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  1. Default Planning Cross Country Trip - Looking for advice or suggestions

    Hello all,

    I'm planning on driving from NYC to Portland, Oregon in September. I'm looking for input on things to see and places to stay along the way. I've got my stops in Chicago and St. Louis all figured out, but have never driven further west so am lost as to what might be worthwhile. Sights to see, interesting bars, great hotels, anything would be helpful! I'm mapping things out now and so far have come up with these possible routes:

    Route A:

    Day 1
    New York, NY US
    Chicago, IL US
    Total Est. Time: 12 hours, 36 minutes
    Total Est. Distance: 790.97 miles

    Day 2
    Chicago, IL US to
    Saint Louis, MO US
    Total Est. Time: 4 hours, 49 minutes
    Total Est. Distance: 297.35 miles

    Day 3
    Saint Louis, MO US to
    Sioux Falls, SD US
    Total Est. Time: 9 hours, 12 minutes
    Total Est. Distance: 615.16 miles

    Day 4
    Sioux Falls, SD US to
    Billings, MT US
    Total Est. Time: 9 hours, 51 minutes
    Total Est. Distance: 717.70 miles

    Day 5
    Billings, MT US to
    Spokane, WA US
    Total Est. Time: 7 hours, 36 minutes
    Total Est. Distance: 542.60 miles

    Day 6
    Spokane, WA US to
    Portland, OR US
    Total Est. Time: 5 hours, 36 minutes
    Total Est. Distance: 352.27 miles

    and Route B:

    Day 1
    New York, NY US to
    Chicago, IL US
    Total Est. Time: 12 hours, 36 minutes
    Total Est. Distance: 790.97 miles

    Day 2
    Chicago, IL US to
    Saint Louis, MO US
    Total Est. Time: 4 hours, 49 minutes
    Total Est. Distance: 297.35 miles

    Day 3
    Saint Louis, MO US to
    Lincoln, NE US
    Total Est. Time: 6 hours, 50 minutes
    Total Est. Distance: 444.07 miles

    Day 4
    Lincoln, NE US to
    Salt Lake City, UT US
    Total Est. Time: 12 hours, 8 minutes
    Total Est. Distance: 881.76 miles

    Day 5
    Salt Lake City, UT US to
    Boise, ID US
    Total Est. Time: 4 hours, 47 minutes
    Total Est. Distance: 339.73 miles

    Day 6
    Boise, ID US to
    Portland, OR US
    Total Est. Time: 6 hours, 46 minutes
    Total Est. Distance: 430.58 miles


    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default objects on your screen are farther than reality

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    I'm sorry to say you've fallen into what is probably the biggest trap of the online roadtrip planning age: you've trusted the time estimates from an internet mapping site.

    Realistically, its tough to average more than 53-55 mph in the eastern US and 55-57 mph in the west, when you factor in traffic and stops for fuel, etc. That assumes driving at or above posted limits. So for example, your New York to Chicago leg will most likely take you close to 15 hours, not 12.5.

    In general, you are really pushing yourself too hard on several days. Driving from NYC to Chicago on a one day sprint is possible, but it would really push your limits and it would not put you in a good position to be on the road for the rest of your journey west. You've got some very feasable, and even short days where you are only traveling 300-400 miles, and on other days you are trying to do brutal 700-800 mile legs. Keeping things to a more consistant 500-600 miles per day will result it a much more pleasant trip.

    Also, what is your reason for trying to fit both Chicago and St. Louis into this trip? Its going to result in a zig zag that will add several hundred miles to your trip, and as of right now, you really won't be giving yourself any time to explore either city.

  3. Default

    Thanks much for your response - and you are quite correct in pointing out maybe a bit too much reliance on mapquest and the like. I've done the NY/Chicago route quite a few times, and I did remember it taking at least 14 hours, if not more...

    I'm moving to Portland from NYC, and a good friend is coming along to see me off to the west coast (sadly she does not drive stick, which my volvo wagon is, and insists on both Chicago and St. Louis). In some ways, this is kind of like a Thelma & Louise trip for us... (tho hopefully no one gets shot during our trek). At any rate, since we'll have free accomodations with friends in both cities, I don't so much mind the extra miles. Beyond those points however, I'm really at a loss for the best way west... Luckily, we have no serious time constraints and a decent budget, so can meander a bit, but I feel a bit like a neophyte in this game. I'll defeinitely try to balance the driving load a bit more evenly for myself - is there a recommended average I should be shooting for? Regardless of our route, I expect to have an amazing time exploring on this trip. Should be the perfect way to begin a new chapter in life.

    Thanks again for your response and any additional advice or recommendations west of St. Louis are greatly appreciated!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Central California
    Posts
    378

    Default Can you do it in 7 or 8?

    Hi,

    I'd like to see you get to Portland in one piece and see some nice scenery along the way.

    How about this:

    Day 1 Toledo, OH

    Day 2 Chicago, IL

    Day 3 St. Louis, MO

    Day 4 Grand Island, NE

    Day 5 Estes Park, CO

    Day 6 Salt Lake City (via Rocky Mountain National Park)

    Day 7 Baker City, OR or Pendleton, WA

    Day 8 Portland, OR

    You can drop Baker City/Pendleton if you feel the need to keep on goin', but at least the other legs won't kill you before you get there.

    With friends in Chicago you'll find out about their great museums and in St. Louis they'll tell you about the Gateway Arch/Museum of Westward Expansion and the Zoo. From there on you are likely to be too late or too tired to stop for much more than lunch and bio-breaks. So, for things to see, just keep your eye on the road and look out for road signs of things that might be of interest. A few that I can think of right off are the Jesse James House (where he was killed) and start of the Pony Express in St. Joseph, MO, the Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer (outdoor museum/village) in Grand Island, NE, and the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center (excellent museum and actual wagon ruts) in Baker City, OR.

    Take it easy and have a great trip,

    Craig Sheumaker
    co-author of the travel guide: America's Living History-The Early Years

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