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  1. Default Driving Long distance

    Hello All,
    Many great stories and adventures posted here. I hope we could add to them soon.
    I am looking for some help in planning a summer trip. We have 14 days total and would like to see Grand Canyon,Yellowstone, Badlands,Mt. Rushmore, Cincinatti, as well as visit niagra falls, philadelphia, and D.C, Montecello, Bryce Canyon starting in Los Angeles,CA and back with a few side stops at smaller attractions. My main questions are at what point does your body fatique to where you cannot do say 600 miles a day if we are sleeping at rest stops and occasional campgrounds with probably no more than three hotel nights in total. I can usually drive 6 hours and my wife is good for 3-4 at a time. We are in our late 30's and in average shape.
    Also, what is a realistic MPH average traveling these various territories?
    I know there are many variables to consider but I was hoping to hear from anyone who has done something similar. Our trip will occur in the early summer end of June.
    Thanks in advance.
    Ron

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default RTA's Rule of Thumb!

    Quote Originally Posted by ronarmen View Post
    Many great stories and adventures posted here. I hope we could add to them soon.
    We look forward to that! Welcome to the Great American RoadTrip Forum!
    I am looking for some help in planning a summer trip. We have 14 days total and would like to see Grand Canyon,Yellowstone, Badlands,Mt. Rushmore, Cincinatti, as well as visit niagra falls, philadelphia, and D.C, Montecello, Bryce Canyon starting in Los Angeles,CA and back with a few side stops at smaller attractions.
    Yikes! and double YIKES! Are you sure you wouldn't prefer to actually be able to enjoy some of these amazing places in greater detail? Your experience will pretty much be limited to whatever you can see out of your vehicle's windshield.
    My main questions are at what point does your body fatique to where you cannot do say 600 miles a day if we are sleeping at rest stops and occasional campgrounds with probably no more than three hotel nights in total.
    We have done a very amount of testing of this over the years -- I would say you will hit the wall at three days... I used to do this as professional driver and I would average about 600 miles + 4-5 hours of site work per day and do it non-stop for seven days -- but that is brutal and not much fun.
    Also, what is a realistic MPH average traveling these various territories?
    The rule of thumb we use is that over the course of a full day's travel (including rest and fuel stops, traffic slow-downs, construction, etc.) one can average 57 mph west of the Mississippi River and 53 mph east of the same river. This assumes that when possible, one drives at or in excess of the posted speed limits....

    I have driven cross-county many, many times in the last decade -- at my peak on-the-road periods I drove about 12,000 miles a month. Not a healthy pace...

    Mark

  3. Default

    Thanks for the feedback, we have never done this so your imput is appreciated. We will probably cut some but not sure where. I would love to have more time, I am trying to find the right balance between seeing too much of one and not enough of another. Thanks again. Any one else with any usefull feedback again much appreciated.

  4. Default I'll chime in too..

    My first pass was also "yikes!". That's a lot of miles in 14 days.. As a rule of thumb, it takes 5-6 full days of driving (10+ hours per day on the road) to cross the country, each way. Plus, you're going north- south as well as east-west, which is about 2 full days of driving each way.

    My first reaction was "it's doable.. but you're never going to get out of the car". My impression is that you'll pull up to somewhere, get out of the car, walk around the car once or twice to stretch your legs, and then you're going to have to get right back in the car because you need to make another 500 miles that day...

    As a suggestion? You might do one of a couple of things. First, get a map or atlas out and circle where you want to go, and lay out a rough route of where you want to go, and how long you might spend somewhere. Then you can estimate about how long it will take to get there, where you might spend the night, and compare this to your plan. The alternative is to use one of the internet mapping engines, and do the same -- correcting for the fact that the internet mapping engines don't usually allow for any time out of the car for things like getting gas, having a meal, sightseeing, taking a bio break, etc...

    When planning a trip, I actually have a spreadsheet I use. I take the internet mapping engine's distance and "time in the car", and estimate the time it takes for me to drive a leg of the trip -- including stops and sightseeing. That lets me fine tune about where I need to stop to get gas, where I can sightsee (if I'm on a schedule), where I might want to spend the night, and estimate costs based upon mileage and stops.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Central California
    Posts
    378

    Default Two trips

    You have two trips here. You can tour all the parks in the West in 2 weeks, barely. And you could see what you want to see in the East in 2 weeks, if you flew to Cincinatti or DC and rented a car. But it just isn't possible to do both. Frankly, you'd be wasting your time and money.

    Its as if I said to you "I'm coming to LA and want to see Disneyland, The Getty Museum, tour the studios in Burbank, surf at Malibu, walk the walk of fame in Hollywood, see the mansions in Beverly Hills, have diner at Le Cirque, and catch a Lakers game...oh by the way... I'll be flying in at noon and I have to catch a red-eye out at midnight." It might actually be possible to do all of these, but what's the point?

    Pick a trip for this time and save the other for the next time. Otherwise you might as well stay home and do it all on the Internet or rent travel videos. You'll see more, understand more, and not fall asleep and drive into a ditch before you get half way around.

    Just my considered opinion.

    Craig

  6. Default

    Thanks again folks, this is why I am doing this for all the great info and helps. Does anyone have a suggested itenerary including some of these places that would be most resonable to do? I guess we could cut out the eastern part off the trip but cincinatti is must. As I am reading as many posts as I can I did not realize how much traffic delays in some of these national parks, are there any great parks with little traffic?
    Thanks Again

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
    Posts
    3,318

    Default Another Yikes!!

    Well, LA to Cincinnati via I-40, I-44, I-70, I-74 (probably the quickest route) is roughly 2200 miles. Most of us would suggest taking 4 days at the minimum for this trip. At 550 miles/day, you're going to be driving for a good 10 hours each day. This really doesn't leave much time for sight-seeing. For a round-trip, this means at least 8 days, only leaving you 6 for sight-seeing. And this is if you're driving a fast pace there and back. 10 hours day doesn't leave much exploring time. And, yes, it will catch up with you and leave you exhausted.

    I really think 400 miles/day maximum will give you a far more fun trip there and back again. Of course, this means it would take about 5-1/2 days each way leaving you little time to do more than rest up in Cincinnati and then drive home again. But it would allow you time to explore more along the way.

    Oy veh! Are you sure you must get to Cincinnati?

    If you decide to go that far east, I would suggest that you not bother wasting any time to see places like Grand Canyon, Bryce, etc. on this trip. All of those places are close enough to LA where you can do it on a shorter trip in the future. 5 days or so would give you a quick whistle-stop of those places. And you'd have more time and energy there to enjoy them than you'll be able to carve out on this trip.

    (Craig, great analogy! Spot on.)

    I'm sorry we're not more encouraging. If you really want to do this, go for it. But be aware of the pitfalls, time limitations, and potential for intense fatigue. When the adrenaline that road-tripping can bring out at the beginning of a trip piddles out, you're gonna crash.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Central California
    Posts
    378

    Default Too bad...

    you have to drive to Cincinnati. That is a lot of miles from the Black Hills to Cincy and down to the Grand Canyon (not that there aren't other things to see along the way). Are you sure you couldn't fly there and drive home in a rental car, or the vise versa? You'd save over 2,000 miles of driving!

    Anyway, your trip now looks like about 5,000 miles (about 75 hours of driving). That is about 360 miles per day. Doable, but not very tourable. You'll have the through-the-windshield sight seeing experience. For example, Yellowstone is really a 2 to 3-day visit to see the geysers, the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and the wildlife. The same for the Black Hills/Mt Rushmore/Badlands. A day for Bryce, and a day for the Grand Canyon (preferably two). As I figure it, that leaves a day or two in Cincinnati. Again, that is a long drive for a couple of days.

    Speed limits in almost all state and national parks are 35-45 mph (even if it seems like you could drive 60) and in summer, most are going to be somewhat crowded. If you're lucky you'll have just one half-hour slowdown in Yellowstone do to bison crossing the road.

    But, if you gotta go, you gotta go. Have a great trip. At least now you have a chance.

    Craig

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