Hello fellow roadtrippers! Long time fan, and like most other posters on this site, I'm looking for feedback on a summer road trip. My wife and I reserved a little more than 3 weeks and we'd like to take in as much of the beautiful USA as possible.
Originally, we planned to drive from Albany, NY to San Francisco and back. We wanted to take the northern route on the way (Chicago, Milwaukee, Bandlands, Yellowstone, SLC, San Fran) and the southern route on the way back (Vegas, Grand Canyon, Kansas City, St. Louis, etc). The original plan was 6,500 miles and we had three weeks to do it.
After reading dozens of helpful comments/suggestions on various threads, I came to the realization that it was just too ambitious. 6,500 miles in 25 days wouldn't really allow us to enjoy all the sites, instead we would be rushing through each leg of the journey.
The "tenative" alternative plan is completely different. I think flying to either Denver or Las Vegas and starting the road trip from there is a better option (someone in another thread actually recommended this to a fellow traveler). By doing this we're skipping the entire midwest, but that leaves us something to visit another time.
Anyway, with Vegas as a "launch point", this is what I'm thinking:
Day 1 and 2 - Vegas (no driving);
Day 3 - drive to Hoover Dam and then to South Rim Grand Canyon (300 miles; 5 hours);
Day 4 - drive to Phoenix (225 miles; 4 hours) watch baseball game;
Day 5 - drive to Albuquerque (360 miles; 6 hours);
Day 6 - drive to Denver (450 miles; 7 hours);
Day 7 - hang out in Denver watch baseball game;
Day 8 - drive to Badlands, SD (500 miles; 8 hours);
Day 9 and 10 - camp at Badlands, see the sites;
Day 11 and 12 - drive to Yellowstone, stopping at Mout Rushmore and one over-night stop along the way (575; 9 hours);
Day 13, 14, 15 - stay in Yellowstone and make our way down to Grand Teton National Park;
Day 16 - drive to Salt Lake City (300 miles; 5 hours);
Day 17 - stay in Salt Lake City;
Day 18 and 19 - drive to San Francisco stopping for one over-night along the way (735 miles; 11 hours);
Day 20 and 21 - stay in San Francisco, watch a baseball game
Day 22 - drive to Big Sur, CA (150 miles; 3 hours);
Day 23 - drive back to Las Vegas (500 miles, 9 hours)
The total trip would be 4,300 miles. This still seems like a lot for 25 days.
I'm having trouble with a few critical decisions -
1) Should I cut something out? If so, which places?
2) A few of the places are just "along the way", not necessarily a place we're dying to see. For example, I'm not sure if Albuquerque has any of those "places you need to see", but if anyone has any ideas, they'd be much appreciated. Same situation with Salt Lake City. I've been there during the winter, but not during the summer.
3) I'm stuck on the whole Grand Canyon, Bandlands, Yellowstone thing. I've always wanted to see all three, but they are so FAR away from each other. Part of me wants to limit this trip even more and concentrate on either Denver-North (Badlands, Yellowstone, etc), or Denver-South (Albuquerque, Grand Canyon, Vegas). The problem with this is potential not making it back for the places I missed!
My wife and I are both 29, so we're young enough to handle long drives, but smart enough to know we don't want to "just drive".
Any suggestions would be helpful.
Can't wait to hit the road!