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  1. Default NC-Yellowstone-Grand Canyon-NC

    Planning a cross country trip from NC to see Yellowstone and Grand Canyon. Have 16+ days, and would like to include Mt. Rushmore, Yellowstone, Grand Teton, Bryce, Zion, and Grand Canyon. I know this is a lot in one trip but w/kids ages 13 and 10 in year-round school this may be only trip west. Plan on driving w/popup camper. Does this Itinerary sound reasonable?

    Aug19 (day1) Start drive from NC to Mount Rushmore
    Aug20 (day2) Drive
    Aug21 (day3) arrive Mount Rushmore- camp O/N
    Aug22 (day4) drive to Yellowstone- arrive and camp at Grant Village
    (have reservations for 4 nights)
    Aug23-25 Yellowstone
    Aug26 (day8) drive to Grand Teton- camp 2 nights? (Colter Bay Campground?)
    Aug27 (day9) GTNP
    Aug28 (day10) drive to Bryce- camp 2 nights? (North Campground?)
    Aug29 (day11) Bryce
    Aug30 (day12) Zion and drive to Grand Canyon- camp 2 nights? (Mather Campground?)
    Aug31 (day13) Grand Canyon (Northern rim)
    Sept1 (day 14) Start drive back to NC (I-40)
    Sept2 (day 15) Drive
    Sept3 (day 16) Arrive home in Raleigh

    Kids have a 3 week break and can possibly stretch this trip a day or two if the money holds out. Have budget of $3000. Is this reasonable? Any suggestions? If we add another day or so, where would you recommend?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,060

    Default That will be a grand excursion!

    Quote Originally Posted by maacbuck
    Planning a cross country trip from NC to see Yellowstone and Grand Canyon.
    Welcome to the Great American RoadTrip Forum!
    Have 16+ days, and would like to include Mt. Rushmore, Yellowstone, Grand Teton, Bryce, Zion, and Grand Canyon. I know this is a lot in one trip but w/kids ages 13 and 10 in year-round school this may be only trip west. Plan on driving w/popup camper.
    Personally, when you are in the Mt. Rushmore area, I think your kids will find Badlands far more interesting. It never ceases to amaze me. Here is a field report from the area.
    Aug19 (day1) Start drive from NC to Mount Rushmore
    Aug20 (day2) Drive
    I don't know where in NC you starting from, but as you probably know it is about 1700 miles which makes for two very long days. Doable -- but wow!
    Aug21 (day3) arrive Mount Rushmore- camp O/N
    Oops, OK three long days -- much better...
    Aug22 (day4) drive to Yellowstone- arrive and camp at Grant Village
    (have reservations for 4 nights)
    500 odd miles is another long day, but you have allowed sufficient time to rest a little in Yellowstone.
    and the Grand Teton to Bryce legs look very reasonable.
    Aug30 (day12) Zion and drive to Grand Canyon- camp 2 nights? (Mather Campground?)
    Aug31 (day13) Grand Canyon (Northern rim)
    You need to reverse this route -- the North Rim is on the way from Zion.
    Sept1 (day 14) Start drive back to NC (I-40)
    Sept2 (day 15) Drive
    Sept3 (day 16) Arrive home in Raleigh
    Three days to travel 2,000 miles -- pushing it again, but doable. The problem is there so much you will be missing -- but on the other hand so much you will see. How many drivers will there be?

    Mark

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,067

    Default In my opinion

    I'm sorry to say, I don't believe you've got yourself a reasonable trip layed out.

    When you say you've got a popup camper, I'm assuming its the kind that is a trailer you pull behind your car? If that is the case, it will add some time to your travel.

    You've got several days were you'll need to travel 600 or more miles a day just to stay on your schedule. Even in ideal conditions, that would be about 11 hours in the car, which give you no time to explore and gets pretty hard on the kids. And again, if you are pulling a camper, that would add a significant amount of time.

    I would strongly recommend adding at least a few days to your travel plans. While in a physical sense, it will be possible to do the trip you've got laid out. I think you will find your trip to be much much much more enjoyable for both you and your family if you budget at least a few more days to your travel time.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
    Posts
    3,318

    Default Way too-too much driving, imho!

    I plugged your route into MS Streets & Trips (figuring you live in Raleigh? Close enough?). Your route is 5600 miles. Of course, this doesn't include getting on-and-off the highway for meals and any other exploring you'll be doing. 5600 miles will take you, at minimum, a good 100 hours to drive. This averages out to about 5 hours per day if you were to drive each day. Hmmm....sounds like too much to me. And since you are towing a trailer, your time might be even more. I realize a pop-up is fairly light and doesn't impact driving as much as a full-size trailer would, but I still think you have to factor it in. Especially because of some of the windy roads you'll be traveling where cornering will be more of an issue and will slow you down.

    Aug19 (day1) Start drive from NC to Mount Rushmore
    Aug20 (day2) Drive
    Aug21 (day3) arrive Mount Rushmore- camp O/N

    MS Streets & Trips says that this is drive is a good 28.5 hours. This is pure driving hours with no stops at all. You can do this in 3 days but you will be pushing it. And I think your kids will go nuts sitting that long. You will need to factor in time for them to run and play and get the wiggles out. This will add considerably to your driving time here. I would add a day to this part of your route.

    And there is tons of stuff to see right here. Deadwood, Black Hills, Crazy Horse, Wall Drug are just a few other things worth seeing here. Personally, I think it's a shame to drive here and miss the other great things in the nearby vicinity. But that's your call.

    Aug22 (day4) drive to Yellowstone- arrive and camp at Grant Village
    (have reservations for 4 nights)
    Aug23-25 Yellowstone
    Aug26 (day8) drive to Grand Teton- camp 2 nights? (Colter Bay Campground?)
    Aug27 (day9) GTNP

    It is about 9 hours straight driving from Mt. Rushmore to Yellowstone. Yes, a long day but it's do-able. And, again, factoring in rest stops, fuel stops, "get the wiggles out stops" for the kids, etc. means that you can tag at least 2-3 more hours onto this time. So, again, very long but do-able day, especially since you'll just be staying around here for 5 days to get a break from driving. However, I'm still leery of you being up to the drive here after the many long hours of driving in the days before to get to Mt. Rushmore. Make sense? I would consider adding another day here. There's lots to see on the way to Yellowstone like Devil's Tower and Cody, WY. I would add this day so you can take in some of those other sites along the way.

    Aug28 (day10) drive to Bryce- camp 2 nights? (North Campground?)
    Aug29 (day11) Bryce

    It's a good 12 hours to drive to Bryce. This is without stops! Long, long day and will likely be more like 15-16 hours in the car once you factor in stops. I would break this up into 2 days myself. Stopping somewhere near Salt Lake City would break this leg up nicely. And there's lots to see around SLC that you might enjoy.


    Aug30 (day12) Zion and drive to Grand Canyon- camp 2 nights? (Mather Campground?)
    Aug31 (day13) Grand Canyon (Northern rim)

    Like Mark said, you would be going to the North Rim first. Anyway, driving from Bryce to Zion to the North Rim is about 250 miles. While this is many less miles than you have planned for most of your days, you're still looking at a good 5 hours to drive this. Actually, probably more because there will be lots of traffic congestion. I wouldn't be surprised if you're looking at closer to 6-7 hours just for driving this day. OK, so you can drive it but where is your time for sightseeing? Are you just going to drive into Zion and then turn around and leave? Or were you planning to explore it at a bit? And, if you do, you're only leaving yourself time for a brief look-see at the North Rim. Anyway, this is do-able. Unfortunately, I did it myself seeing the North Rim and Zion in the same day. But I sure wish I had more time. I didn't even have time to really go into Zion. Just a drive to the visitor center, a walk-around, and then back on the road. I really didn't get to see much. It's your call. But if you could squeeze in an extra day here, I think you won't regret it.

    And you haven't even gotten to the South Rim yet! It's about 210 miles from the North Rim to the South Rim. And a good portion of this is on windy, hilly roads that will slow you down with that trailer. We got stuck behind a couple of RVs that refused to pull over and let us pass so we spent a good portion of this route going 25-30mph. At the time of year you're traveling, I would plan for these types of delays. The South Rim really requires, at minimum, one full day just to see the highlights. After you have driven 4-6 hours to get there, you won't have much time that day to do much sightseeing. Again, you really need to add a day here.

    Sept1 (day 14) Start drive back to NC (I-40)
    Sept2 (day 15) Drive
    Sept3 (day 16) Arrive home in Raleigh

    Almost 2200 miles, at least 34 hours of pure driving time (again, no stops figured in here). In 3 days? Yeah, do-able but miserable, imho. You will likely be on the road at least 16-17 hours each day, minimum, to keep to this schedule. Do you have a few recuperation days at the end of this so you can drag yourself back to work? I'm serious....these are going to be killer days. You need at least another day here, preferably 2-3 more days, to make this reasonable and somewhat enjoyable for you and the kids, imho.

    OK, now that I've totally rained on your parade, maybe I can give you some ideas that are more positive. And I'm speaking from experience here. My kids are now 20 and 22 but they were veterans of many camping/roadtrips when they were kids. When we would try to push them to spend long hours in the car, like you're planning, the trip was miserable for all of us. But, when we slowed down, stopped and smelled the roses, and spent far less time in the car, we had great, wonderful times. Yes, we saw less things that we might have if we had pushed it but we had LOTS more fun.

    I really think you could just drive to South Dakota, do Mt. Rushmore and all the other many things to do in South Dakota, and have a wonderful vacation without going much farther. There are many things to see and do along the way there and back. I would plan to drive there via a different route than your return home so you can enjoy different sights each way. If you really want to do more, you might consider doing Yellowstone OR Grand Canyon, but not both.

    Is this the only chance your family will ever have for a vacation? If so, then I'd rather see less and have more fun with the family than trying to cram in way too-too much. If you can go again next year or the year after, then you can pick up the places you missed on.

    Gosh, I always hate to tell people rather bad news about their plans but I hope you will at least review your plans and come up with something that the whole family will enjoy better. I just think your plans are the equivalent of going to a buffet and having "eyes bigger than your plate". But it's far easier to throw away too much food than it is to find yourself many hours from home, tired and stressed, with little time to get home. Make sense?

  5. Default

    I saw your same post over on the Fodor's forums, but I don't know if you saw my post over there. Here it is:

    Your first three days are going to be hard. It's almost 1800 miles from Raleigh, NC to Rapid City, SC. You're looking at almost 600 miles per day. Any chance of leaving on Friday after the kids get out of school to give you a little head start?

    Mt. Rushmore is on your way to Yellowstone so I would leave it in. It doesn't take that long to enjoy this park. I usually like natural places, but this place is pretty special.

    Rapid City to Grant Village is almost 500 miles. If this was all interstate driving, you would be fine, but it's not. After you leave Sheridan, WY you will be driving through the mountains at a lot slower pace. You could have up to a half-hour delays from May 5, 2006 through November 5, 2006 between the East Entrance of Yellowstone and Sylvan Pass inside the park. This section is also closed nightly from 8:00 pm to 8:00 am. Completion is expected fall 2006. See National Park website:

    http://www.nps.gov/yell/planvisit/orientation/travel/roadclos.htm

    You really need an extra day to get to Yellowstone. Can you change your reservations or leave a whole day earlier?

    Grand Tetons to Bryce is 570 miles and again, not all of it is Interstate driving. You will be driving through Salt Lake City on a commute day, hope you don't hit it during commute time because it will REALLY slow you down! I really don't think this is realistic. I would add a day here. I would also change the order. I would do Zion first and stay 2 nights, then move to Bryce for 2 nights and skip the North Rim and just do the south Rim.

    If you decide to keep the North Rim in your itinerary, then do as TheWeasle suggested and do the North Rim before the South Rim. With your limited time, I really wouldn't do both rims.

    I would suggest reservations for Mather Campground. I would also suggest reservations for North Rim, Bryce and Zion if you aren't going to be getting to the campgrounds early in the day.

    From the North Rim the drive home is 2277 miles to Raleigh, NC. From the South Rim, it's 2165 miles. Even though it's only 113 miles longer from the North Rim it's a good 5 hours longer drive because the road out of the North Rim is SLOW and if you get stuck behind a big motorhome it could be worse!

    You're drive home isn't going to be much of a picnic. You're looking at 720 miles a day from the South Rim. I hope you don't mind driving well into the night, you could really use another day for the drive home.

    I agree, get the National Park Pass for $50. It will get you into all the national parks you will be going to. Yellowstone & Grand Canyon's entrance fees are going up to $25 each this May! The National pass will save you money!

    If you can cook most of your own meals and stick to budget motels for the driving days, you should be fine with a $3,000 budget.

    Gas is always our biggest killer and comes in at about half our budget. In our motorhome we only average 7 MPG. If you know what kind of milage you get pulling your pop-up you should be able to estimate your gas costs. This year I'm estimating using $3.00 per gallon and hope we find the price lower!

    Utahtea

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