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  1. #1

    Default Waukesha, WI to Newport Beach, CA – Needs Input

    Waukesha, WI to Newport Beach, CA and bac; Summer 2009, two people, 21 days.

    We plan on taking a week to travel to Newport Beach, staying a week in Newport Beach with a relative, and traveling back for a week. We have most of our destinations planned, yet need help figuring out where would be the best cities and places to stay the night on a budget, what routes may be best to take (as we are traveling in May) and within a conceivable amount of driving and sight-seeing time.

    Here are the destinations so far:

    Waukesha, WI to St. Paul, MN: ~330 miles, night stay with relatives
    Corn Palace, Mitchell, SD
    Wall Drug, Wall, SD
    Rushmore Alpine Slide, Keystone, SD
    Mount Rushmore, Hermosa, SD
    Crazy Horse Mountain Memorial, Crazy Horse, SD
    Mammoth Site, Hot Springs, SD
    Devils Tower, WY
    Wyoming Dinosaur Center, Thermopolis, WY
    Old Trail Town, Cody, WY (might not be open due to financial issues)
    Bannack State Park, Dillon, MT (depends purely on time constraint, mileage, etc).
    Shoshone Indian Ice Caves, Shoshone, ID
    Eat at Donnie Mac's Trailer Park, Boise, ID
    Salem, OR, night stay with relatives
    Travel through Redwood National Park, Crescent City, CA
    Travel on Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, San Rafael, CA
    Finish at Newport Beach, CA

    Universal Studios
    Disney Land
    Sea World, San Diego
    Getty Villa, Malibu

    Cabazon Dinosaurs, Cabazon, CA
    Bellagio Fountain, Las Vegas (please note one passenger is age 20)
    Neon Museum, Las Vegas
    Hoover Dam
    Grand Canyon South Rim
    Holbrook, Wigwam Hotel, night stay
    Royal Gorge Route Railroad or Georgetown Loop Railroad, Canon City, CO
    Quick stop at the Iowa 80, World’s Largest Truckstop, Walcott

    A basic Google Maps view has been setup at

    Any help is really greatly appreciated, as this is our first major road trip and we are looking for the best advice to make this trip memorable in a positive way, while trying to use a low budget.

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

    Default how?

    Welcome to the RTA forum!

    I have one very big question, how in the world do you plan to fit all 30+ of those stops, plus travel time, into a 21 day trip?

    Your diving alone is about 3500 miles west and 2500 east, which works out to 10 full days of driving, before you add any extra stops. Obviously, not all of the stops you've laid out are full days stops, but you've got way more than 11 days worth of activities too.

    Perhaps you could give us some sort of basic itinerary on how you were envisioning being able to take all of this in?

    Right now I think you've got way more than you could ever fit into 3 weeks, and you're setting yourself up for a trip where you are constantly racing to check off the various attractions from your list, but without having any time to enjoy any of them.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default You Sure You Need Help?

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    Your route and stops look well researched and thought out. As far as time and money budgeting go, I'd suggest that you have at least four weeks to devote to such an endeavor, while costs will depend on your travel style and who all is included in "we". For two people traveling and eating moderately well, $4000-5000 would be a base estimate. Beyond that, there are plenty of articles on planning and ideas of things to do in various states and along major highways on this website, so have3 a look around and let us know if there's some specific information you need. I will tell you that specific restaurants or motels don't often get recommended around here.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula

    Default I like it!

    I think you've laid out a great "whistle-stop" tour. By that, I mean that you won't have time to explore places in depth but you should have time to take in your surrounds with quick views of the places you want to see.

    The trip out west is longer than the trip back home so it will be more of a challenge to make good time and still see the things you want to see going that direction. I see that you're detouring to St. Paul to see relatives. Since that's only just over 300 miles from home, is it possible to leave this leg off and drive a straighter course towards the Corn Palace? It seems to me that you could go see those relatives on another weekend and actually have more time to visit with them than a quick overnight stop. This would shave us some miles and free up some time for ya. Just a thought.

    I'm curious about Donnie Mac's Trailer Park. What's up with that? Is it some kind of quirky stop? Infamous eatery?

    Your map doesn't look like it goes far enough east in Arizona to take in Holbrook, AZ, and the Wigwam Hotel there. Did you make some changes in your itinerary after doing your mapping?

  5. #5


    Midwest Michael, Inevitably, maybe all the destinations are not possible, but it is a goal I would like to plan first before sacrifices need to be made. Then again, it is something I needed to hear to realize it just is not possible in the time constraint.

    So, I figure I should just start planning the trip out, take out places that just are not workable in the timeframe, and go from there. Here is what I have timed out for the first four days.

    Monday, May 11:
    Leave by 1PM, arrive at relatives' by 6:30PM (unable to leave earlier due to commitment)

    Tuesday, May 12:
    Leave relatives' by 7AM
    Arrive at Corn Palace around 12PM (5 hours, 336 miles), leave by 1PM.
    Arrive at Wall Drug around 4:30PM (3 hours, ten minutes, 223 miles), leave by 6:30PM.
    Arrive at hotel in Rapid City around 7:30PM (~1 hour, ~65 miles).

    Wednesday, May 13:
    Arrive at Rushmore Alpine Slide at 10AM ($9 per person, may not be open yet), leave by 12PM
    Arrive at Mt. Rushmore at 12:10PM (3 miles, 10 minutes, winter hours 7:30am-5pm, $10.00 parking), leave by 2:30PM
    Arrive at Crazy Horse at 3PM (15 miles, 30 minutes if US-16/US-385 taken, optional 16A through tunnels will be closed until July, $10 per person), leave by 4:30PM.
    Arrive at U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Hot Springs around 5:15 (~35 miles, ~45 minutes).

    Thursday, May 14:
    Arrive at Mammoth Site at 9AM ($7.50 per person), leave by 11AM
    Arrive at Devils Tower at 1PM (149 miles, 3 hours, $10 vehicle fee), leave by 3PM
    Arrive at hotel in Cody at 9PM (322 miles, 5 hours, 30 minutes)

    Friday, May 15:
    Arrive in Yellowstone

    To answer some questions, PNW Judy:
    1) We are unable to leave early in the day at the start, so a free night stay at a relatives in St. Paul seems like the best deal, rather than traveling late at night.
    2)Donnie Mac's is just an interesting dinner I saw on FoodNetwork that I would just love to stop at. Here is a link to give a photographic expression of the place.
    3)Nope! I've adjusted a few things since... I should fix those soon, probably once I figure this plan out.

    AZBuck, Thanks for the links. I think I am actually getting stuck on what to do after Yellowstone. All I have for crossing two entire states is one stop and a restaurant.

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

    Default minute by minute

    I can understand wanting to overplan, as long as your willing to adjust your schedule when things sway off course.

    While I realise that I asked for an itinerary, I generally find that if you have to break your schedule down into minutes to fit everything in, you're probalby doing too much. At that point, you really can put pressure on yourself to make sure you stick to the timeline, which often isn't as realistic in action as it is on paper. Sometimes you can also get so caught up in seeing the things on a list that you don't stop to see the things that are right in front of you on the road.

    Those are just some things to keep in mind.

  7. #7


    I am using a timeline purely so I can see that everything fits into a day, from there I have and will continue to adjust to make sure there is adequate time for reststops, gas, food, on the road stops, etc. In the end there will be no need for exact time commitments being set in stone, as that is impossible. Thank you for informing me though of this though and I hope this is understandable, unless you would have a better way of planning?

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

    Default Looks fun and yummy!

    Thanks for the Donnie Mac's link.

    As far as your planning process goes, I do something similar to what you do. However, I do think your timeline is rather tight. I don't think you're leaving yourself enough time to linger if you choose to, or enough time to account for things like finding parking, going through the entrance line to buy tickets/gain entry, etc. for most of the things you're listing.

    But it is all a bit of a guessing game and, while you're on the road, a balancing act. In general, I agree with the concerns Michael is raising.

  9. #9


    So, things have changed a bit. We decided to reverse our travel plans due to the early may weather in the north still leaving parks and roads closed. I've also loosened up on time schedules, as really I was insane to have it planned like that.

    Oh, a question, which park is better in your opinion? Mesa Verde NP or Wupatki National Monument? or are both well worth visiting?

    Here is our schedule to Newport Coast, thoughts?

    ======Day 1======
    -Leave by 1PM, Iowa-80 Truckstop by 5PM (209 mi – about 3 hours 35 mins)
    -Rest for the night at Underwood Rest Area (267 mi – about 3 hours 57 mins, Free Wi-Fi)
    ======Day 2======
    -Tourist Attraction, Great Platte River Road Archway Monument (200 mi – about 3 hours 8 mins)
    -Mountain Time Zone enge of Nebraska entering Wyoming, move clock back an hour
    -Rest for the night in Rocky Mountain NP (406 mi – about 6 hours)
    ======Day 3======
    -Rest for the night in Arches National Park (413 mi – about 7 hours 8 mins)
    ======Day 4======
    -Tourist Attraction in Mancos (156 mi – about 3 hours 23 mins)
    -Mesa Verde National Park, (19.2 mi – about 38 mins)
    -Tourist Attraction, 4 Corners USA (60.1 mi – about 1 hour 25 mins)
    -BnB in Bluff, Utah (64.8 mi – about 1 hour 14 mins)
    ======Day 5======
    -Monument Valley (50.9 mi – about 1 hour 2 mins)
    -Petrified Forest NP (208 mi – about 4 hours 59 mins)
    -Check-in at Wigwam Hotel, Holbrook (28.2 mi – about 27 mins)
    -Tourist Attraction, Rainbow Rock Shop and other Route 66 memories
    ======Day 6======
    -Meteor Crater (58.8 mi – about 1 hour 2 mins)
    -Wupatki National Monument (71.5 mi – about 1 hour 33 mins)
    -Rest for the night in Grand Canyon NP (86.2 mi – about 1 hour 51 mins)
    ======Day 7======
    -Tourist Attraction, Delgadillo's Snow Cap Drive-In (102 mi – about 1 hour 45 mins)
    -Hoover Dam (158 mi – about 3 hours 30 mins)
    -Pacific Time Zone entering Nevada, move clock back an hour
    -Drive up Las Vegas Blvd
    -Arrive in Newport Coast (317 mi – about 5 hours 11 mins)

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default All elapsed times are undervalued!

    I like that Avatar -- pretty cool.

    In the real world -- none of the times listed above are possible. But if you add about 40% extra time for each leg -- you should be pretty close.


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