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  1. Default NYC to the Rockies Xcountry

    I am so glad I stumble on this site! It has been extremely helpful and I will be sure to recommend it to friends thinking of planning a road trip adventure. I am a first time road tripper, and was hoping to get some advice from the many road trip sages that seem to contribute to this site. So here’s the background. I am planning a road trip for my girlfriend and I. We are both recent college grads with limited budgets but work full time and could save up a couple $K for this trip. When I was younger I was fortunate enough to travel out West (I am from the East Coast) with my family. I have such spectacular memories of the Rockies and Grand Canyon that I was hoping to relive my experience this summer. I currently live in the NYC area and my tentative plan is to take two weeks off from work and to haul across country and visit Jackson Hole, Yellowstone and Grand Teton…then head south to Grand Canyon for a few days. My girlfriend is also from the east coast but has not traveled much within the US, thinking this would be a great way for her to see our beautiful country. My major concern is whether this is too much driving. Itinerary below. My plan would be to pack plenty of books, dvds (w/ portable dvd players borrowed from family members) and maybe some books on tape/cd to help pass the time in between destinations (and when the prairies lose their intrigue and become repetitive). I have also never been to Cleveland nor Chicago so stopping there in bw long stretches seemed logical (maybe catch an Indians or Cubbies game). What do you all think? Is this doable? Will I lose my mind in the car for so long? Any tips on how to change my itinerary or what to see bw the Rockies and the East Coast? Thanks so much for the help!

    Day 1
    NYC to Cleveland, OH (499 miles, 8 hours)

    Day 2
    Cleveland, OH to Chicago, IL (344 miles, 5 ˝ hours)

    Day 3
    Chicago, IL to Jackson, WY (1,001 miles, 14 ˝ hours)

    Day 4
    Camping/Exploring in Jackson/Yellowstone/Teton

    Day 5
    Camping/Exploring in Jackson/Yellowstone/Teton

    Day 6
    Camping/Exploring in Jackson/Yellowstone/Teton

    Day 7
    Camping/Exploring in Jackson/Yellowstone/Teton

    Day 8
    Camping/Exploring in Jackson/Yellowstone/Teton

    Day 9
    Camping/Exploring in Jackson/Yellowstone/Teton

    Day 10
    Camping/Exploring in Jackson/Yellowstone/Teton

    Day 11
    Jackson, WY to Grand Canyon (661 miles, 13 hours)

    Day 12
    Camping/Exploring Grand Canyon

    Day 13
    Camping/Exploring Grand Canyon

    Day 14,
    Grand Canyon to Denver, CO (12 hours 48 minutes)

    Day 15
    Denver, CO to Kansas City, MO (601 miles, 9 hours)

    Day 16
    Kansas City, MO to NYC (1,254 miles, 20 hours) figured one last haul before i get back to the real world and my cubicle life

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Take a More Leisurely Pace

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    For your long cross-country legs, you should be thinking in terms of days, not hours. And most importantly, you have to ignore the totally unrealistic driving time estimates you'll get from computerized mapping software. 500-550 miles is about as far as you can expect to comfortably cover in a day. I strongly recommend that you flat out forget any thoughts of trying to cover 1000 miles in a day, you'll just wear yourselves out and send your beautiful trip off a cliff. You will need at least one more day for the trip between Chicago and Jackson, another day for the drive from Kansas City to New York, and probably an extra half day from the Grand Canyon to Denver. That still leaves you 4˝ days at Yellowstone and 2 days at the Grand Canyon and that is enough to enjoy those places. Trying to skimp on the time devoted to driving on a RoadTrip is at best counterproductive and at worst dangerous, and if you want this trip to be memorable for the right reasons, you'll take the time to do it right.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default No, No, and No

    Welcome to the RTA forum!

    Day 3
    Chicago, IL to Jackson, WY (1,001 miles, 14 ˝ hours)
    Day 16
    Kansas City, MO to NYC (1,254 miles, 20 hours) figured one last haul before i get back to the real world and my cubicle life
    This aspect of your trip really is not possible, at all. 1,000 mile plus drives can not safely be done in one sitting with two drivers, plus the times you are estimating are just not reflective of a real world situation where you have to stop for fuel, food, biobreaks, etc.

    Best case your Chicago-Yellowstone trip is a 18 hour trip, and that's in speed run mode. Think about it, Do you really want to be on the road at 6am (getting up earlier) and not stopping for the night until midnight - in a best case situation. That's a recipe for driving tired and having a miserable time.

    The final leg of your trip is even worse. Simply put, you'd be putting not only yourself at risk, but you'd be endangering the lives of everyone else on the road.

    The good thing is you've got plenty of time to make a nice trip without pushing yourself at a suicidal rate.

    Simply shortening your 7 days at Yellowstone to 5, and driving directly back to NYC from Grand Canyon, instead of detouring to Denver would make your trip much more realistic, safe, and enjoyable.

    I would also encourage you to break up your day from Yellowstone to Grand Canyon. You might be able to do this in one very long sitting (14-15 hours is more likely), but you're driving past some amazing national parks at other unique sites. I think you'll have much more fun if you take some time to enjoy it rather than just worrying about checking things off a list.

  4. #4

    Default Roger all of the above from AZB and MM

    And by skipping stop-offs in Cleveland and Chicago you can put a few more miles on each of the first two days. Besides, you can take a long weekend from NYC to visit those places via Road Trip or a short-hop flight.

    I especially agree with the "why hurry" from Jackson to the Grand Canyon. I think you'd be disappointed to realize you're blowing by some great places to stop for a while. I'd definitely overnight that one.

    For many of us, you're in the second most enjoyable part of your trip--the planning part. Enjoy it greatly as you endure a NY winter!


  5. Default

    Well you have confirmed my fears…that the amount of driving for this trip is a bad idea. Given that my true goal is to see the mountains and desert, dessert, and I realistically cannot take more than two weeks off from work, I think I should probably consider the possibility of flying and renting a vehicle. I know I would miss out on some of the Midwest sights/cities and open plains, but I just do not have the time to devote so many days to traveling in a car. I am thinking maybe I will fly to Salt Lake City, rent a car, drive north to Yellowstone for a few days, then take two days to head south to the Grand Canyon for a few more days, maybe get tempted to Vegas for a night or two, then back up to Salt Lake City to fly back home east. Given the solid feedback I have garnered in under 24 hours from this site, I will be sure to put up a new itinerary and hope to hear your feedback again! Much appreciated!

    As I think about my new plan…any suggestions of activities in Salt Lake City or the surrounding area?


  6. #6

    Default Utah cruising


    Flying to SLC is a great idea. From here in Raleigh, NC, we can get nonstop flights on Delta, leaving at a civilized 0900 and arriving at 1030am SLC time. On the return side, we can leave SLC at 5pm and arrive in NC before 11pm, essentially allowing outdoor activities on the day of arrival and the day of departure. Look carefully for rental vehicles as some of the off-airport agencies can cut you a real deal, and nowhere are the off-airport agencies very far from the airport itself. I've had suprisingly good luck with the downtown SLC Rent a Wreck franchise, where I'm on a first-name basis with the staff.

    Let's see, some things to see and do in the SLC area:

    Drive up Big Cottonwood Canyon towards the Brighton and Solitude ski areas, take the turn to Guardsman's Pass and drop down into Park City. Enjoy Main Street's restaurants, shops, and bars. Drive the 30 minutes on the paved highways back to SLC.

    Drive part-way up Parley's Summit grade on I-80 east to UT 65. Drive UT 65 through East Canyon all the way to I-84 east of Ogden. There, turn west to Ogden or east to I-80, back through Park City, over Parley's, to SLC.

    Drive the 25 miles southwest from SLC to the Kennecott Copper Bingham Pit, one of the largest excavations on Earth. Take in the view from the observation deck near the top.

    Drive through Park City, past the Jordanelle Reservior, thence south towards Provo down Provo Canyon. Turn up at the signs for Sundance Resort. Spend a day at the restaurants, spas, and walking trails. Say Hi to Bob (Robert Redford). Then continue past Sundance over the pass at the crest of the Wasatch Range, visit the caverns, and descend the western side emerging at American Fork, just down I-15 from SLC.

    Drive west on I-80 to the Bonneville Salt Flats

    Drive the short distance up I-15 to Kaysville/Bountiful and go out to Antelope Island in the Great Salt Lake.

    Take any number of excursions into Nevada's Great Basin. Overnight in the "Old Nevada" towns of Wendover, Wells, or Elko, and whoop it up where gambling and the "world's oldest profession" are legal and encouraged.

    That should keep you busy for a while.


  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default baby with the bathwater?

    There is nothing wrong with doing a fly and drive trip, and it certainly would give you more time for exploring the west.

    However, I will also say that if you want to drive across country, you still have plenty of time to make this trip. You might not be able to spend quite as much time at everything, but there are certainly lots of things to see that you would otherwise fly over.

    There certainly is no right or wrong answer here, but you don't have to do the extremes of driving 1000+ miles or don't drive at all. You could find a balance in the middle, and still have a great trip.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    Airfares aren't very cheap, and neither are car rentals if you are under 25. Here's a suggested point-to-point itinerary if you drive the whole thing with your own car.

    NYC - CLE
    CLE - CHI
    CHI - somewhere in NE
    NE - Jackson
    Jackson - somewhere in UT
    UT - Grand Canyon
    Grand Canyon - somewhere in CO
    CO - DEN
    DEN - KC
    KC - somewhere in OH
    OH - NYC

    This will give you 6 days in there to dawdle and see stuff instead of 9 in your original itinerary.

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