I have been a fan of this website and forum for a while, but this is the first time I have posted a thread.
My boyfriend and I have been planning a trip, leaving within the next few weeks; I am hoping to get some more detailed suggestions or maybe some insight/advice - whether positive or negative - regarding our tentative route.
We will be driving our F350 and we have rigged it with a few cool navigational tools, as well as a topper for added safety (at least that's what I'm telling myself!). Our trip is flexible - we want to do a few things that will require reservations and/or advance planning, but also allow spontaneous day-trips or just half-hour stops that were never thought of until we drove by a sign for "World's Largest..." It will be just the two of us.
We are starting in good ole' St. Pete, FL (hometown), and here is our route:
*Note* We have about 7 weeks and can probably push it to 8 if necessary. Time is not really a huge liability.
Start: St. Pete, FL to Cape San Blas, FL - Stay Overnight
Cape San Blas to New Orleans - Stay overnight in N.O.
New Orleans to Gainesville, Texas, to visit his family - stay a couple nights, no more than 3.
Gainesville to Taos, NM - Day Trip/Overnight Still Undecided
Taos to Gunnison/Black Canyon of the Gunnison NP and Crested Butte - Will Camp
Gunnison/CB to Salt Lake City (still unsure of this - my boyfriend wants to see SLC; I am not as keen on it)
SLC to Grand Tetons (coming in through Wyoming) - camping in Tetons
Definitely a visit to Jackson Hole
Up to Yellowstone - we will do the main events, geysers/hotsprings and probably a couple days of back-country camping.
Yellowstone to Seattle - this takes us through Montana and Idaho but we have not yet planned any stops in either state.
Seattle - A few nights here - Space Needle, Pike's Market, Will spend a day kayaking around Puget Sound, Maybe hit up a winery, then on to....
Vancouver, BC - Here I am not sure at all - we have never been to this part of Canada. Will spend another 2-3 nights, maybe 4, in and around Vancouver.
We will then head back to the USA again, along the western coast of Washington and Oregon and into California. We would like to stay along backroads as much as possible to get the most out of the gorgeous Pacific scenery; I know Oregon is stunning but haven't planned any specific stops there; but we would have room to pull the truck over and explore or maybe even camp out one night.
San Francisco - A couple nights here
Then Napa - Wineries! And scenery/food.
From Napa - we are heading to Lake Tahoe; our friends own a ranch south of the Lake - we will stop there for a couple days to relax and recharge!
Next stop: King's Canyon & Sequoia NP for some hiking, walking, probably one night of camping.
Then Vegas for a couple nights at the Bellagio.....I figured we would want to shed the camping/outdoorsy clothing once throughout our adventure :-) We have never been to Vegas and are staying 2 nights.
Vegas to the Hoover Dam
Hoover Dam to Zion NP
Zion to the Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon to Sedona, AZ
Sedona to Carlsbad Caverns
Then on to our last stop in Austin TX, to visit some family for a few more days, and that completes our trip! Then driving back to St. Pete of course.
This is a very general outline! We have a few more detailed plans as far as activities in different places/parks.
I would like feedback how practical this route is; don't want to be going one way when there is another way that is much more sensible.
Also, as far as our stops are concerned, are any of these places terribly overrated? I don't think so, but again, it never hurts to get the opinions of other seasoned travelers.
We just kind of want to "explore" and meander through our trip, we do not have a need to see EVERYTHING and are not on a military-style schedule. Some mornings might sleep in, others up before sunset.
A few questions:
-Suggestions for stops along the Oregon Pacific Coast?
-Suggestions for Pacific California stops? Either brief, half-day, whole day, etc.
-We really enjoy wineries, wine, food, scenery, so if anyone knows of a great winery or little wine bar please respond or private message me!
Thank You Very Much for any insight!