back to articles | August 04, 2023 | Greg Thibodeau

Categories: Useful Automotive Information

The Great Northern on U.S. Route 2: A Perfect Summer Road Trip

The Great Northern spans over 2,500 miles from the east coast to the west coast. It's a scenic drive that's full of natural beauty, rich history, and places to stop along the way.


The Great Northern spans over 2,500 miles from the west coast to the east coast. It's a scenic drive that's full of natural beauty, rich history, and places to stop along the way. Whether you are captivated by stunning landscapes, intrigued by the region's history, or simply looking for interesting stops, the Great Northern promises an unforgettable journey filled with diverse experiences.

On maps you can find this route labeled as US Highway 2 in the northern reaches of the nation. This trip touches Seattle in the West and Acadia National Park in the East. Be prepared to cross the border as this trip will take you into Canada and back again.

History of The Great Northern

U.S. Route 2 was one of the original U.S. highways established in 1926. It is commonly known as The Great Northern, a name that pays homage to the Great Northern Railway that once operated along this route. The Great Northern Railway played a vital role in the development of the western United States, connecting cities and towns along the way.

The history and significance of The Great Northern have contributed to its popularity among travelers. Many people are drawn to this route because of its rich historical background and the opportunity to experience the same path that was once traveled by the Great Northern Railway. The route allows travelers to immerse themselves in the stories and landmarks that have shaped the development of the west.

Parks and Natural Wonders

Visitors can not only witness breathtaking natural beauty but also gain a deeper understanding of the region's history and how it has shaped the American West. The Cascade Mountains were made accessible by the railroad and there is plenty here for travelers to explore. Ladder Creek Falls is a beautiful waterfall nestled in the mountains that showcases the area's stunning natural beauty.

The Great Northern is packed full of natural wonders and scenic beauty. Travelers can take a trip to explore places such as Glacier National Park. Here drivers can traverse the Going-to-the-Sun Road, which offers stunning views of snow-capped mountains, pristine lakes, and cascading waterfalls.

In the North Cascades National Park travelers can hike through dense forests and witness towering peaks that are part of the rugged Cascade Mountain Range. Walk the Newhalem Suspension Bridge for a picturesque view of the Skagit River below. On the other side is a nature trail that leads to the North Cascades National Park Visitors Center where travelers can learn about the park's ecosystem and wildlife.

The Upper Peninsula in Michigan is a forested region bordering 3 of the Great Lakes and is known for its stunning natural beauty. Visitors can explore the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, where colorful cliffs rise from Lake Superior and offer breathtaking views. They can also hike through the Tahquamenon Falls State Park, home to one of the largest waterfalls east of the Mississippi River.

The Green Mountains in Vermont are known for their lush forests, picturesque landscapes, and abundance of outdoor recreational activities. The Green Mountains are home to several state parks and nature reserves. Visitors can enjoy hiking through the expansive network of trails in the Green Mountain National Forest, which offers stunning views of the rolling hills and valleys.

The rugged granite peaks of New Hampshire’s White Mountains provide a magnificent backdrop for outdoor enthusiasts. With more than 48 peaks reaching over 4,000 feet in elevation, the White Mountains offer something for everyone. The region is also home to the famous Mount Washington, known for its unpredictable weather and challenging hiking trails.

Acadia National Park is another popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts. Located along the coast of Maine, Acadia National Park offers a unique combination of rocky shorelines, dense forests, and stunning mountain vistas. With over 120 miles of hiking trails, visitors can explore the park's diverse landscapes and enjoy breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean.

Landmarks and Attractions

Starting on the west coast, travelers can visit the iconic Seattle Space Needle for a bird's eye view of the city. Take a rest and indulge in delicious seafood at Pike Place Market. Check out the unique art at North Dakota's Roadside Giants for a unique photo op with animals of gigantic proportions. Take a few minutes to explore these larger-than-life attractions.

Give your car a break at Michigan's Mackinac Island. Take a ride on the ferry to the no car zone and enjoy all that the island has to offer. Then head north of the border to visit The Big Nickel. This 30 foot replica of a 1951 Canadian nickel is located at the Dynamic Earth Science Museum in Sudbury.

Cities, Towns, and Communities

From small towns to bustling cities, The Great Northern offers a diverse range of landscapes and views. The bustling city of Seattle is full of energy and scenic beauty. Take some time to admire the stunning waterfront views.

Washington is also the home of the picturesque village of Leavenworth. This Bavarian-style village hosts charming shops and festive events throughout the year. Tour the Leavenworth Nutcracker Museum which houses over 7,000 nutcrackers from all over the world.

Explore Fort Totten at Devils Lake in North Dakota. Brimming with history, this is one of the country’s best-preserved 19th-century military forts. Duluth in Minnesota is a beautiful city on Lake Superior that offers spectacular views and a charming atmosphere.

North of the border Ottawa awaits. Located in Ontario, this is Canada's capital and one of the most pleasant cities to visit. Montreal in Quebec is as close as you can get to Europe without leaving the continent. This unique city's style and culture are a breath of fresh air.

In Vermont take some time to experience the charm of Stowe. This small town is nestled at the foot of the mountains offering picture perfect landscapes. Stop here for the farmers markets and vineyards during the summer.

The Great Northern is an epic road trip that takes you across the nation and more. Make it a perfect experience with the right car. myAutoloan can help you get the right set of wheels for this adventure. Pack your camera and get ready to make unforgettable memories.