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  1. #1
    Dasha Guest

    Default Montreal-Vancouver-San Francisco-Las Vegas-SoCal-etc!

    Question for everybody! My husband and I, our labrador-rottweiler mix Maggie, and our newborn Noah, are heading off on the craziest road trip ever! We'll be heading out of Montreal and across Canada at the end of September (which'll be pretty much a straight run without sightseeing, because of the weather), then down thru Washington and Oregon and Northern California to San Francisco or thereabouts, over to Las Vegas to visit the little one's godparents, back to southern California for a week or so, then across the southern US thru Texas and Louisiana to Florida, then up the east coast and back home again. We figure on six hours a day of driving because of the dog/newborn situation, and the fact that we don't want to ONLY drive. We'd like to be able to stop and smell the roses along the way...By our calculations, we have 24 days of driving, with about a month of downtime (we have eight or nine weeks to do the whole thing). We're too poor to get motel rooms every nite, so are planning to mostly do some boondocking, and camping when we find somewhere we'd like to stick around for a few days...What I need from everybody on here (as many responses as y'all are willing to give, thank you!) is
    a) safe and legal places (besides walmart) to park overnight. preferably sneaky beachfront :o) we're ocean-aholics.
    b) anywhere cool we can bring our dog for hiking (as far as i know, she's not allowed in any national parks...are state parks okay?)
    c) scenic drives along the way, and stuff we shouldn't miss.
    d) free camping places if possible
    e) anybody know if the rumored Ewok village in northern California really exists? just curious...
    f) anything we ought to know.
    there were eight million things i meant to write about, but they've all flown right out of my head....

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

    Default making it work

    Welcome to the RTA forum!

    First of all, while you didn't give an exact itinerary, I'm having a hard time seeing how you could fit your entire route into 24 days of driving, if you are limiting your driving days to 6 hours or so. I haven't run any numbers myself, it just seems like you'd be looking at more miles than you could do within those perameters.

    As far as the dog goes, most state parks will be fine with dogs - although policies can be park specific. Many rest areas will also have designated pet excersize areas. The biggest thing I would be concerned about there is to make sure you have all the needed paperwork to cross the border. You'll want to check with border officials to see what exactly you need in that regards.

    What are you driving for this trip? Boondocking usually refers to RV travel where you stay in your vehicle for the night in a location without services. Unless you've got a very large vehicle, I don't see anyway where you could comfortably sleep 2 adults, a newborn, and a dog in an average car. Having said that, Truck Stops are usually your best bet for stopping in this fashion.

    Camping wise, there are some free camping options. Some public lands, like national forests and BLM lands do allowed "dispersed camping" where you can camp for free, pack in-pack out, however, you need to check in advance where those areas are and what restrictions you'll face. I don't know of any ocean beaches where this would be legal, however there are some campgrounds that are situated at or very near the ocean.

  3. #3
    Dasha Guest

    Default Routes heading WEST from Montreal, and SOUTH.

    Hi there. Hubby and I, and newborn and dog are all heading out on a road trip in early October. We're doing Montreal to Vancouver, down to San Francisco, across to Vegas, back to Southern California (Laguna Beach), back to Vegas, along the southern states, and back up the east coast. We keep staring at maps, and visualizing different routes that pass thru national and state parks. Here's two routes that look good to us, but we'd like opinions/ideas of places to stay (boondocking/camping/cheap-a** motels: First off, to go thru Canada or not? Its a couple of hours faster to go thru the states, and gas is cheaper south of the border, so we're really not's what we'd do if we went thru the states: HWY1 to Sault Ste Marie, cross into the states, take HWY28 to Marquette Michigan (thru Lake Superior State Forest along the way). Then HWY41 west to Covington. Then HWY28W to the 2, and the 2 into Ironwood (thru Ottawa National Forest). HWY2 to the 53 into Superior/Duluth. Then, do we take HWY2 all the way to Glacier National Park, or is it quicker to head to Fargo ND, and take the 94 from there to Glacier? We're definately heading back into Canada around Calgary so we can do Banff and the Rockies on the Canadian side...
    NEXT! We'll head down the west coast thru Eugene OR, and interstate for a bit, then head over to the 1 for the scenic route to San Francisco. From there: 580Interstate to the 205 to Manteca. Then take the 120 inland to Yosemite, Tioga Pass thru the park (provided its still open), head to the 395S toward Mammoth Lakes and Big Pine, and enter Death Valley Nat'l Park. Head thru Death Valley (on one of the lovely unidentified roads we see on our map) to Devil's Hole. Jump on the 160S to Spring Valley, and head into Las Vegas. Do these sound like good plans to you? Does anybody know where we can stay with a dog around Yosemite? We realize it'll be quite cold up in the mountains, and while we're planning to sleep in the car (KIA Rondo, slightly jimmied so we all fit) as much as possible, Noah will be just two months old, and anything below 10 degrees celsius makes me nervous....HELP! Will continue to update as we find routes that look good! Thanks everybody!
    Last edited by Midwest Michael; 09-10-2008 at 06:45 AM. Reason: Merged with original thread

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default weather

    Quote Originally Posted by Dasha View Post
    Noah will be just two months old, and anything below 10 degrees celsius makes me nervous....
    I think you may have an issue with the weather, as I would fully expect that you'll be seeing temperatures well below that mark overnight for most of your trip. Even as I write this from southern wisconsin, the current temperature here is just 7c. It will get up to around 20c later today, but the overnights are getting quite cool. I'd think that by the time you get to October, most nights for your trip will be in the 0-10c range, with some of them dipping below freezing, especially in the mountains and some of the other northern tier states you're loooking at visiting.

  5. #5
    Dasha Guest

    Default sigh.

    i figured the temperature would be on the cool side...we had figured we would probably end up taking motels for the way to BC, and start the real boondocking and camping once we're on our way you think thats reasonable? tho, i imagine a motel will be necessary on the way across the sierra you know anywhere that allows pets around there?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default On the brink

    Well, I think you'll have some nights were it will be warm enough, but I think you'll really have to watch the forecasts. Even as you move to the south to places like San Francisco, Las Vegas, and then east into Texas and Lousiana, the average low temperature is between 10-15C once you get into mid and late October. Also keep in mind that even in Arizona and New Mexico, you'll be at elevation where average temps will be near freezing.

    As far as pet friendly travel, I don't have any specific places. However, there are some useful guidebooks that you might want to check out. I'd also read this article about traveling with pets.

  7. #7
    Dasha Guest


    thanks, michael. i'll look into the books. i also contacted a bunch of hostels to see who accepts dogs....sometime when i have time (newborns are so time-consuming) i'll look at more routes and post them for your "approval" !

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula

    Default Costs - hostels vs. hotels

    Hostels charge a price per person. I have no idea if they charge for infants or dogs (when allowed). You might find that the per person charges will run you higher than finding a budget-priced hotel.

    Another option might be renting a cabin at a campground. Something like a KOA Kamping Cabin will probably cost around the same as a hostel but would give you privacy and a bit more protection from the weather than boondocking.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default good point

    I agree with Judy that the infant and dog combination might make hostels a less than idea option too. I've never specifically looked into either with hostels, but since the dorm style shared room is standard of the hostel, I would think that either could be a problem. I'm sure many people don't like the idea of sharing the room with a dog or a baby.

    Some hostels do have private rooms, but the cost tends to be pretty close to that of say a motel 6.

    Going back to your route, From Duluth, I wouldn't recommend US-2 if you are looking for a fast route. I've done the reverse, going from Glacier to Duluth. We used Mont-200 to Glendive, I-94 across North Dakota, and then MN-210 across Minnesota, making the drive in 2 long days, overnighting in Bismarck.

    I would recommend a similar route, except I might take MN-200 and make a short detour to Lake Itasca State Park and see the headwaters of the Mississippi. I would also recommend stopping at Teddy Rosevelt National Park and Mitkoshika state park in Montana for a look at the northern badlands.

  10. #10
    Dasha Guest

    Default thanks, michael and judy!

    i guess the hostels i wrote to were on the same page as you guys, because only one has had the decency to write back....we looked into KOA Kabins, and they were just about 50$ for the nite, so as you say, it might well be less expensive to find budget motels....and we've decided rather than passing thru the states to vancouver, to stay on the canadian side. After all, we are Canadian, and while I've already driven and seen this gorgeous basically unspoiled country of ours, my husband hasn't....BUT! If anyone knows of a cheap place to stay around Yosemite and Death Valley, someone let me know! Those will be our most "cold-weather" locations before we head south to Vegas.
    Have been looking into BLM lands, and they sound like a wonderful option, but again, camping in cold weather isn't quite my cup of tea...

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