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  1. #1

    Default 100 Days and 48 States

    Hey All,

    Was hoping some knowledgeable folks could take a look at this itinerary and see if there are any glaring omissions, miscalculations, or aught else. I'll more than likely be doing most of the trip alone, starting mid-July (of this year, assuming I don't lose the nerve to quit my job in the teeth of these Tough Economic Times(tm)), driving my '04 Titan pickup, and trying to camp most of the time. I'd be starting off in Orange County, CA and going clockwise.

    I want to hit all 48 states. I've traveled quite a bit in the southwest (e.g., Southern Utah, Arizona) and lived a few places in other parts of the country (e.g., Seattle, NYC, Boston). I like (day-)hiking, especially if there are mountains and rivers involved, and enjoy history, particularly WWII and aviation history. Not so much into nightlife, partying, live music, or quaint towns with antiquing-based economies. I'll probably have my 18-speed and inflatable kayak with me.

    Here's my current list (with a few explanations and implied questions thrown in) -- the non-parentheticals are the locations I have entered into my AAA itinerary, which seems to grant them more-official status than the parentheticals:

    Orange County, CA (Reagan Library?)
    Santa Barbara, CA (Hearst Castle?)
    Big Sur, CA
    Monterey, CA
    Yosemite NP
    Lassen Volcanic NP
    Redwood NP
    Crater Lake NP
    Coos Bay, OR
    Newport, OR (Go clear up to Astoria?)
    Mt. St. Helens NVM
    Mt. Rainier NP
    Tacoma, WA (Parents live here.)
    Glacier NP
    Yellowstone NP
    Victor, ID (Friends live here.)
    Sheridan, WY (Brother lives here.)
    Devils Tower NM (via Spearfish Canyon/Hwy 14A and Deadwood?)
    Mt. Rushmore NM
    Badlands NP (Minuteman Missile NHS?) (Dip into Nebraska along the way (Niobrara Scenic River?)) (Ft. Abercrombie, ND?)
    Chippewa NF
    Pictured Rocks NL (Pictured Rocks to Chicago area by way of Michigan)
    Wayne, IL (Chicago) (Brother lives here.)
    Nauvoo, IL (LDS historical site on the Mississippi)
    National Museum of the USAF (Dayton, OH)
    Niagara Falls, NY
    Palmyra (LDS Historical Site)
    Adirondacks (Tupper Lake, NY)
    Lake Placid Museum
    White Mountain NF (Presidential Range?)
    Acadia NP (via Belfast to Hwy 1?)
    Boston, MA (Adams National Historical Park?)
    Nantucket, MA
    New York, NY (Statue of Liberty)
    Philadelphia, PA
    Ft. McHenry NM
    Annapolis, MD (DC?)
    Quantico, VA (USMC Museum)
    Shenandoah NP (Sharpsburg/Antietam?)
    Monticello (Charlottesville, VA) (White House of the Confederacy/Richmond?)
    Jamestown Settlement, VA (Yorktown Battlefield?) (Williamsburg)
    Cape Hatteras NS (Wright Brothers Memorial) (Ft. Raleigh)
    Wilmington, NC
    Myrtle Beach, SC
    Charleston, SC (Ft. Sumter)
    Key West, FL
    Everglades NP
    Little River Canyon NP&P
    Nashville, TN
    Mammoth Cave NP
    Joplin, MO (Drive through Kansas, Oklahoma) (Hwy 71?) (Hwy 7 to Hot Springs NP?)
    Hot Springs NP
    Vicksburg, MS (Vicksburg Battlefield Museum) (Hwy 27 to Natchez Trace?)
    New Orleans, LA (River Road to Hwy 1 to Baton Rouge?)
    San Antonio, TX (Alamo, Riverwalk, Bats)
    Fredericksburg, TX
    Big Bend NP
    Carlsbad Caverns NP
    Roswell, NM
    White Sands NM
    Santa Fe, NM
    Mesa Verde NP
    Grand Staircase-Escalante NM
    San Diego, CA (Brother lives here.)
    Orange County, CA

    Since AAA limits entries to 22 destinations per trip, it's broken up into the following segments (with mileage):

    Orange County to Chippewah: 4,722 mi.
    Chippewah to Jamestown: 4,256 mi.
    Jamestown - Carlsbad Caverns: 5,517 mi.
    Carlsbad Caverns - Orange County: 1,827 mi.
    Total Miles: 16,322

    Here's an image of the map (pieced together from AAA TripTik maps):

    Anyway -- spent most of the afternoon/evening today working on this. I think my key concerns/questions thusfar are:

    1. Any obvious ways to shorten the mileage?
    2. To that end, does it seem worth the extra 900 miles to go to Key West (vs. technically crossing into Florida and then heading right back into Georgia)?
    3. Is Big Bend National Park all that pretty/interesting (that'd cut off another 300 miles or so)?
    4. Do I have too many National Parks in a row at the beginning of the trip?

    I worry that the pace is going to be more frantic than I'd like. Also kind of feel bad about not having much to do with inland North Carolina or West Virginia (I'm just guessing I might like those areas, although I have at least a couple stops along the Appalachians already in the itinerary).

    Sorry for the long post and any thoughts are greatly appreciated.

    Last edited by bk949; 01-24-2009 at 10:27 PM. Reason: Replaced a . with a ?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    If one of your goals is to hit all 48 states, you have missed NE.

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

    Default the nights of ne

    I too noticed that you've miss Nebraska on your map, although you did reference it on your list.

    As far as your "is it worth it" type questions, I think you need to ask yourself if this is a trip that is about checking every state off a list or is this a trip where you want to see and do a bunch of things that happen to be in all 48 states. There's no right or wrong, its just want you want out of your trip.

    With 100 days, you don't have to take the most efficient route, there are several threads on this forum where people have done a 48 state trip in about a month, but obviously there was almost no extra time for sightseeing or much for detours off the direct route. You've got 3 times as much time to work with here.

    If your goal is simply to do this trip as efficiantly as possible, then there are better ways of doing this. Certainly removing the 2-3 extra days of driving through Florida alone would be one area, detouring to Big Bend and the UP of Michigan/Pictured Rocks would also add some significant miles to your trip. There are great reasons to visit all of those places, however. You just have to decide what your goal is.

  4. #4


    I don't count Nebraska as a state.


    The map's not perfect. But it's not much of a detour to get to Nebraska from South Dakota (if you could zoom in far enough, you'd see that the map also omits Kansas and Oklahoma). "The Claw Part of Michigan" is a part of the country I've always wanted to see, but Big Bend NP is a park I hadn't heard of until I looked at the list of all NPs in the US. I dunno. I guess I'll need to take the next step and start planning out actual days and see whether things feel too tight or too loose.

    How about posed this way, then?: If you've been to both places, would you prefer to spend three days at Great Smoky Mountain NP and none at Big Bend NP, or one and a half at GSM and one at Big Bend?

    Maybe I'm just thinking out loud -- if so, thanks for humoring me! :)


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tustin, California, United States

    Default A local!

    Judging from your screen name, I'm going to take a wager that you live in the same area code as I do (South OC). And lucky for you, I was one of the individuals crazy enough to take a 48-state road trip. :)

    I completed a 12,537-mile trek in 27.5 days at a fairly rushed pace. I really couldn't spend more than 24 hours in any one area, but I did get to touch every state, see what I wanted to see, and accomplished 95% of the goals I set out to do.

    If you have 100 days at your disposal, oh man, you could almost ride your 18-speed the whole way and make it back, haha. And you're going by yourself which will help since you don't have to wait on anyone. (I had to deal with late-risers every morning where we didn't leave until 11am or later.) I wouldn't worry too much about efficiency on this trip. You only need to average less than 200 miles (3-5 hours) per day, which is quite reasonable.

    You can never visit too many National Parks, IMO. But maybe that's just because I'm on a mission to see all 54 of them eventually. I don't think there's anything wrong with several in a row. Each one has something different to offer so you won't get tired of them.

    Your exhaustive list contains of mix of places I've been and places I haven't. The ones I recognize are great choices. I could suggest things for each one I know but I'd be here all night. Like yourself I'm pretty experienced in the southwest area. I've also got mileage in some of the northwest, a bit of the southeast, and only a passing of the northeast.

    One slight concern I have... if my estimates are correct you will be in the southeast (particularly Florida) in early-to-mid September, which is in the prime of hurricane season. The odds of timing that you'll run into one are probably not that high, but even a potential threat could drastically skew your route and destination if there are evacuation orders.

    Here's the roadtrip page (offsite) I updated for my 48-state trip coming up on four years ago, if that helps any of your route. (I went counter-clockwise because it feels weird not to, hehe.) There's plenty of blogs and pics if you're interested. I've taken several big trips since then and covered more of my regional neighborhood, but since you're in 48-state mode, it may give you some extra pointers.

    I'd be happy to share experiences with you if you need it. I'm guessing we live close enough so I'm not against an offline-meeting. Otherwise, good luck with your endeavors.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    You mentioned Joplin - so I assumed KS and OK were a given - it's 10 minutes to KS and another 10 minutes to OK. If you stop by the Downstream Casino at Exit 1 on I-44 in MO, you will be in all 3 states between the exit and getting into the casino. The access road is in MO, the parking lot is in KS, and the casino itself is in OK.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Québec, Montreal, Arizona, California, France

    Default Big Bend

    Quote Originally Posted by bk949 View Post
    Hey All,
    3. Is Big Bend National Park all that pretty/interesting (that'd cut off another 300 miles or so)?
    To me, it is definitely one of the most interesting NP in the US. One of its most appealing features is that it is not crowded like the other parks:) And yes, it is a beautiful park indeed with hilly landscape, cacti and lots of wildlife. Worth the detour.

  8. #8


    GLC -- Thanks for the tip! Sounds like a justifiable way to claim all three states! (I'd like to visit Dodge City one day, but I think it's too dang far out of the way for this trip.)

    Quebec -- Thanks for the thoughts on Big Bend. "Not crowded" is a big attraction for me (seriously).

    Kinless -- Yep, I live here in Mission V and work in Irvine. We should definitely get together some time and talk travel. I've enjoyed looking at your website so far -- the interpersonal issues make for interesting reading, but yeah, there are some big benefits to traveling alone ;). I'm guessing I'll have friends and/or family join me for a few days at a time at various points on the trip, which I think is all the more reason to have a set-in-stone itinerary before they officially sign up so there's no gap in expectations. I've traveled with friends before, but for a month would be just hell, I think (let alone three months). Anyway, I'm having fun checking out your trip -- it's a great travelogue and as an ontherwise uninvested third party, the drama's fun to read (sorry).

    The hurricane season occurred to me. Heck, the weather on the East Coast *period* is a concern. (I grew up in Seattle and, sure, it rains every day, but it *never* rains like *that*.) But I could definitely see my course changing a bit if there are weather issues. OTOH, maybe I'll get laid off in May and this can become a spring trip heading counter-clockwise and sans hurricanes. :)

    Thanks again for the thoughts and considerations.


  9. Default

    I was just in Key West in December. It is worth the extra miles.

    One suggestion, if you have time, is in central Wyoming, cut down on US20 to Thermopolis to see the World's Largest Mineral Hot Spring, and a little further south to see the Wind River Canyon.

    It's worth while to me.

    Another, is the Natchez. Definitely drive part of that road. Very scenic, peaceful, etc.

    Was there in Tupelo to Nashville back in October.


  10. #10


    Cool -- I'll keep Key West in the mix then. Looks like Thermopolis is on the way from Yellowstone to my brother's house in Sheridan -- perfect! I've read a little about Natchez and seen pictures and it looks awesome, just need to figure out how it would fit.

    I spent most of yesterday trying to go through a day-by-day itinerarary. Ran out of steam crossing into New Hampshire on Day 39. I'm starting to think that the original plan isn't *too* jam-packed and that at the pace I'm currently programming the trip at, I'll be back in SoCal in around 80 days. Which means I can throw in some more sites and more slack along the way, hopefully.

    Thanks for your thoughts!


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