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  1. #1

    Default Not Quite a Newbie

    Four friends and I have decided that we want to take a road trip this summer. Our plan is to head out west for about 3 weeks. And that's pretty much the extent of our plan. We haven't ever gone on this kind of an adventure before, but here are a couple of things that I think may be on our side in this uphill battle for the teenage road trip:

    -We have been spending extended periods of time together since we were little kids. We have all been on two week trips during the summers to places like mexico, california, michigan, alabama, and mississippi. Although we have never done the "five people for three weeks in a minivan" thing, we are well-acquainted with 20+ hour bus rides with 50-70 other people.

    -We have made the "weekend trial trip." A few months ago we all pitched in a few bucks and drove to the southern part of the state to camp for a few days. Roughing it was great. We had a blast, and we handled the occasional tough decisions with cooperation and common sense.

    -We KNOW each other. Caleb snores. Kelsey analyzes everything to death. Alexa just goes with the flow, even when she would rather not. Jacob can quote movies no one else has ever seen for hours at a time. But somehow our odd mix always winds up fitting somehow. We're all laid-back enough to let things go. We have sticking power.

    -We all have the same goal. We want to get out and make some good memories somewhere in the American West.

    -Caleb and I have done a lot of camping and road tripping with our families, even though we've never planned this stuff before.

    -We are all light packers.

    Here are the basic guidelines for the trip. We will have a total budget of about $5000 (We can safely manage $1000 apiece). We will have approximately 3 weeks. We are all into the nature thing, rather than the city thing. We are all fine with camping or van-sleeping in wal-mart parking lots. We are all fine with a lot of meals from a cooler.

    We plan on taking my minivan with the middle two seats removed to make a sort of bed area. The trunk is pretty roomy, and we can get a hard shell for the top if we need to stow stuff up there. The back bench seat lays down into a bed, even with the trunk full of luggage.

    Now I need the thoughts and advice of all you seasoned road-tripping veterans. Where should we go out west? We love hiking, sightseeing, and adventure-seeking. We have a wish list of destinations as far east as colorado, west as california, north as montana, and south as arizona. I doubt we can cover all that territory in three weeks (although we move quickly). What destinations would you reccommend? On the one hand, I can't see missing Yosemite. On the other hand, how could we cut Yellowstone off our list? What do you suggest??

    Oh dear, in all my excitement I've forgotten to mention to you that we will be leaving from and returning to Indianapolis, Indiana.

    I want to thank you all SO MUCH for your time. I apologize for such a long post. I appreciate whatever advice and ideas you can provide!!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default an excellent start

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    It looks like you've really done your homework here and have an excellent foundation for a sucessful trip. So Congrats for that!

    The only thing I would have a little concern about is the amount of space you'll have. I suspect you might be underestimating just a little bit about how much space camping and travel gear can take up for four people, even if you are light packers. A rooftop carrier will be a big help, though. Just keep that in mind.

    As far as picking destinations, that should be the fun part! We really can't decide for you what you should see. I think I would get together with your friends and each make a list of your "must sees," Once you've got that down, you can start seeing if its reasonable to fit all of them in during the 3 weeks (and you are right you should be able to see a lot, but not quite everything), and from there you can fill in the gaps with other interesting things along the way!

  3. #3

    Default Phew!

    Big sigh of relief.

    It's great to hear somebody who knows what they are talking about say that we have a good start. I found Microsoft Streets & Trips on our computer shelf today, so that has been a HUGE help. Here's a very crude possible route:

    Indianapolis, Indiana ->
    Badlands N.P., South Dakota ->
    Grand Teton N.P., Wyoming ->
    Yellowstone N.P., Wyoming ->
    Glacier N.P., Montana ->
    Crater Lake N.P., Oregon ->
    Yosemite N.P., California ->
    Point Lobos S.R., California ->
    Sequoia N.P. California ->
    Death Valley N.P., California ->
    Grand Canyon N.P., Arizona ->
    Zion N.P., Utah ->
    Canyonlands N.P., Utah ->
    Rocky Mountain N.P., Colorado ->
    Indianapolis, Indiana

    Some places we'd like to just drive through, and others we'd like to stay a couple days. We are definitely very flexible though. It's amazing to me that all five of us can get into all of these places with one $50 N.P. pass! Certainly cheaper than hitting up all the museums and cities! That way we can focus our financial attention on the astronomical fuel figures for this 7,000+ mile trip!

    Thank you so much for your advice and encouragement, Midwest Michael!! I look forward to hearing more from you and your fellow road trippers!

    Happy Trails.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Central California

    Default Great itinerary


    Love your plan and your selection, and just to keep in mind that with some hustle you can add Bryce, Escalante, Capitol Reef and Arches national parks and Colorado National Monument without changing your itinerary at'll be going right by or through them all. Time is the only concern, but you'll get a feel for that as you progress along the way.

    From a purely time and mileage point of view, I wonder about Glacier. Though it is a wonderful park, it is a long way to go for what will be essentially a drive through. I'm always surprised at how long it takes to get there and back since there are no Interstates in the area and quite a few small towns to go through. We usually prefer to put it on an itinerary that includes the Canadian Rockies, Sawtooths, North Cascades, or some other place that is that far north. Give it some thought.

    The other time-eater that is a bit out of your way is Sequoia. There are big trees in the southern part of Yosemite that may fill that need/curiosity allowing you to skip Sequoia, but again, that will be up to you and your crew.

    All in all, a great selection of sights. Have a wonderful time...don't know how you couldn't.

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

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default They raised the price

    Quote Originally Posted by LeahRayanne View Post
    It's amazing to me that all five of us can get into all of these places with one $50 N.P. pass! Certainly cheaper than hitting up all the museums and cities!
    The cost of a National Parks Pass is now $80, but clearly it is still a great deal if you are planning on visiting more than a couple National Parks.

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