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  1. Default 7-week USA/Canada Cross-Country Trip

    Hello - I’m new on this forum but have been really impressed with all the information here and the wealth of helpful tips. My wife and I are planning a seven-week trip across the United States/Canada and back from San Francisco during September and October 2006. It’s been a dream of ours for awhile and we’re finally trying to make it happen. We’re in the planning stages and have a tentative route planned. We’re interested in nice scenery/National Parks but are also interested in seeing cities and/or towns with character. We’re not adverse to “tourist trap” places as long as they’re of the fun, “gotta-see-once-in-your-life” variety like (I think) Mt. Rushmore, Colonial Williamsburg, etc., and not like “World’s biggest pancake” or something like that. We're less interested in museums and other indoor type attractions (aquariums, etc.) unless they're of the must-see variety.

    Here’s our planned route, which we’ve put together mainly using the book “Road Trip USA”. I’d be interested in any tips of must-see places that we might be missing or any places that might not be worth the trouble. Plus would be interested in thoughts on whether we're trying to squeeze too much into 7 weeks.

    Week 1: San Francisco through Reno to Boise, Idaho to Jackson, WY to Grand Teton NP, WY (we’re skipping Yellowstone since we’ve been there), to Nebraska/South Dakota (Mt. Rushmore, Crazy Horse Memorial, Badlands NP)

    Week 2: South Dakota to Minneapolis to Wisconsin/Iowa tourist traps (House on the Rock, Field of Dreams park) to Galena, IL to Chicago to Ann Arbor, MI (visiting a friend) to Niagra Falls to Toronto through Kingston to Ottawa

    Week 3: Ottawa to Montreal through Burlington, VT to Acadia National Park through Cambridge to Boston through Plymouth to Cape Cod, NY

    Week 4: Cape Cod to Martha’s Vineyard through Hudson River Valley to New York, NY to Amish Country to Washington DC to Norfolk/Colonial Williamsburg to Nags Head, NC

    Week 5: Nags Head, NC through Wilmington to Charleston to Savannah, SC to Great Smoky Mountains to Nashville, TN to Memphis

    Week 6: Memphis to St. Louis through Meramec Caverns/Carthage to Oklahoma City to Santa Fe to Albuquerque through Acoma Pueblo to Flagstaff ,AZ to Sedona, AZ

    Week 7: Sedona through Walnut Canyon National Monument to Grand Canyon to Zion to Bryce Canyon to Las Vegas, back to San Francisco

    Thanks in advance for your help!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default A good schedule!

    Quote Originally Posted by DaveU
    My wife and I are planning a seven-week trip across the United States/Canada and back
    Welcome to the Great American RoadTrip Forum! Sounds like a great adventure. Glad we have been helpful so far & thanks!
    It’s been a dream of ours for awhile and we’re finally trying to make it happen.
    Sounds like as good a reason as I know for starting an epic journey!
    We’re interested in nice scenery/National Parks but are also interested in seeing cities and/or towns with character. We’re not adverse to “tourist trap” places as long as they’re of the fun, “gotta-see-once-in-your-life” variety like (I think) Mt. Rushmore, Colonial Williamsburg, etc., and not like “World’s biggest pancake” or something like that. We're less interested in museums and other indoor type attractions (aquariums, etc.) unless they're of the must-see variety.
    You Have been reading the threads! OK, good to know.
    Here’s our planned route, which we’ve put together mainly using the book “Road Trip USA”.
    Jaimie's book is pretty good, although I think this one or this one provides a more holistic and useful over-view to the USA.

    Your week schedules are pretty good -- You could easily spend a month in each area covered by the week description, but the route will give you a good overview.

    I will be back later with some more ideas.

    Happy planning!


  3. Default 7-week trip

    Thanks for the book recommendations, Mark - I'll definitely check those out. I look forward to hearing any additional ideas you might have on our tentative trip itinerary.

    Take care,


  4. Default daveU

    The trip sounds great. I have gone cross country 6 times. Something I have always done is actually make a binder with dividers for each day. I each day I would have any travel info, directions, coupons etc. I have traveled through many of the areas you and your wife are planning on visiting. I do have some suggestions if you like. Also, if you do not already have one, purchase a National Parks Pass for $50.00, ($10.00 if over 62). You will have access to all National Parks, Monuments etc.

    Travel Rt 50 through Nevada. Virginia City is great if you like the Old West and minimal gambling. There are a few small towns along the route and it is not crowded. Grand Teton National Park is awe inspiring. A horseback ride is a nice sideline. Devils Tower National Monument is also a great place to stop on the way to the Black Hills region. Deadwood, SD is near Mount Rushmore is another Old West type town that has recently been renovated and is a great stopping point. Proceeding on Rt 90, Badlands National Park can be visited without much trouble. It has a loop that will bring you back on the interstate. Wall SD, home of Wall Drug, is a place to stretch your legs. I can go on but I would first like to know if this type of info is helpful. You may email me if interested.

  5. Default Very helpful

    Thanks very much - that kind of information is exactly what I'm looking for. (I hadn't heard of Deadwood, SD, but it sounds like a pretty fun addition to the itinerary.) I just got my national parks pass in the mail last week and am definitely planning on getting some use out of it. Thanks for any additional info you can provide!


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula

    Default Deadwood

    Where Wild Bill Hickock drew his Deadman's Hand. I would assume there are tons of "wild west" stories about that place.

  7. Default Glad my info has helped

    I'm glad you found my info helpful. I will continue, please just let me know if too much detail or if you would like more.

    I can also give you help with cooler/food and packing. We have a lot of experience with this. We have driven cross country 6 times and the eastern seaboard at least 28 times!!

    I obtained a lot of free information from each state we vere to visit from their website. They mail a lot of information. Also, if there is a particular National Park, they will also send info with schedules or much can be printed from their individual webpages. Many hours of operation get shorter for the Visitor Centers in the fall. You can also go to smaller towns/cities to receive local info. All I have contacted have been more than glad to send local packets. I did place all I would use in the binder by day that I described. This binder did help, I would have the trip route and motel info in each area.

    I forgot to mention Jackson, WY. It is an upscale town just south of Grand Teton NP and well worth the visit. I was not sure how you were proceeding to the Black Hills area. If you leave through Yellowstone, the east entrrance that leads to Cody, WY had major construction last fall. I would check with tha park to see the status. Cody, WY is another western town worth the visit. If you leave Teton through the NE toward Red Lodge , MT, Bear Tooth Pass is one of the most beautiful drives I have driven and just reconstructed due to a mud slide in 2004. Little Big Horn Battlefield would then be sort of on the way to the Black Hills and Devils Tower. Custer's last stand. I visited this Battlefield in 1988 when it was still called Custer Battlefield. The name has since been changed and the native american version is also given. (More of what actually happened)!!

    In the Blackhills area Wind Cave NP is also worth the trip. Have a pair of long pants handy and a jacket. The temp is in the mid 40's at all times. Deadwood also has a trolley that runs until the wee hours that connects most hotels/motels and has many stops. (50 cents last fall). Deadwood has daily reenactments of Wild Bill Hicock's dead man's hand and Kevin Costner has a small casino with a lot of Dances with Wolves items on display. I truly enjoyed Deadwood.

    East of the Badlands loop is Mitchell, SD which has the Corn Pakace. There is not much at all on Rt 90 and Wall and Mitchell are 2 good places to stretch and /or eat a meal.

    I'm not sure how you are proceeding eactly from here, but Minneapolis has a nice Science museum. We visited this many years ago, but it was interesting. Wisconsin's Dells area has many touristy things to do. It is a lake area. The Barnim and Bailey Circus Museum is in the area. We visited, by accident, on their 30th anniversary and the admission was 30cents in 1988. It was really great especially for the price!!

    We have only driven around Chicago. We really don't enjoy the cities that much. There was a LOT of construction this past fall in the area and really no way to avoid it. Lake Michigan is just in the way.

    The next place I have vistied is Acadia NP. We visited it actually as a cruise stop in the fall of 2004. Very nice, as is Bar Harbor. Bar Harbor runs free buses in and around the area. Not sure when they stop, it was mid Oct and that's when they stopped in 2004.

    Boston is a very old historic city. The Freedom Trail is a must do. It literally is in the pavement which makes following it easy. North Chruch, Paul Revere's house, the Constitution are all on it. Get a map sent to your home before you leave as not to waste time when you arrive. Plymouth Rock is nice. Ocean Spray has a free tour and is neat. Salem, MA is one of the strangest places I have driven in. Just weird drivers. Not sure why. If you like the witch thing interesting.

    Old Sturbridge Village in mid to west MA is a nice stop point. It does have an enterance fee though. West Point on the Hudson is worth the visit. We visited in the summer of last year. A lot of secuity and you cannot visit any more on your own. You must be a part of an organized tour. It is a very nice place to visit.

    I have lived all my life in central NJ, abouit 40 miles west of NY City. You will find in NJ it is illegal to pump your own gas!! The first time I drove the trip to FL I realized that everyplace else pumping your own is the norm. Just a side line.

    NY City is not my favorite place to be. Central Park is great as is the Museum of Natural History (accross from Central Park). The Met is also great. I have seen Beauty and the Beast from the 5th row. It is worth the price especially if you can get afternoon tickets at half price. Good luck though.

    If you will visit Ground Zero be prepared to be very toudhed by emotion. I really didn't lke the feeling I had.

    The Statue of Liberty I feel is best visited by ferry from Liberty State Park in NJ. The park is very nice and Liberty Science Center is actually on the access road to Liberty State Park. The Statue just recently reopened, although you cannot climb to the crown anymore. I have only been there twice!! Once when you could climb in 1994 and once since 9/11 and the statue was closed. You could just visit Ellis Island and the island that the statue is on. The ferry from NJ stops at both Ellis Island and The Statue of Liberty.

    You didn't mention NJ but you will have to pass through to get to PA. There are many Revolutionary War sites in the state. Let me know if you would like to know of any. Princeton and Flemington NJ are 2 quaint little towns and nice to visit.

    You also did not mention Philadelphia. Very worth the trip. A lot of history and the Battleship NJ is just accross the river in NJ. Valley Forge is just outside Philadelphia and can be on the way to Lancaster, (Amish Country). Getttysburg, PA is just SW of the Amish and worth visitig if you are a Civil War buff. The town is awesome and Antietam and Harpers Ferry parks are just 1 hr away. Harper's Ferry is especially nice. You will just be about 1 1/2 hrs. west of Washington, DC and avoid the Baltimore area. If you do just skip Gettysburg, Baltimore's inner harbor is a nice stop. There are many shops and restaruants along with the Constellation and other ships to visit.. Ft. McHenry is also there.

    I will continue with more if you like. I just don't want to give you too much info if you really don't want it. I have been to most of the rest of your trip.

  8. Default Wow - thanks so much


    Thanks so much for all the information - I appreciate all the tips as well as the info on all the stopping points. I'm a life-long west-coaster, so you've pointed out a lot of potential stops that I wouldn't have known to put on the itinerary (e.g., Old Sturbridge Village, etc.)! Thanks again - I appreciate all the time/thought you've put into this, and would definitely be interested in any thoughts about the remainder of the trip.


  9. Default cintinuation

    Hello Dave,
    I'm glad to help. Not sure if you wanted more on NJ. Morristown NHP is nice as well as Washington Crossing State Park for Revolutionary War sites to visit.

    I have been to Washington, DC a few times. There is a lot to see. Like I said before cities are not our favorite.

    Last May we actually did a southern loop beginning in Manassas, VA.The battlefield held a few reenactments while we were there. Williamsburg, VA has a lot of different things to do. The village is great. There are a few hundred 18th century buildings and people dressed in period clothing. They have the ghost tours that we did not do. They also have the ghost tours in Gettysburg. Busch Gardens, an amusement park, is nice. We visited it about 15 years ago, not sure how it has been updated, but I'm sure not as nice as Disney. I am a Disney person. (that's why so many trips up and down the east coast 28).

    Jamestown and Yorktown are very close to Williamsburg and worth the visit. Colonial National Historic Park and the Jamestown settlement are well done. We did see ongoing work on a dig in the Jamestown settlement. The areas are connected by the Colonial Parkway, a very beautiful ride.

    You can go through Newport, many ships will most likely be in port. The next area will be the outerbanks. The ride is very nice. We drove from Williamburg through the outerbanks and stayed in Carolina Beach, NC. It was a too long day. The outerbanks are beautiful with the coastline and lighthouses. If you are interested in the Wright Brothers, the National Monument for the first flight is in Kill Devil Hill. It was great.

    MOST IMPORTANT. There are 2 car ferries you must take to complete the drive through the outerbanks. The first is at Cape Hatteras. Last year it was free and ran every 1/2 hour. It is about 40 minutes long. The next is the Ocracoke to Cedar Island ferry. For this one, you must have reservations. You do not have to pay ahead ($10.00 last year), but you must have a space. This one is about 2 hr. 15 min. The ferry rides are a lot of fun. You just drive your vehicle on and ride. They sell snacks etc. Nothing fancy. The phone number is 1-800-293-3779. I got the phone number from my info from last year so just check. The state runs the ferries.

    Since this does take extra time, you may wish to stay over on the outerbanks. We didn't do that not realizing what a very long day it became.

    Wilmington, NC is the home to the Battleship North Carolina. It is easy to get to and on the way to Charleston. We were lucky to be there on a very slow day and had a free private tour with a volunteer that was eager to tell his own story about his travels on the vessel.

    Charleston, SC was a big disappointment to both of us. The actual city proper was just like the pictures. The immediate surrounding area a slum. We had 3 nights planned and did not stay one. My husband is a retired cop and didn't want to be near it. We were very surprised. If staying there, I would stay in the nice city proper section or not at all.

    Kings Mountain NMP is in SC on the way to Great Smokey Mountain NP. It is a nice stop on the way to the park for lunch and a quick history lesson. It is Revolutionary War not Cival War.

    We stayed on the eastern side of Smokey Mountain in a small town called Cherokee. Yes, it is in an Indian Reservation. It was very nice plus interesting to us. They also have a casino if that interests you. We did not visit it. The park has many hikes and is quite nice. You can exit through the west in the Gatlinburg area. This is the more touristy side.

    I have not done much in TN except Shiloh, which is south of where it seems you are going.

    Atlanta is a beautiful city if you choose to make a more southerly route. I have driven through TX and MS if you ever need info on those states.

    St. Louis is the next area I have visited on your itinery. The Arch is something else. It is easy to get to. You can get off Rt 70 and visit easily. You can take a rocking tram like vehicle to the top, get out and see the view and return down the same way. There is also a well done free (with the NP pass) western museum in the base.

    Going either directly west from St. Louis or south the next stop I have visited is NM. If you are ever in the south of NM, Carlsbad Caverans is my favorite cave park. San Antonio, TX is also well worth it.

    You can visit Petrified Forest National Park off Rt 40 just east of Flagstaff. You will also pass Winslow AZ. You must know the song.

    I wasn't sure if you are visiting the North Rim of the Grand Canyon or the South Rim. You listed it with Zion and Bryce so I thought you might be visiting the North Rim.

    First, Sedona is an upscale town. Red Rock pass is the ride there and quite nice. The South Rim of the Grand Canyon is much more crowded and does have a lot more to do. This is the only side to take a mule ride into the canyon.

    The North Rim is much less visited due to is distance from most anything. It is my favorite. You will have to stay there if going since there is only one place to stay anywhere near the rim. We stayed in cabins and arrived at night. It was my husbands first visit. I had been there in the late 80's. Our cabin was almost near the edge of an embankment and he almost walked off. In the morning when looking out the bedroom window, in the distance you could see the canyon. It is a beautiful place. The lodge had huge windows overlooking the canyon and many outdoor seats.

    The North Rim is about 200 miles in road distance from the South Rim. I really was not sure of your plans, since Zion and Bryce are closer to the North Rim.

    Bryce and Zion are both beautiful. We did a horseback ride into Bryce Canyon. Careful if you have a fear of heights. Also with the Grand Canyon mule ride. You will pass over Hoover Dam. It is spectacular. Lake Meade's water level was very low when we visited in 2004. (Same at Coulter Bay in Grand Teton NP).

    We are not much for Las Vegas. There is much to do I'm sure.

    You should visit Death Valley back into CA. We had planned to visit and stay in the park in 2004, however, there were flash floods that closed the park and caused 2 deaths so we could not visit. We did really want to visit and may do so this fall.

    Sequoia/Kings Canyon is one of my favorite parks. The Redwoods of the north are dwarfed by the Giant Sequoias. The ride in is also wonderful.

    You most likely have visited Yosemite. We entered the 2 times through the Tioga Pass in the east. It is truly beautiful. I found the park very crowed and that took away from it.

    My favorite NP is probably Rocky Mountain NP in CO. Grand Teton most likely second.

    If you have any questions or need any other info feel free to ask.


  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Québec, Montreal, Arizona, California, France

    Default Montreal part of your trip

    Hi Dave,

    A great place to take a walk and enjoy the scenery is Parc du mont-Royal. There's an observatory there, a cute pond, great picnic spots and hopefully, by the time you get there, some fall colors. From the observatory, facing east, you will see the Olympic Stadium afar. There's a funicular on the tower where you can get a very nice view of downtown. The Oratoire St-Joseph at the north side of the Mt Royal park is a jewel of architecture.

    The Old Port/Old Montreal Area is a great place to hang out if you like history and architecture. Visit the Basilique Notre-Dame, Pointe-à-Callière Museum, Place Jacques-Cartier, Marché Bonsecours, St-Paul Street, etc.

    The Plateau Mont-Royal is probably the hippest part of town right now. The Mt Royal Avenue is more or less its "main street". You can virtually find anything there from used bookstores to trendy cafés and restaurants, from funky boutiques to exuberant hairdressing shops. Further south, towards Ste. Catherine Street, lies the Latin Quarter often confused with the Plateau. St-Denis Street is the place to be : lots of breweries, terraces, bars and restaurants.

    East of the Latin Quarter, you'll find the gay village a.k.a "Le Village". Even if you are not gay, it is worth a visit. Stop by Cabaret Mado on a Tuesday night for a funky drag queen show (5$) (straight people are always welcome). La Strega du Village has delicious pastas and incredibly low prices. Kilo on the corner of Ste-Cat and Alexandre-de-Sève has enormous and tasy desserts and coffees.

    The Main Street of Montreal is St-Laurent, separating east from west. Upscale restaurants, lounges and dance clubs are to be found between Sherbrooke St. and Mt-Royal. If you prefer off the beaten path, I suggest the Jell-O Bar on E. Ontario St. Downtown, you can either explore the underground city or stroll down Ste-Catherine and Crescent Streets. Ste-Catherine is lined up with boutiques while Crescent is full of dance clubs and restaurants.

    I could go on and on like this for hours! If you have specific interests, let me know so I can give you some other tips. There are festivals held in Montreal almost 365 days a year. Here's a short (and incomplete) list. Just grab a free copy of Mirror or Hour in any public place when you get there to be properly informed of the current events.

    If you're willing to make the trip to Montreal, I strongly suggest you make it to Quebec City. It is only 2,5 hours of Montreal and is so much more beautiful to my opinion even though I consider Montreal to be more lively. Montreal is a city to explore by night (restaurants, nightlife, etc.) while Quebec is a city to explore during daytime (by foot).

    Have a great trip!

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