What am I missing? I can't help but feel like in my planning I'm seeing some cool things, staying some great places, and taking a good route, but I can't help but feel like somewhere mixed in these directions and time tables I'm missing something. Something huge. Something that, when I get home in mid September, I'm thinking I'll smack myself on the forehead (or my wife will) and I'll realize I missed the pièce de résistance that was only an hour or so from the route.
So if you've got some time and the interest, help me out a bit here.
We'll be starting out from the suburbs of Kansas City, MO and headed west starting early morning on Saturday, August 25. One of the longest stretches of the trip will be a straight-through drive (with rest stops of course) along I-70 through Kansas and into Leadville, CO for camping.
Destination One: (estimated travel time 12 hours 30 minutes)
1. Leadville, CO - Sugar Loafin' Campground (Private Full Service Campground)
2665 County Road 4
Leadville, CO 80461
We plan to camp in Leadville for two days to relax and enjoy our entry into the Rockies. This area (not specifically Leadville) holds a lot of historical significance for me as it's one of the areas I most camped in as a kid with my parents. After a good rest and taking in the scenery we'll head west further into the Rockies to Springville, UT where we'll also be camping.
Destination Two: (estimated travel time 8 hours 30 minutes)
2. Springville, UT - Balsam Campground (Public Rustic Campground)
Just north of Spanish Fork, UT
44 W 400 North
Spanish Fork, UT 84660
(Location: From Springville go nearly 12 miles east on Forest Road 058. The pavement ends at Balsam.)
I've never camped in Utah. The closest I've been was following the major highways through the state on a road trip with my parent's from KC to Portland, OR. I'm a little apprehensive to camping in a region I've never been, but not too much. The explanation of reaching this campground (following a service road out of town) makes it sound like it's a little disconnected from civilization which sounds really attractive now that I'm older and would appreciate the quiet a bit more. If we leave at a decent time from Leadville I hope to reach here during the daylight hours to have some time to take in the scenery after setting up a simple camp. We plan to spend one night at this campground and head out relatively early for our third destination, Carson City, NV.
Destination Three: (estimated travel time 9 hours 30 minutes)
3. Carson City, NV - Motel 6 (Inn/Motel)
2749 S Carson Street
Carson City, NV 89701
The haul from Springville, UT to Carson City will be a bit longer than I'd usually like to have in a single stretch on a road trip and that, combined with the fact that we'll have been away from home and a bed with springs for about four days, we'll be staying at a motel in Carson City. This will be a period of rest as we ramp up for the next stretch of the trip. The next stretch of the trip takes me into (somewhat) more familiar territory in northern California towards the coast into the Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park.
Destination Four: (estimated travel time 8 hours 30 minutes)
4. Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California - Mil Creek Campground (Public Full Service Campground)
1375 Elk Valley Road
Crescent City, CA 95531
(Park is 7 miles south of Crescent City, CA, turn east on the campground road. The campground entrance is 1.5 miles east of the highway; campground is still another mile after entrance. Park sign says in capital letters "MILL CREEK CAMPGROUND" and in small letters "Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park".)
I've never had the opportunity to camp in any of the Redwood forests, only drive through them, so this will be, I think, one of my favorite parts of the whole trip. Is anyone familiar with this area well enough to know if there is a route to drive or hike to the coast of the Pacific? My wife has never seen any ocean and I think this would be a spectacular place to be introduced to it. We'll be spending about two days here exploring and camping before we head north towards Crater Lake National Park.
Destination Five: Westfir, OR/Crater Lake National Park (estimated travel time 6 hours)
5. Westfir, OR - Black Canyon Campground, OR (Public Full Service Campground)
Westfir, OR 97492 Information: (541)822-3799
(From Oakridge, follow Hwy 58 west to Black Canyon Campground which is located 1 mile east of Lookout Point Reservoir.)
With the previous jaunts being somewhat long hauls in the SUV this will be a relatively short trip to camp yet again. After a couple of days exploring we'll be relaxing much of the evening and early morning in Westfir before driving to Crater Lake National Park to explore the next day. From there we'll be traveling to Vancouver, WA and into civilization for a day.
Destination Six: Vancouver, WA (estimated travel time 5 hours)
6. Vancouver, WA - Hilton Hotel - Vancouver (Hotel)
301 W 6th St
Vancouver, WA 98660
Vancouver will be our most relaxing part of the trip in (somewhat) luxury accommodations at the Hilton. It's a surprise I've got embedded into the trip as my wife is expecting another night of camping this evening. I hope to do some walking around Vancouver and take in the town and what it has to offer. We might catch a movie this night or really do whatever she would like to do. This is her day/night to choose. Is anyone from Vancouver, WA or has visited there? This Hilton hotel is one of the few on Expedia.com that scored a perfect 5/5 in all categories from reviews, and it looks lovely in the pictures, so this is our night to indulge.
From Vancouver we head back into nature towards Glenn's Ferry, ID.
Destination Seven: Three Island Crossing State Park, ID (estimated travel time 8 1/2 hours)
7. Glenn's Ferry, ID - Three Island Crossing State Park, ID - (Public Full Service Campground)
Glenns Ferry, ID
Southwestern Idaho, SE of Mountain Home, 4 mi. off I-84
(Approaching Glenns Ferry on Interstate 84 eastbound (for example, from Boise), exit at mile marker 120 and turn right on Bannock; next, left on 1st Avenue; then, right on Commercial Avenue; finally, right on Madison Avenue. Travel approximately 1 mile on Madison Avenue to the park entrance.)
We'll be meeting some friends of the wife's who moved to Idaho Falls, ID just a few months ago. They'll be camping with us and from what I can tell it's a very short trip from here to Boise in case we want to do anything in the town. This is one of the most vague parts of the trip; I know very little about the region and I'll somewhat be leaving it in their hands as to what happens. If anyone on this forum knows of things we should see around here please let me know. From here we head towards Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks.
Destination Eight: Yellowstone National Park/Grand Teton National Park, WY (estimated travel time six hours)
8. Yellowstone National Park, WY - Canyon Campground - (Public Full Service Campground)
West park entrance, left at Madison Camp, Right at Norris Camp.
In Yellowstone we'll be doing all the typical things. I visited Yellowstone when I was a teenager and want my wife to experience what "popular" conservation attractions are like. We'll be doing the typical things here like Old Faithful and such. Part of this exploration will be seeing the Grand Teton range and exploring the Grand Teton National Park, which I'm a little more excited about, though I'm certainly not dreading Yellowstone as I enjoyed it a lot when I was younger. Grand Teton National Park takes us closer to our next destination of Jackson, WY, or Jackson Hole, WY.
Destination Nine: Jackson, WY (estimated travel time 3 hours)
9. Jackson Hole, WY - Angler's Inn - (Inn/Motel)
265 N. MILLWARD
JACKSON, WY 83001
I really loved Jackson when I traveled there and look forward to visiting as an adult. We'll be enjoying a relaxing night in Jackson as we enter the home stretch of our trip. We'll be looking for a good restaurant and typical "tourist" type shopping and relaxation before heading south to Estes Park, CO.
Destination Ten: Estes Park, CO (estimated travel time 9 hours 30 minutes)
10. Estes Park, CO - National Park Retreats - (Private Full Service Campground)
3501 Fall River Road
Estes Park, CO 80517
I've never been to Estes Park but my wife has and specifically asked that this be put into the trip. It works out that it's somewhat en route back home but it's a long haul from Jackson, WY to Estes Park, CO so we'll be spending some time here to recover.
We've got a good deal of flexibility in how long total road trip will take; I'm figuring around fifteen days, but we'll assess how long we want to spend here in Estes Park before we make the long journey back home to KC.
Some details for your review:
Travel Vehicle: 2000 Dodge Durango SLT 4X4, with off-road shocks and all-terrain tires
Sleep accommodations for camping: Ultra-light trailer pop-up tent camper (vintage 1960s pop-up with no amenities, just two somewhat comfortable beds if I bring our air mattress) or a 4-person three season ground tent.
Him: Seasoned road traveler. A student of Western literature and a voracious reader and writer. At only twenty-six years old a veteran of up to three road trips each Summer as a young kid, often to places like Wyoming, Colorado, Texas, Arizona, Kentucky, Virginia, and Florida. He's traveled straight through at age sixteen from Kansas City, MO to Miami, FL with a buddy and a prayer, and later in life straight through from Kansas City, MO to Colorado Springs, CO solo about five times from age eighteen to twenty-two. He's been to about forty of the lower 48s, swam in both oceans and the gulf within a single summer, and a beginner off-road driver on trails in Missouri. An insatiable wanderer, having left on a whim on a given Friday night with only the will to "explore south" or "head west" with nothing but a full tank of gas, a gallon of water, and a map.
Her: A hermit released. Having been in undergraduate and professional school since the age of five she's finally graduated. Having, now, four scientific related college degrees and more letters in her title than in some ancient alphabets she's ready to explore. Except for a single trip to Estes Park, CO at eighteen and a flight to Las Vegas, NV to get married in a 36 hour whirlwind weekend at age twenty-two she's never been outside a fifty-mile radius of her birthplace of Kansas City, MO. She's desperate to explore. To reach outside her bubble of comfort and complacency in what has been a daily grind of endless study.
I welcome your ideas, suggestions, thoughts, and things I might have forgotten in this trip. Our timetable, late August into early September, is the only thing that's set for certain, so your input is more than welcome.