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  1. #1

    Default Montreal to California roadtrip

    Hi you all!
    I'm so glad I found this forum, it seems to be very helpful for many people!

    Ok, I'd really like to cross the US, departing from Montreal and going all the way to California, and probably coming back on a different path. I think I would have 3-4 weeks to do it. I have not set an itinerary yet but I'd like to pass through Colorado, Texas, California, The Southwest. Cities of interest are Philly, Chicago, Miami, San Fran, LA. The Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Yosemite and Death Valley are also on my list.

    Lets go to the questions now:

    1) Will I have enough time to do it all?
    2) Would it be better to spend my whole time crossing the entire country and coming back home by plane instead of doing a round trip?
    3) Should I go to New Orleans, considering the Katrina damages and where they're at in rebuilding?
    4) Can you guys suggest an itinerary and route?
    5) I've heard of plan where somebody who wants to move from one coast to another but doesn't want to do it with his car, will let a company set up arrangement with a traveller so he drives the car from coast to coast, while the owner takes the plane. Have you ever heard of that and would you recommend it? Do you know any websites about it?
    6) Is it easy to find camping sites across the nation? In the best of world, I'd camp and book cheap hotels.
    7) As a Canadian, do I need a passport to travel to the USA?
    8) Do you have an idea how this would cost me?
    9) Can I plan it all in the next 3 weeks?

    Answer the questions you can! Thanks for your help!!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Quťbec, Montreal, Arizona, California, France
    Posts
    761

    Default Answers from another Canadian

    Bonjour Fred!
    Bienvenue sur le forum RoadTripAmerica!

    Lets go to the questions now:

    1) Will I have enough time to do it all?
    2) Would it be better to spend my whole time crossing the entire country and coming back home by plane instead of doing a round trip?
    3) Should I go to New Orleans, considering the Katrina damages and where they're at in rebuilding?
    4) Can you guys suggest an itinerary and route?
    5) I've heard of plan where somebody who wants to move from one coast to another but doesn't want to do it with his car, will let a company set up arrangement with a traveller so he drives the car from coast to coast, while the owner takes the plane. Have you ever heard of that and would you recommend it? Do you know any websites about it?
    6) Is it easy to find camping sites across the nation? In the best of world, I'd camp and book cheap hotels.
    7) As a Canadian, do I need a passport to travel to the USA?
    8) Do you have an idea how this would cost me?
    9) Can I plan it all in the next 3 weeks?
    1) Yes you'll have enough time in 3-4 weeks but personally, I would leave out Philly which is totally out of the way;

    2) Personally, I definitely prefer driving to flying but it depends on your interests. If you'd fly, you'd have to rent a car one-way and leave it at the airport where you'd take the plane to get back to Mtl and I'm sure that would be pretty expensive. Plus plane tickets from Montreal (YUL) are costy. You should consider flying from Burlington, VT, Albany, NY or Manchester, NH instead. Try SouthWest they usually have good prices;

    3) Yes you should. Maybe it is not as pretty as it was bewfore Katrina, but the French Quarter is still pretty intact and they sure can use tourism money to help rebuild their community;

    4) Considering all the places you've mentionned -- some of them being a little vague (i.e. southwest) -- it's kind of hard to point out a particular route. Try to find more specific attractions and put a dot on a map on each destination. It'll help you trace the more natural route from one point to another. Then you can start looking for scenic routes or fast interstates, depending on what you're looking for;

    5) The only similar thing I heard about is U-Ship but I never tried it and don't know anyone who've done it;

    6) It is easier to find campgrounds in the US than it is in most of Canada (at least Quebec and the Maritimes that's for sure). Like in Canada, there are several types of campground : private and public. Public campgrounds are usually the least expensive : National and State Parks campgrounds, BLM primitive campgrounds, National Forests, Corps of Engineers, Long term visitors areas, etc. Private campgrounds usually offer more amenities. Some chains like KOA even have hot tubs and waterslides in certain locations;

    7) If you fly from Canada into the US, the answer is yes. If you fly from the US into the US (ex. : from L.A. to Burlington), the answer is no. If you drive across the border : the answer is no. Even when it is not mandatory, a passport is highly recommended. If you cannot get your passport in time, a driver's licence and a birth certificate will do. If you do not have an official birth certificate, you can get one for 15-35$CAD by calling the Directeur de l'État civil;

    8) If you are careful with your money, eat mostly out of a cooler and camp and stay at cheap motels, you could make it for about ~600-900$CAD per week;

    9) If you can organize all your stuff on such short notice, why not? A little improvization never killed anybody. Although you have to remember that you'll be travelling during peak tourist season in most of North America so campgrounds and motel rooms might be a little harder to find.

    Have fun!
    Gen

  3. #3

    Default

    Thanks Gen for all those great tips!

    I was also wondering if somebody would have tips about renting a car. Should I rent it in Canada or would it be cheaper to go to the States by bus and rent a car over there? Are some cie much cheaper than others? Are there deals worth checking out? Let me hear you people! : )

  4. #4

    Default Still working on my itinerary...

    Hi there! I've read a lot of posts from this great forums these last weeks and I'm starting to get a better idea of the route I'll be taking. If any of you pro roadtrippers can help me with routes and ideas that'd be great!!

    I have about 1 month for the trip and would like to do it for under 3250$. I'll be travelling solo. I'm mostly interested in natural wonders but I like cities as well. I don't plan on spending too much time in museums or shopping. I hope to be camping most of the time and cheap motel-ing in cities.

    So here we go:

    -I'll leave Montreal, QC and head to Hamilton, ON where I can stay at a friend's for free.
    -Then I head to Chicago, IL. Any Ideas of cheap motel hostel downtown? And suggestion for things to do there?

    Those 2 days are gonna be speed runs but I plan to stay a couple of days in Chicago so I should be OK to get back on the road after.

    -St.Louis, MO is next. I'll use the old route 66. Should get there for supper and might spend the next day there as well.

    -Next, I'd go across the Missouri and Kansas to get to Denver (I-70). Is this doable in 1 day? Or maybe I should stop somewhere in central Kansas? Any suggestion? I haven't found much interesting things to do on that path, so I guess it's gonna be another speed run (probably in 2 days).

    -I plan on spending a couple days in Denver. Seems like a nice place to me.

    -I'll head to Rocky Mountain NP (I-25 then 34?). A couple of days there as well. Visit Stanley Hotel, do the Trail Ridge Road.

    -Then I'll either get on the US-40 up to Strawberry hot springs for the evening-overnight. Get back on the road the next morning on CO-64 and CO-139 to Colorado National Monument. OR I go straight to the Monument from Rocky Mountain on I-70. Probably camp there, unless I have enough time to go straight to my next destination...

    -Arches National Park. Spend one day there.

    -Next would be Zion Park. Would it be better to go on I-70 or road 24 and 12 in Utah? I'll camp there for the night, or some other campground nearby.

    -A short drive will take me to Las Vegas the next day. I'm not sure if I should spend only that day and night over there or if I should stay for 2 nights. I know there's a lot to do but I fear it's gonna be pricey so I might want to leave after only 1 day.

    -Then comes California. I'd like to go through Death Valley, Sequoia Nat'l Park, Yosemite, San Fran, Big Sur Coast, and LA. I'd take about 5-7 days to go around CA, camping in the parks and taking a couple of days to visit the 2 big cities. The problem I have is that coming from the east, there's no entry to Sequoia NP, right? Looks like quite a detour to access this park from Death Valley considering I could just skip it and go up north to Yosemite much faster. I'm thinking of dropping LA off that list since it seems to be such a hassle for car driving. I tought going to Dodgers Stadium would be fun but maybe I can go to another stadium somewhere else. Also that'd give me some extra days to go at the beach (monterey? Suggestions...).

    -From LA, I'd get on old route 66 (I-15/I-40) to Oatman or Kingman (or any other suggestions...) spend the night there, camping or motel.

    -Next would be the Grand Canyon. Guess I'll be camping there as well and move next morning.

    -I 'd head to Montezuna castle for a quick visit, get back on route 66, go through the Petrified Forest NP, going to Albuquerque. Guess I should stop somewhere in between for the night. Any ideas?

    -Should spend the next day driving to Albuquerque and visiting that city.

    Here, my route is much much less precise and any suggestions are welcome...

    -I heard El Paso was a nice place but I don't know much about it. What's to see, what route should I take? Maybe stay overnight if not I need another place/campground probably somewhere in texas... Also, suggestions of hot springs in New Mexico would be cool...or nice, should I say!

    -...as I intended to visit San Antonio. Then I'd heat towards New Orleans. I'm very curious to hear Louisiana French...

    -Then I don't know much what route to take. But it should be more direct to get to Montreal I guess. So maybe I go north following the mississippi river up to Memphis (I'm not a big Elvis Fan but it's probably worth seeing...), cross the Tennessee, take a couple of easy days at Great Smoky Mountains NP. Keep Going up north untill let's say Cleveland OH, then I'd follow the Great Lakes (Erie and Ontario) back to Montreal. Suggestions for routes and places to visit on this central-eastern part would be great!

    Thanks for helping!!! :)
    Last edited by Fred-Montreal; 07-31-2007 at 01:40 AM.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Posts
    209

    Default New Mexico hot springs

    Well, when you get to Albuquerque you could head north to the Jemez Mountains, where there are hot springs and plenty of places to camp. It wouldnít take a long time to get there, an hour-and-a-half at most.

    From Jemez Falls Campground you can follow a trail down to McCauley Warm Springs. Also, just up the road from the campground is a small parking area where you can park and hike up the East Fork of the Jemez River. Itís a nice little hike, as long as you donít mind getting your feet wet.

    In the same general area you have Spence and San Antonio hot springs. The Spence Hot Springs are seven miles north of Jemez Springs. From the parking area you head down to the river, cross a log bridge, then hike a short distance up to the springs. Thereís usually quite a few people here since itís so easy to get to.

    Iíve havenít been to the San Antonio hot springs themselves, but Iíve fished on the river right by there. To get there you take a Forest Service (dirt) road four miles downhill into the canyon, or you can hike in from the trailhead near San Antonio Campground. The road isnít bad when itís dry, but it could be difficult to get back up after a rainstorm, and July through September is our rainy season. Iíd ask about the road conditions at the Ranger Station in Jemez Springs before heading down there, and keep an eye on the weather. The afternoon thunderstorms move in quickly.

    The campgrounds in the Jemez get pretty full during the weekends and on holidays. Itís much quieter Monday through Thursday.

    Hope thatís enough to help you out. There are many other hot springs in New Mexico, but Iíve only been to two in the Jemez. Canít tell you much about the other ones.

    Have a great trip!

    Oh, one more thing. If you do head up to the Jemez, be careful not to speed when you're going through the small towns along the way. In Jemez Springs, 25 mph means 25 mph.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Central California
    Posts
    378

    Default Great Trip

    Fred,

    Looks like you have an outstanding trip you have planned. I'll contribute a few comments where I can...
    <-Next, I'd go across the Missouri and Kansas to get to Denver (I-70). Is this doable in 1 day? Or maybe I should stop somewhere in central Kansas? Any suggestion? I haven't found much interesting things to do on that path, so I guess it's gonna be another speed run (probably in 2 days).>
    Not reasonable in one day for a solo driver (about 15 hours). Hays, Colby and Goodland, Kansas, Burlington, and Limon, Colorado all are decent places to stop so you can just go until you feel like calling it a day.
    <-I plan on spending a couple days in Denver. Seems like a nice place to me.>
    Indeed it is. Lots of good museums, nice shopping areas downtown (pedestrian mall and Larimer Square historic district). If you can sync your visit with a concert at Red Rocks amphitheater do it! This is one of the great outdoor places for a performance we've ever seen.
    <-I'll head to Rocky Mountain NP (I-25 then 34?). A couple of days there as well. Visit Stanley Hotel, do the Trail Ridge Road.>
    Hwy 34 (Big Thompson Canyon) has the most dramatic scenery, though I like the drive better going downhill (west to east). Hwy 36 from Boulder is quicker, and very nice, but not as dramatic as 34.
    <-Next would be Zion Park. Would it be better to go on I-70 or road 24 and 12 in Utah? I'll camp there for the night, or some other campground nearby.>
    No contest. 24 and 12 through Capitol Reef NP, Escalante NP, Bryce NP to Zion is the way to go. Slower, but the scenery is not to be believed! In fact, you'll probably want to spend a little time at each park along the way causing you to add at least one day between Arches and Zion.
    <The problem I have is that coming from the east, there's no entry to Sequoia NP, right? Looks like quite a detour to access this park from Death Valley considering I could just skip it and go up north to Yosemite much faster. >
    Personally, I'd vote for the Yosemite option, seeing big trees at the Mariposa Grove in the south end of the park. Getting to Sequoia is a bit of a trip unless it is your primary destination.
    <I thought going to Dodgers Stadium would be fun but maybe I can go to another stadium somewhere else. >
    Lots to choose from. How about Wrigley Field in Chicago, or Coors Field in Denver or ATT Park in San Francisco (you might see Barry Bonds add to his record). And there are stadiums in St. Louis, Kansas City, and Oakland too.
    <Also that'd give me some extra days to go at the beach (monterey? Suggestions...).>
    There are several interesting beaches along the coast that I know of, and there are many more.

    Baker Beach and China Beach in San Francisco, just west of the Golden Gate Bridge has a great view of the bridge.

    City Beach in San Francisco, at the foot (west end) of Golden Gate Park (not so near the bridge) is a good place to watch wind surfers, and there are two restaurants nearby that have good views of the ocean. The Cliff House is pretty pricey compared to the Beach Chalet, right across the street.

    Graywhale Cove State Beach, just north of Montara is a beautiful, secluded beach.

    From Pacifica on down the coast to Monterey there are lots of beaches, all of them with nice sand and most right next to the highway. One of our favorites is Bean Hollow State Beach, just past the road to Pescadero, because instead of sand it has jelly bean-like pebbles. They come in all colors, and the rock formations in the area are amazing.
    <-I 'd head to Montezuna castle for a quick visit, >
    I haven't been to Montezuma Castle, but from what I've heard and read on the NPS website, it is high on a cliff face and you can't tour it. If you are concerned about time, Walnut Canyon National Monument, just east of Flagstaff is quite interesting and, despite the rather rigorous stairway you have to climb down to get to it, is worth a stop. The rooms cut into the cliff face are completely tourable. Wapatki National Monument, north of Flagstaff, has several sites and some of them are completely tourable. They also have a very interesting restored ball court unlike any I've seen in the Southwest.
    <get back on route 66, go through the Petrified Forest NP, going to Albuquerque. >
    Be sure to stop for the petroglyph sites in the park. There are some wonderful examples.

    Before ou get to Abq, I highly recommend a stop at Acoma Pueblo (I make this recommendation to anyone going this way). The pueblo at the top of a mesa is amazing, the tour is very interesting, and the pottery on display and for sale is truely excellent. We've collected several pieces that we treasure.
    <-I heard El Paso was a nice place but I don't know much about it. What's to see, what route should I take? >
    On the way out of Albuquerque head down Hwy 54 toward Alamogordo. Three Rivers Petroglyph Site north town has some great rock art examples, and White Sands National Monument, south of Alamogordo is a must see. Your mind will tell you that it is snow, and you'll drive like you are on a slippery surface, but it isn't!
    < So maybe I go north following the mississippi river up to Memphis (I'm not a big Elvis Fan but it's probably worth seeing...), cross the Tennessee, take a couple of easy days at Great Smoky Mountains NP.>
    Love Memphis (not an Elvis fan either) but the music scene on Beale Street is fun and the food was good and reasonable, so spend the night if you can.
    <Keep Going up north untill let's say Cleveland OH, then I'd follow the Great Lakes (Erie and Ontario) back to Montreal. Suggestions for routes and places to visit on this central-eastern part would be great!>
    That route looks as good as any. If you have time swing by Serpent Mound in southern Ohio. It is one of the great Native American effigy mounds in the world. If that is too far west, stop in Coshocton, Ohio at Roscoe Village. A nice place to just hang out and pick up on some early American canal history.

    As you can see, tons to do and you'll be pressed to see all that you want, but don't sweat it. Just have a blast.

    Craig Sheumaker
    co-author of the travel guide: America's Living History-The Early Years
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 08-02-2007 at 08:59 PM. Reason: Format for clarity

  7. #7

    Default

    Thanks you RedCorral and Howard for your input! Your tips are very valuable to me!

    I think I'll drop Sequoia park from my route. The suggestion to go to Walnut Canyon National Monument instead of Montezuna is a good one.

    The hot springs suggestions around Abq are great. However, I'm starting to wonder if I should go south to Tucson and Tombstone instead of continuing on route 66 after Flagstaff. Then I would go to El Paso and continue on the southern route to San Antonio. Maybe I can decide that on the spot!

    One other question... How important is it to have some kind of trail boots in Parks? Would I be OK wearing sneakers?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Keithville, LA
    Posts
    638

    Default Cajun French

    I'm very curious to hear Louisiana French...
    Sadly you probably won't hear any in New Orleans. Now if you're looking for Cajuns may I suggest the Lake Charles, Lafayette, New Iberia area. I actually prefer that area of Louisiana to New Orleans (even before Katrina). There aren't that many French speaking Cajuns anymore. Mostly it just survives as expressions, but I've heard Cajun French radio stations down that way several times. If you're interested I'll be more than happy to give you ideas.

    On a side note. My uncle loves to tell the story about his grandfather who never spoke a word of English and talk about his boyhood out on the bayous. My uncle, however, was shipped off to the American schools and forced to speak English. Also, he ticked off lots of relatives by marrying an "American Girl" (my Aunt - still married over 50 years later). He swears he could still live off the land if he had to. Unfortunately, he's a dying breed. I should really get him to sit down and record all of his stories.

    Laura

  9. Default Other California Options...

    If you're coming to California from Las Vegas area, you might consider a modified Loop around the state.

    From the Las Vegas area, head south west towards either LA or San Diego, possibly going through Mojave National Preserve and/or Joshua Tree National Park. This is quite a different desert than the Arizona or New Mexico deserts. With 7 days, one itenerary would be

    - Las Vegas through Mojave National Preserve and Joshua Tree National Prk to vicinity of Palm Springs.
    - Palm Springs to Orange County beaches. (Seal Beach, Huntington Beach, Newport Beach, Crystal Cove, Laguna Beach, San Clemente/ San Onofre beaches)
    (You can spend a day in LA if you want -- lots of places to visit and things to do, ranging from Disneyland or Universal Studios, to musuems and culture or what not -- or just hang out on the beach)
    - OC to San Luis Obispo/ Morro Bay area
    - Morro Bay through Big Sur to Montery, or possibly SF.
    - SF to Yosemite
    - Yosemite over Tioga Pass to Death Valley
    - Death Valley to Las Vegas (from 2-4 hours drive, and might be combined with the previous day)

    I would drop Sequoia -- the trees are amazing, but the only entrance and exits from the park are on the west side of the Sierras.

    In my opinion, LA isn't that bad for car driving -- its just the scale of the city always seems to surprize folks.

    For Baseball stadium options, you have Angel Stadium in Anaheim as a possibility (Angels are doing well this year), or SF or Oakland as well as Dodger Stadium. There's also the Phoenix Diamondbacks stadium as well, or San Diego if you make it that far south.

    For beaches, you might consider the long set of beaches in Orange County, just south of LA proper, or the Santa Barbara/ Ventura beach area. Montery/ Santa Cruz have good beaches... but the majority of beaches are south of Morro Bay

  10. #10

    Default

    lhuff, thanks for the advice. I'll make sure to stop in Lafayette on my way to NO. Anyways, the French thing isn't really the main reason to get there so I'm not too bothered about it!

    Larrison, I wasnt planning on going that far in southern CA but I'll decide when I get to LV depending on the schedule. Your itinerary looks like a good option. I'll probably skip LA and visit this city later when I get there by plane. Thanks for the Baseball stadiums list, I had forgotten some of them (anaheim, oakland...)

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