If there has been some heavy rain, that road can get washboarded and it would add to your time and discomfort. They grade the washboards out pretty often, though. And otherwise the detour is not all that bad if you otherwise really prefer the eastern route.
It added almost a half hour to my drive last June, but when I took it a shift must have let out at the mining plant on my way to Ely, and it was getting dark when I drove back. Babbitt was having a festival at the time too. I drove the speed limit and the road was kind of slippery near the gravel pit. Be careful where the ATVs share the road. But I doubt I would have had to share the road with a moose if I was on Hwy 53.
quote BillConner01: "Isn't 53 and 169 always faster than through Duluth and up 2 and 1? My outfitter tells me it is unless you are really going to drive high speed on 1 - reportedly fewer patrols. 53 is so nicely rebuilt and 4 lane just about all the way to Virginia.
What am I missing?" What you are missing is that once you cross the border into Minnesota, you're supposed to slow down and enjoy the scenery. Not see how FAST! you can get some place.
quote VoyageurNorth: "I heard that the big bridge between Superior & Duluth (the Blatnik Bridge) is under construction right now. So there will be a detour for you to take, and use the Bong Bridge instead.
Not sure of the actual directions but I'm sure you can find them at the MnDot website."
The Blatnik Bridge from Superior to Duluth (northbound) has been closed for a large repair project pretty much all summer. The newspaper reported yesterday that the project will switch sides starting August 27 when the northbound will reopen and the southbound (Duluth to Superior) will be closed.