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  1. Default Last minute Cross Country trip.. Please Help!!!

    Well I knew about this trip for well over 7 months but now that the time has come I am kicking my self in the head for not planning anything. I had a general idea of stopping and camping in Colorado and Utah as some friends have suggested some very nice places to visit.

    I am leaving on Monday morning which is in 3 days. I will be traveling alone from NYC to San Clemente California (1hr north of San Diego). This is a one way trip because I am relocating myself to the beautiful state of California to enjoy the beautiful landscapes, explore the West Coast and get away from the meaningless life surrounded by big buildings, big egos and corporate world that NYC thrives in. :)

    Most of my stuff has been shipped out and my new apartment very close to the beach is fully furnished with my girlfriend of 5 years anxiously waiting for me to arrive and start exploring the West Coast together.

    My original plan was to start driving South West or West from New York with minimal stops and get as far as I possibly can. When I start feeling sleep deprivation I will pull over at a rest stop and catch a few hours of sleep and continue on my marry way. By the time I start feeling sleepy again I hope to be somewhere in the middle of the US. This time I would like to stop somewhere at a motel and catch some decent sleep.

    I am not in a rush to get to California and I would love to do some camping along the way. I am not interested in doing anything on the East Coast because I have already seen almost everything. I am also not interested in doing anything in California, Nevada and Arizona because I will be living on the West Coast and will be visiting all these places in the near future.

    I really love beautiful landscapes, wild nature and uninhabited places. I am not from this beautiful country. The road system and places of interest are very foreign to me.

    This is where I hope all of you fellow travelers can help me plan my route and also give me some suggestions on places to stay and places to see along my way.

    One thing that really worries me is that I am traveling with 3 bicycles on top of my car. I would not want to leave my car out of sight for too long and would love to camp out with my car right next to me. Even though the bikes will be locked to the rack, leaving them out of sight for long period of time is just asking for trouble.

    I thank you all very much for reading my long post and contributing to it in any way even if you think I am out of my mind. Please say whatever is on your mind. Any route suggestions, tips or anything you can add is very much appreciated.
    Thank you very very much. :)

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default safety first

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    The first thing you'll see here is always regarding safety, and I will say I'm a little concerned about your plan. Planning to make minimal stops and not getting rest until you start feeling sleep deprived is not a very safe way to approach a trip, especially when traveling solo. Stopping more frequently, to move around, will help you keep your stamina up, but more importantly, if you are waiting until you feel exhausted until you stop for rest, then you've already driven past the point where you are driving at your safest, most alert best.

    Camping right next to your car shouldn't be a problem at all, since most campsites have a parking space or are designed for RVs. There are some walk-in sites, but you'll be looking for them more than you'll stumble across them.

    Going through Colorado and Utah certainly is a good option, and there are dozens of national parks and national forests in those two states alone where you could spend weeks exploring. If you aren't very familiar with the area or the roads, however, sometimes the easiest thing to do is to pull out a map and take a look. Once you have a better idea of where you're going, you'll be in a much better position to know where you want to go.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

    Default

    You should plan on a minimum of 6 days to drive from NYC to the west coast. It is generally not legal to sleep in your car in a highway rest area, and it's not particularly safe to do so either. If you MUST sleep in the car, you should only do it at commercial truck stops or at an official campsite.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
    Posts
    3,318

    Default I echo the comments already made

    A few more comments....

    Unlike motels that are usually right off the highway, quick and easy to access once you're tired, campgrounds are generally a way off the highway. It's not unusual to drive 5, 10, 15 miles to get to a campground. Plus, there's less of them. You will likely not be able to find once quickly once you reach the point of fatigue. You must do more planning ahead.

    If you are a AAA member, they have free campground guidebooks. They include county/state/national parks as well as commercial campgrounds. Or pick up a campground guidebook at a bookstore.

    If I'm staying in hotels, I usually don't worry about reservations. But since there are less campgrounds, once I have an idea of where I'll probably want to stop for the night, I'll call ahead and, if a space is available, reserve it. I've done this even at 5-6pm for that night and, upon arrival, found that other campers are in overflow camping or have been turned away...which would have happened to me had I waited.

    Of course, this is more true nearer tourist destination areas.

    So pour over some maps and get an idea of what route you want to focus on. I-80, I-70, and I-40 are all good possibilities. Plan for six days to make the trip. And once you've made a few decisions, especially via route, come on back here and we'll be glad to offer more tips.

  5. Default

    Thank you all for all your great advice. I went out and bought a Road Atlas which is really great. It has detailed maps of every state along with points of interests. It shows where all the campsites, state forests, rest stops etc. are located. I highly recommend this great book to all the travelers.

    Also thank you for your concerns about my safety while driving long distances. I've driven many times 14+ hours with minimum stops trough out Europe, Canada, West Coast and East Coast and I know the reasons for your concerns. :)

    This time I am going to take it easy. I've been looking on the map and I came up with a general idea of which way to go. I plan on taking my sweet time and really enjoying my trip.

    Looking at the map and still keeping in mind the fact that I want to pass through Colorado and Utah I will be taking rt 80 through NJ and Pennsylvania and work my way down to Rt 70 before Rt 80 turns into a toll road. At this time I will be in Ohio On Rt 70 and so far I plan on stopping in Dillon State Park to camp out for the night. It seems like a nice place with mountain biking trails, lake, showers and flush toilets. Google map says it is only about 8 hours drive which is not bad at all.

    That is all that is definite for now. I will be taking Rt 70 from there all the way to the end which is in Utah. This Rt. will take me through Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio. So this is what I've planned for now. If there is anything you can suggest that I should see along this way even if it is a a little of the track I would love to hear about it.

    It looks like my departure day will be moved to Tuesday due to lack of planning and getting everything else done last minute.

    Thank you all very much! I really enjoy reading this forum and all of your travel experiences.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

    Default

    The best way to avoid the tolls is I-80 to I-76 to I-71 to I-70.

    On the way out, I would definitely visit the Gateway Arch in St. Louis.

    Depending on your time, I'd seriously consider leaving the Interstate in Utah and seeing some of the parks, unless you want to save that for later with your GF. Otherwise, just head on down through LV and San Bernardino and take CA-74 over the coastal range to San Clemente.

  7. Default

    I definitely want to spend a few days camping in Colorado and Utah. This is going to be the highlight of my trip. I've always wanted to see the Grand Canyon and I know I wanted to bypass Arizona but I don't think I will be able to hold out.
    I would really love to see some National Parks in Colorado and Utah but I am traveling on a budget and do not have money to be throwing away just for passing through some of these places.

  8. #8

    Default

    Rocky mountain national park
    Grand Canyon
    Zion
    Bryce

    So much to see in that area...

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

    Default

    I would spend $80 for a national parks pass. It's good for 12 months. This covers admission to almost all federal fee-based facilities. It does not pay for camping in the parks but may get you a discount in some of them. You can buy it at the gate at the first park you go to.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default throwing money away?

    I will say that I've never heard anyone calling a visit to a National Park as "throwing money away" before. Not only are they usually some of the most interesting sites in the country, but they are also one of the biggest bargains in travel. Traveling solo, you don't get quite as good of a deal since you pay the same with one person in your car or 5, but still they are a very good value. If you're going to be visiting more than 4-5 major parks (some of the smaller parks cost less), it usually is worthwhile to buy the yearly pass for $80, which you could of course continue to use when you start touring California from your new home.

    There are tons of great parks in Southern Colorado and Southern Utah, in which a stop at the Grand Canyon would be an easy detour. If that is a place you really want to visit, then you should certainly add it to your itinerary.

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